We learned many travel lessons as we planned our trip and lived it day to day. We used information from the internet together with some second-hand, out of date travel books. Added to this we got advice from the hotels we stayed in as well as the city tourist departments.
We weren't in a tour group and handled all our own transport and accommodation arrangements. We spoke to tourists and locals and these are my observations, thoughts … and tips.
We decided on a tour to the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall. This also included the Ming Tombs and the two disguised shopping visits to a "jade factory" and finishing with a "tea ceremony".
The latter two “sales promotion” stopovers which organised tours around the world are famous for.
Beijing was the first stop in our 4 week trip through China. A city that we left 4 days later with very mixed feelings.
Our negative experiences included being scammed out of 1 000 Yuan. Having a disturbing encounter with a taxi driver. Jamming an exit turnstile at a station with a hotel card. Some very hot, long walks around Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City.