Beijing during Spring Festival, is it a Yay or Nay? Visited Beijing some time in February, not a good time of visit as it was during Chinese New Year, so just imagine the crowd! lol!
Needless to say that the most attractive seasons to visit are also the most crowded. But regardless of the time of the year, a visitor will always be rewarded with charming scenery throughout the country.The name Beijing means Northern Capital, and is intended to distinguish the town from Nanjing, the Southern Capital. The city has over 3000 years old history. It’s a fascinating city with some of the most famous landmarks of the Chinese history. And would you believe that it has 7 UNESCO World Heritage Sites!?Though Beijing is a hustling and bustling capital city, it’s packed full of things to do and there are plenty of sites to see for a week long visit.Heading to China? Here’s my 10 best things to do in Beijing and top attractions that you should not miss on your visit!
1. Visit the Iconic site:
The Great Wall of China
The views were spectacular and you could see how the Wall snaked it’s way through the mountains.The Great Wall is the most famous site in China, and it is one of the Seven Modern Wonders of the World.About 21,196 km long wall surrounding Beijing. A series of fortifications made of stone, brick, tamped earth, wood, and other materials, generally built along an east-to-west line across the historical northern borders of China to protect the Chinese states and empires against the raids and invasions of the various nomadic groups of the Eurasian Steppe.
Several walls were being built as early as the 7th century BC; The majority of the existing wall was built during the Ming Dynasty (14th-17th century).
Beijing is a perfect base to visit the Great Wall of China. There are different sections of the wall which you can visit. The Badaling section, the most visited site of the Great Wall. I advise you not to go there especially during Chinese New Year or any other Chinese Holiday as it is really crowded. On our visit during CNY, not a good timing though but lucky enough that we chose to visit Mutianyu, a section of the Great Wall located 70 km northeast of central Beijing. The Mutianyu section is connected with Jiankou in the west and Lianhuachi in the east. As one of the best-preserved parts of the Great Wall, the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall used to serve as the northern barrier defending the capital and the imperial tombs.The Great Wall of China is indeed an awe inspiring human achievement.What an extraordinary experience to have visited one of the Seven Modern Wonders of the Medieval World.
Watch the video here:
2. Wander around Tiananmen Square
Start your Beijing sightseeing on the Tiananmen Square, as this is the center of the city.It is one of the largest squares in the World being 500 meters wide and 880 meters long. The square, initially built in 1651, but was enlarged four times its original size during the leadership of Chairman Mao.Standing in the center of Tiananmen Square, looking around, you get a real feeling of where you are. Soldiers march through, flags fly high and tourists are snapping pictures everywhere. And on the square, visitors can see the Monument to the People’s Heroes, the Great Hall of the People, the National Museum of China, and the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong.The Memorial Hall of Chairman Mao Zedong is located on the giant concrete square. His body is embalmed and laid out for public viewing. Entrance is free but there is a strict dress code and photos are not allowed. An eerie experience though but definitely worthwhile.
3. Explore the Forbidden City
Just across the Tiananmen Square is the famed Forbidden City, home of the Emperor between 1420 and 1912. A UNESCO World Heritage Site today.Chairman Mao’s large photo greets everyone at the entrance of the Forbidden City. Here you can see beautiful, well-decorated palaces of the Emperor and his householdThe palace is a fascinating place to visit.It has 980 buildings and you could spend days exploring the grounds of the walled-off city admiring the colorful temples and the various deities dotted throughout the complex.Would you want to miss IG-worthy snaps of every corner? Ooops! I ain’t gonna miss any spot! lol!
So let my photos do the talking :p
Without visiting The Forbidden City, you’d definitely missed one of the most important parts of China.A stunning maze of temples and shrines.
An absolute must see and a beautiful reminder of days gone by! Surely you’ll be impressed by the size and grandeur of the complex. Though it is very crowded regardless of the season, it is very huge that even a day is not enough to explore. Uh-oh! Go get some comfy shoes!It’s a long walk through that reminds one of greatness and defeat all in one place, beautifully preserved. Indeed you cannot go to Beijing and not go to the Forbidden City.
4. Be in awe at the Temple of Heaven
It is built in one of the famous dynasties and it is truly a treasure.Another UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1998, and it is described as a masterpiece of landscape design and architecture. Be in awe of its beautifully decorated temple complex, which is indeed one of the most magnificent places to visit in Beijing.Truly a stunning piece of history. It’s worthwhile to take a moment to read about the actual detailed history of what occurred at the sites for the history buffs as it is unlike many other sites one would study across the globe.Unfortunately, there is no way to avoid crowds in Beijing, so just go with the flow. You are in China and this is the part of it. Do not hesitate to visit this place just because it’s too crowded, mind you! The scenery and landmarks are really beautiful.
