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Daytripping in Beijing

By Leila Heshemi

November 10

Named after Emperor Longqing of the Ming Dynasty (1369-1644), Longqing Gorge was the mountain resort where imperial families of the past spent hot China summers.

Named after Emperor Longqing of the Ming Dynasty (1369-1644), Longqing Gorge was the mountain resort where imperial families of the past spent hot China summers.

Breathtaking limestone mountains, veiled by mist, tower over the blue-green waters nestled tranquilly in the Longqing Gorge. Named after Emperor Longqing of the Ming Dynasty (1369-1644), this attraction was the mountain resort where imperial families of the past spent hot China summers. Located in the mouth of the Yangqing Old City River, this spectacular getaway is only 85 km from Beijing’s city center. In addition to its natural beauty, this location boasts human creativity at its best. Winding up a steep mountain is one of China’s most classical characters, a dragon. Hidden inside the majestic modern-day addition is a 258-meter (846 ft) elevator. Coined “Soaring Dragon”, this attraction has been recognized in the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest elevator in the world.

Longqing Gorge [Image Credit: Leila Heshemi / China.org.cn]
Longqing Gorge [Image Credit: Leila Heshemi / China.org.cn]
After you ascend the mountain in the belly of the beast, you arrive on a platform where you can take a river cruise. This short but sweet journey will leave you in awe. As the breeze blows through your hair, you wind through the base of the gorge where you can see the many wonders the area has to offer, including the Immortal Taoist Temple and the Flowers Cave. After you leave the boat dock, make your way across the 70-meter high dam to take a thrilling ride on the cable car to the top of a mountain. Once you step off the lift, you are in another world. Start your geological journey to the top of the mountain on stone staircases while learning about the different rock types and formations from informative signs along the way.

Longqing Gorge [Image Credit: Leila Heshemi / China.org.cn]
Longqing Gorge [Image Credit: Leila Heshemi / China.org.cn]
The climb may not be a stroll in the park, but do not give up! On your journey to the top, you will discover an ancient temple where you can leave offerings and burn incense. Keep following the path until you reach the crest of the mountain where you can take in a well-earned panoramic view. After you catch your breath, there are even more activities to enjoy. You can rent your own boat, soar down a zip-line, take a slide down the face of the mountain, or for the more adventurous type, bungee jumping.

Longqing Gorge [Image Credit: Leila Heshemi / China.org.cn]
Longqing Gorge [Image Credit: Leila Heshemi / China.org.cn]
Going up isn’t the only way to savor the splendid gorge. One of the most interesting attractions there is the Baihuaxian Cave. This 3,000 square meter man-made cave filled with 1,650 lifelike trees, flowers and animals will give you a surprise at every turn. Featuring sceneries and animals that will make you feel as if you were walking through a dreamland.

Outside of the attractions are a variety of shops and dining locations from economical to lavish. Enjoy some fresh delicious dumplings from one of the local restaurants and grab a beer and relax in the tranquil garden area surrounded by weeping willows and a koi pond.

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Longqing Gorge [Image Credit: Leila Heshemi / China.org.cn]
The area is also home to an annual ice lantern festival held between January 15 and February 29. Layer up and feast your eyes on whimsical ice sculptures lit up by thousands of dazzling lights. The most impressive part of the festival is the frozen waterfall coming from atop the damn.

There are many accommodations including the Happy Holiday Hotel, which is located only 1.5 km from the site. The hotel is filled with beautiful decor and onsite sporting activities including bowling, hiking and table tennis. They also offer breakfast, lunch and dinner in their dining hall, as well as a full service wellness center and sauna.

Longqing Gorge [Image Credit: Leila Heshemi / China.org.cn]
Longqing Gorge [Image Credit: Leila Heshemi / China.org.cn]
This hidden gem located only a short distance from Beijing is often overlooked by foreigners. This is the perfect day trip or overnight holiday. Since it is off the beaten track, you do not have to worry about crowds and since it is always at least six degrees cooler than Beijing, it is a great place to be during the scorching summer months. If you want to make a longer trip out of it, book a few extra nights and visit Badaling, one of the most preserved and easily maneuverable areas of the Great Wall, which is only a few minutes’ drive away, and the Kangxi Grassland, the largest prairie in Beijing.

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