Must-know Hacks to Enjoy the Forbidden City

During the October holidays, teeming crowds turn up at the historical site for an exotic travel experience into the Satan’s pit. For most of the Beijing residents’ going to the Forbidden City is out of question throughout the holidays. Even all through the busiest of weeks, below are some tricks that can make visiting the Forbidden City more tolerable when not pleasant.

  1. Plan for an early morning visit: The ticket sales limit is 80,000 a day. This may seem like its a lot but during special exhibitions and holidays but the possibility of the tickets selling out by early on in the afternoon is very high.

(Advanced Tip: A reservation system is available online and you can book at most 10 tickets for a group except you need to have someone who reads Chinese – or you can do so yourself – and even have a payment method like Zhifubao or Alipay.)

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  1. Skip Mao: About 90% of the tourists approach Forbidden City via Tiananmen to the south. Getting here for an exotic travel experience often requires that you pass through rather long lines to get to the security checks. In order to avoid these, use the west or east entrance. Pay the entrance fee and walk into the park to the east side. This will get you to ticketing area right outside the Forbidden City main entrance. However, you will need to queue for the museum security checks so you can go inside.
  2. Stay away from the crowded area: Most visitors follow the same route right into the center of Forbidden City. Stay away from the crowded places and rather explore the interesting parts by turning right or left. When you walk along the wall going towards the East Gate, you will come to a fascinating and quiet museum of the palace architecture. Down the stairs near the East Gate as if going back towards the courtyard you will find the Literary Flourishing Hall which is a ceramic well-curated museum.

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  3. Keep away the mid-axis: Make a point to visit Cining Gong and Shoukang Gong which was home to the emperor’s mother in 18 century. This is a functioning archaeological site which has sculpture displays that date back to more than 1,500 years. This includes terracotta soldiers loaned from Xi’an.
  4. Use an alternative exit: Officially, Forbidden City is to be exited through one way that is north-south. However, the transport options outside the northern gate are restricted to jam-packed buses and trishaw hustlers. You can, however, exit from the Donghuamen (east gate) which lets out into the quieter street which has better taxi options and is closer to the nearby subway. Should you be hungry, a division of Siji Minfu- a famous Beijing restaurant and TRB Bites are located outside the eastern gate.

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  5. Remember to carry your passport: In 2015 new policies were enacted which require you to present a type of identification for every ticket purchased. The security personnel also look for lighters since it’s not advisable smoking inside the 600-old wooden palace.

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One more last tip – always ask a local for the best time to visit China or you can always rely on us at askus@ladyredot.com. If you have been to China, come and share your stories with us!


 

KallyKally is a former Sales and Customer Service manager turned Writer and Founder of MiddleMe.net. She came from Singapore; lived in Shanghai and now calls Kuala Lumpur her home. After hanging up her corporate briefcase, she now pursue her passions – Writing, Traveling and of course, hunting for good food.

Connect with me @ Kally@ladyredot.com

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2016 Hottest International Marathons

Running a marathon is self-empowering. While you can get an amazing high from tackling any race distance, conquering the mother of all races gives you a high, which is hard to duplicate. Today, I am going to list down some of the upcoming Hottest International Marathons for this year.

June 4 – Stockholm Marathon
Very well organised and well thought after is remarkably like the Swedish. Many runners have described this run as their most memorable due to the sights they encounter during the run. The course ran past many of the beautiful sights, along the waterfront and across many of the islands.

http://www.stockholmmarathon.se/Start/index.cfm?Lan_ID=3

June 5 – Phuket International Marathon
Describe as small. Great if you are a first-time marathon runner so you can pace yourself in the course.

http://www.phuketmarathon.com

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June 25 – Big Five Marathon
Not many have run this marathon, however, those who did complete it has only raving comments on the breath-taking scenery and adventures they had throughout the preparation of the marathon there.

http://www.big-five-marathon.com

July 30 – Australian Outback Marathon
Not an easy trail to run on but there is a chance of seeing dingos and wild camels. Organization is great and they make sure you are well taken care of during the course. Water stops are only 3 miles apart.