5. Ride a Trishaw and Explore the Hutongs
If you are wondering what to do in Beijing after a day of sightseeing, check out the Hutong area, where you will be able to see how some Chinese people live in Beijing.The tour on a trishaw took us into the narrow alleys providing glimpses of life and reminiscent of another era. Here the locals live in small, garage like rooms, where they usually have a shower, but no toilet. Tenants of the hutongs use the public toilets on the street.The old houses, old streets, with not so much crowd of tourist brings a different vibe. Some people allow visitors inside their house to see and feel that ancient atmosphere. And in our case, we’re able to get in plus we we’re taught how to make dumplings! Yay!
Watch Video here:
6. Don’t miss the Summer Palace
A vast ensemble of lakes, gardens and palaces.One of the best things to see in Beijing is the Summer Palace that dates back to 1153. Three-quarters of the area is covered with water. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1998, and it was declared “a masterpiece of Chinese landscape garden design.
The natural landscape of hills and open water is combined with artificial features such as pavilions, halls, palaces, temples, and bridges to form a harmonious ensemble of outstanding aesthetic value.The first thing that struck me as soon as I entered the Summer Palace grounds was the massive lake that greets you at the entrance. The lake itself is huge – it’s hard to believe it was dug by hand.What a lovely place indeed! A masterpiece of romantic renditions of Chinese legendary history. All the gates are attractive and the lake itself provides a charming setting.The Summer Palace was the getaway and escape for the Emperor whenever it gets too hot in the Forbidden City during the summer. And Just like the Forbidden City, this place is massive and involves a lot of walking.
It’s hard to take solo pictures though, because there’s always a constant stream of people so be prepared to have almost all your pictures photobombed by random locals and other tourist. Any tourist site in China is always crowded, but as soon as you can get your head around the fact that any tourist site in China is going to be mind-bendingly busy, you can really appreciate the beauty of the Summer Palace.
7. Never leave Beijing without eating the Peking Duck
The Peking Duck is the most famous specialty of Beijing, and it has been prepared since the imperial era. The dish is served with small pancakes, veggies and hoisin sauce. It is a tasty dish and a must try when you visit Beijing.The chef serves thinly sliced duck and crispy skin at the guests’ table. I actually don’t eat duck in Singapore or even back in my country PH, but when we visited Beijing, hmm., let’s give Peking Duck a try!Darn! I didn’t expect it to be that good! Seriously! There was no smell, the skin was so crunchy with its fats, Urgggh! melts in the mouth! :pQuanjude Roast Duck Restaurant is one of the best restaurants serving Beijing Roast Duck. It has a history of nearly 150 years, and today there are many chain restaurants of it around the city.Quanjude Roast Duck Restaurant, really a must eat here —> Peking Duck!
8. Qianmen Street:
Get a feel of shopping in ancient architectural buildings
Qianmen Street has history of more than 570 years. It is composed of buildings whose styles resemble the late Qing Dynasty (1644 – 1911).A modern shopping in ancient architectural buildings and streets. The layout is simple, there’s a main street with branches on both left and right. One side is full of small shops and the other side is food shops.The ideal trip here is to plan Forbidden City in the morning (about 2-3 hours), then do a photo-op across the road in Tienanmen Square, then continue walking south (keeping Forbidden City behind you) and you’ll reach Qianmen subway station. Cross the road to pass the arch and you are in Qianmen street.
Here’s a short vid of Forbidden City down to Qianmen street:
9. Stroll around the Famous Egg Building:
National Centre for Performing Arts
Set in the middle of a lake, one enters the complex from an underground entrance, underneath the water, to emerge into the theaters. It can be regarded as the opera house of the city. It contains several concert halls and theaters within.It’s more than a Theater. Perhaps many tourist would have given this venue a miss. Its logical when the other bigger known places in the vicinity would have taken up all their sightseeing times. But If you are into exploring awesome architecture then you will love this place. Truly an astounding architectural wonder.
10. Visit Olympic Park
Beijing hosted the Summer Olympics in 2008, and it is going to host the Winter Olympics in 2022. It is the only city that will host both the Winter and the Summer Olympics in the history.The Olympic Park is on the outskirts of Beijing with many futuristic buildings and modern stadiums. The Beijing National Stadium was constructed for the game. It is also called as the birds nest, and it can host 91,000 people.Beijing is a great city that has a lot to offer to its visitors. You will surely enjoy this diverse and fun city, whether you come for cultural exposure, history, or shopping. Make sure to spend more than just a few days in the Chinese capital to be able to visit all the famous sites above to get a proper Beijing experience.Let me know about your Beijing trip.
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