Shanghai and Beijing in November
Replies: 11 - Last Post: Sep 1, 2011 12:52 AM Last Post By: phs
Aug 31, 2011 3:27 AM
Shanghai and Beijing in NovemberWe will be going to Shanghai and Beijing for 7 days in October. We'll be spending 2 full days in Shanghai and then taking the fast train to Beijing for the rest of the trip.
In Shanghai, we're planning to visit a water town. We are thinking of going to Xitang. Is this recommended? Or are there other water towns that are better than Xitang? Will exploring Xitang take a full day?
I know one day exploring the city of Shanghai won't be enough. Can you please suggest an itinerary? Of course, there are the usual places like The Bund, People's Square and the Yuyuan Gardens. Are there any other places that we should definitely go to?
In Beijing, we are planning a trip to the Great Wall. We can't decide which section though. We are deciding between Mutianyu and Jinshanling. We are trying to avoid the very busy sections of the wall. Is Jinshanling worth going to if we are not interested in doing the Jinshanling-Simatai trek? Some members of the group are not exactly physically fit, will this be a problem if we decide to go to Jinshanling?
We're interested in good photography spots.
Thanks in advance.
Aug 31, 2011 4:05 AM
1If you only have 2 days in Shanghai I would personally choose Zhujiajiao as my water town visit. It's generally the fastest to get to - less than an hour in reasonable traffic. Therefore you can visit in half a day and have more time in the city.
I love Jinshanling but I'm not sure it's worth the extra time and money to get there as it is quite a bit further than Mutianyu. October is pretty busy and there are generally lots of toursits at the latter especially though. To avoid crowds I would try to go very early (it opens at 7 in the summer) or towards the end of the day (it closes at 5 I think but remember cable car services etc. can wind down earlier).
Have a great trip.
Aug 31, 2011 4:14 AM
2Xitang used to be one of the better ones until MI-3 came to town. It will be best if you can visit on a weekday to avoid weekend crowds. Xitang is about 90km from Shanghai and takes around 2 hours to get there by bus. So plus the walking around the town, yes it will take most of the day. I think most of the water towns are about the same, the main difference previously was in the level of commercialisation (though some are a little smaller) but in my opinion, they are all pretty much commercialised now.
I visited Mutianyu. It is busy in the morning but the tour groups clears out by noon. The afternoon still has some people but it is very very much quieter. The reason I went Mutianyu is that from what I read, it more forested than Jinshanling and I wanted to see the fall colours (I was there last week of October). In the afternoon, the sunlight shines in the right direction for great shots of the wall.
Also Mutianyu is easier to get to by public bus. If you have a group it cost RM300 (Oct 2009 prices) to rent a private car with driver to Mutianyu for the whole day. This is what an Indian guy I met there told me - I had to say I was simply amazed at his bargaining skill given that he does not speak a word of Chinese!
Aug 31, 2011 7:00 AM
Aug 31, 2011 8:53 AM
4For the Great Wall, if you have a full day, you can walk between the Jinshanling and Simitai sections, about 10km. It's well worth it as you can see the state the Wall is in without the restoration. Jinshanling is also very the Wall snaking across the hilltops as far as you can see. You can book a bus in the Far East Hostel and it'll drop you at one end and pick you up at the other.
The Old Town in Shanghai is an interesting place to wander around for a few hours. It's like stepping back in time from the futuristic Pudong area with its towers and glistening skyscrapers.
Aug 31, 2011 8:56 AM
Aug 31, 2011 2:43 PM
6In Shanghai wanting to visit a water town I like JinXi about 40 minutes from Suzhou or 1.5 hours from Shanghai. Not so many tourists. Another is Luzhi Town or Qibaozhen. I am a tour operator and these are the places I send clients who are looking for places without a lot of western tourists. For the Great Wall I highly recommend Mutianyu. No big group tours there and if you hike out about 100 yards to the left you probably will be by yourselves as few hike further than that. You can see where the Wall goes up sharply out about a mile and then there is a section that has been left like it was found to show you too. JinShanling and Simatai are very steep and not all repaired so it can be tough hiking but that is where the young hikers like to go and hike between these two. Must be in very good shape however. About 40 miles north of Beijing. Dave
Aug 31, 2011 3:46 PM
7Thanks guys. I really appreciate the replies. I do have a few more questions:
1. Is Zhujiajiao as picturesque as Xitang? I will have to do a bit more research on the water towns i think.
2. Will we be too late for the fall colors at Mutianyu? We'll be there in the first week of November.
3. Are shanghai and beijing safe to walk around in alone with camera equipment at early hours of the morning?
Aug 31, 2011 9:29 PM
8Train from Shanghai to Beijing
Aug 31, 2011 9:41 PM
Sep 1, 2011 12:45 AM
10I went to Mutianyu in August which is peak season and there were not huge crowds. There is one small part of the wall which is very steep and rather challenging but the 105 degree heat didnt help. Its easy to reach this part of the wall by public transport. Take the subway to Dongzhimen and from here take the 916 bus. which will take you to Huairou - it will take about an hour. the idea from here is to take a mini bus or negotiate a taxi for the last part. I didnt make it to the bus station as I was quite literally yanked of the bus by a taxi driver. I ended up paying about $18 which included two hours waiting time and taking me back to Huairou. I thought it was a good deal. This part of the wall is very scenic.
Sep 1, 2011 12:48 AM
11You might be able to catch the fall colours at Mutianyu. My trip was last week of October and it looks like still a little short of peak.
If for some reason the weather is cooler and you missed the Mutianyu colours, you can check out if the colours at Fragrant Hills Park is good. The fall colours there come later than Mutianyu.
Yes, Shanghai is safe in the early morning. I used to live there for a few years and take early morning walks during the weekends.
If you take the bus, there is a direct bus (No 936 - only the one that leaves on the hour goes to Mutianyu) from Dongzhimen. Takes about 2 - 2.5 hours to get there.
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