Trip Report: Beijing — Practice Makes Perfect.

Beijing trip report featured copyThis one is not quite a trip report so much as an Ideal Itinerary. During our years living in Beijing, we played host to many guests of all ages and family sizes. As the designated Family Tour Guide, I got to visit all the major BJ tourist attractions many, many times. Luckily, I never get tired of things like this. My final count on trips to the Great Wall was thirteen and I loved it every time.

Great Wall with Millers 006

Lemmy Rides a Donkey ON the Great Wall of China.

Anyway, the point is, I got really, really good at planning the perfect customized week in Beijing. Grandparents leaving the Western Hemisphere for the first time? Got it. Twenty-somethings with a baby starting a month-long trek through Asia? Got it. Family with teenagers and little kids looking to maximize learning while keeping the youngest ones happy? Got it. So here, for your edification, I present The Perfect Week In Beijing, with three variations.

NOTE: This itinerary is mainly aimed toward travel in Spring, Summer and Fall. If you are visiting Beijing during Winter, please check out our special post with tips for visiting Beijing during Winter and especially during Chinese New Year!

AND ANOTHER NOTE: This itinerary is now available as an easy-to-print PDF file!

 

Beijing with babies/toddlers

Beijing with little kids

Lama Temple The largest Tibetan Buddhist Temple outside of Tibet.

Drum and Bell Towers (babies) or Blue Zoo (toddlers)

Dinner and people-watching at Wangfujing street market. Watch crazy people eat disgusting things on a stick, or if you like, join the crazies. I, not being a crazy myself, recommend the candied hawthorne fruit. Totally addictive.

Wangfujing Snack Street 097

Lama Temple The largest Tibetan Buddhist Temple outside of Tibet. Stunningly beautiful.

Lama Temple

Lunch at nearby McDonalds

Blue Zoo (cool underground aquarium)

Dinner at Wangfujing street market. Brave kids can sample anything from tarantula to squid on a stick. Chickens can go with . . . well . . . chicken.

Great Wall at Mutianyu (not Badaling)

Ride the Red Tram (NOT the ski lift) up and down from the base of the stairs. Don’t walk it, it’s 1600 steps just to the base of the wall.

Lunch at The Schoolhouse or, if you’re on a budget, Subway.

Red Snail Temple (if kids are still up for it, or can sleep in the stroller)

Great Wall at Mutianyu (not Badaling)

Ride the Red Tram (NOT the ski lift) up and the toboggan slide down. Adults can ride with small kids on a double toboggan.

Lunch at Subway

Red Snail Temple (ride the slides and do the Zodiac Animals walk)

Garden of the 500 Arhats at the Red Snail Temple

Forbidden City (2-3 hours) Visit the Hall of Clocks and the Emperor’s private quarters.

Lunch at nearby restaurant.

 

Walk and pedal boats at Beihai Park

 

Forbidden City (1-2 hours—go straight through front to back.)

Lunch at McDonalds or KFC.

 

Fly kites and ride boats at Beihai Park

Temple of Heaven  Go early and enter through the back gate. Wander the park and watch the people play. Join in a dance, or a workout, or a game of hackisac. Make sure you find the impromptu choir of patriotic singers.After you’ve had your fill of playing, head through the ticket gate to visit the temple, the echo wall, and of course, the Center of the Universe.  Don’t forget to get a picture.

Lunch at Hutong Pizza

Wander the Hutongs (old neighborhoods) around Houhai Lake for a real taste of “Old Beijing.” Especially look for the famous kite store Sanshizhai for fabulous souvenirs.

Temple of Heaven  Go early and enter through the back gate. Wander the park and watch the people playJoin other kids in a ribbon dance or a game of hackisac. And make sure to buy some RolliBall racquets to take home.

Lemmy does some ribbon dancing with a new friend

Lemmy does some ribbon dancing with a new friend

After you’ve had your fill of playing, head through the ticket gate to visit the temple, the echo wall, and of course, the Center of the Universe. Don’t forget to get a picture.

Lunch at Hutong Pizza

Take a rickshaw ride around the Hutongs (old neighborhoods) around Houhai Lake for a real taste of “Old Beijing.” Especially look for the famous kite store Sanshizhai for fabulous souvenirs.

