It’s the Chinese New Year and the year of the horse is starting, so I thought that a flashback post to China would be a suitable topic. As dragons are used for decoration during the Chinese New Year, I wanted to share a day trip we did from Beijing to Long Qing Xia (the Great Dragon Gorge – 龙庆峡). One of the sights there is this great dragon staircase which takes the people up to the dam, the chairlifts and boats – it’s a pretty dominant and impressive sight upon arrival!
This area is rather kitschy, yet it is a great and beautiful destination with a lot to offer. A lust escape when the summer city gets too hot, a magical ice wonderland in winter – or in our case: a lovely Saturday in a sunny October day. Mind you though, BeiJing was far away from sunny with the heavy smog looming over the city: so it was a perfect day for a little countryside escape!
Long Qing Xia is located about 90km/60 miles from Beijing, which equals to 1.5-2.5h driving time depending on the traffic, so I would recommend leaving in the morning and reserving the whole day for this. If you still have energy on the way back you can stop by one of the stations for the Great Wall of China, and have a quick hire along the wall towards the end of the day when the crowds are no longer there.
Once you enter the area you need to park a bit further away and take a minibus to the actual gorge area. You can also walk some 2km, but thats less time for exploring the actual sight, and bus tickets are rather cheap. You need to buy tickets for most of the activities in the area separately (the boats, the chairlift (although you can walk up and down also), and on the way back thought the mountain there are plenty of offers from rides to somewhat interesting museums/expos…
So get ready and step into the famous dragon escalators by the side of the dam and get going! The first stop would be to admire the dam and the views spreading down to the valley.
Take a chair lift to the top of the mountain, have a lovely walk, a snack and visit the monastery on top. Admire the views stretching out, but be alert if you are travelling with the children, as safety is not quite what it is in Europe and US. paths on the side of the mountain, low (or no) side railings – and some passages are just made for rather small and fit people so don’t get stuck…
On the way you can admire the fish pools swarming with carps and observe the boats coming and going along the gorge.
The boat ride in the gorge is relaxing, but a bit chilly if you are visiting in late autumn, so don’t forget your extra layers. This is the place that has earned the kitsch reputation for the area: The boat makes a couple of stops and there is cliff-top bungee jumping, ziplines, rowing boats and other sporty activities on offer – as is some entertainment in the form of a balancing acts above the boats. That was rather scary as there clearly is no safely harness for the performers…
The most pleasant surprise was the area of the Diamond Temple – this beautiful place of worship (still active) has stood there for nearly a thousand years. For the little ones there are also some deers to feed and admire in the rest area.
On the way back you have some seriously interesting options for going down from plain old walking through the stone tunnel to pretty scary-looking slides down. So have fun!
Typical to any place with tourist around, the parking lot has lots of local procude on offer, but it’s mainly food articles rather than souvenirs. Our souvenirs from the Long Qing Xia gorge area were the admission tickets to different parts – and there certainly were quite a few of them.
All-in-all we had a great day here, and I would definitely recommend this as a family destination – as well as without a family. I would also advice bring some food and snacks of your ow, as the selection here is not that great!