Travel Guide: Beijing and the Great Wall of China


Location: Beijing, China

Editor’s note:  We chanced upon Anabel’s GORGEOUS instagram account and was totally blown over.  The mum of three has been to some beautiful destinations.  It amazed us how she kept herself and the family looking so fabulous on the road – check out her gallery!  So we reached out and persuaded her to share with us snippets from her private travel journal. Here’s the first, curated from her 11 Days China Tour – Two days in Beijing China, and a trip to the Great Wall of China.  If you’ve ever wondered about climbing the Great Wall of China with a young child and a toddler with a stroller, read on!


Our Two Days in Beijing China

We spent 11 Days in China, covering the cities of Beijing, Hong Kong and Xian in the trip. I went on this trip expecting the most foreign customs and exploring a very different culture and we certainly experienced it!

Beijing China and The Great Wall of China gave us lots of beautiful memories

Our first stop of the trip was Beijing China.

Beijing China is a long way from home. From Salt Lake City, it was an 11-hour flight to Narita Airport (Tokyo). We had use of the Delta Sky Lounge (thankfully) during the layover, before continuing with another 4-hour flight to Beijing, the first stop of our trip.

Our kids were troopers and travelled well! Even after almost 20 hours of travelling, B managed a smile when we finally landed in Beijing.

We were picky with our hotels on this trip. Knowing that we were in such a foreign country we wanted some normalcy, so we stayed in an American-based hotel chain we were familiar with.  Upon arrival, we were given a welcomed surprised – an upgraded to an Executive Suite. It was the perfect place to unwind after our long, long journey.

Day 1 in Beijing China

On the itinerary: Tiananmen Square, The Forbidden City, Beijing Hutong Tour, Jingshan Garden

Jet-lagged, I woke up at 5am and sat by the window and people watched for 1 hour. I could not believe it, I was in BEIJING!  My son, MN, joined me soon after…
Our Beijing Trip with the Great World of China a big highlight for all of us, kids included

After breakfast in the hotel, we started our day sightseeing in Beijing.

First stop: Tiananmen Square…

Tian An Men was one of our other stops during our visit to Beijing China

Definitely packed with people so we didn’t linger too long. It was then onwards to the Forbidden City.

Just outside the city were many little shops with fun things – souvenirs – to buy.

The Forbidden City

They were not kidding when they called it a city. The Forbidden City was HUGE!
Our Beijing China Trip

We just selected a few things to see and carried on. Way too big to see everything – well maybe with a golf cart but they don’t offer that option! :)

The gardens had this very large rock tower in the center… Pretty cool.
A rock garden in Forbidden City in Beijing China.  One of the place we visited was the Great Wall of China

After walking in the heat and humidity for a few hours, we decided it was time to exit.

The Beijing Hutong

Next we went on a tricycle tour of the Hutong.

A Beijing Hutong Tour - the other highlight of our Beijing china Trip was the visit to the Great World of China

The Hutong is the oldest neighbourhood in Beijing. The area is full of little alleys, tiny homes (holding up to 10 families), run down streets, and extremely humble living conditions. We welcomed the tricycle bike ride more than anything, so we could rest. This was truly an eye opening experience, and we felt we saw a slice of the real Beijing.

Jingshan Park

Jingshan park is right across from the Forbidden City. We headed to the gardens after our Hutong tour. The park was a nice break from the cars, crowds and buzzing sounds of the streets.

(Read too:  Ricky recommended Jingshan Park as one of his 5 must-see when visiting Beijing China too! Check out his travel story for his recommendations.) 

There was a walkway up the mountain… The boys (as my eldest daughter BN calls them) went up the ramp path as ‘the girls’ (us!) took the road less traveled up the rock steps.
jing shan gong yuan is a gardens just opposite the forbidden city in Beijing China and the views are awesome!

The views up at top were totally worth the hike! I had no idea there was a lake there, haha!  The view at the platform – just a very small portion of the city of Beijing…

Jingshan gong yuan was a nice place to spend an afternoon in Beijing China with the kids. The other place to visit would be the Great Wall of China

On the other side of the viewing platform was the Forbidden City, in all its glory…
Our Beijing China trip was not just about the Great Wall of China - the Forbidden City featured too!

Playing Dress Up right in the city of Beijing!

Further up the gardens was a Chinese Temple. Just opposite the temple was a stall with authentic Chinese clothing. For a small fee we got all dressed up and took pictures.
Beijing China with our kids - playing dress up in the middle of the city was fun
Unfortunately there was no shade and the sun was blazing down – it was hot and we were perspiring!

Our kids got a lot of attention everywhere we went…

Our Beijing China trip with our kids included a visit to the Great Wall of China


 Day 2 in Beijing China

On the itinerary: The Great Wall of China

We spent one day for our visit to the Great Wall of China.  Mutianyu was great for families with kids

Our big stop for the day was none other than THE GREAT WALL of China. We hired a driver for the day since the wall is about 1 hour from the city. He picked us up bright and early and we were on our way to see one of the 7 Wonders of the World!!