DongYue Temple  This little-known Taoist temple is my one of my favorite spots in Beijing. Full of statues of gods, monsters and ghosts, you will start to wonder if George Lucas came here before making Star Wars. Uncrowded and delightful.

Dong Yue Temple or Mos Eisley Cantina?

ChaoYang Park  Ride amusement park rides, fly kites, eat snacks or take a boat ride. People watching at its best.

DongYue Temple  This little-known Taoist temple is my one of my favorite spots in Beijing. Full of statues of gods, monsters and ghosts, you will start to wonder if George Lucas came here before making Star Wars. Uncrowded and delightful.

ChaoYang Park  Ride amusement park rides, rent a quad bike, take a UFO boat ride, or visit the Sony Explorascience Museum if you’re too hot.

 

UFO Boating at Chaoyang Park

Summer Palace (Yiheyuan)  Visit the temples, palaces and gardens, and enjoy an electric boat ride around the lake.

Little Suzhou

Little Suzhou

Be sure to visit the Garden of Supreme Harmony on the right hand side of the palace grounds–incredibly beautiful.

Eat lunch at a restaurant in Little Suzhou in the back half of the Palace.

Summer Palace (left) OR Old Summer Palace (Yuanmingyuan)  Head straight back through the gardens to the Ruins in the back. Here your kids can climb, Indiana Jones style, all over the remains of the Emperor’s 17th century palace and astronomy tower. Once they’ve had their fill of ruins, visit the many beautiful gardens or take a boat ride around the water lily lakes.

Ruin climbing at the Old Summer Palace

Make sure you get a blown-candy animal – made to order right in front of you, they are an amazing and unique treat and a great photo op.

Beijing Aquarium and Zoo  (especially the Panda House)

Beijing Aquarium and Zoo (especially the Panda House)

Pandas at the Beijing Zoo (only 75 cents admission!

Beijing with older kids/teens

Lama Temple (the largest Tibetan Buddhist Temple outside of Tibet)

Beihai Park and Temple–ride pedal boats, wander the park.

Uncle J has a scorpion for dinner.

Uncle J has a scorpion for dinner.

Dinner at Wangfujing street market.  This tourist destination will supply you with disgusting pictures for your teen to share with their friends–scorpion on a stick, anyone?For the fainter of heart, I recommend the candied hawthorne fruit.  Totally addictive.
Great Wall at Mutianyu (not Badaling) Ride the Red Tram (NOT the ski lift) up and the toboggan slide down. Crazy fun. Lunch at Subway or snack stands (banana pancakes!)

Red Snail Temple  Stroll through the eerie and beautiful Forest of the 500 Arhats and get your picture taken with your own personal Chinese Zodiac Animal.

Tiananmen Square and Mao’s Tomb

Lunch at nearby restaurant or KFC (try the red bean slushie!)

Two of the 80 Diapers kids visit the Forbidden City

Two of the 80 Diapers kids visit the Forbidden City

Forbidden City (2-3 hours) Visit the Hall of Clocks and the Emperor’s private quarters. And don’t forget to check out the Well of the Concubine, where Cixi threw her son’s favorite wife when the concubine betrayed the country to their invading enemies. History has never been cooler.

Temple of Heaven Go early and enter through the back gate. Wander the park and watch elderly men perform feats of strength, buy a hand-crocheted Christmas ornament and master the sport of RolliBall. After you’ve had your fill of playing, head through the ticket gate to visit the temple, the echo wall, and of course, the Center of the Universe.  Don’t forget to get a picture.

At the Center of the Universe

At the Center of the Universe

Lunch at KFC or Yoshinoya across the street (out the back gate.)

Shopping at the Pearl Market (looks like a big mall behind the Temple of Heaven) for clothes, electronics, souvenirs, knockoff antiques and everything your heart could desire. Haggle hard.

DongYue Temple This little-known Taoist temple is my one of my favorite spots in Beijing.  Full of statues of gods, monsters and ghosts, you will start to wonder if George Lucas came here before making Star Wars.Wander the Hutongs (old neighborhoods) around Houhai Lake for a real taste of “Old Beijing.” You can even take a rickshaw ride (bargain for better prices). Especially look for the famous kite store Sanshizhai for fabulous souvenirs.

 

Summer Palace (Yiheyuan)

Little Suzhou in the Summer Palace

Little Suzhou in the Summer Palace

Check out Empress Cixi’s Summer Palace and see where she imprisoned her traitorous son, rent a pedal boat, and wander the gorgeous grounds.