http://www.australianoutbackmarathon.com

August 7 – Standard Chartered Kuala Lumpur Marathon
Well organised with sufficient drink stations, km markers and aid stations. The course is hard and hilly, with a lot of running up and down ramps on the freeway. Do take considerations of the temperature and humidity as well.

http://www.kl-marathon.com

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August 28 – Hokkaido Marathon
Mostly flat with a limited number of rolling hills. They were obviously not prepared for non-Japanese speaking foreigners so you need to make sure you have someone who speaks Japanese to register you.

http://www.hokkaido-marathon.com

September 20 – Beijing Int’l Marathon
Scenery sighting is pretty low on the trail and you will have to put up with the constant tight security screening. The most scenic part of the course is at the beginning – Tiananmen Square and along Chang An Avenue. Not many female runners.

http://www.beijing-marathon.com/en/index.html

September 25 – BMW Berlin Marathon
This is a great way to do a big city event and one of the World Marathon Majors. The course is very easy on the knees and legs as it is flat and fast. Finishing under the Brandenburg Gate was really cool! There were people from all over the world cheering along the entire course.

October 9 – Buenos Aires Marathon
It is a flat course passing by much main touristic sightseeing Obelisco, Casa Rosada, Recoleta, Palermo, la Cacha de Boca Juniors, Puerto Madero. Race kit picks up was a bit complicated because there was a lot of paperwork involved.

http://www.maratondebuenosaires.com

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October 16 – TCS Amsterdam Marathon
The Dutch seem to pride themselves on their organisation and this is one slick event. Entries in the marathon distance vary between 12,000 and 15,000 runners. The course tends to take place very much in the city suburbs and along the River Amstel, which feeds the city.

http://www.amsterdammarathon.nl

November 8 – Shanghai International Marathon
A nice city course, modest entry fee, complaint-less organisation (both pre- and post-race), quality race shirt, several invigorating drum/cheer groups along the course.

http://www.shmarathon.com/home.dhtml

November 21 – Antarctic Ice Marathon
The Ice Marathon is the only race where you get a true Antarctic marathon experience, running on the ice in one of the most isolated places on the globe.

http://www.icemarathon.com

December 3 – Standard Chartered Singapore International Marathon
Singapore all year long is very humid and hot (at the start at 5am 25 C and 95 % humidity) so you are soaked with sweat before even having started. Depending on how you deal with heat, you may be an hour slower than your normal marathon time.

http://www.marathonsingapore.com


Writer’s Profile

Kally

Kally is a former Sales and Customer Service manager turned Writer and Founder of MiddleMe.net. She came from Singapore; lived in Shanghai and now calls Kuala Lumpur her home. After hanging up her corporate briefcase, she now pursue her passions – Writing, Traveling and of course, hunting for good food

Connect with me @ Kally@ladyredot.com

8 Ancient Old Town in China

Bringing you somewhere you haven’t seen before, I’ll like to introduce you 8 antique old towns in China that will simply amaze you. If you are sick of big cities and malls yet you don’t want to visit another sand infested area, you may wish to consider these locations on your next trip.

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Langzhong阆中

Langzhong is also located in Sichuan. Zhang Fei of Three Kingdoms stayed here for 7 years, so you can see Three Kingdoms culture everywhere. If you are in Langzhong, you need to visit Teng Wang Pavilion.

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Eat: How can you not taste the authentic craft here in Langzhong? Steamed Pork Rice is a must try!

Stay: There are plenty of inns and homestay to choose from.

Drive: Guangyuan is located 160 kilometres north of Langzhong. Guangyuan to Langzhong is only 2 hours by car.

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Zhen Yuan Ancient Town镇远古镇

Zhen Yuan is located in Guizhou. The S-shaped river winds through the city. It is also known as the eight diagrams town.

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Eat: Hot pot Fish Sour Soup taste very authentic. There are special local wines and homemade dishes can bring your taste buds to a new height.

Stay: Live at those inns that provide you with a room with a balcony and a view.

Drive: Along the road X301 around 0.9 km, turn slightly to the right when you reach the ramp. Upon reaching the road fork, turn right into Lanhai highway.

