Visiting Beijing China Destinations
Beijing – Peking!
NÇ hÇŽo! (Hello in Mandarin)
Beijing is the second largest city in China and is known for its culture, politics and education. Beijing in Chinese means ‘Northern Capital’ and was known by many other names in its earlier days. It has been the home for the Ming and Qing dynasties and is surrounded by hills. This city, which hosted the Olympics in 2008 has a population of over 20 million and is the most populous city in China. A lot of tourists visit this vibrant city to see the city of culture and relish the traditional food and tea. You will also be fascinated by its various temples, architecture, culture, and museums. While you are here, do ensure that you see the Great Wall of China, one of the wonders of the world.
Best Season to Visit Beijing
Beijing has a continental climate with hot and humid summers and cold winters. Summers are very hot, but this doesn’t deter the tourists from visiting the city. Spring in Beijing is dry and warm and you will see dust storms. Smog can be a huge challenge as well which is more during winters. You will also see snow in winters with temperatures going below -10 degrees. The best time to visit Beijing is in the months of September and October (Golden Autumn season).
Highlights (Special things to do in Beijing)
- Visit the largest square in the world, the Tiananmen Square.
- Be amazed at seeing the Great Wall of China!
- Explore the Forbidden City (Palace Museum), which is a UNESCO Heritage Site.
- Learn about Peking man and ancient archeological discoveries at the Zhoukoudian Peking Man Site Museum.
- Visit the Lama Temple, which is the most traditional and magnificent among the numerous temples in the city and the best place to see the Tibetan traditions and prayers.
- Visit the interesting Bell and Drum Towers, which was used for time keeping in the earlier days.
- Visit the world famous National Stadiumalso known as the ‘Bird’s Nest’.
- Watch the theatre performances and acrobats that are unique and different from any other city in the world.
- Enjoy the sunset at Houhai Lake on a romantic boat ride with your loved one.
- Enjoy a peaceful leisure stroll at the Beihai Park.
- Explore the courtyard and streets of Hutong by walk or cycle rickshaw.
- Relish Beijing’s most famous Peking roast duck, lamb kebabs, candied haw berries at its restaurants or at the street shops.
- Experience visiting a Tea House, which has acrobatics and other folk performances at the tea ceremony.
- Relax at the end of your vacation with a Chinese massage with aromatherapy or shiatsu.
Hotspots of Beijing
Tiananmen Square: This is the largest square in the world and is one of the top things you have to see when in Beijing. The Square has numerous tourist attractions around it – Museum of the Chinese Revolution, Museum of the Chinese History, Great Hall of the People, Qianmen Gate, Monument to the People’s Martyrs and several others.
Great Wall of China: You can plan an afternoon to see one of the wonders of the world. You can see the ruins of the Great Wall, which was built by the Ming Dynasty. The Badaling stretch of the Great Wall with its beautiful landscapes is spectacular and will make you ponder how it was built in the earlier days. If you are fit, do attempt to trek at the Great Wall and make it an unforgettable experience.
Forbidden City: Known as the Purple Forbidden City in Chinese, this is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home of the Palace Museum. It has the largest collection of ancient wooden structures preserving historical findings about the Ming dynasty. The architecture and collection of paintings is marvelous here.
Summer Palace: Located by the Kunming Lake and Longevity Hill, the summer palace is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Tower of Buddhist Incense is a prominent structure and can be seen from any part of the palace and garden. It is a popular tourist attraction for its architecture, gardens, bridges, temples and for the serenity around the palace.
Beihai Park: This is the largest park in China. It is located by the lake and is famous for its numerous temples, structures and temples in the park. The highest point on the Jade Flower Island is the White Pagoda which is a prominent structure. Nine-Dragon Wall at the Five-Dragon Pavilions is famous across the country for its artistic paintings. There are several pavilions, temples and gardens inside the park which is a unique experience that you would like to see again.
Beijing Zoo: The Beijing Zoo is popular for its adorable Pandas at the Panda Hall. The zoo has 16 exhibition halls with its most famous ones being the Panda Hall and the Gorilla Hall. The zoo has polar bears, giraffes, elephants, zebras, kangaroos, golden monkeys and various other animals. It is a perfect place for kids who will be fascinated and excited to see all the animals.
Shopping in Beijing
Beijing is known for its artistic craftsmen who create curios, silk, ivory carvings, pearl, jade and lacquer. You can shop for a lot of things in Beijing, which includes clothes, curios, jewelry, electronics, traditional silk printed items, artistic lacquer items and unique house decors. The popular shopping centers in the city are Xidan Commercial Street, Wangfujing Street, Hongqiao Pearl Market, Lufthansa Centre, Qianmen Street, Jade Factory and Silk Market. You must visit the Tea Street or Maliandao Tea City that have a large number of tea stores who stock an exceptionally high variety of tea. If you want to buy antiques then Panjiayuan Flea Market and Colored Glaze Factory are the places to visit.