Beijing Aquarium and Zoo (especially the Panda House).  (The Zoo Market, which I originally recommended, has been closed.)

Things to Know:

Travel in China is much easier than you think it is. Employees in most tourist areas will speak some English or find someone who does, locals are incredibly friendly and helpful and travel is safe and easy. Attractions are almost unbelievably cheap, especially to travelers used to the steep prices in Europe or America. While the Tower of London will cost you about US $40, the Forbidden City is less than US $15.

People will snag your kids for photos, so if your kids are shy they might need a little prepping on how to respond. My kids quickly acclimated and enjoyed feeling like rock stars, but you can always just smile, say no, and walk away. Children are cherished in China in a way that will surprise and delight you, and everyone from teenagers to grandpas will wave and smile at your kids. Kids are welcome in even the most upscale restaurants, and almost every eatery will have a play area to keep them entertained.

Palace, Shmalace. The 80 Diapers kids are the main attraction.

Palace, Shmalace. The 80 Diapers kids are the main attraction.

Taxis are cheap and plentiful, but taxi drivers will not speak English. Get a card from your hotel and ask them to write down your destination to show the driver. Make sure they use the meter, and you will be fine. The Beijing and Shanghai subways are also easy, cheap and convenient.  And crazy crowded. Get up close and personal with your new Chinese friends, and you can get almost anywhere you want.

Another sage piece of advice is to find an expat family. When you are out at the more kid-friendly destinations on this itinerary (such as Hutong Pizza, the Blue Zoo, or Beihai Park) odds are you are going to see some “local” foreigners enjoying the day too. If you need help with translations, or directions, or anything kid-related, they are the ones to ask. Beijing Expats are used to being the “experts” for visitors and will be happy to help out tourists in a pinch. We love our adopted city and want others to have the best experience possible.

And finally, don’t forget the most important piece of “Local Foreigner” knowledge:  When in trouble, wave your kid not your Mastercard. If you need help, special accommodation or just a little extra kindness, don’t be afraid to play the Kid Card. It’s the best way to get a little love from the locals in Beijing.

 

Need to Know Before You Go

Visas needed? (US Passport holders) yes
Best time to visit Apr, May, Sept, Oct
Looking for a great side trip out of Beijing? We recommend Datong!  Still want more? Read our other trip reports here!

 

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42 thoughts on “Trip Report: Beijing — Practice Makes Perfect.

  1. Gila

    Hi,
    I stumbled upon this blog and am so excited to read your tips. My husband and I are Americans living in Scotland and have always travelled whenever we have the chance. We’re now bringing our daughter along on the adventures. She’s been a few places in Europe already but we’re just starting to plan 2 weeks in Beijing and Hong Kong in June for a family event. This was my long way of asking – in your baby list here, is there anything you would change given that we’ll be there in the summer (we are really unused to the heat after years in Scotland)? We’ll be in Beijing for 6 days and are happy to move slowly!
    Thanks!!

  2. 80 Diapers Post author

    Gila,

    Summer will be very hot and very humid, but you can still have a fantastic time. I would keep the schedule the same, but allow for bigger crowds at the wall, the Forbidden City, and the more popular locations.

    However, summer in Beijing is really fun for people-watching, and your time at Chaoyang or any other child-friendly location will be a fun experience in Chinese personal space . . . or the lack therof 🙂 Prep your daughter for lots of pictures with Chinese kids and lots of aunties snuggling her and you will have a wonderful time!

    I’m jealous and excited, the first trip to Beijing is a magical experience. Happy traveling! (Maybe someday we will get to Scotland, which is high on my list, and you can share your advice with us! 🙂 )

    1. Gila

      Thanks so much! We are very excited and I was so thrilled to find your blog which made me feel encouraged that we could not only survive this trip but actually enjoy it! Scotland is absolutely beautiful and I’m sure your kids would love it.