Mutianyu

We picked the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall of China, because its further away from the city and thus a little less crowded. At the bottom of the wall are a ton of little shops. Still, less crowded is still quite crowded – as you will see!

Mutianyu is the section on the Great Wall of China in Bejing China we chose to visit.

We had taken a quick cable car ride up the Great Wall of China.  Only to realise how foggy it was up there. And hot – oh the weather was hot in Beijing in June! We were sweating by the time we disembarked from the cable car!  From then on we took refuge at every tower we reach – that will be the covered shelter in the picture.  It was cool and windy in there.

The Great Wall of China was a must visit - Mutianyu was a great section to consider if travelling with kids to Beijing China

Still we had a long way to go. When I mapped out our path I picked the direction that would take us downhill so luckily we didn’t have to worry about climbing up otherwise we would have probably passed out.

The fog was a little disappointing because it blocked the long distance view but our driver/guide told us it was a blessing, it made the weather less hot and more bearable.

The wall is truly magnificent.  I cannot believe it was built so many years ago in such a difficult terrain. I loved seeing my little man exploring around the Great Wall of China – it filled my heart.

My little man exploring the Great World of China. Our trip to Beijing China is made special with moments like this!

A Stroller on the Great Wall of China?

Our guide Steve was such a huge help. He totally helped us in anyway possible with our kiddos, even pulling the stroller so daddy can walk with the kids and I could take pictures.

A stroller on the Great Wall of China is a hassle... but possible!

Okay so I know we are crazy for taking a stroller to the Great Wall of China – who does that??! People were looking at us like we were idiots, and I would do the same if I saw someone else do that. Well these were the reasons:

1) We were trying to protect MN from himself. From wondering off and grabbing every little piece of rock / trash off the floor to play with.

2) The stroller offered some shade and protection from the blazing sun.

3) The stroller was the only place MN will take naps outside of a car seat or a crib.

Travel Tip: Take along the stroller if you think the kid's gonna take a nap

Travel Tip: A Stroller may be a hassle to carry around, but so useful for a quick power-baby nap!

4) The stroller serves as a carrier for the diaper bag, souvenirs, snacks and water.

5) I have strong husband who does not mind carrying it down a million steep steps! :)

My hubs carrying the stroller at the Great Wall of China

The Tobbagon ride down the Great Wall of China

Another huge reason why we picked the Mutianyu wall section is because they have a sliding car track as an option for getting down the wall. We knew our daughter BN would be thrilled to ride it. She definitely deserve a reward for walking the whole distance and enduring the heat!

The Ride down the Great Wall of China at Mutianyu was one of our best memories of the trip

I mean, how cool is this? Where else in the world can you slide down a cart from one of the most AMAZING structures known to man, one of the seven wonders of the world?!  It was such a long course, you could go super fast and it was surrounded by greenery everywhere – we LOVED IT!! Brielle kept telling me to go faster and we were both laughing hysterically. One of my fondest memories of the trip, for sure…

Lunch at The Schoolhouse

For our late lunch, Steven (our driver) recommended The Schoolhouse.   This was an American owned restaurant that served excellent (familiar) food, located just at the foot of Mutianyu.  It was a great place to chill and cool off after a hot day on the Great Wall.

Our Driver

Our Driver Steve in Beijing China

I wanted to get a photo of our driver Steve too. He was such a genuinely nice guy!


+The Beijing Zoo

We didn’t cover the Beijing Zoo during the first two days of our visit, but we visited Beijing Zoo on our last day in China, before flying home to USA.

I had promised Bri she could see the Giant Pandas. After all we could not go to China and not see a Giant Panda!

Well the exhibit was quite sad as one of the Pandas looked like it was missing an eye… Luckily the kids liked it anyway.

Apart from the Great Wall of China, out Beijing visit with the kids included the Beijing Zoo

The zoo was beautifully landscaped and we enjoyed the scenery. The stone sculptures were lovely and the kids enjoyed playing with them…

Our Beijing China trip - The Beijing Zoo was another attraction we saw besides the Great Wall of China.

The exhibits however, were not as attractive… I just felt sorry for the elephants and could not bring myself to take any pictures.

The Beijing Zoo was the only activity we did that was not touristic. I meant, we were the only tourists there. Everyone stared at us, probably because it was such an unlikely place to go for a foreigner? We saw true Chinese living there and had fun soaking in the local vibe.


So ended our “Two Days” sightseeing in Beijing China. We were booked on an early flight to Shanghai the next morning, for a connection to Hong Kong (a 5-hour journey). More on our time in Hong Kong coming up!


4 Comments on “Travel Guide: Beijing and the Great Wall of China

  1. Pingback: Visiting the Terracotta Army in Xian | Kids On Board

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