Beijing Getaways to Soak Up the Summer

Beijing Getaways to Soak Up the Summer
By Mark Turner ,

With spring well and truly on its way, many people will be thinking about coming out of hibernation, casting their DVD box-sets and take away pizza boxes aside and taking a weekend break. Echinacities brings you some of the best getaway locations around Beijing.

Longqing Gorge 龙庆峡
Longqing Gorge is one of Beijing’s better known recreation areas and is home to northern China’s largest damn, which stands at 70m high and has the appearance of a man made waterfall in wetter times. The Longqing gorge stretches over a space of 119 sq km. The gorge’s main draw is its rock scenery, which is reminiscent of a scaled down version of the delicate karst scenery of southern areas of beauty such as Yangshuo in Guilin. Longqing is perfect for those that have not the time to travel down south, but would like to see some nature and getaway from the city for a day or a weekend.

The gorge area is good for a summer time visit; the local tourist authorities boast that the area has temperatures up to 6 degrees lower than downtown Beijing, making it a tranquil and cooler place to do some sight seeing; although as in many of the better known tourist spots, be prepared to come face to face with crowds of fellow tourists.
There are various options around Longqing for accommodation although it is best to aim expectations fairly low so as not to be disappointed.

Location: Yanqing County, about 85 km from downtown of Beijing
Tel: 010 6919 1020
Admission: RMB 40/person
Opening Hrs: 7:30 - 16:30
How to get there:
Take Bus No. 919 at Deshengmen to Yanqinag and transfer to 920 Huanxian to Longqing Gorge.

Miyun Reservoir 密云水库
Miyun is the reservoir that supplies Beijing with a reasonable proportion of its water supplies. It is a popular amongst locals for fishing, boating and hiking. It is worth noting that swimming in the reservoir, as tempting as it maybe, is not permitted. The area is also home to a number of amusement parks. For those seeking out nature, it is available in spades; if you are prepared to venture of the beaten track a little. Set back behind the reservoir, there are hills which conceal rock pools good for swimming and plenty of lush greenery which will make you forget all about the drab asphalt that lines much of Beijing. These oases are easily accessible and not as crowded as the touristy commercial areas of Miyun. The hotel most commonly recognised for decent standard is Miyun Yunhu Holiday Resort.

Another great draw of the area is Simatai, which is one of the most unspoiled and least renovated sections of the Great Wall, in the capital’s environs. The stretch of the wall is commercialised enough to boast a cable car to reach up to the 8th of the many watchtowers. It is said to be well worth taking the climb up the slopes and that the views live up to the expectations of many China travellers, unlike the more recently built upon tourist oriented Badaling stretch of the wall.

Location: Miyuan County, around 120 km from downtown of Beijing
How to get there:
By bus, take either 916 or 936 from Dongzhimen (东直门) and get off at Miyun (密云
Miyun Yunhu Holiday Resort – 010 6904 4587

Beidaihe and Nandaihe 北戴河、南戴河
Beidaihe, given by many the moniker ‘The Beijing Riviera’, is a coastal resort and sleepy town that comes to life a little at night by means of a pleasant little market. The town is the site of a number of houses built by expatriates in the last century that are now holiday homes for Beijing officials. Swimming in Beidaihe is fine although the sea does not have the name of Qingdao, which many believe to have some of the cleanest waters in the north. For bathing, the best bet is to go to Nandaihe, which is easily accessible by bus or taxi. Beidaihe and Nandaihe are around 15km from the city of Qinghuandao and have a nice sleepy atmosphere. However, be warned; they can be extremely busy in high season. Accommodation in the form of guesthouses is easily found by taking a short walk along the main drag of the town.

Lovers of fish and seafood will be delighted by the area’s plethora of seafood restaurants. Unfortunately for strict vegetarians and people hoping for a western style dining experience, there is little else on offer. If you take Beidaihe at face value and enjoy it for what it is; it can be a destination for a very nice and unpretentious summer getaway break. The Victorian period-style swimming costumes on show on the crowded beach will almost certainly guarantee a giggle, if nothing else will.

Location: Western Part of Qinghuangdao City
How to get there:
D Train
D 21, D 515, D11, D517 from Beijing Railway Station to Beidaihe (Price around 100 RMB and takes about 2 hours)

Chengde 承德
Chengde is an historical town to the north of Beijing (4 hours by train to be precise). It was an area that Qing Dynasty emperor Kangxi took a liking to in the late seventeenth century. It subsequently became the site of numerous palaces, temples, monasteries pagodas and gardens. Chengde is the site at which two Chinese emperors passed away; for this reason it was seen as unlucky and fell out of favour with the imperial ‘crowd’. Luckily, with a well preserved palace that is even larger than Beijing’s summer palace, Chengde is most certainly a place in favour with those who enjoy roaming around beautiful Chinese historical sites.

A good proportion of the town is comprised of an area named Chengde Summer Palace (Bishu Shanzhuang 避暑山庄). The architecture in Bishu Shanzhuang is in stark contrast to Beijing’s grand, red painted wonders. They have a simple elegant beauty of their own, which is said to have originated in Kangxi’s wish to replicate a Manchurian village. People visiting the site can easily spend a whole day wandering around the area. It also has a multitude of Buddhist temples in various minority architectural styles. One of the more colourful ones is the ‘Hall of All Laws Falling into One’, which has a charming Buddhist drum made from infants’ skulls. If that doesn’t put you off your food then you have no need to worry as Lizhengmen Lu and Qingfeng Restaurant Street have dining establishments-a-plenty. A number of hotels can also be found in Lizhengmen Lu.

Chengde Summer Palace 避暑山庄
Add: Northern Part of Chengde City, Hebei Province
How to get there:
Take the train from Beijing Railway Station. From Chengde Station take a taxi to the Summer Palace (takes around 10 RMB) 

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