      1. 80 Diapers Post author

        I forgot a very important survival tip in Beijing summer–ice cream! Ice cream is everywhere, from little carts on top of the Great Wall to kisoks in the markets. It’s delicious (or disgusting, depending on what you choose) and super cheap, and the best way to stay cool during the hot season. I personally recommend the cornetto-style cones, but the haw-fruit popsicles are to die for. Or, for a laugh, try the green-pea or corn flavored ice cream. An experience you will never forget. 🙂

  3. Andrea

    Hi I am so happy to stumble across your blog! I am a bit overwhelmed about spending 3 days in Beijing at the end of a trip to see family in Canada (from Australia). Can I please ask would you change anything at all on your travel with kids (my boys will be 7 & 9) in January? I know the weather could possibly be super cold but I am hoping that we can still get around without drama. I have been in touch with a few tour companies (Catherine Lu and Sunflower Li as well as China Direct Travel) but the costs of the tours have put me off and I’m so thankful to come across your info as I am now inspired to try organise some of the trip on my own. I am also a bit stuck as to whether to book a Novotel type hotel or a Red Wall garden hotel. I thought being close to The Forbidden City and a few other attractions might be easier for us but then I realised we were probably not going to walk in January anyway Please excuse my random thoughts, any guidance would be much, much appreciated! Thanks!

    1. 80 Diapers Post author

      January will indeed be very, very cold, but you can still have a fantastic trip. And you don’t need a guide, just a hotel with english-speaking desk staff (all big hotels have them). The subway will get you close to almost everything you want to see, so you can stay anywhere that’s near a subway station, but with very little kids you will probably want to take more taxis. Most of the “walking stuff” will be by the forbidden city, so that area is still a pretty good choice. Choose the indoor options where I gave two choices (aquarium over chaoyang park, for example) and plan for lots of breaks in restaurants or back at your hotel. Remember that all palaces or temples in Beijing are really just outdoor locations–there is no indoor space to escape the cold at the FC or the Temple of Heaven for example. The wind can be beastly so make sure you bring stuff that is windproof, not just warm. If you’re not completely set on doing the FC, you could just skip it all together–it’s not kid friendly and not the coolest even for parents. With three days I’d do the Wall, the Lama Temple, the Temple of Heaven, Houhai lakes (see below) and an aquarium or kid friendly outing like that.

      However, one thing you will get to do that your summer-visitor friends will be SO JEALOUS OF is ice biking at Houhai! This is one of my favorite things we ever did in Beijing. The lakes at Houhai (nearish the Forbidden City) freeze over and you can skate or ride ice bikes, and ice carts (like toboggans with ski poles) all over the lake. It’s amazingly fun and so unique. Make sure you wear ALL THE WINTER GEAR YOU OWN because you will want to stay as long as possible. Luckily if you’re coming from Canada you should be pretty acclimated to the cold instead of coming straight from Australia. 🙂

      Do the wall at Mutianyu but skip the Red Snail Temple, and head back to Beijing instead.

      If you are freezing and tired and want a bizarre and delightful “cultural experience” that your kids will adore, head to Fundazzle which is near the Blue Zoo. It’s a giant (GIANT!) indoor playground with a ball pit the size of a lake and a giant climbing fort. It smells like feet, is full of expat kids you can make friends with, and is the “real China” your kids will remember.

      It’s going to be wonderful! I’m so happy for you! Feel free to ask any other questions and have a fantastic time.

      1. Andrea

        Hello again!! THANKS SO MUCH for all your information – we have booked hotel and are organising visas (frustratingly 35 minutes over the FREE 72 hour visa deal…but thems the breaks!) Only 3 weeks until we head off and I wanted to make sure I let you know how utterly valuable your insight is…I have thrown away all the expensive tour brochures and every scrap of scribbled on (and very confusing) self made plans and printed out your precious itinerary. We can’t wait to ‘go it alone’ in Beijing with the kids and they are really exciting about the ice-biking…I’ll save the news of fundazzle for when I need it.
        THANKS SO MUCH – YOU ARE A LIFESAVER!!!

    2. 80 Diapers Post author

      I just realized your hotel question was probably more about Western vs Chinese hotels–Chinese and Western chain hotels will all be very very nice, but Chinese hotels will have much harder beds. If you like a soft bed, go with a Western hotel. Western ones are also more likely to have front desk staff fluent in English, which is very helpful with booking tours to the wall, getting taxi instructions and stuff like that. But it’s not a huge difference other than that.

