Things to do in Shenzhen

Shopping

Huaqianbei Electronic Market

We got off the train at Huaqianbei stop. We went into a building the first building we walked straight and turned left onto a shopping street. On the left right away was a building where we used the escalators to explore the floors. They had computers, adaptors, usb plugs, and so many small parts. Then we went into another building that had projectors, and everything you could think of. Across the street was a building with everything for cellphones. The prices were great. You could ask for lower prices. We paid under one dollar for popsocket, glass for cellphone, etc.

Luohu Market

This was right next to the exit into Hong Kong. The market was indoor with a bunch of dirty looking stores. They had knock offs displayed in their stores, they had clothing, shoes, luggage, jewelry, and pretty much anything you could think of. The prices were very good but you did need to bargain.

Dongmen Market

I think I liked this market much better than Luohu Market because it was prettier and much larger. You had the street stores that had good prices and you also had higher end stores where you would pay more. It also had a food area that disgusts me. Chinese food with squid and octopus looking stuff next to other food makes even ice cream sound gross because it is being served next to the grose stuff. It had someone selling more fried bugs than the famous Wangfujing street in Beijing. She had snakes, and yes the scorpions too.

I feel that with the three above markets, there is no need to visit Guangzhou because the prices can be had that are close to the same with bargaining and shopping for the sales. The exception would be the wholesale market in Guangzhou if you are buying wholesale. The retail prices in the wholesale market are similar to what you can get in these shops.

Link City

These shops were underground in the metro of our hotel stop. They were in a cleaner mall. There was nothing spectacular about the mall. Just that it was an underground mall that seemed to go on to the next metro station and in comparison to the markets seemed clean. They had food as all malls seem to. We liked a Japanese restaurant. It was nothing spectacular but anything other than Chinese and Mcdonalds etc is good to eat. We enjoyed playing around in a kid zone arcade place and the kids rode around the mall on kid motorcycles.

Coco Park

This had an outdoor area where kids could do a net jungle gym thing. They sometimes have events on Saturday night with music I heard. It was a nicer looking mall than Link City because of this little outside area that lights up. The inside was more shopping underground with the metro. Shopping Park seemed to be the stop.

Splendid China

We went to Splendid China and did not love it. It was a fun day out but I think I would have rather gone to the safari park. We rented little scooters for one hour and it was very expensive for 3 of us to do it. I would have rather done the train ride because it goes through the path of all the park and you can get a quick look at everything. The scooters went slower and although you could stop along the way which the train does not allow, you did not have time to. We did not cover the whole park in the hour and we made limited stops. It would have been best to walk it or pay another hour but the cost was high per hour. We saw some of their free shows. We also saw the horse show that we paid 30 rmb for per person because it was a weekend. They are free on non holiday weekdays. The kids really enjoyed it although it was only in Chinese. I didn’t care for it so much.

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Things to do in Guangzhou

Shopping Areas in Guangzhou

We were recommended these areas for shopping:

Shang Xia Jiu – get off at Changshoulu on Line 1

Someone said this is the best place to go and don’t need to go anywhere else.

Beijing Road – get off Beijing Lu on line 6

Tianhe Plaza for clothes

Bai Ma – get off Guangzhou Railway Station line 5

This has knock offs and it is better for wholesale prices

Beijing Road

What an experience. It is a regular outdoor shopping mall, but then, almost immediately we were approached by a man with laminated cards of knockoffs. He took us into alleys and areas of secret stores where you could buy fake shirts, purses, shoes, luggage, backpacks, etc. The mall had nice shops but we didn’t go into any of them.

Bai Ma Wholesale Market

This is just off the metro exit and it seems as though it is all underground because you access it from the street and head to the basement level but then you just get lost with all the floors. It has clothing and everything you could need wholesale, including mannequins. The retail prices here seemed as good as the prices you can get in LA when you buy wholesale there, or as good as bargain shopping in American stores. Therefore, it was not worth the trip to China for it. However, if you were there to buy wholesale I could see that their prices would become good. We did not buy wholesale, so we do not know.

Shang Xia Jiu Pedestrian Street

This was an outdoor area with shops. The prices were fine but cheap in quality. We did not love this shopping street. We bought a pair of tennis shoes for $15 dollars and had to throw them away because they were no good after one or two times of trying to wear them. Maybe their $30 dollar shoes would have been better. They were for my daughter so I never spend more than that on her good quality shoes with coupons at Kohls or outlet stores so I did not see it as a shopping destination.

