Beijing Urban Adventures
How difficult (and expensive) is it to find an iPad prepaid microsim card in Beijing, China, preferably in the airport upon arrival?
It's correct that a number of popular sites are blocked in China such as Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, some blog sites etc unless you install a VPN to climb the "great firewall". Wifi is widely available for free in cafes and bars. Sometimes you need to register through their login website, which sometimes also requests a mobile phone number for a password to be sent to (ie. at many Starbucks). SIM cards can be bought at the airport or any mobile phone shop or newspaper kiosk, post office etc around the city. If you need a mini SIM - no problem! Places that sell SIMs will often have a little "tool" that can cut a regular SIM to the size needed for Apple products. Many SIM cards will have money preloaded on them which once you use up can be topped up buy buying top up phone cards. Data and other charges will vary. China Mobile and China Unicom are the main providers. Both have hotlines and phone assistance services in English. about 8 years ago
Do you want an easy day trip? More rugged terrain? To stay overnight? There are many sections of the Wall around Beijing and all of them offer something different. Some of the main ones are: BADALING - the closest to Beijing and the most frequented by large tour groups. Gets very busy, especially on holidays and weekends. If the idea of a MacDonalds by the Great Wall offends you, then maybe give this one a miss! MUTIANYU - as the poster mentions above, this section is a great choice. It's under 2 hours to get there, and while renovated and with plenty of visitors and vendors is still spectacular and well worth a visit. The "slideway" mentioned by Christina is actually a toboggan/luge. Super fun! SIMATAI - you'll see this place mentioned in a lot of guide books and backpacker sites. There is a popular hike from JINSHANLING to this section. Sadly though, Simatai is closed until further notice as the local government is renovating the whole site to turn it into some kind of "hot springs resort". Sigh! You can still walk from Jinshanling to just over 1/2 way to Simatai. GUBEIKOU - JINSHANLING - a good alternative to the above no longer available hike. Some sections of the wall are unrestored and crumbling. Steep steps and slopes so plenty of energy is needed for this hike. Most people with good fitness can complete it though by 5 hours. Other sections still accessible easily from Beijing (with private transport) but a bit further away and less visited are JIANKOU and HUANGHUACHENG. But my favourite would have to be near the small village of SANCHA a few hours from Beijing... Kind of a "secret" and stunningly beautiful place! about 8 years ago
Has anyone found a good source for finding a RELIABLE private tour guide for a tour of Beijing's food hutongs? I fear being ripped off.
Hostels are a great choice as you can usually find other travellers who have already done the tours and can give you feedback. You can also easily wander around Beijing's hutongs on your own without a guide and still discover and learn plenty about local culture. Some of my favourite areas are north of the Drum & Bell Tower, around Nanluoguxiang and the areas around the Lama & Confucious Temples. Another idea is rather than to take a rickshaw tour (agreed these can often be "rip offs!") is to look for a company that offers cycling tours. There are plenty of them, including our company Beijing Urban Adventures (www.beijingurbanadventures.com). Great way to explore, see more and be guided through a fascinating part of Beijing's "contemporary history"! about 8 years ago