  4. Gila

    Hi! I realised the other day that I should have come back to thank you for all your tips. We had a fantastic stay in Beijing and used tons of your tips. The absolute highlight was going to the Great Wall at Mutianyu, it was practically deserted first thing in the morning and I loved the toboggan down (though my husband and daughter took the cable car). We did everything ourselves on the subway and stayed in an apartment and it was fantastic. A bit overwhelming at times, but just amazing! Thanks for the encouragement.

    I would say my top tip you might want to add is to leave the stroller at home whenever possible. We got much more use out of our hiking backpack for her (though it was a source of constant amusement for everyone around us!).

    1. 80 Diapers Post author

      Thank you so much! This is great to hear. And you’re absolutely right about the stroller, between the crowds, the subways, the uneven roads and the temple thresholds every few meters, a baby backpack is a much better bet.

      I’m so glad you had a wonderful trip, it makes me happy to hear that others had a great experience in my “hometown.”

    1. 80 Diapers Post author

      Badaling is usually much more crowded, and I really love the toboggan ride at Mutianyu. Plus, in my opinion Mutianyu is prettier (and not as steep). But Badaling is still a good option if it’s more convenient or closer.

  5. Michael

    Hi,
    We are travelling with a 1½ year old to Beijing over the Chinese New Year period.
    Any suggestions or would you keep your itinerary the same?
    Thanks!

    1. 80 Diapers Post author

      How exciting! CNY will be very memorable but very very crowded. Many Chinese tourists come into the city for the holiday so tourist attractions are not only full, but full of people who have likely never seen a foreigner before. Be prepared for LOTS of people to want your picture and especially your baby’s picture. It can be a bit overwhelming at first, but it can also be fun feeling like rock stars.

      I would keep the itinerary mostly the same but definitely add some cultural experiences you can’t get the rest of the year. Attend a Temple Fair during CNY, they are where you can see the real New Years celebrations up close. Our personal favorite with kids was the one at Dong Yue Miao (on my itinerary already) because it’s not as crowded, but you can find great ones all over Beijing.

      The fireworks will blow your mind, and if your hotel is in an area that doesn’t allow them, make sure you spend one evening outside the “no firework zone” so you can experience seeing fireworks in every direction, all at once, for hours every night. You can even buy and light your own from the little stands on the corner. Haggle hard, they should cost about 1/10th what they do overseas.

    2. 80 Diapers Post author

      I’d go mostly with the modified winter touring tips I gave a commenter above, and plan on longer times for breaks in between to catch your breath. If it’s still cold enough for ice carting at Houhai lakes, I would definitely add that. A perfect photo op and an experience you’ll never forget. But CNY is late enough this year that the ice may have melted by then.

      You’re going to have a fantastic experience, so just mentally prepare for crowds like you’ve never seen and look at it as a REAL Chinese experience. 🙂 and if you really want to be astounded at how many people can cram into one building at one time, a short expedition to IKEA might be in order.

      Have a great trip and feel free to ask any further questions you have!

  6. Sherrie

    Hello! Thanks for all your tips! We are taking our four kids to Beijing for four days. We are really excited. I’ve tried printing from your webpage and the column on the right is all cut off. Is there a better way to do this?! Please let me know. I must tell you how much i LOVE your website. We were expats for 5 years in Hong Kong and loved everyday. We went EVERYWHERE. Such a terrific experience as a family. We are back in Canada now and missing the interesting travel options. We are taking our kids back to HK to show them around and re-visit our life there. First time back since we left 9 years ago. Our kids are now 16, 13, 11 and 8. And I am excited to show them around Beijing – thanks to your fabulous itinerary and suggestions. Now if I could only get it to print properly….! Please advise. Thanks again!! Sherrie

    1. 80 Diapers Post author

      This is a good reminder to me that I’ve been meaning to make a printer-friendly version of this post for ages. I will try and get that done as soon as possible, thanks for the reminder! (and if you’re going soon, don’t forget to check out our Beijing in Winter post too)

  7. Anna

    I was so excited to stumble across your blog! I really understand your desire to share practical tips with outsiders – I always try to do the same for folks visiting Budapest (my home), though in a less organized manner.

    What I would love to know is whether you think a month-long stay in Beijing with a 2.5 year old would be too overwhelming. My husband will be spending the month of June there and I am on the fence about joining him. I would be very much on my own with my daughter trying to get around and see many of the spots you recommend. We live in a big city now (Moscow) and the logistics of doing varied, kid friendly activities are a bit overwhelming sometimes.