Tianhe Plaza

This place was amazing because it was cute and clean. It was an indoor mall that was underground. The shops were regular prices. Things seemed to be as much as you could buy them in America. We took a little train around to see some of the sites. They had peacocks in a cage. And they had I think wax people and different things around. It was cute. The most amazing part of this was doing a virtual reality game. Mostly you have to pay by wechat for things but there was an attendant that let us pay cash. It was amazingly real. We did a skiing game and could not believe how much fun it was. I thought I was going to fall, a man almost fell doing it and the attendant kept having to hold him. At first I thought I was seeing a drunk Chinese man, but after playing could totally see it was normal.

Chimelong Safari Park and Chimelong Circus

You can buy tickets together to save some money or buy them separate.

Haizhu Wetland Park

We went to the park to watch dragon boat races because it was dragon boat holiday. It was a waste or our morning to see just that but it was nice to see what dragon boat racing is all about. It just took us a long time to get there and then we walked through the park because we did not know to just go to the north entrance. The park was pretty and we saw a lot of different trees. It was large and had a lot of walking area. We paid something small like 20rmb or something to enter. I would not recommend going there but we enjoyed it.

 

 

What to do in Beijing

Blind Massage

In China they help the blind to be employed and teach them a very good massage method.

This was awesome! But incredibly difficult to find. I googled and found places but the taxi drivers could not find them. We actually got dropped off at an amazingly cool mall that had art sculptures so enormous you rarely see stuff like this even in art galleries. This is what taxi drivers do, they drop you off wherever they want when they can’t find the place. I walked and my gps never found the spot.

I tried another location and a Chinese man helped me. He called the place for me and verified it was the right address. He gave the address to a taxi driver who refused to take me. The Chinese man said he would call a car for me with his account. He paid for it online and would not let me pay him back. He was incredibly sweet. When we got to the location, that car could not find it but I had him call the business with my Chinese cellphone and he was able to find it. When I got to the building I had to call and with my broken Chinese say I am here. They said wait a minute in English and came down to unlock the door to the multi story building.

You stay fully clothed and they use a towel over any area they touch when massaging. You are in a room with multiple beds. When I went there were two others getting a massage with me but you can make reservations to have more. He went up and down next to my spine on each side and would stop at pressure points. That was my favorite part. It was a full body massage for 120 rmb. It is good to make reservations as they don’t always have someone available. They did for me because we called ahead trying to find the place.

A side note, I use my translator app for everything. When I got there I was talking to the woman there and showed her my phone for her to read with a question I had. She said, ok speak slowly and then I realized, I am at a blind massage place, she is blind. A kind man who saw my idiot moment helped translate and later showed us to a dumpling restaurant near by and helped us order food.

Temple of Heaven

This was very enjoyable because we went there when it first opened and we got the audio guide as we walked aournd. The audio guide pretty much was bad. But we watched local Chinese people playing with these balls as they excercised and would kick them to each other. There were others excersicing to music doing different movements. The temple itself was nice to see and walk around. The best part was there was no crowd. Once we were there too long, the crowd came and I did not care to wait in line to see the inside of the buildings and we left.

Forbidden City

Hated most every moment due to the heat and the crowd. It was awesome to see but not worth it for me. I wonder if we got there early if it would have been better. We got there at 10 am and it was already too crowded. A woman old me we could not get tickets unless they were prebooked online so I left the others behind to investigate. It took me an hour to get back to them because I could not exit where I entered. The woman was wrong and you can get tickets there but you must have your US passport with you. There is luggage storage at the entrance and also before we enter. We left ours once inside and it was at the exit waiting for us when we reached it. There were way too many sweaty bodies for me to struggle seeing the inside of the buildings and the audio guide was just ok. If I was there with less people, I would have absolutely loved it though because it is an enormous city used by the emperors and the stories behind it were incredibly interesting.

Great Wall of China

Hike from Zhengbeilou Tower part of Jinkou to Mutianyu tower #14 to take cable car or tower #6 to take toboggan down

We took the 916 Express bus to Huairou Bei Da Jie. When there, we hired a van that took us to XiZhaZi village. He dropped us off and said go up then right. We followed signs that said leave no mark and followed a trail hoping it was the right one. We figured we were on an adventure and would make it there. We did see red ribbons tied around on our way to the tower. We got to Zhengbeilou tower and it was clear which of the two walls to take toward Muntianyu because it was in better shape. We braved an over 5 hour hike. We had lots of stops and kids with us. They all were capable of the hike, even my 7year old. This was an amazing way to experience the Great Wall and I would not have done it any other way. Most of the time when we were in the unrestored section we were alone except for a few others braving the trail. This is the Jiankou section. At times we had to hold on to the wall so we would not slip. Once we got to Muntianyu we saw many more tourists and the wall was in great shape although still had up and down walking. You can take a cable car down from the wall to get to the entrance area but we opted to go another 40 minutes to the toboggan. It is quite expensive for 6 of us but it was fun. Would have been more fun if the lady in front of us did not stop as much. We just wanted to go fast but not often got the chance. You are not suppose to stop but the people in front of you do what they want. And there are a lot of people in front of you. Kind of sucked. There is an information building that can give you details for a bus you can take into town from there to catch the 916 back but we opted to pay a little more and have a car drive us so it would be faster.

