lay over tour from pek
Replies: 5 - Last Post: Oct 12, 2012 7:18 PM Last Post By: jiejie
Oct 11, 2012 2:08 PM
Oct 11, 2012 4:54 PM
1It's enough time to get into the Forbidden City and have a bit of a fossick around before heading out to the airport again. I'm not sure why you'd need a company (Other than to act as a guide in the Forbidden City itself and you'll probably be able to find a student to do that for you and at a far cheaper rate) as they probably won't be able to get you there any faster than you could yourself (A fairly straight-foward journey. Airport Express to Dongzhimen, transfer to line 2 and go 3 stops to Jianguomen, transfer to line 1 and go 4 stops to Tiananmen East: There).
It would be worth doing.
Oct 12, 2012 12:05 AM
2There are lots of terrible guides around. There are also some good ones. They can range from someone who speaks like a tape recorder regurgitating memorised facts in bad English from the books they read in order to get their guiding license; to someone who is sensitive to your receptiveness and adjusts his/her pace accordingly, speaks good English, and gives facts that are well rounded and balanced with some personal experiences and are not just memorised propaganda.
I would not downplay the value added by a good travel company. Having a fantastic guide makes all the difference, if you appreciate having one at all, and having the private transfers makes all for more comfort.
Ultimately we all have our priorities and not everyone wishes to budget for this. (Heck, I rarely do). For those that do, it can be invaluable to have someone experienced take you around. Maybe this is not the typical Lonely Planet reader, and indeed if you simply want to visit the Forbidden City, walk around, read the signs yourself, or get a brief overview with a museum guide - you can do it very cheaply and i'd advise the same as per #1 and #3.
If you appreciate the attention to detail and see the value of a quality guide - then go per #2. (The idea I mean... i'm not endorsing any specific company here).
Oct 12, 2012 8:32 AM
3You have time to do this yourself. Dispense with any tour guide, you'll just waste your money. Bad tour guides abound, and good tour guides almost give you too much information. You can look on the internet for good information on the Forbidden City, print it out, and carry it with you.
Considering you will be arriving during rush hour: Best procedure for getting there: Airport Express from airport all the way to Dongzhimen Transport Hub Terminus (RMB 25). Follow signs for Line 2 Subway and get ticket (RMB 2). I would NOT follow #1's advice to switch to Line 1 but would take Line 2 southbound all the way to the Qianmen stop. Use Exit C. This will bring you up on the south end of Tiananmen Square by the Qianmen Gate and Arrow Tower. Walk your way around the Square, heading for the Tiananmen Gate (with famous picture of Mao) on the opposite side. This will take you 10 minutes or so but give you the opportunity to ogle from the outside, the Mao Mausoleum, Great Hall of the People, National Museum as well as the Square itself.
Once inside Tiananmen Gate, bypass the ticket booth on the left (that is to access a viewing platform) and head straight back across the huge forecourt towards the Red Walls of the Forbidden City. When you get close to the walls you'll see the ticket takers. Look to your left and you'll see ticket booths. That's where you get yours. You may also rent an English-language Audioguide to serve as your guide, many people like these, and you return them near the north gate exit as you leave, so no backtracking needed.
Depending on how fast you move through the FC, you may or may not have any more walking-around time. Some people take 3-4 hours, others "speed visit" in as little as 1.5 hours. You'll have to see, but you likely won't have much more time other than to get a quick lunch and get back to the Dongzhimen Transport hub to catch the Airport Express. There's no subway near the north part of FC so you'll have to find a cab or take a bus. We can find you a bus route if interested in that. Cabs are sometimes hard to get and you have to walk a bit down the road away from the exit. Around the Transport Hub, there are a variety of fast and OK lunch spots, any preferable to eating at the airport. On the other side of the 2nd Ring Road, there are restaurants lining Dongzhimennei Boulevard in the first block west. Also, modern Raffles City shopping center has quite a few decent places in the lower level food court (catty corner from the Dongzhimen hub on the SW corner of 2nd Ring Road). And Ginza Mall across the street south of the Hub has some as well.
Keep it simple and you'll not go wrong. For a 3 pm departure, I'd be on the Airport Express by 1 pm. Assuming you already have your boarding pass for onward flight and luggage already checked through to destination.
Oct 12, 2012 5:57 PM
I would NOT follow #1's advice to switch to Line 1 but would take Line 2 southbound all the way to the Qianmen stop
This is a good idea as you'll get to mark off Tian'anmen Square/Great Hall of the People/Mao's Mausoleum and I hadn't taken rush hour into consideration. Unless you are arriving during a Chinese holiday when Qianmen/Tian'anmen Square is the LAST place you want to be. But, if you're arriving in a few days/weeks, this shouldn't be a problem.
Oct 12, 2012 7:18 PM
5There's nothing wrong with the advice given in #1, and if the OP's timing was a bit different or if he was REALLY pushed for time, I'd say go with it. But as you know, Line 1 in rush hour is a nightmare and having to switch lines from AE to Line 2, then Line 2 to Line 1 for a newbie, is just inhumane. :-D Plus, it's nice to see T-Square from the south and either east or west, as one approaches Tiananmen and Mao portrait. IMO.
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