    What do you think?

    1. 80 Diapers Post author

      I would absolutely jump at the chance to spend a month in Beijing. I’ve never been to Moscow but Beijing will be much easier to handle than you expect, and I would guess that it’s easier than Moscow. Taxis are very cheap, the subway is simple to manage, and everyone is incredibly friendly and helpful, especially when you have kids with you. If I were you, I wouldn’t miss this opportunity. You will never regret it if you go.

      As soon as you arrive, find a copy of Beijing Kids magazine (everywhere expats go, esp foreign grocery stores, etc) and get plugged in to the local community. There are tons of social events, playgroups, etc for you to find people. You can even track down people with kids in international schools near your homebase to find friends and guides. DO IT! I’d go back in a heartbeat.

  8. Jen

    Thank you for creating this blog – it’s both exciting and comforting for someone, like myself, who will be traveling to China for the first time with my family!
    We will be spending time in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong.
    It’s a big trip and I think the thing that is worrying is getting sick from the food and the water. My husband who visited Nepal a while back and got very sick, is most concerned.
    From what we have read, we need to use bottled water at all times, but what about eating thinks like ice lollies and ice cream? could one become sick from those? Can we eat fruit so long as it can be peeled? I suppose we are really wondering just how careful we have to be?
    I really appreciated how you put together a location and a restaurant (that is so, so helpful) and I’m wondering if you could recommend restaurants that are not western (we try to avoid KFC or MacD) but still safe to eat at? We would really like to be a bit more adventurous with our choice of restaurants and try different food, but still not get sick!
    And and all advice will be appreciated. Thank you so much. Jen.

    1. 80 Diapers Post author

      Thanks for the question and we’re excited for your trip! You absolutely do not have to worry about getting sick from the water in any of the big cities in China. You don’t want to drink the water, but it’s not because of microbes, it’s because of heavy metals and frankly, because it just tastes nasty. You are 100% fine eating all kinds of fruit, peeled or not, brushing your teeth with the water, etc and you are not going to get sick even if you do accidentally drink the water. (If you drank it for years you might end up with kidney problems because of the metals, but you’re not going to get diarrhea.) Bottled water is cheap and plentiful, and you will be able to buy it everywhere you go (even on top of the great wall) with no problems whatever.

      The same goes for food–you are very very safe eating from any established restaurants in big cities. You could skip the street food just to be sure, but even established “street food” areas like Wangfujing are safe and sanitary. We never got sick from the food in 4 years (and I ate a LOT of back-alley street food), and none of our guests ever did either. Eat whatever you want and don’t worry. There are great restaurants everywhere, but if you want to find some easier, more foreigner-friendly places, you can check out the listings on Beijing Kids for expat-approved restaurants in Beijing and Time Out Family for Shanghai.

      Have a great trip!

      1. Jen

        This is so good to know! All the research I have done, say’s it’s not a good idea to drink the water, but no one said why. We just assumed that it was due to the parasites!
        I have another question for you! We would love to see an acrobatic show while we are there. I see that there are a number of companies that offer shows. Which one would you recommend? Thank you so much!

        1. 80 Diapers Post author

          The only one I’ve been to in BJ is the one at Chaoyang theatre. It was very good, my kids loved it. They also do a Kung Fu show that is highly reviewed but I’ve never seen it.

  9. Sitwat

    Can you please recommend any good hotels that we can stay in Beijing with kids? Me and my husband will be traveling with 3 kids 12/9/5. I have heard that they dont let you stay in one room. My kids are not old enough that they can be by themselves in a hotel room. We are going there in early december. We will also be visting Nanjing and Shanghai. Any suggestions?

    1. 80 Diapers Post author

      Most any “international” brand hotel in BJ is going to be fine. Book in Ctrip.com and you’ll save a lot of money. You can stay all in one room if you don’t mind putting the little one on the floor, which is what we usually do. If you book the room with 4 people and show up with 5, I’d be SHOCKED if anyone said anything. Chinese people LOVE children and will likely be too busy fawning over your kids to count them 🙂

  10. Milind

    Hello,

    Planning on a 2-3 day trip from Seoul to Beijing in March 2016 with my wife, parents and my 3 month old daughter. How is the weather there in mid March? Any other suggestions on taking a 3 month old there. Obviously we plan on having a driver and a car to make the travel easier with the baby. As for Great Wall, seems like Mutianyu Great Wall is the place to go. When you say Red Tram, you mean the enclosed cable car correct? And technically we can go up there using the cable car, walk around for a bit and then take the same cable car back down right?