Wanfujing Street

This is a must. Scorpions on a stick and who knows what other fried bugs you can eat. They had some little shops with cheap souvenirs as well and local food you can eat.

Hutongs

We enjoyed seeing the ancient architecture in the deteriorated condition that people still live in. We ventured from the converted hutongs that are shopping and saw the living quarters. The shopping area did not dissapoint in the architecture either. Things seemed a bit cheaper there although we were not there to shop. We all got a 30 minute foot rub in one of the shops. Mine just plain hurt the whole time and I loved it thinking it would do some good in the end. The others were hit and miss. I think to give us all one at the same time, they pulled people from areas not trained in massage. My 10 year old Isabella said hers tickled, and my husband said his lady was probably disgusted by his feet because she hardly massaged. The taxi guy we got to go there was horrible. We were at the railway station and he took us a different direction to try to get more money on the meter. I confronted him when it had gotten to 118rmb and told him to let us out. He said, ok ok and I pointed to the meter and he said ok and he turned it off. We should not have paid even 100rmb but I paid him what the meter said. I am just glad I had my gps on to confront him or we would have paid much more.

Quanjude Roast Duck (Wangfujing)

We went to the first ever Peking Duck restaurant. It is very famous and a must try in Beijing although we did not love the meal. It was greasy and nothing special. The presentation was great and we very much enjoyed it. The price tag is high. They cut up some of the duck and give you the rest to take home. We did not have a reservation and got right in. I put the address in the gps and made it there from the metro station. 13 Shuaifuyuan Lu, Wangfujing, Dongcheng District, Beijing, China (Tian’anmen / Wangfujing

Chaoyang Theatre, “FLYING ACROBATICS SHOW”

This was a very enjoyable show. It was nothing like a Las Vegas production but the talent was amazing. The kids can bend their bodies more than what is natural. They ride a bicycle and climb on each other as one person pedals. They have too many motorcycles enter a round cylinder. They have the famous Chineses stacking of chairs as a person climbs up the chair tower. It was nice. You can get discount tickets if you get them online from their website or you pay full price at the door. They don’t sell out. This is the address: 36 North East Third Ring Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing

 

What to do in Luoyang

Shaolin Temple

It is in Dengfeng, about a 1.5 or 2 hour ride from Luoyang. You can also get there from Zhengzhou. There is a bus that takes you direct to Shaolin temple from Luoyang for 25 rmb each way. You take that from the Luoyang Bus station that is right next to the main Luoyang train station. It is difficult to communicate with them as some of them were telling me there was no direct bus, but I think it is because one of the pushy guys trying to sell me his van service told her to tell me that. Eventually I got them to say there was an 8 am bus and one around 11ish. There are other buses that take you to the area.There were 6 of us so we opted to pay someone 360 rmb to take us there. The only dissapointing thing was he gave us 2.5 hours to be there and it was not enough for us. I am pretty certain he would have agreed to longer for the same price. Another woman I was able to negotiate to 300 rmb but I could not find her. They start out at 400 to 500 rmb. We were able to see the Shaolin Kung Foo Show and go to the Shaolin temple and Pagoda forest in the time we had. There were other areas and cable cars that could be visited as well. This is the first Kung Fu temple in China and very much worth the visit.

Longmen Grottoes

These are amazing grottoes and Buddahs that were carved out of a mountain by different emperors. Many of the carvings took about 25 years to complete. Regular people were able to carve out grottoes and Buddahs on the mountain also but theirs were not so impressive. Luoyang was the capital of China for longer than Beijing has been so this is truly an experience to visit. There is a temple there too but the stairs were daunting after all the walking we have done so we did not chooe to explore it.

The city was cleaner and less congested than Beijing. I feel we could have explored it more. They had some fun things kids could do in some of their shopping malls.

