We just returned from 16 days trip to China. After spending days doing my homework from valuable input by fellows trip-advisers, we had decided on our itinerary of Beijing - Datong - Pinyao - Xian - Shanghai. We decided to do Mutianyu simply because its less crowded and after visiting many websites we decided hiring a private car as the charges is about the same as others and we have the convenience of door to door pick up. The private car we engaged came from a Chinese websites popularly used by backpackers and so the drivers speaks only minimal English. But all we needed is to drive us to the destinations and best of all, they provide service of booking train tickets Datong to Pinyao on our behalf. Driver came on time in the morning to pick us up and helped us to buy the entrance ticket to Mutianyu (there was no line at the ticket windows, just a lot of people pushing to get to the window.) When we came down, driver was already there waiting with bottled water and then proceed to our next destination. We were lucky that we had our unlocked iphone that worked well with a prepaid card there. Parking was a problem at the Bird Nest and driver had to make his rounds and we would call him when we came out to meet up with him. Overall, it was a smooth arrangement and we were pleased to have a hassle-free visit to these places (4.5 hours for Mutianyu 1.5 hours for Bird Nest) hiring private car without any shopping pit stop commonly known by those tour buses.
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