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“very nice” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Shidu Nature Park

Shidu Nature Park
The Middle and Upper Reaches of the Juma River, Shidu Town, Fangshan District, Beijing 102411, China
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Ranked #29 of 205 Nature & Parks in Beijing
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Attraction details
Fee: Yes
Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Owner description: Geological scenery with Karst Mountains and a river snaking through them. This park has numerous areas to visit. Great for hiking.
beijing
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19 reviews 19 reviews
18 attraction reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
“very nice”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 15, 2012

go for walk in Qidu, the seven pass is nice and not the shi (10) one

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Toronto
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13 reviews 13 reviews
7 attraction reviews
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101 helpful votes 101 helpful votes
“Should you do the du?”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed September 16, 2011

Shi Du is a mountainous and rural area approximately 90 kms southwest of Beijing. The Juma River cuts through the area. Shi is number 10 in Chinese and Du means port or “Port where you get the ferry.” From my research, there were originally only 10 ports in Shi Du, hence the name. (Yes, that was profound.)

Several sources report that Juma was as a once raging river and boats were the only safe means to cross the river. In the modern era, the Juma River is gentle and disgustingly polluted in spots. I doubt it was more than four or five feet deep in the areas where we were on it. The ugliness of the Juma River is the only blight on what is otherwise a very beautiful area. Also, in an era where bridges span the river, “Du” can now be reinterpreted as a place where you can get a bridge to the other side of the river. As the area has started to attract tourists, there are now 17 Du (17 bridge crossings) in the area, with probably more in the planning stages.

Shi Du is often referred to as, “The Guilin of the North” because it has a lot of natural beauty and karst-like mountains that make it look like Guilin. My wife and I had the pleasure of visiting Gulin / Li River in 2010 and Shi Du / Juma River in 2011, and it is fair to say that, “Guilin of the North” is a very apt name. The Shi Du area is strikingly beautiful and a splendid place for nature lovers to spend a day or more. The Shi Du area probably gets less rain than Guilin /Yangshuo, and the plant life isn’t quite as lush or overwhelming as it is in Guilin, but in many ways, the two areas look and feel very similar.

The Summer Tourist Train:

My wife and I visited Qi Du (the seventh crossing). We arrived at the Shi Du area by a tourist train. Getting reliable transportation information about Shi Du is frustrating at best. For every site that said there was a summer tourist train, there was another that said it was discontinued. At least during July 2011, the train was operational.

The train that we took left the Beijing West station in the morning and a train makes a return trip back to Beijing. In July 2011, there were no afternoon or evening trains either way. Our one-way ticket was 14 RMB, which we purchased in the main Beijing [train] Station which has a fairly well marked Beijing West [train] Station ticket booth near the entrance/exit doors. Like all train trips, you can only buy your tickets 10 days in advance. There are many online references to other trains leaving for Shi Du, but you probably can only verify this by going to the station cited (which is a pain) or by visiting a good ticket agent.

The train to Shi Du was the oldest (and slowest) train I have ever been on in China because it took two hours to complete the 90 km distance. Nevertheless, the train was comfortable and relaxed – quite friendly because everybody was heading out on vacation. The train stopped in Shi Du (the 10th Du), where we had to jump about 1 metre onto the tracks, and I had to lift my wife up and over a 4 foot retaining wall and up an embankment.

After talking to a tout on the train, we decided to take a black taxi (non registered) from Du 10 to Du 7 which was our destination. I have heard so many nightmare stories about black taxis in China, but this one worked out well in spite of our ignorance. Like all rural areas in China, English is non-existent in Shi Du. We could have taken the bus to Du 7 as well. I would think that the bus (or private car) would be the most common choice for non-Mandarin speaking visitors arriving from Beijing. More on buses later.

