Beijing, the city where we discovered Chinese culture and how they used to live during dynasties. Impressive architecture, huge gardens, beautiful temples.. There’s so much to discover out there and planning four days for that would be good! Consider an additional day for a trip to the Great Wall of China! It’s the city to start your trip with since you need lots of energy to be able to explore as many places as possible.
What to visit?
An imperial garden that was a summer retreat for emperors, it includes pavilions, halls, bridges and temples. With a combo ticket, you will be able to visit all its parts such as Dehe Garden, Wenchang Hall, Suzhou Street, Daning Hall and the Tower of Buddhist Incense which is a perfect example of the fascinating Chinese architecture!
The Seventeen-Arch Bridge is considered part of this palace and can be accessed with the same ticket. You can also enjoy a boat ride on Kunming Lake for an amazing scenery. It’s a huge place, a lot of walking is required and it would be easier to get the ticket online to avoid wasting time. You may easily spend the day there.
Near the Summer Palace, you can enjoy a Chinese imperial dining experience at Bai Jian Da Yuan, a restaurant that used to be the Prince Palace in Qing Dynasty. The staff dressed in traditional Chinese outfits will greet you at the majestic entrance and will accompany you until you leave. If you choose the indoor area, you will be surrounded by colorful authentic decoration. We decided to go for the outdoor area and enjoyed the garden view which was also great.
The world’s largest imperial palace that was home to twenty-four emperors of the two dynasties. Its name came from the fact that it was considered a divine place, and was obviously forbidden for ordinary people. It consists of about 980 buildings, mainly in yellow and red colors. They are so beautiful, all colorful and well designed. One impressive fact: massive carved stones found there were transported on ice roads, centuries ago, from quarry to construction site.
The biggest temple of Tibetan Buddhism in Beijing. Its name means the temple of harmony. It was converted from a princely residence to a lamasery in the 18th century. It’s full of Buddha statues and it’s where we discovered the praying routines of Buddhism such as burning incense.
Another temple to visit in Beijing is the Temple of Heaven which is as beautiful and interesting since you can watch local people doing their morning exercises in the park. Since we didn’t have the time for both, we had to choose only one.
Panda is one of my favorite animals, seeing it and watching its habits was a must. This is possible at the panda zoo in Beijing. Keep in mind that Pandas might be sleeping and you’re gonna have to wait for them to wake up so that you can check how they eat and drink.
A nice experience would be wandering around hutongs in Beijing, tiny old streets where you can check local houses and people doing their daily routine.
Great Wall of China
One of the things we were most looking for during our Chinese trip was climbing the Wall of China. There are different parts in many cities, we chose Mutianyu. It’s a 90 min drive from Beijing and it’s less crowded than other parts. There are many ways to reach it, like taking many buses or hiring a taxi driver but we chose the easiest one and booked tickets with a bus company for a day trip which I recommend if you have limited time. The organizer will even sell you entrance tickets to the Wall and explain about the different ways to climb up and down.
This part of the Wall consists of twenty towers. We decided to take the cable car to the 14th tower and climb until the last one then take the cable car again from tower 14 back to the start. If you choose to walk back until tower 6, you can enjoy the Toboggan, a slide that will also take you down to the starting point. Climbing up to the last tower was our goal, I almost gave up since it becomes harder at the end, but I’m glad I didn’t. The rewarding view was breathtaking.
Shopping in Beijing
A busy street to enjoy while in Beijing: Bars, pubs, restaurants, shops.. you will find everything you need to the spend the afternoon and chill at night.
Scitech Premium Outlet is the mall you need to go to if you want to buy international brands at discounted prices. It is easily accessed by subway or by car. Although prices were not that low when we were there, it’s still worth a try.
Also accessible through the subway, you will find there counterfeit goods and if you don’t mind bargaining, this is the place for it.. There are all sort of shops that has clothes, jewelry, souvenirs, toys, eye wear, silk… at prices that you need to negotiate and you can get as low as you want.
Entertainment in Beijing
The Legend of Kungfu
One of the most popular shows in Beijing, a mixture of Kungfu, dancing and acrobatics. A spectacular performance which includes a fusion of modern dance with Chinese Traditional arts. It is performed at the Red Theater and tickets can be reserved online. It’s translated to English so you can definitely understand the story behind the show.
Another way to spend the evening is by attending a musical theater in order to enjoy Traditional Chinese Opera. We missed this show since we noticed that it’s in Chinese and we won’t be able to understand the scene. If you’re an opera lover, you might enjoy it anyway.
Where to stay?
Choosing the area you are going to stay in depends on your preferences. You can stay near famous shopping streets, in the business area or close to downtown..
We stayed at New World Beijing hotel which is a 5 stars hotel with amazing services. The closest metro station Chongwenmen can be reached by a 6 minutes walk. It is also so close to New World shopping mall. Our room was equipped with a bathtub which was a perfect therapy after a long day of walking. The hotel has a spa, a restaurant, a rooftop bar, a gym and a pool.. Its restaurant offers a buffet of international and Chinese dishes: salads, sea food, dumplings, desserts.. a great variety that we really enjoyed. It was a great experience overall.
Book your stay on their website:
Beijing is the home of Chinese culture and a good start for a trip to China. If you are not limited by a period of time, you can easily stay more days in the city, explore on a slow level and add many other places to the plan. It definitely has lots of hidden gems to discover on the spot. Not to be missed!
Check out my posts “Two Weeks in China” and “One Day in Macau” for more details about our Chinese experience: