DIY Beijing

Riding a train from HK to Beijing will take you 24 hours than the 4 hour plane ride but like everything else this has its pros and cons just like the UK flight delays.   You may be hassled with the long hours but sight seeing the country side is quite splendid and sleeping overnight on train is another adventure.

You can book your hotel beforehand here.

From Hung Hom Station you can get a train ride from HK to Beijing.  Buying the tickets is easy.  You can get this straight from the airport with a travel agency that charges only 5HK$ or go to Hung Hom station.  It is recommended to buy it a few days beforehand especially on holidays. Tickets may just run out.

Getting to HungHom station is easy.  You can ride the MTR or you can ride the cab once you reach TST (Tsim Sha Tsui) which is in Kowloon side.  When you get to Hung Hom station, look for the “long train.”  It is easy to ask people around the station where the “long train” is.  They can guide you as they are used to tourist.  Then you will enter the customs and immigration.  You may have to show your passport if you are not a citizen or a resident.

When you reach the train, there will be many cars.  You can freely choose your car according to the class you purchased.  The sleeper car is comfortable for a 24 hour ride.    Bed, blanket, pillows are provided.  The mattress has enough cushion.  It is not comfortable like in a hotel but it is neither too thin for all your weight.  The bottom bed is easier to be in since the top bunk will only provide you a single stepper to climb on.  You must be agile if you choose the upper bed.  Hot water is also provided.  Do not expect a towel and tissue for bathroom purposes.  You must bring this.  Common train restrooms will always be a hassle.  Nonetheless, they have a washroom separate from the toilet.  This makes it a little bit better.  There is food being sold on the train.  They are not the cheapest but not ridiculously priced as well.

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The train is not a bullet train.  Expect the train to arrive more than 24 hours than the given time of 23 hours and 30 minutes.  After that, you will arrive Beijing Railway Station and pass through customs and immigration again.  Getting out of immigration is a whole new world because if not difficult, it is impossible to find someone that speaks English.  Welcome to Beijing!  You must also prepare Chinese money or Yuan because they do not have money exchange inside the train station.  You must go to a bank to get your money exchanged.  Banks close at 6.

It would be better to book a hotel beforehand.  Otherwise, go to Nalugoxiang.  It costs 2 Yuans for a train ride going there.  Nanlugoxiang is a backpackers area where most people can speak English.  Although named as backpacker’s area, the street is decent and actually beautiful.  They have small trendy shops of everything and a night market later on.  There are also a inch of hostel and hotels in the area.  Peking Cafe is highly recommended.  It is a hostel on the second floor and a cafe at the ground.  They serve Illy coffee whcich makes them even better.  Staying here for a dorm type costs 20US$ and a single room costs around 70US$.  The place smells like flowers when you go in.  It is a garden type and they have a common patio that looks nice as well. Wifi is available.

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After you have found comfort, it is time to roam around Beijing.  The Great Wall of China should not be missed.  Getting a tour guide would be the easiest option to have a more comfortable guided tour.  It should also be cheaper if you are in a group.  Nanlugoxiang offers tour and accommodate a single tourist to join in a group.  Nonetheless, for an adventurous ride, you can choose to ride a bus going to the Badaling Great Wall.  Ride the 919 bus and it will drop you off at the Great Wall Museum.  This is an hour and half ride.  The cost is 12 Yuan.  Then form the museum, which is closed, you ride the free bus going to the Great Wall.  Buy your tickets when you go down.  They do not speak English and there are no signs.  Choose to pay the entrance.  The cable car is being offered but maybe it works or maybe it does not.  Unless you speak Chinese, you would not know.  Paying the entrance is enough.

You will not get lost at the great wall.  There is only one entrance and you can get the map from the Tourist Information.  Watch out for snatchers and vendors that will sell you anything.  They might not work after 5 minutes.  Go follow the people going north or going South.  The Great Wall is vast.  If you choose the North, it is quite a hike.  There will be many people going up with you as well.  expect a lot of tourist taking photos just as you would be.  Going down, you can either walk or take the “slide.”  The car-slide takes you to the South Side where you can feed pandas.  It costs 5 Yuans to feed the Pandas and you have to hike up again towards the exit.

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Going back,take the 919 bus again towards the city.  There will still be enough time for the Olympic stadium.  You can go down the Olympic stadium.  Once you reach above the station, you will see a bunch of tourists going to one direction.  You do not need tickets to view the Bird’s Nests and other Stadium.  You can also to choose to pay so that you can go inside of it.

It is good to go late afternoon and wait until sunset.  The lights of the stadiums will open and you could see the stadiums glow in different colors. The place is more lively at night as there will be vendors selling toys and food.  There will also be a street show of some sorts from kids doing tricks to adults playing music.

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The next day is another great day for Beijing.  The tour would not be complete without visiting Tiananmen Square.  Enter the Forbidden City and feel nature right in the middle of the area.  You can see plenty of older Chinese doing Wu Shu (Chinese martial arts) and you can follow them for your workout.  Tiananmen Square also has the their Monument, National Flag and the National Museum of China.  It is the third largest city square in the world.

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