Archive for the ‘Travel – Beijing’ Category

Beijing Subway: The Longer, The Better

Before the end of the year, Beijing is set to extend the tracks of three subway lines and open a new line to offer respite to the travelling public.

New Line:  Line 6

The only new line opening this year would be line 6 which runs parallel to line 1, a little bit to the north and runs from east to west.  This will give the overcrowded line 1 a breather and more options for interchange for travelers to cut their journey short.

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Notable interchanges in line 6 are:

  • Line 10:  Hujialou (East) and Cishousi (West)
  • Line 2:  Chaoyangmen (East) and Chegongzhuang (West)
  • Line 5:  Dongsi
  • Line 4:  Ping’anli
  • Line 9:  Baishiqiao South

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Hotel Review: Novotel Sanyuan

Wouldn’t it be nice to stay in different hotels for free, be paid to give a review about the place?  If only that’s possible for me, I’d grab that chance.  However, since I can’t, I’ll just make do with hotel stays that I get for free from my friends who don’t want to use their vouchers or avail of the off-peak and discounted rates.

Last quarter, I reviewed Accor hotel, Novotel Beijing Peace near Wangfujing.  This time, I’m back in Sanyuan area to review another Accor hotel, Novotel Sanyuan.  This will be my 5th hotel review this year for hotels in China and the 3rd in Beijing.

Location

Novotel Sanyuan is a mid-range hotel just outside exit D of Sanyuanqiao subway station line 10 or Airport Express station.  For a cheaper option, walk two buildings behind to Ibis Hotel Sanyuan.  Getting a taxi can sometimes be a pain in the area as the hotel staff are nowhere to be found outside the hotel.  If you are lucky, you might be able to grab the cab of a guest who just arrived.  If not, you will be fighting for a cab with other airport express passengers and office personnel.

The roads around the area are quite dusty as construction of office buildings two blocks away are currently ongoing.  Food choices are quite limited and will require walking towards the residential buildings in the vicinity.  There’s not much to see nor places to shop so you might as well hop on the subway to go to a mall somewhere in Beijing.

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Fast Forward: Shanghai

Planning to travel to Shanghai next month?  Why not try the Beijing-Shanghai high speed railway train that everyone’s been waiting for.  No need to wait a long time at the airport gates nor travel to and from the airport.  The exact date of operation has yet to be announced but news reports are saying that it would either be by the end of June or early July.

The Beijing to Shanghai high speed railway train will be running in two different speeds on this 1,318 kilometer track. 

  • Speed: 300 kph.  
  • No. of trains daily:  63 pairs of trains
  • Travel time:  4 hours and 48 minutes
  • Ticket costs:  RMB 555 for coach class,  RMB 935 for business class and RMB 1,750 for first class
  • Speed:  250 kph
    • No. of trains daily:  27 pairs of trains
    • Travel time:  approximately 8 hours
    • Ticket costs:  RMB 410 for coach class and RMB 650 for first class

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    Day Trip: Kangxi Grassland and Tianmo Desert

    Do you want to experience the grasslands and the desert without travelling all the way to Inner Mongolia?  Look no further as this day trip option is roughly 2-1/2 hours drive from Beijing’s city center.

    Kangxi Grassland (康西草原)

    grassland1Kangxi Grassland is located west of Kangzhuang town in Yanqing County.  When you’re driving, take the 217 exit a few minutes past the Badaling Great Wall.  If cars or people stopped you on your way to the Grassland, ignore them and just follow the signs.  When you reach a T-section, turn right and then turn left immediately in the first corner.

    When you reach the place, you have the option to walk or ride a horse.  We opted to walk and head to the first in a series of windmills.  Horse rental is a bit steep and per hour.  With a horse though you can go far and be able to take better shots with the mountain range closer to your background.

    While walking, beware of horse dung on the path and in the grass.  Best time to visit the place is summer when the grass is green.  When we went there last week, the grass was still brown.  Other activities which you can try is stay overnight in the yurts, ride on a horse carriage, eat some Inner Mongolian food at the only restaurant in that place.

    We just took some pictures and moved on to our next destination.  It was a bit of a letdown as we were hoping for the grass to be green.

    • Entrance Fee:  RMB 30
    • Opening hours: 8am to 5pm

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    Hotel Review: Novetel Beijing Peace

    image For this quarter, I will be reviewing another Accor member hotel, Novotel. Marketed as a mid-range hotel, standard room price ranges from RMB 500 to RMB 900 depending on the season. In Beijing, Novotel has several locations such as Chong Wen Men, Sanyuanqiao and Wangfujing. Of the three locations, the cheapest is Novotel Beijing Xin Qiao located in Chong Wen Men.

