Weekend daytrip: Yunju temple and Shidu town

This was a pleasant surprise! Only 90 minutes by car from the Jingshi highway entrance at southeast 3rd ring, I was very impressed by the entire day. The drive itself was one of the loveliest in Beijing, comparable to the peacefulness around Mutianyu – and even better developed.

Yunju Temple (云居寺 yunjusi) is one of the most interesting temples I’ve seen around Beijing. It is extremely well kept, with a pleasant staff all still wearing the Olympic volunteer garb. And it’s wonderfully deserted of tourists, which always helps to uncover the spiritual peace I like to experience at a temple. The view of the local mountains is very serene.

Buddha relic

The unique highlight of this temple is the artifact of actual pieces of Buddha; two tiny, whitish pearl-like fragments reportedly left over from his cremation 2,500 years ago. It is displayed in a lovely case very similar to the way an ancient Catholic church would display a saint’s relic. I found the experience nicely personal and direct. Overall, the worst part was the aggressive elderly volunteers in each temple, who are a bit too eager to offer incense and other artifacts for an extra fee. Otherwise, my wife and I both thought Yunju is one of the best temples around Beijing, and the lovely drive itself – plus Shidu – makes for an excellent daytrip.

www.yunjusi.com; 6138-9612. Cost: 40RMB; 10RMB to see Buddha fragments

Shidu town (十都)

I was a little wary of going here, as the Excursion Guide implied it as a love-it-or-hate-it town. But it was only 20km from Yunjusi, so we checked it out – and I’m really glad we did. Yes, the actual town has the tacky bungee jumping section; but the entire area, a wide valley surrounded by high cliffs, is perhaps the most dramatic landscape I’ve seen around my Beijing daytrips. All along the road, which follows the shallow river, there are frequent small beaches where you can relax, picnic, raft or swim – for a small parking fee, of course. Shidu is definitely the most developed section, with the main road busy like a New England beach town on a weekend. Small stalls ring the road, selling all types of dongxi from foods to rubber rafts. There are a lot of small hotels and restaurants as well. I would definitely go back this summer, or even annually; next time probably with the in-laws and stay overnight. So yes, you can definitely enjoy Shidu without bungee jumping!

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