How to reach Beijing
By Air – Beijing Capital International Airport (second largest airport in the world) is the main airport and caters to both international and domestic flights whereas Beijing Nanyuan Airport is a domestic airport. The airports are well connected with taxis and shuttles. Be careful about the taxi you take from the airport and make sure that the queue manager guides you to the right taxi.
By Train – Beijing Railway Station is the main station; there 4 other stations – Beijing West Railway Station, Beijing East Railway Station, Beijing North Railway Station, Beijing South Railway Station and Huangcun Railway Station. The main station, West and South connect all major cities within the country, Russia and North Korea. The others are smaller stations with lesser scheduled trains.
By Road – There are several expressways to Beijing which are very well maintained and easy to commute by car. There are National highways as well connecting other major cities within the country.
By Bus – There are long distance buses to/from Mongolia and Shanghai. The city has over 20 bus stations connecting all cities within the country. There are sleeper buses, regular and express buses. You can also avail meal services if you pay additional charges.
How to get around in Beijing
Taxis are the best way to get around in the city and also the most convenient and easily available anywhere in the city. The taxis are comfortable cars and fares are reasonable. The minimum starting fare is ¥ 13 for 3 kilometers and then additional ¥2.3 per kilometer. The downside is that not all taxi drivers speak English and you could waste time in traffic jams. Black cabs are more expensive. If you hire a cab be prepared for traffic jam delays and complicated routes. Subways have good connectivity to all parts of the city; they have English markings and are faster to travel to any part of the city and cheaper. Buses are also cheap but crowded and only some buses announce the stop names in English; the bus stop boards are not in English. Beijing has excellent bike lanes on all major streets and offers a good way to explore the city. Minibuses are ideal for countryside travel.
Top areas in Beijing
Beijing City Centre – This is the main financial center of the city. Most of the finance and media companies operate from the skyscrapers in this vicinity. The view of the city center from the Beijing TV Centre at night is spectacular. Beijing CBD International Business Festival is the most famous festival held here. The real estate prices in the area have been on the rise in the last decade.
Chaoyang – The area has Beijing’s Central Business District and is famous for its restaurants, shopping, nightlife and the tourist attractions – Chaoyang Park , Chinese Ethnic Culture Park , Happy Valley Amusement Park , Side Park, Dongyue Temple , National Stadium , National Indoor Stadium , Olympic Sports Center Stadium , Art Museum of the Beijing Fine Art Academy, Blue Zoo Beijing, China National Film Museum, Sports Museum, World Trade Center Tower III and numerous art galleries and theatres. Chaoyang has the maximum tourist attractions in the city and is always busy bustling with tourists.
Dongcheng – The city’s most famous Tiananmen Square is located in Dongcheng and this is surrounded by numerous tourist attractions – museums, galleries, parks, theatres and shopping arcades. Poetry Café located in the area is a unique café with a lot of travel and photography information.
Xicheng – This is part of the old city in Beijing and is home to many tourist attractions that are rich in history and traditional architecture. There are numerous temples and parks and also Qianmen, Beijing Zoo, Fayuan Temple, Huguang Guild Hall, Capital Museum, Beijing Zoo and Aquarium and several others. National Centre for the Performing Arts stands out for its architecture and is a must see place if you visit Beijing.
Haidian – Located less than an hour from the center of the city is Haidian which is famous for its Summer Palace, Old Summer Palace, Five Pagoda Temple, Purple Bamboo Par, Beijing Botanical Gardens, Fragrant Hills, World Art Museum & Millennium Monument and Haidian Theater. Haidian is also famous for its shopping at New Wudaokou Clothing Market, Wudaokou Clothing Market and Golden Resources Shopping Mall and for electronics at Dinghao and Hailong. There are several clubs here that have live music bands playing among which D 22 is most famous. Sculpting in Time, Propaganda and Lush are popular pubs in the vicinity.
Wangfujing – This is the most famous area in the city for shopping. You will see tourists in the area only for shopping; majority of the people who reside in this area are locals. The area has high end homes with the Qing dynasty and other aristocrats residing in the vicinity hence the name as Wangfu means ‘princely residence’.
Houhai – The name means ‘Rear Sea’ in Chinese. It is a beautiful area that is famous for its lake. You can go for a boat ride during the day or at night both of which have stunning views of the city and landscapes. The area is famous for its restaurants, pubs, bars and nightclubs along the lake which attracts a lot of young locals and tourists.
Xie Xie! (Thank You in Mandarin)