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Hong Village宏村

If you visit Mount Huangshan, do drop by Hong Village. This place enjoys the legendary title of “The Village in Chinese painting”, dating back nearly a thousand years of history. This is such a beautiful enchanting place that many artists travel from afar just to draw the village.

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Eat: Smelly Fish is their speciality, deserves a try!

Stay: There are many architectural old houses that offer stay in.

Drive: Huangshan City has 2 tourist buses to reach the scenic spots around Mount Huangshan, 1 hour a day.

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Daxu town大圩古镇

Daxu Town is located in Guilin, Guangxi. It is not as popular as other ancient town but it has its own beauty and mesmerising spots. Entering Daxu Town is like entering a different century, a different timezone. If you want to go back into the past, this is the place to be.

Eat: Nothing much to eat except simple food

Stay: We recommend this place as a day trip as everything is really basic here.

Drive: Guilin to Daxu town only 15 kilometres away

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Lu Zhi甪直

This village has thousand years of history and because it is isolated and not well publicised, it has remained untouched by tourists.

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Eat: Luzhi town that has a lot of street food one can taste, such as Begonia bright colours cake and Fu Li Duck.

Stay: There are many youth hostels to cater affordable yet comfortable accommodation.

Drive: Ningao highway towards Shanghai direction, besides Suzhou Industrial Park, 3 kilometres away, there is Luzhi exit signage. Drive towards that sign and you will see the town from afar.

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Huang Yao Ancient Town黄姚古镇

Huang Yao Ancient Town is also located in Guangxi. It is named as the Yellow Town because the town has a name with two yellow in it. This place has the perfect scenery with mountain and lakes. Peaceful and serene.

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Eat: The local people made plum wine and longevity fruit wine. Even for people who don’t like to drink, it’s worth a try.

Stay: There are many comfortable hotels and inns that suit all budgets.

Drive: You can choose two routes: Guangzhou – Hezhou – Huang Yao or Guilin – Huang Yao or Hezhou – Huang Yao.

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Xijiang Miao Village西江苗寨
This place is currently China’s and the world’s largest Miao inhabited villages, known as China’s first Miao.

Eat: Remember to taste their local speciality Miao King Fish. This dish is usually accompanied by a live show.

Stay: There are many hotels in the vicinity.

Drive: Guiyang (960m) — > G6011 (28.6KM) — > G60 (Kai Li, Huaihua direction 144.5KM) — > Kai Li City in Leishan direction 11km) — > San Ke Shu Town (the direction of Xijiang River 20km) — > 1000 Xijiang Miao village.

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Pingle Ancient Town平乐古镇

Located in Chengdu, Pingle Ancient Town was formed as early as West Han Dynasty (150 B.C.). Pingle was an important town on the ancient South Sichuan Road and South Silk Road. The picturesque bridge is the centre of the town. From there you can enjoy interesting snacks and activities found along the ancient street.

Eat: Milky Soup Noodles, it is rich in flavour and its fresh aroma will make your mouth watered.

Stay: You will find a lot of small inns offering stay in the vicinity of Pingle. Some of them even decorate their rooms to match the atmosphere of Pingle.

Drive: From Chengdu – there will be signs indicating directions to Pingle Ancient Town after Cheng Wen Qiong highway.


Writer’s Profile

Kally

Kally is a former Sales and Customer Service manager turned Writer and Founder of MiddleMe.net. She came from Singapore; lived in Shanghai and now calls Kuala Lumpur her home. After hanging up her corporate briefcase, she now pursue her passions – Writing, Traveling and of course, hunting for good food

Connect with me @ Kally@ladyredot.com

Why I love China so much

If you have been a long time reader of mine and been religiously following my articles around the blogosphere, you’ll notice that I treat China like my third home. First home shall always be where I can from – Singapore. Second home is where I am residing now – Malaysia. Read on and I’ll tell you why China fascinate me so much.

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People

Many have the wrong perception of the Chinese folks in China due to news reporting some Chinese kid vandalizing historical monument or the loud brash ways that the Chinese scream at each other when they are actually talking or Chinese defecating on the streets in broad daylight. It’s all true but those people are not even representing 1% of the whole China population! They are actually really nice and helpful. Slow to warm but full of culture, these folks really deserve you to take notice of them because you can learn so much from their cultures.

