Beijing Was my home more than 10 years ago. I love this city to death and couldn’t shut up about how wonderful those places are to all my American friends. I try to visit every year still, and next trip is a week from today.
A lot of people I talked to only know about the Great Wall, and have this image about China being very controlling, very hard to travel. I decide to write a travellers guide as a Beijinger.
First of all, you do need to get VPN if you want to continue using facebook, WhatAapp, Youtube, instagram, snapchat and worldpress.com (worldpress.org is not blocked), so basically all your social media needs that. It is very controlling in a way.
It’s very easy to get a car or pay bills if you have Wechat app, a chinese messanger. most places in Beijing accept visa or Mastercard, unless you go to the street markets.
Subway is very cheap, accessible and clean. but if you decide to get car service, it’s very cheap also. I never have trouble wave taxi on the street. Money goes a long way, so you will feel the freedom not having to count everything in your head.
As I bookmarked places I recommend to see, only the Great Wall is bit far out of city centre. everything else are easy to get to by subway.
Beijing International Airport
One of the largest airport in the world. Beijing international airport is quite a stunning architecture. You can purchase SIM card easily at the airport with plans that good for travellers. The simplest way to get to downtown is via the AirportExpress line. There are stations at Terminal 2 and Terminal 3. The journey to the city takes 16 to 20 minutes, and a one way ticket is less than $4.
Absolutely have to visit this place. It was an imperial garden in Qing Dynasty with lakes, gardens and palace. It’s massive, easily spend a whole day in here if you want to see everything. In summer and fall there are beautiful lotus in the lake.
Sill remember doing paddle boat with my parents when I was a little girl. But the best moment for me was after walking all day, sit by the lake with some snacks and just watch the whole world passing by.
Ticket is around $5(April 1st-October 31st), $8 (November 1st-March 31st)
Temple of Heaven
Here is a picture of me dress up like a princess in Temple of heaven. Old habit from the age of 5. but don’t worry there are plenty adults doing this around, you as a matter of fact have to wait in line for this.
As most attractions in Beijing, this place is A LOT bigger than you think. Because the Emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties would came here for annual ceremonies of prayer to Heaven for good harvest, it is able to hold great amount of people.
What I love about this place is the sense of freedom when you in such open space.
Entry ticket is about $6, dress up as princess is about $2.
It’s always emotional coming here to Tianmen Square. I was a baby carrying by my mother first time visited here lol. Even though I don’t have any memories about that visit, that feeling of something familiar and exciting stayed.
Tiananmen in Chinese means “Gate of heavenly peace”. I love watching sunset over the square. Around the square, you can visit the Monument to the People’s Heroes, the Great Hall of the People, the National Museum of China, and the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong.I really love walking to the old Railway Station, very unique.
China has changed a lot in the past 30 years, but I believe the passion, idealism and strong belief in Chinese people remain the same. I feel very proud coming here and I think you would enjoy the richness of culture and beauty of this historic place.
I thought it was forbidden to visit when I was a kid. So you can feel my excitement when I finally walk in there. Even though lots of the items inside the palace are already removed, it’s still a very impressive place.
Entrance ticket is about $10, and there will be a lot of stairs so get ready.
Right off Tiananmen Square, you will find the cutest, most Beijing looking street, designed to look like the old Beijing shopping street. There will be souvenir shops, snacks, Starbucks and some brand like H&M shops. If you go off the main street, there are many amazing noodle and steam bun restaurants.
I got my favourite dessert and smiling with berry stuck on my teeth. You know you’re really happy when you don’t care about those things anymore.
National Centre for the performing Arts
A very cool modern architecture, known as the “Giant Egg”, is an opera house. It surrounded by an artificial lake and lights up at night with various colours. If you could find interesting concerts here, it would be amazing to see the interiors inside as well.
A 30 minutes walk from Tiananmen Square, or 20 mins from the Forbbiden City, this park has a spectacular view of the city. What I love the most is those beijing locals came here everyday to practise Taiqi, granny dancing or calligraphy. My mom would join them too. No matter how beatuiful the view is, best part is always seeing people having fun.
This time I dress like a queen for $1 more (than dress like a princess). This is a great shopping area, the some of the best malls in Beijing.l But there are also old fashion street selling traditional Chinese snacks, panda t shirts and handcrafts by old grandmas.
I love the candied Crataegus pinnatifida, in Chinese Bingtanghulu. a very old Beijing dessert.
Then Wangfujing Church is also a big attraction, if photograph really well lots of people came here for wedding photos.
This temple The building and artwork of the temple is a combination of Han Chinese and Tibetan styles. Everything is written in Chinese and Tibetan. Couldn’t take a picture of the Statue of the Maitreya Buddha inside, but make sure you check it out, it’s a buddha standing inside 3 storage high. Beijingers believe your prayers will be answered here, so make sure light an incense. Wish all your inappropriate dreams come true.
The reason this street got its name is because the restaurants are open all night. It’s busy every night and the lights and red lanterns keep this street bright.
My favourite restaurant is Hua Jia Yi Yuan menu is inspired by Old Beijing Imperial style. There are also culture shows in the main dinning area. So you have a royal dinning experience. Check out the talking birds, their Chinese might be better than mine.
Bell & Drum Towers
This place became the symbol of this old city. The bell and the drum were originally used as musical instruments in China. here they use them for telling time. You can visit both for about $5, or visit one for $3.
There are Performances at the Drum Tower each day at the following times:
09:30am, 10:00am, 11:30am, 1:30pm, 2:30pm, 3:30pm, 4:45pm. Theres also an extra performance is at 5:15pm in peak season.
Right off Drum and Bell Tower, this area nearby the Back Lake. (there are 3 main lakes in Beijing. Front Lake, West Lake and Back Lake) are famous for dinning, drinking and river cruising. I love he sunset by the lake, like a old Chinese painting.
Believe or not, it has the best pizza in Beijing. Which I still don’t recommend you to try.
Nan Luo Gu Xiang
1 subway stop from Houhai, really just a narrow alley turned into shopping street. You can see traditional architecture both new and old. The neighborhood is great place to experience the typical narrow streets known as hutong. which is a character of Beijing.
Old Summer Palace
Very historical place, with an old rundown exotic charm. Old summer palace was destroyed during the Second Opium War, but the gardens still brooms each season. It’s great place for summer to see lotus and black swans.
It is one of a kind after all. My dad’s favourite spot. It’s easy to see something perfectly beautiful and designed. but something broken with lots of stories behind can also touches your heart.
Beijing Olympic Green
The stadium was complete 10 years ago for the Beijing Olympics. Most famous ones are the National Stadium (Bird Nest) and the National Aquatics Center (Water Cube)
The lights at night are so gorgeous you will feel emotional. I visited on a really rainy day, but I was so happy seeing the reflections from the lights in the water. I step on the water and it sounds very crispy, a very happy sound.
Mutianyu Great Wall
It’s not as crowded as Badaling Great Wall which is bit closer to the city. The hike is real. When I was climbing, some parts I only see the stairs in front of me, and other people’s feet. What’s amaze me the most was those old lady selling bottled water on the Great Wall, they literally climbing up and down all day, and when you out of breath and feeling like passing out, they still go “are you sure you don’t want any it’s only 15 RMB”.
Great Wall Climbing Goals, beat the bottled water lady.
If you have more time in Beijing, I also recommend visiting the 798_Art_Zone . The modern art district built on the old Dashanzi factory complex.
Hope your visit is wonderful. Leave comments if you have any questions about Beijing.