    This is how I plan on splitting the 2 days:

    Day 1: Great Wall and Ming Tomb
    Day 2: Temple of Heaven, Forbidden City and Summer Palace

    Any thoughts or suggestions?

    1. 80 Diapers Post author

      In March it might still be a bit cold, but it might also be warm. Watch weather forecasts and plan for wind. Yes, the red tram is the enclosed cable car, and you can ride it up and down. I’ve never been to the Ming Tombs but I have heard both good and bad reviews–some people love it, some think it’s super boring. However, it’s close to the wall, so a good combination day. The ToH, FC and SP all in one day is a LOT to do, even without a baby. I might suggest dropping the Ming Tombs and adding the SP to the first day, then doing only the ToH and FC on the next day. There are lots of wonderful things to do around the FC if you get done early.

      1. Gila

        I just wanted to chime in – we were in Beijing with our 18 month old the summer before last and did each of your sites on the 2nd day in one day – they are really huge. We used the subway so you’d save time with a driver, but it would be a shame to rush any of them. The Summer Palace in particular is worth extra time. And just in case – definitely use a baby carrier for that site in particular, we brought our buggy and it was a huge hassle.

        1. 80 Diapers Post author

          YES, China is very stroller-unfriendly. Backpack style carriers are a much better choice.

          And I agree on the Summer Palace–it’s one of my favorite sites in Beijing.

  11. Ryan

    Hi,

    We are a family of 3 adults and 2 kids (7 and 10 y.o.). We will be in Beijing for 5 days starting from end 28th May.

    1) Will the weather be too hot ?
    2) How to get to Mutianyu Greatwall and back ?
    3) Is National Palace Museum same as National Museum of China ?

    Thanks in advance.

    1. 80 Diapers Post author

      I’m so jealous! You’re going to have a wonderful trip!

      At the end of May the weather will be really nice, warm and not as windy or sandstormy as earlier in the spring. July and August get terribly hot and humid, but May is still pleasant.

      You can either sign up for a package tour to Mutianyu or hire a private driver to take you there. Your hotel should be able to help you with either one of those options. (I personally vote for the private driver–with five of you it will be around the same cost and much more convenient.)

      The National Palace Museum is the official name for the Forbidden City, the National Museum of China is a different (and fascinating) museum.

      Have a fantastic time!!

  12. Ryan

    Hi,

    One last question.
    With a family of 5, if we opt one day for shopping,
    will it be easy to get taxi to accept 5 of us in one taxi.

    Thanks.

    1. 80 Diapers Post author

      It might be hard, they are starting to be more strict about not accepting more than four people. Your hotel might be able to find you a driver with a minivan. But taxis are also so cheap it is easy to just take two taxis.

    2. 80 Diapers Post author

      You will also probably be approached by lots of “black taxis”–unlicensed private drivers soliciting rides. Don’t accept a ride from these people.

    1. 80 Diapers Post author

      Unfortunately things change so quickly in BJ that a few years make a big difference and I’m not confident enough to make recommendations. It’s really hard to go wrong with any of the big chains, however. If you like your beds softer than plywood, though, I recommend staying with a “western” chain rather than a Chinese one. Chinese mattresses=American box springs. 🙂

  13. Aparna

    Thank you so much for all this wonderful information! I am traveling from the US with my husband and 7 year old twin boys in a few weeks and will spend a few short days in Beijing before going on to Chengdu, Xian, Guilin and Shanghai. I have so many questions which I will ask you in a longer post…one just now is whether you’ve heard of the Shichahai Theatre Panda Kung Fu Show. The children and I have been studying kung fu here in the US for a few years so I want to see some sort of Kung Fu demonstration while in China…I understand there is a Kung Fu show at the Red Theater. We’ve seen the DVD already and have read mixed results. I thought this Panda show might be more kid-friendly…but can find very few reviews about it online. Do you have any insights?

    1. 80 Diapers Post author

      I’m sorry, I don’t know anything about the Shichahai Theatre. Enjoy your trip though, it sounds wonderful!

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