What to do in Xian

Terraccotta Soldiers

We took a tourist bus 5 (306) from the main railway station. The cost is 7 rmb per person. There is an impostor bus that lures you to go to their bus making you think that is the right bus, it takes you there but who knows what they charge. It takes about an hour maybe to get to Terracotta Soldiers. We did not bother going to the Mausoleum as the tomb of First Qin Emperor is not yet uncovered so it is a waste of 2 or so hours to take the free shuttle from the Terracotta Soldiers. Bingmayong is the word that means Terracotta Warriors in Chinese. This is what I used to make sure we were going to the right place. When buying our tickets I asked if there was a student or child discount, the lady said no but Clark was free. Then I ended up paying less than the adult fare but more than what the tickets said as she did end up giving me 2 of the kids at the half price student discount. I am pretty sure we communicated correctly and she pocketed the cash or totally messed up on calculating it. I don’t speak enough Chinese to argue so let it go. The Terracotta Soldiers were fantastic to see as it is a huge piece of Chinese history. I suppose my kids were tired and ready to go home but when told about the story of it where the emperor buried alive the people who worked on it so that nobody would discover his army that would protect him in the afterlife, they were fascinated with questions.

Bicycling the ancient city wall

Zhu Yuanzhang emperorbegan building the wall in 1370 to fortify the city and store food. Bicycling is a nice break from all the walking one does as a tourist. We rented 3 tandem bikes on top of the wall for 270 rmb and each adult took a child on their back. At first the kids were pedalling so hard we did not have to pedal. They tired and halfway through were not helping so much but we made it through. It was an 8.7 mile ride. It took us about 1.5 hours to go around. Starting from the South gate was spectacular as it has large, impressive shops like Gucci prior to entering the South gate. The kids were super tired and wanted to go to the hotel prior to going but once we got on the bike, their energy returned and they all were so glad to do it. Along the way there was ancient architecture to look at on both sides of the wall. Many times we stopped to take a closer look.

Water show at the Big Wild Goose Pagoda

This show is not as mesmerizing as the Bellagio in Vegas, or the Barcelona water show we have seen. The area was large but there were not too many lights or surprises. I am glad we went and it was enjoyable. We sat listening to the music and viewing the water dance with the Pagoda in the background. We went to the 9pm show. I don’t feel like it is a must do thing in Xian but it is a nice peaceful thing to do.  Did I say peaceful? Well, only if you have a nice view. We showed up 45 minutes early and all the sitting spots around the fountains were taken. There are no formal chairs but kind of a small little wall around the fountain area that you could sit on. I was not about to stand for that long so we ate dinner at KFC and then returned right when it was starting. There were so many people there, it was unbearable and I was ready to leave. I decided to walk around and found a spot where I could kind of see, mostly I was getting a few shots with my gopro stick. But then I lucked out and the people in front of me left so I was able to get a seat in the front. Then it was peaceful.

Bell Tower

We took a quick stop at the Bell tower. There are more things to do than what we did as there is shopping around there. All we did was get off the metro and look for a bus but we are glad we did. The bell tower is mesmerizing to look at, especially at night all lit up.

That is all we did, I wished we had time to check out the Muslim Quarters, that seemed interesting. And I would have loved to explore more of the architecture inside the city wall but some people may bore of it.

Onions, Corn, and Peas in a popsicle

Popsicles you can find all over China: The mango popsicle is delicious. The corn bareable. The peas spit out worthy. The onion- at least we think it was onion, just plain bad all the way to the lingering after taste. We thought it was leeche when we bought it and were unpleasantly surprised with I am not sure what taste. The cheese one was ok. The kids actually finished that one. I am not sure what gave my husband the idea to continue eating the corn one even though it was disgusting, he was burping up corn for almost an hour.

Chinese Popcorn Fail

I had the worst idea ever. We are at a very nice hotel, Four Points by Sheraton in Guangzhou, where they always tell you yes. I thought to pop some popcorn for the kids to enjoy while watching the only American tv we have seen while in China. I asked the front desk if they have a microwave guests can use. They said no but the restaurant can warm something for me. I took the man at the restaruant the popcorn and explained it needed to be heated 3 minutes. I had 6 packages so I started feeling bad it was too many. I was already there so went with it. He told me to have a seat at their table where they charge $38 for buffet. He came back about 3 minutes later with 6 flat popcorn packages on a plate and said I heated for 3 minutes. I told him they have to be put in separate. He then came out with one that was barely losing its flatness. I told him a little longer.  And he would hear popping. He did not understand the word so I had to make the sound. He finally seemed to get it when he brought me back 3 not so fluffy filled bags. He said, I heard and made the noise for popping. I was embarrased by now and said thank you. Another man came out probably a manager and said, some were over cooked. Finally all 6 came out not fluffed up all the way and the man who I originally gave them to had sweat on his forehead and around his mouth. I told him I was sorry for all the work. He said he was sorry for the popcorn. Chinese people do not eat popcorn. My Chinese teacher said she tried it once. I am not sure what gave me the bright idea to ask a Chinese person to pop popcorn.