Beijing have long been on my radar, along with Xi An and Shanghai, these are mainly the places that I would like to head to in China. I can now finally say that I have been to China and seen the Great Wall of China, which I have shared about earlier in this series. I took a short trip to the capital city of China in late July back last year. I was very interested to check out the city, a mixture of culture and modernization in this era. Perhaps also the sights of stuff that are known to be big, mighty and perhaps impressive, given that it is usually the style of China. Just want to share my little thoughts on this city here and perhaps it will be a good introduction for the rest that would like to visit Beijing.
First up, the transport over there, Beijing Capital International Airport is the main gateway for international guests. Public Transport are cheap in comparison over in Beijing and well-connected. The metro takes you literally almost everywhere as a tourists, and there are more lines than you will imagined. A taxi to the airport cost around 100 CNY, which is worth it basically if you are travelling more than a party of one. Subway rides around the city cost around 3 – 9 CNY. Do note that their metro system is specifically and purposely designed to cater to large population, a 5 to 10 mins of walking underground to different exits, may just be located right next to each other on the street. And I learn it the hard way, our legs were aching and we only found out on the last day. Get one of the Yitongka, a prepaid card and you can use the transport system freely, any remaining amount can be refunded.
Here are some of the sights that I went to while in Beijing in addition to the Great Wall of China. Of course, the other most famous attractions in Beijing is the Forbidden City, located just next to Tiananmen, which you should definitely visit them together. Tickets for the Forbidden Palace should be bought online and do take note that there is a daily limit for tickets to prevent crowding. It used to be the imperial china palace of the past and definitely a must visit. Do note that it is close on Mon. Tickets cost around 60 in peak and 40 in non peak season.
There was a slight wait for security when entering, lines were long but at least it is moving. Do remember to bring your ID for locals or passport since it is required to enter. The place is huge and endless, I basically just wander around and check out the place and soon you will feel your legs giving up on you. Now I finally understand why, people in the past use horses and carriages. A must see for any chinese and tourists.
Another cultural place that I visited was the Old Summer Palace, which can be easily by the subway. Built in the 18th and early 19th centuries, these gardens were home to the emperors and Qing Court, a resort to spend time in the summer. I was particularly interested in this place after the destruction by British and French troops in 1860. With the most important artifact being the Bronze heads. The park feature colourful gardens & ruins dating from 1707 & burned during Second Opium War of 1860. It is also extremely huge, I think I barely covered it.
I also had some time to check out the National Stadium or better known as the Bird Nest. I’m sure all of you have heard about this place. It is actually quite a nice place to explore and impressive to finally see it in person. I have to say, I pretty enjoyed this place!
Now for shopping and other streets, the main shopping area in Beijing is Wang Fu Jing, this is where all the malls are located and you should be able to find anything you want here. Check out the Wang Fu Jing Snack Street just around the corner.
Beijing is also known for their Hutongs, which are well-preserved alleys and residences in the past. The most famous of all is Nanluoguxiang, which is now a main tourists attractions. They are now converted and lined up with numerous shops, eateries. This place was also extremely crowded when I visited, which is slightly uncomfortable for me.
Food is good in Beijing, you should be able to get the main few chinese style of cooking, from Canto Dim Sum to Sichuan Mala. The spice here is so awesome, I love their Mala. The Sweet and Sour Noodles and mapo tofu that I tried, were so awesome!
Of course you have the beloved Peking duck as well, which I have shared on extensively on Siji Minfu earlier.
For the hotpot fans, never miss a trip to Hai Di Lao, service is so awesome and prices are so affordable. I ordered so much more than usual in Singapore, but paid less than half the price in Singapore!
Lastly, when to visit? While I definitely make the wrong decision to visit right in the peak of summer and the tourist season, it was extremely uncomfortable. Weather was so hot, sun was that bright. I literally sweat buckets and got a tan. Yup, this is where you should go to have a tan in a city. Furthermore, the heat is different. It was stuffy, and stiffing hot, even in the evening, it feels like the building and roads were radiating heat too. And this is coming from a guy that lives in Singapore, a hot country. The infrastructure also need to improve their circulation, subway stations and airport were not very well ventilated as well. And for all the main worry, yup, firewall is a bitch, prepare to give up on your usual social media, VPN works, but data speed become very slow. Regardless, I still enjoyed this short trip.