Looking for a less touristy day trip away from the heart of Beijing, China?
Visit the Cuandixia Village that also offers a glimpse of what an authentic Chinese courtyard would look like. Or if you just want some peace and quiet time from the horrendous sound of Beijing traffic.
This small and quiet village is an "almost hidden gem" of the city. It is known for its well preserved courtyard dating back from the Ming Dynasty. Cuan means "kitchen range" in Chinese.
Cuandixia has almost 500-well preserved courtyard homes, that many of these have been converted into inns or guesthouses, offering food and lodging to travelers.
Frenchie and I stayed in one of these courtyards for a night. You don't really need to book in advance, because there are a plenty of guesthouses that you can check out and the local owners will welcome you, warmly. The price of a room ranges from 50RMB to 300RMB a night.
The surrounding area is full of mountains and trails that are popular with hikers. We did a little bit of a hike slash walking around the village, too.
We went during the Tomb Sweeping Day or Qingming holiday in China (more like their All Soul's Day celebration) on an April cold day. Most of these courtyards don't have a heating system, that's why although the village was filled with local tourists but they barely spent a night there.
FrenchieatPinay Tip: If you go on one of the days-- on a dry Beijing winter season, bring your own warm blanket. I did and it saved us from a sleepless cold night!
What we loved about this trip was seeing the Chinese people go on their day-to-day lives, being oblivious to the fact that they were surrounded by tourists, like us.
Cuandixia is also a favorite subject of photographers and painters, given the historic and ancient vibe of the village. In my case, as a frustrated photographer...
The village is also famous for its lamb (thigh) barbecue and corn soup. The famous restaurant that serves these dishes is just a few yards away from the entrance.
We also found the mini food stalls for fruits and snacks-- as an alternative souvenir.
HOW TO GET TO CUANDIXIA VILLAGE BY PUBLIC TRANSPORT?
Take the subway--- Pingguoyuan Station (Line 1) Leave by southwest Exit A, walk towards west around 200m until bus stop 892/929. Then take the public bus 892 to Zhaitang (about 2:20 hours. 16-18RMB cash, 6-8RMB with yikatong subway card) 6km away from Cuandixia, and then take a private taxi to Cuandixia, don't pay more than 10RMB per person, 3 people can cost 20RMB or you can walk 6km from Zhaitang to southern entrance to Cuandixia. There is supposed to be direct bus 929支 leaving from Pingguoyuan at 12:40, and one in early morning, but by information from conductor sitting in different 929 in 3/2014 was this bus discontinued. Be aware there are many buses 929 driving to many different places, so ask the bus driver if he drives to Cuandixia or Zhaitang always. You can go to Cuandixia also directly by private taxi from Pingguoyuan subway, taxi for 3 people can cost 150RMB (1st offer 260RMB), always ask if it's including 35RMB ticket or not since it makes quite big difference.
ENTRANCE FEE: 35RMB for adults. 18RMB for students. (Maybe the prices have been changed as of this writing because we made our trip in 2013.)
FrenchieatPinay Tip: If you can, go on weekdays just to avoid the weekend buzzing of the local tourists.