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Culture
Talking about cultures. Their history goes way back to centuries. As much as you love your kings, queens, princes and princesses, the China has a colorful history of Emperors and his accompanied royalties including eunuchs and concubines. Think China, you’ll think of Great Wall of China but the country is way more than that. There are the Terracottas in Xi’an, the Forbidden City in Beijing, the 3 Confucius Sites in Nanjing, Mogao caves in Gansu and I can go on and on and on..

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Places of Interest
Even you are not interested in history and prefer something newer, there are plenty to feast your eyes upon. From Shanghai’s The Bund, Hangzhou’s Westlake, Suzhou’s Gardens, Harbin’s Ice Sculptures, Chengdu’s Panda Camp and much more!

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Oh.. Food
One of my favorite topics is food. I come from a multiracial country where food is experimented with different kinds of spices to excite your tongue, bursting with different flavors. So trust me when I say China has really good food. I’m in love with their hotpot in the winter, Sichuan Sour Hot Noodles in the spring,  Xiao Long Bao (Soup Dumpling) in the summer and Xiao Long Xia (Small Crayfish) in the autumn. Each province has their specialty, if you are there, be sure to ask a local on their specialty or ask us!

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Nightlife
Only in the bigger Tier 1 cities like Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou, they don’t lose to their Asian counterparts when it comes to their clubbing scene. You may think that the Chinese are a shy conservative bunch, wait til you immerse in their nightlife! From hot popular clubs like Vics in Beijing to members only exclusives cigar bars, to gay-friendly bars like Heaven in Shanghai, you will have your choice to pick and rotate every single night.

So tell me with such fascinating booming country with so much to offer, why not scoot off to China for a week?

Join LadyRedot at Twitter (@LadyRedot), FaceBook (LadyRedot) and Instagram (LadyRedot)! Let us bring you around the world through our eyes!


Writer’s Profile

Kally

Kally is a former Sales and Customer Service manager turned Writer and Founder of MiddleMe.net. She came from Singapore; lived in Shanghai and now calls Kuala Lumpur her home. After hanging up her corporate briefcase, she now pursue her passions – Writing, Traveling and of course, hunting for good food

Connect with me @ Kally@ladyredot.com

Via Train from China to 4 different Countries

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Nowadays, transportation from one country to another does not depend heavily on flying , for a fact, journey via a train can be exhilarating and adventure-laded. Many of us are aware of the Siberia or the famous Switzerland train journey yet many of us are unaware that in China, you actually can take a train and travel to four countries: Vietnam, North Korea, Mongolia, Russia.

If you are not rushing from place to place and your adventurous bug is itching to get out, join us for a ride below!

Take a train to Vietnam

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Nanning – Hanoi T8701

From Nanning to Hanoi train is the evening to morning journey, if you managed to stay awake, you actually can witness the sunrise as your train pulled into Hanoi.

Time: 18:20 departure – 05:45 am the next day to arrive.

Nanning to Hanoi T8701 / 2 International train is running full 396 kilometers, the journey will take 11 hours, inclusive of pitstops at Pingxiang City in China and Vietnam for customs inspection.

Tickets: ¥ 215

Group Fare: 6 or more people can enjoy ¥ 168 each

Beijing – Hanoi T5

From Beijing to Hanoi this train, the T5 train journey is split into three parts, you will take the T7868 train from Beijing to Nanjing, after which the carriage will switch to T8705 in Nanjing towards Vietnam, upon reaching Vietnam border, you will switch to M2 to arrive at your destination, Hanoi.

Time: 15:45 start – the third day 08:48 arrival, the entire journey is estimated at 41 hours (inclusive of the border and transfer time).

Tickets: ¥ 2080 onwards

Take a train to Russia

moscow-1029681_960_720The train journey from Beijing to Moscow deserves to the mention, the scenery is spectacular and changing every single day. You will be spoiling for choice as you enjoy the beauty of Mongolian steppes, the Blue Lake Baikal, the enchanting silence of Siberia, vast jungles and historic Eurasia monuments!

There are two train routes from Beijing to Moscow, K3 and K19. It is highly recommended to take the K3 as the journey is shortened by a day and the fares are cheaper.