    Location

    Novotel Beijing Peace (和平酒店) is located at #3 Jinyu Hutong, Wangfujing. Nearest subway stop is line 5, Dengshikou station. The hotel can also be access from Line 1, Dongdan station but it’s still a fair walk. If you’re taking a cab, just tell them the name in Chinese or tell them to bring you to Wangfujing.

    Wangfujing is the pedestrian street of Beijing and the hotel is a 2 minute walk from the inner end of the street near Lotte Mall. Food places abound in the area and if you’re a car aficionado, a walk towards Jin Bao Street will bring you to the Ferrari, Matserati, Aston Martin, Lambourghini and Rolls Royce show rooms. High end shops are also in the area with Louis Vitton at the Peninsula Hotel and Gucci at Jinbao Place.

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    Winter at the Great Wall

    Every winter season, I always get a kicked out of experiencing snowfall. Coming from a tropical country where snow can only be seen in movies, experiencing it makes you feel like a kid again. Thus, this year, my friends who are into photography made a pact that on the next snowfall, we will go to the Great Wall to see it in its winter glory.

    image

    Last weekend, the heavens opened its skies and flurries fell down to the ground.  One of my friend headed to Jinshanling part of the Great Wall.  His photos are quite awesome.  As for me, friends from Philippines and Singapore were in town for a visit and we headed to Mutianyu part of the Great Wall.  Initially, I was hesitant to join as I really wanted some rest.  Since there was a snow forecast, I happily went with them to the Great Wall.

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    Hotel Review: Courtyard Beijing Northeast

    imageLast year, I reviewed four hotels in Beijing.  This year, I’m starting with a review of one of Marriott’s chain hotels, Courtyard.

    Location

    You might be confused between Courtyard Beijing Northeast and Beijing Marriott Northeast.  Both hotels are part of the Marriott chain.  Courtyard Beijing Northeast is opposite Lido Hotel along Jing Mi Road (formerly Jing Shun Road) in Wangjing area.

    One bad thing about the area is it’s favorable if your heading to the west of Beijing than to the east as the turnabout is quite far and will put some extra RMB on your taxi meter. 

    If you want to eat out, there are several restaurants in the Lido hotel area which is roughly 10-20 mins walk from the hotel.

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    Skiing at Nanshan

    After spending almost five years in Beijing, I have never envisioned myself learning how to ski. I remembered winning some ski tickets 2 years back but was busy when the day arrived. Last Sunday, I was already planning to go to church and attend our team activity in the afternoon but was encouraged to attend by friends from the Philippines who were in town to celebrate RS’ birthday party at Nanshan.

    skiing-grp

    Getting There

    The Nanshan Ski Village is located near Miyun County, 62 km from Wanghe Bridge, north of Beijing. They have 21 trails for skiing and snowboarding. You have three options of getting there by car:

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    Hotel Review: Kunlun Hotel

    imageHotel seems to be my passion this year as this will be the fourth hotel that I will be reviewing.  I was able to experience this hotel as this seems to be my boyfriend’s company’s choice of hotel. 

    Location & Background

    Kunlun Hotel opened its doors in 1989 and underwent some renovation to its rooms and lobby in 2005.  The hotel is located along East Third Ring Road and just outside Liangmaqiao station of subway line 10.  In the vicinity of the hotel, you have Westin Hotel, Kempinski Hotel and the Lufthansa embassy area.  China gave them a 5 star hotel rating but for me, I think it will pass as 4 stars.

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    Hotel Review: Ibis Hotel Sanyuan

    image Going to Beijing and on a budget?  Not keen on staying at a backpacker’s hostel?  Look no further as this Accor member hotel is less than 5 minutes walk to Line 10 and Airport Express subway lines. 

    Location and Price

    This fourteen storey hotel is an Accor member hotel known for their budget accommodation.  Current walk-in rates are RMB 350 for an overnight stay, RMB 175 for day-use and RMB 25 for breakfast.   Booking online (http://www.ibishotel.com) might get you cheaper rates but not all the time.

    This Ibis hotel is located at bldg B of Phoenix City, north of Sanyuan bridge.  Closest subway station is line 10 and airport express.  Subway stop is Sanyuanqiao, exit D.

    In this area, there are two Accor hotels, the mid-range Novotel Sanyuan and Ibis Hotel Sanyuan.  Novotel Sanyuan is just outside the subway exit.  Ibis Hotel is just two narrow buildings behind Novotel.

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