Silvereye Communications Executive Libby English shares her recommended weekend guide to Beijing in her third piece for the China New Zealand Year of Tourism.
In this month’s blog I thought I would talk a bit more about life in Beijing itself! I recently had my first visitor and realised after two months it was finally time to be the Beijing local and play the tourist guide. After finally feeling a lot more settled than ever before this was an exciting moment. With my extremely basic Chinese, but none the less Chinese, getting around is much easier! So here goes my mini guide to Beijing in a couple of days.
When you think of Beijing there are some sights that just simply cannot be missed. Albeit ultimate tourism some things just have to be done! On the first day in Beijing head to the centre of China’s universe, Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. Tiananmen Square is the largest square in the world and hosts museums, Chairman Mao’s memorial and body, and parliament. It is quite amazing standing in the middle of the square and realising how big it is and thinking of the history that comes with it.
One other thing to note is every morning at sunrise local soldiers march from the Forbidden City over to Tiananmen Square and put the Chinese flag up on the most important flag pole in China. This, I’ve heard from many, is a fantastic event well worth watching. I unfortunately, have not yet made it over for the crack of dawn but it is high on my list.
After taking in all of the current political centre of China, walk across the road to the ancient political hub of China, The Forbidden City. The Forbidden City is simply beautiful and thousands of years old. It is absolutely huge and feels like it goes on and on. I would highly recommend strolling through and taking the time to read up or listen in to the audio recordings of all the different stories and legends behind each section of the city.
One hot tip: I would avoid going on a Saturday as no matter what time of year it will be absolutely packed. Despite this, the ticket line is very well managed, and you will get in quickly. However, bring your passport! They will only let you through security with ID.
After witnessing these incredible sites and gathering a lot more context behind China and its remarkable history you will be ready for a drink. There are many ultra-modern, cool new bars in town, but a real highlight is the China World Mall in the Financial District. This is a luxury shopping mall with an array of restaurants and bars on the top levels. These have the best views in town of the infamous CCTV building which is a Beijing icon worth getting that Instagram photo in front of!
Day two is an adventure heading out to none other than the Great Wall of China. This is a real highlight and can be done in many different ways. However, I feel that on time constraints and a budget I’ve nailed it. Taking a Didi out will set you back $40NZD and take about 1.5 hours. This is the best option by far to just get you there, we then took the train back which was longer and only stops at one station in the outer city. However, it is only about $1NZD and getting the subway where you need to go from there is easy.
A guide and driver are unnecessary and more expensive. Due to this section being just out of Beijing it is well organised and very commercial. However, if heading to other parts of the wall a guide and driver may be a good idea. After a day out on the magnificent Great Wall dinner will be calling! Head out to a local Chinese restaurant to have Beijing’s famous Peking Duck which is delicious and a fun experience.
So, there we have it, two days in Beijing on a whim. There is so much more to Beijing once these tourist hotspots are seen and I look forward to providing tips and tricks to more exciting sites and hang outs in Beijing and around China!