Beijing – Moscow (via Manzhouli)

K19 (available only on every Saturday at Beijing station)

The train has relatively comfortable route to Moscow, requires only Russia visa. It is almost one of the world’s longest train route.

Beijing – Moscow (K19): travel via the Gobi Desert and Siberia.

Different Type of Seat Category: Luxury soft sleeper (2 seaters) and Normal (4 seaters)

Mileage: the full journey is 8986 km, 6 days.

Time: every Saturday Beijing station departure at 23:00 – 17:58 arrived in Moscow next Friday, takes about 139 hours.

Tickets: Normal ¥ 3891, Group Pricing ¥ 3126; Luxury Soft Sleeper: ¥ 6044, group price ¥ 4897.

Beijing – Moscow (via Ulaanbaatar)

K3 (available only on every Wednesdays Beijing station of origin)

Beijing – Mongolia – Moscow (K3): travels via the Gobi Desert, Mongolia and Siberia.

Different Type of Seat Category: Luxury Soft Sleeper (2 seaters), Soft (4 seaters) and Normal (4 seaters)

Mileage: full 7621 km, 6 days.

Time: every Wednesdays Beijing station departure at 11:22 -13:58 arrived in Moscow on Monday, takes about 126 hours.

Tickets: Normal: ¥ 3496, Group Pricing ¥ 2728; Soft: 5114, Group Pricing ¥ 3970; Luxury Soft Sleeper: ¥ 5604, Group Pricing ¥ 4460.

Take a train to Mongolia

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There are two trains to Beijing to Mongolia K3 and K23, but usually only buy K23, because in principle the sale of K3 tickets is only available in Irkutsk (Russia). There is little difference between the two train journeys’ arrival time.

Beijing – Ulan Bator (end)

K23 (available on every Tuesday and Saturday, Beijing station of origin)

The overnight train journey from Beijing to Ulan Bator, Mongolia’s capital, serves as a feeder to the Trans-Siberian line.

This train ends in Ulan Bator, Mongolia.

Time: every Tuesdays depart Beijing station 11:22 – 14:20 arrival at Ulaanbaatar, takes about 27 hours.

Different Type of Seat Category: Luxury Soft Sleeper (2 seaters), Soft (4 seaters) and Normal (4 seaters)

Tickets: Normal: ¥ 1222, Group Pricing ¥ 960; Soft Sleeper: ¥ 1723, Group Pricing ¥ 1345; Luxury Soft Sleeper: ¥ 1883, Group Pricing ¥ 1505.

By train to North Korea

In 2010, parts of North Korea is open to travel to the Chinese citizens. Before 2010, mobile phones, laptops, MP3, harddisk, long-lens cameras are prohibited from entering the country but now, mobile phones without GPS identification can be brought into the territory.

Beijing – Pyongyang K27 (available on every Monday, Beijing station of origin)

This is China’s first international transport to North Korea through passenger trains. Pitstops in Shenyang, Dandong, Sinuiju and Pyongyang.

Time: Beijing 17:27 departure, 17:45 arrival the next day, journey time takes entire 24 hours

Tickets: Normal: ¥ 1017, Group Pricing ¥ 806; Soft Sleeper: 1476, Group Pricing ¥ 1160.

Dandong – Pyongyang

An easier way to get into Pyongyang by train is to take it from DanDong, China. The trains run daily into Pyongyang, with a total journey of 5 and a half hours.

Time: 10:00 Dandong, 15:30 arrival in Pyongyang

Tickets: ¥ 253 Yuan

A train journey can be interesting as you meet all kind of passengers on the train, who are more than happy to exchange their life stories with you to pass their time quicker. A train journey also allows you to enjoy the scenery, catch up on your reading or writing and the biggest benefit of all, pit stops at different places!

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Writer’s Profile

Kally

Kally is a former Sales and Customer Service manager turned Writer and Founder of MiddleMe.net. She came from Singapore; lived in Shanghai and now calls Kuala Lumpur her home. After hanging up her corporate briefcase, she now pursue her passions – Writing, Traveling and of course, hunting for good food

Connect with me @ Kally@ladyredot.com