Traditional but vibrant, a mixture of the old and new, attractions, beautiful temples, hutongs, ancient palaces and so much history. Beijing really is a must visit if you go to China. Not only because its the capital city or that its right by the Great Wall but because it houses some of the most famous and iconic sights in China.
Despite the fact that it is a 21st century city, it still has parts that make you feel like you have gone back in time and although it is changing rapidly, the traditional palaces are still preserved and treasured for everyone to experience.
It doesn’t matter if you are a full blown history buff, someone who loves culture or just a little old tourist trying to see more of the world, Beijing really has something for everyone.
I will be the first to admit that I was a little sceptical before going to China. I wasn’t sure what to expect and I speak about 2 words of Chinese so the nerves were there for sure. But after going, surviving and absolutely thriving, I would HIGHLY recommend putting it on your list. If you need more convincing, see the below top things + pictures and other posts to come.
THE GREAT WALL OF CHINA
I am going to write a whole blog post on my two different experiences going to the great wall so all I will say is just do it. Go to China just for this, if you must. There are many parts you can explore, in many ways, with many people. It was seriously incredible and is in probably my top 2 experiences in life.
It’s called a wonder of the world for a good reason.
VISIT THE 798 ART DISTRICT
Although this district is a little out of the way, its absolutely worth visiting. Even if you aren’t a huge art lover I would still recommend checking out this place. Its basically a thriving artistic community filled with galleries, pop up showcases, shops and good, but kinda strange cafes.
You can basically spend a whole day if you really wanted to just wandering around this cool little part of town. There is so much to see and a cool or weird mural, optical illusion or gallery on every other corner.
PARKS AND GARDENS
This is something that somewhat surprised me about Beijing and that is the amount of parks and gardens scattered around the city. Why? because you expect Beijing to be only concrete sprawl. Which it is… but you don’t have to go far to find greenery. Most of these parks were built by past emperors and are still completely enjoyable and beautiful.
My top picks for parks to visit in the city would be:
– Beihai Park
– Jingshan Park
– Ritan Park
Each a little different but worth visiting.
The Hutongs in Beijing are really cool. Hutongs are basically little alleyways/ narrow lane ways which are in between little courtyards and residences. Nowadays, they are quite touristy and have little cafes, shops and tea houses. However they, in my opinion, are one of the best places to get an idea of the history and culture of Beijing.
The top Hutongs I would recommend visiting are:
– Nanluoguxiang (South Gong and Drum Lane)
– Guozijian Street
BEIJING PEKING DUCK
Although I will admit that this was not my favourite meal that I had in Beijing, trying out Beijing Roast Duck is a must! Why? because its a pretty world famous dish which originated in Imperial Beijing kitchens. Its also pretty delish.
However, the tip I got about going out for duck is not to just go anywhere. Make sure you speak to a local in Beijing and ask them the best place to go as they will more than likely be able to point you in the direction of something traditional rather than a touristy hot spot.
FORBIDDEN CITY & TIANANMEN SQUARE
I put these two together because they are across the road from one another and its not worth doing separate strips to see them. The Forbidden City literally has 100s of local tourists going in daily so I would highly recommenced going in as early as you can.
The Forbidden City is a former Imperial Palace complex in Central Beijing. It is HUGE and has 980 Buildings over about 180 Acres. So you do need a fair amount of time to see it.
Tiananmen Square is a city square smack bang in the center of Beijing. It has a lot of Beijing Monuments such as the Monument to the People’s Heroes, the Great Hall of the People, the National Museum of China, and the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong.
If you go to China, chances are that you will see many temples and have many opportunities to go and visit a few. China has a history of many religions and because of this, there are many types of Temples. The most common types being Buddhist, Taoist, and Confucian. If you can go and see at least one of each I would recommend doing so as they are very different.
My favourite Temples were:
– The Temple of Heaven
– Yonghe Temple
– Dongyue Temple
Summer palace (and the weird food street…) was the only place on my list in Beijing that I didn’t manage to get to. however, if you are there, I would recommend (and others who have been recommend) going. It is reccomended to spend about half a day here as it is vast. It
is a large ensemble of lakes, gardens and palaces about 15kms out of Beijing city and looks STUNNING.
A lot of people thought I was mad for spending so much time in China and only visiting one city. Before I went, I would have agreed but after coming back I am so glad that I spent the amount of time in Beijing that I did because I really felt like I got to see a lot of it and almost felt like a bit of a local after a few days.
If it weren’t for my friends, I don’t think I would have had such an amazing experience in China so THANK YOU ❤ I can’t tell you how much fun I had. I would love to eventually go back to Beijing along with other cities in China. I don’t know when, but one day I will.
I have a lot of tips for getting around china and small things that might help so if you have any questions or want me to expand on any of these please feel free to send me an email or pop a comment below!