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How to Travel Beijing and Inner Mongolia for 9 Days with SGD 1,100

2018-12-27

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How to Travel Beijing and Inner Mongolia for 9 Days with SGD 1,100

 


“WHY CHINA?!!!!”

 

This was the common response we received when we told everybody we were going to China. I can understand why. We, especially Singaporeans, always thought China is not fun, not clean, not cool, uncivilized, no Facebook, no Instagram, no Google, and everything bad. But seriously, ENOUGH OF THIS MISCONCEPTION!

 

China is interesting. It was more than just exciting. This place has the ability to make you absolutely mad. One moment you can fall in love with this place and another moment you can hate this place so much such that you promise yourself you are not coming back here again. I had so much fun here throughout my entire trip! So I truly hope people can come here with an open heart and open mind to fully appreciate what China got to offer. Why Beijing out of so many places in China? The answer is pretty simple. Because we want to climb the Great Wall. I think this is the strongest reason to justify why we came here.

 

But why Inner Mongolia? It was actually impromptu. We only thought of it on the day we were flying over to Beijing, emailed a Mongolian hostel we found on hostel world and confirmed it. So hell yeah Mongolia, we just thought about going to a desert and grassland in the winter is cool so we went for it and DIDN’T REGRET IT AT ALL EVEN THOUGH IT WAS FREAKING COLD! I GOT SO MUCH TO SAY ABOUT THIS PLACE! Hold your horses!

 

1. Getting the right ticket

a. Flight

It was my first time booking an air ticket via Expedia and I loved it! I managed to book a 2-way ticket via Cathay Pacific at only SGD496! The market rate during that time was all above SGD500 and to get a ticket under SGD500 was definitely a steal! So if you are looking for a cheap ticket, you can try Expedia.

 

b. Train

We took an 8-hour train ride to Hohhot, Inner Mongolia! It was my first time taking a hard sleeper and wow what an experience! The 2-way train ticket from Beijing to Hohhot cost us CNY335 (SGD67) which is super reasonable. I love train rides because they do not only bring us through the beautiful valleys and mountains that are usually inaccessible on roads, they also bring people together! Train rides are good platforms to meet new people and locals so don’t be afraid to smile and say hi!

 

We had our fair share of amazing race moments and ran our lungs out with our backpack only to find out that we missed our intended train ride by only a few minutes! Tip: PLEASE ARRIVE AT THE TRAIN STATION 30 MINS BEFORE DEPARTURE! I cannot emphasize how important it is to be early here. The crowd in a train station during peak hours is insane! So carrying your backpack and making your way out of the crazy crowd is a life skill in China. Also, check which train station are you departing from. There are plenty of train stations in Beijing; Beijing West Station, Beijing Railway Station, Beijing North Station, and Beijing South Station so make sure you double check the station! The security checks are very strict here so expect queues. And the boarding gate closes 5 mins earlier and the training officer will not let you in even if you beg and cry and tell him you need to board the train. Yes, we tried. So be early!

 

But if you, unfortunately, miss your train like me, FRET NOT! You can change your train schedule to a later one in the ticket office (due to availability), not many additional costs required. We changed 2 tickets for additional CNY12 (SGD2.6) and ended up taking the 3.30pm train and reached Hohhot at 11 pm. Lucky for us, our host picked us up from the train station so we don’t have to find the hostel in the middle of the night. So I would say this is a blessing in disguise!

 

2. Getting a shelter

a. Beijing

So this time around, we decided to try out hostels! In Beijing, we stayed in Beijing Downtown Backpackers Accommodation. We love this hostel because it is:

 

1. Conveniently located along 南锣鼓巷(Nan Luo Gu Xiang) – It is a well-preserved ancient town in Beijing. It is also one of the most happening streets and has the best pubs/night scenes in Beijing. Also, it is relatively near to all the attractions like 后海 (Huo Hai) and 什刹海(Shi Cha Hai).

 

2. Affordable – For a double room, we paid CNY180 (SGD36) for one night. So staying there for 4 nights cost us ONLY CNY720(SGD144). One person only pays SGD72 for 4 nights which is pretty okay to me AND THERE IS FREE BREAKFAST SERVICE! I APPROVE!

 

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