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Beijing With Kids

Beijing should be on your life time’s travel bucket list.  Home to the Great Wall, Tiananmen Square and unfortunately plentiful pollution.  So pick your timing wisely – Sep/Oct for warm and sunny days or late March to mid May when winds blow away the pollution (although you might get sand instead).

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Siok took her family (husband + Harish (4) and Anika (2) to Beijing for 4 nights over the Easter holiday. The temperature hovered around 20-22 degrees during the day. It also rained off and on but not bad enough to ruin the holiday.

Hotel Booking
Jo Chapman from Flightcentre helped us booked the flights, transfer, and the hotel. We booked a few excursions ourselves with a company called stretch-a-leg. Flightcentre also organised our visas in advance.

The flight
We took the 9AM flight out of HKG, and arrived at Beijing after mid-day. It was a relatively painless flight – our eldest was busy with stickers, the Jetlag & Mayhem travel pack, the ipad, and his new kidz-gear headphones. Our 2 year old napped for over an hour.

Flightcentre organized transfer from the airport to the hotel. It took only 45 min to the hotel because it was not rush hour (avoid the latter like the plague).

The Grand Hyatt Beijing
The hotel is conveniently located near Tiananmen Square. It is also adjacent to a big shopping mall. We booked a double bedroom suite on their Club floor which gave us access to the Grand Club. After a day of walking around it was nice to come back, relax in the Club with some drinks and food!

The living room was nice for the children to spread their toys around. At check-in they were given a plush panda each, and the hotel left us a welcome basket with a bottle of red wine – which we thought was a nice touch.

The Grand Hyatt arguably has the best indoor pool in Beijing. It is large, and has different depths and many nooks and crannies to explore. A large area of the pool is quite shallow which was great for our 2 ys old.

There are a few restaurants in the hotel: the buffet at Grand Café, an Italian restaurant, a famous Chinese restaurant called Made in China (recommended, need to pre-book their famous Beijing duck), and a bar/lounge which serves Japanese food. We normally had breakfast at the Grand Club (eggs to order).

Excursions
We booked several excursions with Stretch-A-Leg, a company founded by a Beijing-er with local bi-lingual staffs. We went everywhere:

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  • Tiananmen square, Forbidden City, and Temple of Heaven
  • Great wall at Mutianyu
  • Even managed to sneak a half day walking tour of the Hutong

The views were spectacular (though a bit hazy at the Great Wall). Henry, our guide, was patient, friendly, considerate, and most importantly knowledgeable. It was as if we were walking around with a friend / travelling companion rather than a tour-guide. He was playful with the children, singing along with Harish when he started to whine about “walking too much” on the Great Wall. He also helped us communicate with (quite a few) local tourists who for some reason wanted to take photos of our children.

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Overall it was a great trip – different from our usual ‘fly and flop’ holidays. If we go back to Beijing we will definitely stay at the Grand Hyatt again.

Siok’s Tips For Beijing

  • You can take the stroller to the Forbidden City and Temple of Heaven but there are a few steps involved. Definitely leave the stroller behind for the Great Wall.
  • Go to the Great Wall at Mutianyu (approx. 1.5 hour drive away from Beijing). We took the Cable Car to Gate 14, and walked downhill to Gate 8. We were going to take the toboggan back to the car park, but the queue was too long (and a bit scary for small children), and decided to take the ski-lift style cable car down.
  • Lunch at The Schoolhouse, Mutianyu

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