The tout lead four of us to a well dressed man driving a VW Bora. The driver taxied four of us to Du 7 for 7.5 RMB each. It was a good twenty minute trip. It clearly never occurred to him that he COULD rip us off or at least ask for more money. A similar trip in much poorer Yangshuo/Guilin would be at least 50 RMB. Of course, we WERE ripped off. At the end of trip, our shared taxi from DU 7 to our bus (to Beijing) in Du 1 cost us 5 RMB each. With all this talk about taxis, don’t count on finding one. This was the only real taxi that we saw in the area.

The driver dropped us off at Du 7, which is home to Gushanzhai Village and by far the most popular tourist spot of the Shi Du area. An entrance ticket to the area costs ~90RMB which includes the suspension bridge, mountain access, a motorboat ride and a bamboo raft ride. If you have come for the mountains and scenery, my wife and I both fully recommend that you spend 40 RMB and just get mountain access. The suspension bridge is rickety and probably dangerous. You can see the wood cracking. There is a free and safe floating bridge that takes you over the river and to the mountain area. The bamboo raft ride was charming enough. You paddle the raft yourself within a defined area. However, the Juma river is very polluted. I was getting condoms and kinds of other debris floating up to the raft. The motor boat ride was short and driven by a psychopath, bent on tipping the boat. Save 50 RMB and just go to the mountain.

In Du 7, the mountain is the, “The thing,” and it was absolutely splendid and one of the best nature experiences I have had in China. You can really tell that some level of government has spent a small fortune as steps have been carved up the entire mountain. For mountain purists, this would probably be heresy, but the steps make the ~1.5 km ascent relatively easy. My wife and I are 40 and in good shape, but you don’t have to be a mega athlete to climb to the top. I think the designers have given a lot of thought about making the mountain safe for tourists, though there is some element of risk in terms of slips and falls. You won’t plummet to your death, but I am sure serious sprains and bruises do occur. There is also a 10 km loop trail through the valley, but few visitors actually do it. We took heed of advice of many Beijing reviewers that said you MUST do the loop with a local or you WILL get lost. At any rate, the hours of climbing were enough for us and a hike would require an extra day.

Du 7 is fairly (though not crushingly) busy at the bottom of the mountain, but crowds really thin as you climb. There are plenty of places to stay, eat and shop. Du 7 is a place of business. I didn’t see any local homes located right in the tourist area, but locals live in the general vicinity. We saw a number of small Chinese-style hotels that looked fairly modern. I don’t know what the washroom facilities were like in them. The public washrooms in the area were passable by Chinese standards and good for rural Chinese standards, but not wonderful. For those leery of rural food, there were a few shops selling Coke, Oreos and Potato Chips.

More On Shi Du:

PLEASE note that I am not remotely an expert on Shi Du or transportation to the area, so please use this information as the basis of future research for a trip. This information is gleaned in Chinese from various sites.

Du 1 to Du 6 is known for its scenery. Du 3 is reportedly a hot filming spot for Chinese films with rural scenery. Du 5 has Fairieland Mountain (my translation).

Du 8 has a beach park.

Between Du 9 and Du 10 there is a water park with bungee jumping. Du 10 has an anti-Japanese memorial and a mountain with a naturally carved Chinese character representing Buddha.

Transportation:

Bus 917 to Shi Du leaves Tianqiao Long Distance Bus Station (32 Beiwei Road near the Temple of Heaven). As mentioned before, we took the tourist train to Shi Du and the bus back to Beijing. Tianqiao is within the 2nd Ring Road, so it wasn’t a crazy walk to the subway and back to our hotel. Taxis are getting really hard to find in Beijing and there were few around the Tianqiao station.

I am nervous to report more than this because we did not take a bus to Shi Du. Beijingers do report that there is a bus that goes to every Du from 1 to 15. We certainly saw those buses. Du 7 had a clearly marked bus stops. However, I am not sure if you have to transfer buses when you arrive in Du 1 from Beijing. We took online advice to take our bus back from Du 1, which has a good size bus station (in the middle of nowhere) and buses that leave for Beijing every 15 minutes.

Enjoy. Next time we will spend 3 or more days there.

Visited July 2011
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