Welcome to another post of Behind The Lens! In this section I will be writing a little guide about the places we visit. We travel with a tight budget so that means we have to prepare quite a lot before hand, and that also means that we are able to get to know quite a lot about the countries we visit so I thought that would be a nice idea to share it so you can benefit of it and hopefully save you time. I will include images, tips, hotels, restaurants, routes and many more. Also make sure you check the bold words together with the Tips section to get key information about your trip.
I really hope you enjoy it and find it useful!
For this trip I was using the DJI Mavic Pro, which I really recommend for its capabilities. However if you are in a tighter budget then you should consider getting the DJI Spark. On the other hand, if you want to get the best results you should consider getting the DJI Mavic Pro 2. The camera I used is the Sony a7R and with it i used some lenses such as the Sigma 16mm 1.4 and the Sony 50mm 1.8. Also for a smooth results I use the Ronin SC which is the best cheap stabiliser you can get on the market. Check out the following links:
We had the chance to visit Beijing for 4 days and we came back really stocked about the experience. It was cheaper and better than we expected, do you want to know why?
Why did we go to Beijing for 4 days? you may ask… Well the reason why is because it was a stopover to our final destination. But is it worth going to China for just 4 days, knowing that you have to get a visa? The answer is very simple: YES!
This is very important: If you stay in Beijing for less that 144 hours you do not need a full tourist visa! All you need is a 144h transit visa, which is completely free of charge and no need to request it, as you will need to fill up the form at the airport upon arrival. This is a very interesting option that I did not know about, as you can stopover in China for 5 days or less and not have to worry about paying extra £100 per person just for the visa. You must know that there are some restrictions like for example you can only move around Beijing and Tianjin, so if you want to do that you should check properly where you can go.
As well if you are planning to take your drone you must know that is fine to bring it to the country and to fly it outside the city, however you should register your drone, for that you will need a Chinese phone number, find more information on google about it. Note that Beijing city is a No Fly Zone so you won’t be able to fly it on the city. If you want to fly it on the Great Wall you should be fine but as I always say, be careful and responsible, where we were there was a helicopter flying every 20 minutes so do not risk.
In our case we flew to Beijing International Airport, once there we asked for the transit visa desk where we had to fill up a form and show it in immigration desk. Once you do that then you are free to go, bear in mind that it will take you a few hours because of the queues, it took us more than 2h to get everything done, so keep that in mind.
Our accommodation was Nostalgia Hotel Temple of Heaven and the price was around £80 for both of us in total, so it was quite cheap and the place was quite good. They hardly speak english in the country so do not expect too much. The place was in a good location because it was close to everything we wanted to visit but it was 20min walk distance to the nearest tube station which was not ideal. Taxis are cheap but i would recommend to get accommodation near a tube station.
On our full first day we visited the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square and Wangfujing Street.
I really recommend visiting the Forbidden city as it is quite unique, it was forbidden for such a long time to visit but it is open for tourists now. It makes you feel like you are in the Ming Dynasty era.
Tiananmen Square is quite impressive and there is a lot of history behind it so would be great if you can read about that square before you visit.
Wangfujing Street looks like a big European city street full of shops, do not visit if you are there just for the oriental vibe.
The day after we visited the Great Wall, which was the highlight of the trip. There are many companies that offer those tours. After doing a lot of search i could find these 2 options: By bus (cheap and complete) or by Taxi (more expensive but very flexible).
If you want to hike for the full day and your priority is to be free from tourists then go for the taxi option, but it is not a normal taxi, you need to find the contacts that can drive you to the stretch of Great Wall that you want and back, normally this service costs around £90-110 for a driver only. The driver would pick you up from hotel at around 8am and return at around 5pm but they are very flexible so you just tell them what you want. This option is ideal if you are in a big group of at least 4 people.
If not, the best and cheapest option is the bus, the cheapest and best option is getyourguide.es which is a spanish website but you can change language and currency. They will take you by bus to Mutianyu and back for just £9 per person! And there is a tour guide on the bus too. You can book food with them for an extra costs, and you can buy through them the tickets to the great wall and the cable car, that way you will avoid queues.
Did you know that the great wall is 27.000km long? As you can imagine will be hard to choose where to go if you want to visit it. Well, keep tuned as I will make a guide about the Great wall, where to go, why, costs and more. For now i must say that if you can just visit it within a day then Mutianyu is your best bet, not as crowded as other places and quite close to Beijing. Badaling is the most crowded place so I would not recommend going there.
On our last full day in Beijing we visited the Hutongs, which are the old streets of Beijing where you can still see their culture unchanged. It’s amazing to see those streets and shops but looks like the tourism will destroy its culture at some point so make sure you visit them in your next visit to Beijing. You can spend a full day around those areas and there are plenty of activities to do.
Keep in mind that they do not speak english in general so you will be fine using a translator so you can speak and it translates to Chinese text, they are familiar with it so they will be able to communicate fine. Taxis are really cheap so it is a great way to travel around but tube is cheaper and really easy and well connected. If you take taxis make sure they use the meter, if not feel free to tell them to use it or bargain the price.
You will not have access to any app that belongs to google nor facebook (google maps, instagram, whatsapp etc) so make sure you get an alternative app for maps, for chatting etc or better download Express VPN to be able to use them all!
Food is amazing so almost anywhere you go will be fine, but if you can, make sure you visit Siji Minfu to get the best Peking Duck in town. The price is around £10 per person to get half duck each with pancakes. Not just that but you will see how they cut it in front of you and that alone is amazing! The taste is amazing, but the quantity is not massive so you may want to get some starters.
There are plenty of ATMs around town so that will not be an issue. Also if you are in Beijing with the transit visa make sure you get to the airport with plenty of time as you don’t want to miss the flight.
I would recommend booking accommodation through booking.com and to get the app, as they have an option where you can see your accommodation in the local language so you can show the authorities or to the taxis for them to know where to take you, that really helps. Remember you are in a very different country so any extra tip will save your time.
Book your bus to the great wall in advanced to get the cheapest price and availability. Once you book it they will send you all the details you need to know so it is quite straight forward, also next to the bus stop where the bus takes you to Mutianyu, you will find a 7eleven where you can buy food for the day and also to grab a coffee for the trip.
Do you have any questions? Drop a comment or contact me directly.
Do you want to see the video of the Great Wall?