Take Some Time Out with These 6 Weekend Getaways
China's sporadic short holidays make it slightly more complicated to plan for trips to other countries, so the best option is often to head for the hills and not stray too far away from the city. Below are seven places to do just that – all are close enough to reach and unwind over a weekend.
Gubei Water Town
This area near the Simatai Great Wall was specially designed to have an ancient water town feel and as such is replete with canals, quartzite paths, and narrow streets. The area has two five star hotels, six boutique hotels, and numerous cultural areas. If you want something a little more structured you can opt for tailormade tours, such as a night hike up the Great Wall, providing both an exhilarating and novel to explore Gubei. However, the entire area is still in the process of development and only some sections are currently accessible to the public.
Good for: Small to medium groups
Prices: Varies depending on the type of accommodation
Local attractions: Night walks up the Great Wall, hiking trails, and boat rides
The Brickyard Inn and Retreat Center
Located at the foothills of the Mutianyu Great Wall, The Brickyard Retreat Inn has been a longtime expat favorite thanks to its organic food and various activities, such as jazz performances and yoga. The retreat was established in 2005 by an expat couple who bought the then rundown buildings and transformed them into accommodation, a restaurant, and even a glass studio. The Brickyard features 25 guest rooms in the main building and nine luxury homes. The inn are able to organize activities for guests, including a bike ride around the encapsulating Bohai Township, along one of the 12 routes designed by a former intern at the retreat.
Good for: Groups
Prices: Starting at RMB 1,080 per night (does not include breakfast)
Local attractions: Walking through the orchards, hiking the Great Wall, cycling around the Bohai Township, taking a tour of the villages
If you're looking to spend a relaxing extended weekend within the heart of Beijing, then the Mountainyoga is a great option. The retreat, which is spread over three courtyards, offers various activities, such as yoga, meditation, drumming circles, tea ceremonies, and more. All the meals are vegetarian and camping is allowed on the rooftop terrace during warmer months. There’s also a dining hall and a small gift shop.
Good for: Groups
Prices: RMB 150 for a half day retreat/RMB 300 for a full day retreat
Local attraction: Sleeping Buddha temple, Botanical Gardens, and the Fragrant Hills
Located in the heart of the hutongs near Wangfujing, 3-in-1 Bedrooms is a chic and minimalist family-owned boutique hotel. The place is ideal for couples looking for some alone time at a decent price. Each room, of which there are four in total, are all ensuite. One even has a rain shower, a day bed, and more. The location makes it ideal for those who don’t want to travel all the way out of town or for couples that live in Changping and Pinggu districts that want a dose of hutong life.
Good for: Couples
Prices: RMB 1,180-plus per night per two people
Local attractions: The St. Joseph’s Wangfujing Cathedral Church, Wangfujing Night Snack Street, Prince Gong Mansion, Former residence of Song Qingling
Shan Li Retreats
Situated 90km from Beijing, Shan Li Retreats are beautifully renovated traditional houses, offering a serene countryside getaway. There are five properties in total: Poshang, Banpo, Qianjia, Shanjiaoxi, and Stone House, all located in Huangyankou Village. Each house has a living room, fireplace, garden access, kitchen, and come with one to three bedrooms.
Good for: Groups
Prices: RMB 4,500 per night (Poshang); RMB 1,500 per night (Banpo); RMB 3,500 per night (Qianjia); RMB 2,800 per night (Shanjiaoxi); RMB 900 per night per room (Stone House)
Local attractions: Hiking via trails marked by the owners
Commune by the Great Wall
Since its inception, Commune by the Great Wall has won numerous architectural accolades. This boutique hotel initially had 12 villas but later expanded to over 40. Choose from standard rooms, superior rooms, deluxe rooms, deluxe suites, Great Wall view rooms, and presidential suites. Three to six guest rooms are located in one villa, which share a common living room.
Good for: Multi-group
Price: Email for quotes
Local attraction: The location has private access to an unrestored section of the Great Wall, as well as a pool, poolside café, a kid's club, and separate TV rooms
If you want rich history in a relaxing setting then Cuandixia Village is the place for you. The 400-year-old village has over 700 preserved courtyards from the Ming (1368–1644) and Qing (1644-1912) dynasties. It's a two and a half hour drive to the site with a hike to the gate of the village at the foot of the mountain.
Good for: Small groups
Prices: Varies depending on the guesthouse. Stay in a villager's home for an agreed price
Local attractions: There's a scenic area that requires a RMB 35 admission fee. Otherwise, there is plenty to see just by walking around the courtyards and temples, and on nearby hikes. Only local cuisines are available in the village, using traditional cooking methods, perfect for photo opportunities and a closer look at how the food is prepared
This article originally appeared on our sister site beijingkids.
Photo: China Daily