BeijingFenghuanglinghikeWhether you are living in or visiting Beijing, China with your family, seeing the scenery outside the urban jungle can be a great mini-vacation. And spring is a great time to do it. For the May Day holiday, we, and several thousand other people, headed out to Fenghuangling, or Phoenix Hills, in the north of the city. In fact even though it’s way outside the city, I was mildly disappointed to find out we hadn’t even left our district. 

It wasn’t my first time visiting Fenghuanling, but it was my first time with children. Even though keeping them entertained in the village of Che’erying where we stayed was a challenge, it was a worthwhile experience. The village is becoming more touristy in the 10 years or so since I first visited and everyone has turned their home into “official” lodging sites. So rather than try to book at the even more touristy locations around Beijing, we showed up and visited several home-tels until we found a suitable one.

The one we chose had a long hard bed where we could all lay side by side, and the selling point for me was an attached bathroom. The courtyard restaurant was an added bonus (some of the nongjia, or farmhouse, dishes, were excellent. The day we arrived we mostly just explored the area and found a nice playground. The following morning we were up with the birds and began the hike. This took a good three hours or more from the village to the top of the mountain and then down to a local monastery. The Longquan Monastary is well known and worth a visit by itself. The hike went well except for the two-year-old wanting to be carried most of the way. Fortunately, his daddy could handle it.

To get there, we went 6 subway stops up from our house on line 4 to Beigongmen where the old Summer Palace is. At the 346 bus stop to Fenghuanling, we were recruited by a driver who for a reasonable fee drove us straight to the village. He picked us up the next day too after making another delivery.