Beijing; famous for a five and a half thousand mile wall and a history rich enough to rival any other city in the world. If you’re lucky enough to get the chance to visit the beautiful capital of China keep reading, here is a city guide with everything you need to know, do and see.
In order to conquer Beijing all you’ll need is: skill in handling chopsticks, a parasol, a comfy pair of shoes and a companion who has seen Disney’s Mulan. This will come in handy when you want to recite Mulan quotes when you visit the Forbidden City.
Places to visit - Beijing is huge. It holds a lot more tourist hotspots than your average city. Be prepared for lots of crowds queues and congestion. I would also advise doing a little research into Chinese public holidays beforehand and try to avoid going at those times (you don't want too many randoms in the back of your Great Wall selfies, do you?).
A huge open space where the famous 1989 protests took place. There is surprisingly no mention of the protests within the square however it is still a beautiful, peculiarly peaceful place to visit and also take in the history it holds. If you’re lucky enough you’ll get there in time to see the Chinese flag being raised by the guard of honour.
If you’ve not had enough history for the day you can even visit Chairman Mao in the tomb where he lays to rest. However there is a strict rule of no photography inside.
The Forbidden City
Firmly stating its place near the top of list of places to you need visit in Beijing is the Forbidden City. This is the part where your Mulan partner comes in handy. The FC houses one of the most incredible museums, the palace museum. It also once upon a time served as the home of emperors (and their hundreds of wives) as well as the political centre of the Chinese government.
I will take a good few hours if you want to explore the whole of 720,000 meters, five halls, seventeen palaces and numerous other buildings. (Has that answered your question on how the emperor managed to house all those wives?)
Great Wall of China.
Guaranteed this is the place everyone will be asking you about on your ‘just landed home’ Facebook status. Quick warning, there is hundreds of steps to climb up get to the wall but fear not, the 21st century gods bestowed upon us a cable car which takes you there in a few minutes. Don’t feel too bad about taking the cheat route either, there are still quite a few steps when you leave the cable car, you will soon forget any guilt you once had when you’re panting at the top of those. You can climb from the bottom if you like to do things the proper way.
There is no need to describe how breath taking the wall is, the pictures do it more justice than any words could.
Beijing Olympic Stadium
The best thing about the olympic stadium is the ground surrounding it, there is a lot more to admire than you would think. Food stalls, picture opportunities, market stalls and street entertainment it’s a fantastic atmosphere. You can visit the inside of the stadium, but there is an extra fee.
Temple of Heaven and its surrounding gardens
I would recommend exploring the gardens before viewing the Temple of Heaven. The gardens house the most beautiful scenery and Beijing's most intriguing people.
Walking around the gardens you will see people doing yoga, dancing, singing, tai chi and everything in between and if you’re confident enough they let you join in. It’s a great vibe and there is not a bucket full of pennies in sight. All performers are just there to have fun and do what they love.
On your way to the Temple of Heaven make sure you stumble across a hallway of people all ages playing dominos, yahtzee, cards and knitting.
The temple is a must to visit, it’s very easy on the eye and if you’re elbows are sharp enough make sure you get the chance to have a look around the inside.
China has a very long history of tea. I’m not talking ‘Tetley’s with milk and no sugar because you’re sweet enough’ tea. I’m talking green tea, black tea, oolong tea, fruit tea, scented tea and thats not even the half of it.
Tea Workshops are a must when visiting Beijing, and they’re available all around the city. You’re sat down at a table either on your own or with a group and a hostess takes you through samples of a range of different teas, their many meanings and how and when you should drink them. It can be a lot of fun if you’re traveling with a group of people. The tea can also be also used as traditional Chinese presents to bring home; gaining you friend/daughter/son brownie points.
Beijing is a beautiful, interesting, stylish city that still holds the Chinese tradition that we all long for. One being the peking duck. Without sounding too enthusiastic, it is to-die-for. The best in the whole of China, apparently. There are plenty of beautiful restaurants around the city that offer the mouth watering dish, but a classic tourist hot spot is Qianmen Dajie. (ps if you don't like the crowds there is a beautiful place just off Wangfujing Dajie).
Please remember to bring your camera, I do believe you are all beautifully eloquent but as I have, you will struggle to do this amazing city justice with just words alone.
Photos and Words By Megan Hill