When the routine of city life gets you down and you need an escape to greener pastures, take a trip – day-long or overnight – to Miyun Reservoir, located about 100km from Beijing’s city center.
Miyun Reservoir boasts beautiful scenery. Spend the afternoon hiking, biking around the reservoir or on the main road (traffic is usually light), and taking leisurely drives through the hills. Enjoy the change from the urban jungle and relish the sight of trees and the lack of traffic. Although swimming in the reservoir is forbidden (it’s Beijing’s source of drinking water), the views of the reservoir and beautiful foliage are worth making the trip. For a taste of local culture, buy fruit or fish from the nongmin (farmers).
Head to the reservoir’s western and southern sides for idyllic scenery. On the west end, scout out vistas at the Black Dragon Pool, Cool Valley, Cloud Cave Valley, Taoyuan Xiangu and White River. You’ll be able to cool off, explore caves and splash around in waterfalls. While the northern and eastern edges are less scenic, they offer a glimpse of Beijing’s real countryside and how farmers and fishermen live.
When all this outdoor activity leaves you famished and ready for a nourishing meal, head to the variety of restaurants and hostels on the southern edge of the reservoir. Don’t miss the local delicacy – fresh fish. Wild and delicious, they taste great whether stewed or steamed.
For those spending the night, the south side has the most options for accommodations. A kang bed should cost about RMB 15 per night, whereas a standard room with indoor bathroom should cost RMB 100 per night in low season, or double that price in high season. For a luxury getaway, try Yunhu Holiday Resort.
Text adapted from Insider’s Guide to Beijing 2009. See purchasing details at www.immersionguides.com.
Driving to the reservoir takes about two hours. Take the Jingcheng Expressway, exit at the last toll gate (Miyun), and follow the signs to Mixi Lu, which will lead you directly to the reservoir. (Once you reach the mountain, the reservoir isn’t far.) If you don’t have a car, renting one in Beijng isn’t too difficult.
Hiring a Car
Many companies rent cars with drivers who speak some English, all for USD 850-1,100 per month. Try Beijing Beiqi Taxi (8661 1062, www.beiqitaxi.com.cn), where renting a VW Jetta costs RMB 300 per day with a driver. Cycle China (8402 4147, www.cyclechina.com) is another option; a rental costs up to RMB 600 for eight hours and includes extra legroom, AC and a driver; vans can hold ten people or six people and six bikes.
Also look for ads placed in laowai haunts like Jenny Lou’s or in the Beijinger. The most expensive option is to rent a car (chauffeured or self-driven) from an agency, and that requires a
Chinese driver’s license, a valid passport, a Beijing residence permit and a cash deposit.
Cloud Cave Valley (Yunxiu Gu)
A little piece of heaven, this upland valley is carpeted in trees and endowed with large flat slabs of rocks (making it an easy hike), running streams, waterfalls, caves and a section of the Great Wall.
Daily 24 hrs. RMB 31, RMB 16 (students). Xinchengzi Town, Miyun County (8102 2307) 云岫谷，密云县新城子镇
White River (Baihe)
Miyun’s Baihe River Valley is home to one of the most developed rock-climbing areas near Beijing, with as many as 45 established sport (bolted) and traditional routes. The main climbing area is adjacent to a sandy beach near the river, which makes it an ideal place for camping. Longtan Lake Park Climbing Wall (6718 6358 ext 9031) organizes trips to Baihe; call to find out when they’re going next. (Make sure you bring all your own gear.) Baihe River’s trail is located further upriver, in Huairou District. From the entrance gate, the river is about four kilometers away on fairly decent trails. There are camping spots on both sides of the river, but you can cross over to the far side for better views and more privacy. Daily 8am-5pm. Entrance RMB 30. Camping RMB 20. River rafting RMB 150. Baihe Climbing Area, Heilongtan area, Miyun County. 白河攀石，密云县黑龙潭方向 Baihe Trailhead.
Longtan Jian Scenic Area, Huairou District (6161 8140) 白河，怀柔区龙潭涧景区
This popular Miyun scenic spot has extensive green coverage, running streams, pools and waterfalls, and a not-too-difficult-to-conquer mountain. Besides hiking, boating and fishing, Taoyuan Xiangu is also famous for its blooming peach and apricot blossoms throughout April, as well as numerous lakes, waterfalls, pools.
Daily 8am-5.30pm. Entrance RMB 35.
Shicheng Town, Miyun County (6102 5667) 桃源仙谷，密云县石城镇
Lodging and Dining
Yunhu Holiday Resort
Located on the south bank of the Miyun Reservoir, this high-end hotel gives guests the option of dining at three restaurants serving both Chinese and Western cuisines. The resort’s best features are the entertainment facilities onsite: an indoor swimming pool, a tennis court, a bowling hall and even a driving range for golfers wanting to improve their swing.
RMB 480-18,000. The inner lake of Miyun Reservoir, Miyun County (6102 1991/2/3) www.yunhu.com.cn 密云云湖度假村，密云县密云水库内湖
This restaurant, which has been rated as one of the best eateries in the outskirts of Beijing by local media, specializes in Miyun nongjia-flavored (country-style) fish. Every diner should try the famous soy sauce and vinegar stewed fish head – tasty, although pricy. Advanced reservations are necessary for the weekends. Daily 9am-10pm. Bei Baiyan Village, Xiwengzhuang Town, Miyun County (6901 5587) 春园饭庄，密云县溪翁庄镇北白岩村
This countryside restaurant provides a less expensive, but flavorful local dining experience. Try deep-fried pepper bud, stir-fried free-range eggs and the country-style stewed silver carp, which is a special kind of wild fish. The famous stewed fish head with soya paste is also found here. Daily 10am-9pm. Shuiku Nanxian (next to Yunfoshan Ski Resort), Xiwengzhuang Town, Miyun County (6901 2498) 钰源潮美食城，密云县溪翁庄镇密云水库南线云佛山滑雪场附近