Gubei Watertown with family

Gubei Watertown: A Beijing Weekend Family Getaway

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The Beijing Miyun Gubei Water Town (Gubei Watertown for short) is a local replica of the Wuzhen Watertown in East China’s Zhejiang province with the Simatai Great Wall a short walk away. The man-made ancient town is lined with rows of traditional Chinese houses with a river in between, leading all the way to the Yuanyang Lake Reservoir by the Simatai Great Wall. There are a number of activities available here, and it’s a popular getaway for Beijing families.

And when Daddy Park mentioned he was taking a week off from work to spend time with us, this place immediately came to mind. I asked if we could go.

But if there’s one thing Chinese tourist places are famous for, it’s the horde of tourists that comes with it. He hates it, mostly because he’s worried about our kids’ safety.

After doing some of his own research, he was at least open to the idea. The place was beautiful; there was no denying that. But…

“My friends all recommend it. Expats are saying it’s beautiful. One even said he’s been there like, three times!”

“But—”

“The night sight is the best. We can ride the boat and watch the whole city light up, we can climb the Great Wall, it’s going to be amazing!

“But—”

“And everyone says it’s kid-friendly! Even the—”

“Okay, okay, fine.”

When that last line was eventually said (eventually here means after many days after I initially suggested it) my heart jumped. We’re going! We’re going!

We booked a family room with Gubei Watertown Hotel (古北酒店/Gǔ běi jiǔdiàn) because it came highly recommended.

Gubei Watertown Hotel

We’ve discovered three ways to reserve (or book) our room: through third-party sites like Ctrip, Elong or Qunar, through the Gubei Watertown’s app or by phone. For those who cannot read or speak Chinese, I recommend booking via Ctrip (in English, of course!).

002_Gubei Watertown Entrance

Gubei Watertown Exploring Day

Gubei Watertown River

Gubei Watertown Houses

For those traveling to Gubei Watertown on their own, there are two main ways to get there: either by car or by bus. For those who choose the former, those with cars drive while those without hire cabs (ours was Didi). (Bus details at the end of the post.)

Gubei Watertown Dragon

Gubei Watertown Baby Shoes

The highlight of a trip to Gubei Watertown would be a visit to the Simatai Great Wall and, of course, Gubei Watertown itself. The traditional Chinese residences currently house different stories about the local culture, including local folk tales, traditional toys, and gifts such as DIY Chinese baby footwear. There are also several performances like the singing fountain at night and the shadow performance. Also, parents whose kids might get too bored will be happy to discover that there’s a huge playground here that some expats have also suggested not to miss out on and also a family-friendly swimming pool in one of the hotels. Tired? Consider a relaxing boat ride back from the end of Gubei Watertown back to the entrance. Simply put, there’s so much to do!

Gubei Watertown Night Tour

Gubei Watertown Night Tour

The next time we go back, I’ll be ready with a (proper) itinerary! In case you’re wondering though, here’s what we did when we went there:

Day 1:
9:30 AM ETD Beijing
11:30 AM ETA Gubei Watertown, check-in
12 NN After checking in, we went into Gubei Watertown to eat lunch. We kept walking along the main path, turned right on the first
crossroads and then ate at Kikuhana House.
2:00 PM After lunch, we let the kids loose at the playground in the Visitors’ Center. We called the hotel and they told us the room would
only be ready by 3PM.
2:45 PM We went to our room, napped
5:00 PM Sightseeing
5:30 PM Boat ride to the other end of Gubei Watertown
7:00 PM Finally found a place to have dinner
8:00 PM Night Sightseeing/Window Shopping around Gubei Watertown
10:00 PM We headed back

Day 2:
9:00 AM Hotel Breakfast
10:00 AM Checked out, rode a bus from the start of Gubei Watertown to the other end and walked through Wangjing street
12:00 NN Lunch at the hotel restaurant
1:00 PM ETD Gubei Watertown

Gubei Watertown Dam

Gubei Watertown

Gubei Watertown

Gubei Watertown

If you’d like to see more photos of our adventure there (and our itinerary), I’ve compiled most of it in this video:

Youtube:

Youku:

Here’s another family-friendly itinerary recommended by Beijing Wtown.

Tips for Parents

1. Prepare for carsickness, spills, and bring a few extra diapers.
My kids aren’t the type who easily gets car sick. So it really surprised me when L2 got very carsick. Fortunately, we had brought a paper bag along and extra clothes along, but the situation could have gotten very messy very fast.

Suggested carry-on items for parents of toddlers: Barf bags, an extra pair of clothes in case the kid/s spill water/barf over themselves, extra diapers (whether or not they’re still wearing one, just in case), toys, music, whatever that’ll help them cope with the two hours especially if they’re not used to riding that long!

2. Prepare a few bottles of water and lots of snacks!
The family will be doing quite a bit of walking on this trip, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that kids might tire easily. But chocolate wafers helped make the situation easier for us!

3. Bring baby carriers instead of strollers
The cobbled streets of Gubei Watertown make it a bit challenging to push strollers through, although I saw quite a few families do it.

4. Bring swimsuits
We were surprised to discover that we had discounted coupons to the local hot springs. But because we didn’t bring swimsuits, we didn’t even get an opportunity to try. Not only that, during our trip it had rained a bit. Had it rained througout the trip, we would have had to stay at the hotel the whole time and not have been able to take advantage of the pool our hotel had. Though you don’t have to use it, it would be a handy back-up just in case.

Gubei Watertown

古北水镇
☏ 010-81009999
📬北京市密云区古北口镇司马台村古北水镇(司马台长城)国际旅游度假区 (About 2 hours from Beijing)
Wtown Main Website
Getting there directly by bus from Dongzhimen stop to Gubei Watertown according to their website:

Tickets are RMB48/person/way.
Ticket sales start 30 minutes before departure.

From Dongzhimenwai (东直门外) to Gubei Watertown:
Mondays thru Fridays: 8:00、9:00、12:00、15:30
Weekends and Holidays: 8:00、9:00、11:00、12:00、14:00、15:30。

From Gubei Watertown to Dongzhimen times:
Mondays thru Fridays: 11:00、12:00、16:00、21:00,
Weekends and holidays: 11:00、13:00、15:00、17:00、19:00、21:00。
For more information, please visit their official website.

To see Instagrammed photos of Gubei Watertown, click here.

Photo: Gubei Watertown

Gubei Watertown Gubei Watertown

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