Usually I am the one in charge of flight searching because I have the patience to try out a million routes and find the best deals. Last year, I found flights with Oman Air to Thailand that made a stop in Oman, so I decided to make a layover trip since we had to break up our flights anyway. Now I’m all about searching for layover trips when we need to change flights!
When I was looking for our tickets to Australia, I kept noticing that the cheapest two-leg routes went through China, either in Shanghai or Beijing with a minimum layover of 24 hours. I’ve always wanted to see the Great Wall but Kay had already visited Beijing and the wall on a work trip, so he doesn’t really want to plan a whole trip to China. It’s not his favorite country. Whomp whomp.
Buuut, since we basically have to have a layover, I found flights with a 60 hour layover in Beijing so we will arrive at 5:15am on a Sunday, stay two nights and then leave on Tuesday evening before continuing on to Sydney, Australia. Originally I thought we were only staying one night, but I’m excited that we will have two nights and almost three days to see all the sights!
Since 2013, China has been offering a 72 hour transfer visa program for participating countries. It means that we don’t have to apply for a tourist visa at the consulate in Switzerland. Since we are flying on to Sydney, we are allowed to get a visa directly at the airport and visit the city for 72 hours. Woohoo!
Because we are staying for such a short time, especially when I was under the impression that it would only be for two days, I started looking into private guided tours to see the Great Wall. I told Kay that above all, the wall was what I wanted to see the most. I was trying to decide between these three private tour guides:
- Great Wall Hiking: 99% TripAdvisor rating
- Beijing Impression: 95% TripAdvisor rating
- Catherine Lu Tours: 99% TripAdvisor rating
I would love to hike the great wall, but we are going in winter, so I became a little worried that hiking in those conditions on a sometimes unstable wall might not be that fun. For that reason, I focused more on option #2 and #3 with just visiting a section of the wall. Both had lots of ideas for itineraries and helped me decide what I would like to see most. As Kay has already been, he’s been telling me “Whatever you want.” What girl doesn’t love to hear that?? 😀
Here’s what I would probably like to see:
(Photo by Robin Zebrowski on Flickr)
I’m interested in visiting the Mutianyu section and have been warned against visiting the Badaling part. Kay doesn’t remember which part he visited!
(Photo by See-ming Lee on Flickr)
(Photo by Dermot Roantree on Flickr)
Temple of Heaven:
(Photo by IvanWalsh.com on Flickr)
(Photo by Jody McIntyre on Flickr)
(Photo by Jim G on Flickr)
Acrobatic Show at Chaoyang Theater:
(Photo by J Aaron Farr on Flickr)
We ended up booking a one day tour with Catherine Lu Tours to visit the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall in the morning, the summer palace in the afternoon and an acrobatic show at the Chaoyang theater. We rarely see shows when we are on trips, but I read about the acrobatic shows on multiple sites, so I thought, “Why not?”
On the other days we will visit the other places on my list. Now I just need to do a bit of preparation regarding gluten-free eating and we’ll be all set for the Beijing portion of our trip. We do still have some planning to do for Australia too…
*Photos sourced on Flickr using the Creative Commons license*