Beijing is a very interesting city, unlike any other I have been to. It is full of culture, a very big language barrier (especially when I went in winter), and also some very interesting tid-bits.
The city is one where there are checkpoints everywhere where people are checked for their ID, your bag is security scanned before you get onto a train, and the pollution looks like a lot of fog. But other than all that it is a great city to explore with some incredible historical spots you must see in your lifetime!
-Forbidden City: This is the imperial palace that has housed 24 emperors of China. Forbidden to enter the Palace without permission of the emperor is how it became known at The Forbidden City. This is the worlds largest palace complex. You will need at least 2 -3 hours to tour the palace, but be sure to wear warm clothes in winter, it is freezing!!
You also must enter at the South end, leaving through the North.
-Silk Market: If you want to get a bargain on some clothes/ shoes head here. I got some great ‘fake’ Nikes, for very cheap. There are signs around the market saying no haggling/ bargaining, but you will be seen as silly if you don’t. Go cheaper than you want and you will often get the price you want, or walk away and they will call you back.
-Great Wall of China: Make sure you do a tour to the Great Wall. This is a must see whilst you are in Beijing. My hostel- Downtown Backpackers Hostel, did a great tour, we went to a very quiet and undeveloped part of the wall. They do a different tour each day, so if you were there three days, you could do three different parts of the wall. The views were incredible, the bus trip very comfortable, the walk was well run, and enabled us to see our own parts of the wall, and take it all in. I was lucky that I went in winter, which meant that I saw maybe 3 other people other than our tour group on the Great Wall.
-Tiananmen Square: this is the city square of Beijing. When I was here, pollution was not too bad, but I still struggled to see through the ‘fog’ to the other side of the square. It is a large square though with thousands wandering around. You will be able to see plenty of things as well including the Monument to the peoples heroes, Great Hall of China, the National Museum and the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong. The Gardens of Tiananmen Square are also worth a look.
-Summer Palace: This lakefront palace is well known for its lavish gardens that surround it. There isn’t much greenery in Beijing, so the gardens here at Summer Palace came welcomed from me, where I was finally able to have a seat, read my book and enjoy a picnic.
What to eat:
-Peking Duck at Quanjude Roast Duck Restaurant. The Peking duck here is incredible, it costs a bit, but is worth the money for the food. This restaurant was recommended to me by a local, and it was a great recommendation at that. The Peking duck is served to you with a chef bringing out the duck and slicing it up right in front of you. You then eat it with soft thin pancakes, sauce, spring onions among other things.
-Drink Yogurt out of the jars on the sidewalk. I know this isn’t that specific, but these
glass jars had the best yogurt I had ever tasted. You go up to the window, grab one, drink it at the store then give the glass jar back.
-Mr Shis Dumplings: These dumplings were recommended to me by the hostel I was staying at. A walk down a quiet street was well worth it to find this dumplings restaurant. It is a small restaurant that pumps out handmade dumplings from the traditional and scrumptious pork and cabbage, to the mouth watering banana and chocolate dumplings. They were also the first place I found that did great vegetables that weren’t drenched in oil.
74 Baochao hutong.
-When exploring the city you will find plenty of food on sticks. My favourite was the strawberries on a stick. These strawberries are caramelized and everything I want in a dessert, plus I could walk and explore whilst eating them.
-Fries and hot-dogs at Bar Uno: This is the hot-dog stand that has stood the test of time, whilst most others have failed in Beijing. This is because the location is great, but there also is great variety in the hot-dogs they serve. Get yours Chicago style – with beef, not pork, topped with chilli. Make sure you get some fries too.
One thing to beware of whilst travelling is the tea scam, young women will come up to you and ask you to take a photo of them, or with you in it. They will then ask you if you want to come have some tea with them/ come and if they can practice their English with you. Don’t do it, you will be taken to a tea restaurant and left with a whopper bill.