One day Walking Tour in Beijing

Out of our 4 days in Beijing (July 2015), we decided that we were going to take a private tour to go to the Great Wall of China, which was about 45mins-1 hour away from centre of Beijing.  (Nick and I still don’t like big tour groups as we are impatient on waiting for others, and don’t tend to like to listen to minute details of history!) So off to TripAdvisor for recommendations for private tour guide that speaks English, and after a few emails and availability inquiries, we found Skye Gao.  Great to correspond with over email, quick and matter of fact with a friendly tone that is welcoming, we immediately decided to book with Skye.  She suggested an itinerary for the day and managed to squeeze in a few extra stuff.  She also took the extra effort to help us with suggested itineraries on the other days when we were solo.  Plus she coordinated a driver to and from the airport to our hotel.

So on to the actual day, it was a blazing hot 40C+ weather, but nice and sunny, so we had high hopes that we will get the lovely views of the Great Wall.  Skye met us at the lobby of our hotel (W Beijing – Chang’an) and introduced herself and the driver for the day.  Immediately we took to Skye’s friendly attitude and she ushered us into our car for the day.  Nick and I were both pleasantly surprised as the car was quite nice.  China brand we have never heard of, but nice leather seats and welcomed air conditioning. plus 2 bottles of water for us.  Enroute to the Great Wall, Skye started talking a bit on facts of Beijing while we peppered her with our own questions as we passed fascinating buildings.  She also started story telling of traditional Chinese tales that I (somewhat) recalled as a child.  I thought it’s these moments that makes Skye standout as a tour guide.  Not only is she knowledgeable on the actual sights that she brought us to, but there was general fascinating stories and facts about China, history, and especially around the Dragon Lady. (more on that later).

Skye bought all the admission tickets for us, and we started our cable car ride up.  Skye brought us to the Mutianyu section of the wall.  I think there are 6 that are available to go for tourist.  3 or 4 of which are within Beijing borders.  The Mutianyu section was a better area Skye explained as it has great views, well kept, and less traffic.  We also happened to grab the cable car that Bill Clinton sat in on his trip in 1998!


Skye knew the good vista points along the wall where we should take pictures, and was always glad to help us take the photos!  We started at Station 14, and walked (mostly downhill) to Station 6.

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Being Chinese, it was definitely a highlight to see this magnificent wall with so much history and cultural significance.

Look at me jump in joy!

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We took our time walking and taking pictures.  So spent about 3 hours there – despite the heat! And then came a super fun part!  We took a tobaggan slide down – super fun – a definite must!!!

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Then we escaped to the car and took about 30 minutes ride to the Summer Palace – where the empress dowager go for summer vacations.  Again Skye regaled us with many stories and explanation on Chinese customs and why the palace was built or decorated a certain way (mostly due to the way certain words sounded – everything to do with Longevity and Prosperity).  Fabulous structures and vast grounds with the longest corridor (in the world?) – easy to imagine how it would have been back in the dynasty days.  definitely worthwhile to see in person.

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At the end of the walk through the summer palace, we saw the marble boat (the emperor that built it forgot about the floating factor), and took a dragon ferry back to the entrance.

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We ended the day with Skye with a quick tour through the Hutongs (old style homes) with a ride on the rickshaw.


Definitely an awesome day – we said good bye to Skye around the Wongfujing area as we wanted to get a foot massage (after all the walking!), and Peking Duck for dinner. The foot massage was great, but unfortunately our duck took forever! took forever to get seated, then we got all the other food, and then had to wait one HOUR before we finally got the duck.  They ran out or something?!

Nonetheless, it was an amazing day, and we definitely had Skye to thank for it!

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