It was not an easy task to convince Hubby that doing a half-day trip to a Buddhist Temple would be an exciting use of our time. He’s normally a great sport about everything—I come up with crazy lists of family adventures I want to try, and he plays along and agrees to fight the congested Beijing traffic and play the navigator as we figure out how to make our way to the different places on my list. Tanzhe Temple was like that. This particular temple, the oldest in Beijing, was on my list because I love spring . . . and all the blossoms . . . especially magnolias. And Tanzhe Temple is a great place to see them.
Hubby, however, isn’t quite as into the blossoms like I am, and we’ve lived in Asia for thirteen years now and, well, we’ve seen a lot of Buddhist temples. The drive to Tanzhe would be about an hour-and-a-half (but unpredictable because of Beijing traffic). In his eyes, it was a long drive for . . . another Buddhist Temple.
So how did I get him excited to go?
Well, there is a Sam’s Club pretty close to Tanzhe Temple, and as odd as it sounds, Sam’s Club is not something we get to experience everyday. Not that I really want to give the impression that my family gets all giddy and excited to support corporate America. It’s just that when we realized there was a Sam’s Club close by, we thought we might find a little bit of home (the U.S.) right here in Beijing. And we were curious. Too often it seems like we make trips to stores that have the Western name (like Carrefour for example) and we get there and look around and realize that it’s not a real Carrefour at all—it just has the name. We wanted to know if the same would be the case for Sam’s Club here as well.
Just like when we went to the Great Wall at Mutianyu, we left early to beat the crowds and to try to get there before traffic got too bad. When we left our house, the GPS predicted about an hour and twenty minutes to get there, but it ended up taking us closer to an hour and forty. We arrived at about 9:00 a.m. and spent about three hours looking around inside the temple.
Entrance to the temple costs 55 RMB. Children under 1.2 meters are free.
There are numerous signs within the temple in both Chinese and English to explain the history and stories behind the different trees and structures inside the complex. If you prefer to listen to the information rather than read the signs, you can hire a guide or 100 RMB for a one hour tour. As a different option, also where you first enter the temple, there are automatic auto guides (that use a GPS) for 50 RMB plus a deposit. For a free audio option, you can use your phone to scan the QR codes at different places within the temple.
This is definitely a half-day trip. We spent about three hours inside the temple and felt it was sufficient. We took our time and enjoyed ourselves, we saw everything we wanted to, and everyone was ready to leave after three hours there.
Tanzhe is nestled along mountains on several sides. The different buildings inside the complex are on multiple tiers. Expect lots of steps, but there will be a nice view at the top.
At the top level, you can pay 10 RMB to gong the bell. It the mallet is very heavy, though. Both of my kids gave it a try and needed their dad to help them, and they still couldn’t get the loud resonating gong like others had done.
Also at the top level, you can pay 10 RMB for a stack of coins that you throw to strike smaller bells.
Don’t expect to have any food options inside the temple (unless you count ice cream as food). I was glad to have packed healthy snacks for the kids. I didn’t see any options for lunch until we were in the car driving away. As we left, there were several Chinese restaurants lining the street, but I can’t speak to the quality since we didn’t stop . . . we wanted to have lunch back at home.
Did the kids like it?
Ummm . . . parts of it, yes. But they also struggled a bit trying to be patient and wait for Hubby and me. We love to spend time together as a family and sometimes that means Hubby and I find things to do that (really) we’re only doing because we know the kids will love it. Other times the kids come along with us even though we know it won’t be all that exciting for them. Sometimes that means they get bored, but it also means they will learn to try different things and learn to be patient.
However, even the kids had some special moments, especially Daughter who likes the spring flowers just as much as I do.
But what was everybody’s favorite part of the day?
As much a I want to make my family out to be culturally appreciative, at the end of the day when we were having dinner, I asked everyone what they liked best about the day’s adventure, and all three of them had the same answer: “The samples at Sam’s Club.”
Sam’s Club was about a thirty minute drive from Tanzhe Temple. And it is a true Sam’s Club. It was a little bit of home right here in Beijing. It had everything a Sam’s Club is supposed to have—a big parking lot, gigantic carts, wide aisles, lots of samples, and real Sam’s Club items. And the best part? No crowds. Really. Shopping in Asia always feels to me like shopping on Black Friday in the States. Granted . . . we went to Sam’s in the early afternoon on a weekday. Maybe weekends are different, but I was so happy for the big aisles and room to actually look and move around.
Just like back at home, you need a membership to shop at Sam’s Club, but since we can order from JD.com here in Beijing and have the items delivered for free, it’s worth it to us to have the membership. But even if we can order Sam’s Club items online, sometimes it’s nice to actually go and browse the store to see what they have. Some of the items and prices are the same as they are at the grocery story close to my house. Other items (like cleaning products and bags of frozen fruit) are much cheaper at Sam’s.
It took us a little over an hour to get home from Sam’s Club. And all in all, everyone had a really great day. And in the end, Hubby (as reluctant as he was to go to another temple) agreed.
If you’d like to read more about the other adventures my family is doing for Spring 2018, check out my bucket list where I’ll add active links as I post about each trip.