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Five Things Not to Miss in Beijing

Summer Palace China Beijing copyright qian © qian / Shutterstock
beijing forbidden city
Great Wall clear day
Tian’anmen, Beijing
Great Wall of China
Great Wall China
Peking duck Beijing
Forbidden City
Beijing Wangfujing Road ©2013 Mike Williams
Tiananmen square Jo Wedlock

Five Things Not to Miss in Beijing

story by: Mike Williams

There are so many essential things to do in Beijing that it can actually be overwhelming. It is a mecca for fantastic insights into Chinese history and culture. Coming up with a Top Five list of things to do in Beijing is near impossible, so you’ll notice a number of attraction combinations in the list below.

1. The Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square
These two integral representations of Chinese history shouldn’t occupy the same spot on a top five list, but they are situated right next to each other so you should be able to visit both in the same day if you start early enough. At Tiananmen Square, you can (respectfully and quietly) look around this site of pivotal moments in Chinese history, including the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989. You can also view the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong and witness the National Flag Ceremony.

For nearly 500 years, from the Ming Dynasty to the Qing Dynasty, the Forbidden City was the Chinese imperial palace and is now the home of the Palace Museum.  At 72 hectares, you can inadvertently lose up to five hours at the gigantic Forbidden City. Depending on how much you have to do that day, it might pay to keep an eye on the time. To get the most out of your visit, be sure to hire one of the personal audio guides, or even consider joining one of the (legal) tour guides if you can.

2. The Great Wall
As one of the, if not the, most well known historic sites in China, a visit to the Great Wall is essential. Of course, with around 21,000kms of wall spread over a number of sections, it becomes a question of which part to visit. The Juyongguan Great Wall is probably the easiest section to get to from Beijing, while the most popular section for tourists is the Badaling Great Wall, which is often a day tour bundled in with the Ming Tombs. While undoubtedly stunning, you may feel the trip to Badaling Great Wall lacks a certain authenticity due to how heavily the wall has been restored and for developments such as a slide car ride from the top to the bottom. Other options, which are less redeveloped sections of the wall, include Shixiagan, Jinshanling, Gubeikou, and Huanghuacheng.

3. Wangfujin Road
There are amazing shopping options in Beijing, from Panjiayuan Flea Market to the massive New Silk Alley Market. However, for a different type of cultural experience, a walk down Wangfujin Road is a must. One of the most famous shopping streets in China, the massive Wangfujin Road has it all, from massive department stores and high end fashion stores and restaurants to street food vendors and hustlers yelling “bag, watch, DVD.”

> Click here for the Top Five Shopping Spots in Beijing

4. The Summer Palace
A breathtaking combination of classical Chinese architecture and stunning gardens make The Summer Palace a destination not to miss. Also, during the summer months, the nearly 3 square km lakeside location often allows a reprieve from the sweltering Beijing heat.

5. Essential Dishes: Peking Duck and Beijing Hotpot
Most of us have enjoyed Peking Duck, but where better to dine on the national dish of China than Beijing, where it originated.  Peking Duck, usually consisting of specially seasoned and roasted duck served with little pancakes, scallion, and a hoisin or sweet bean sauce, can be enjoyed at a limitless number of restaurants or food vendors in Beijing. However, depending on how adventurous you are feeling, you might like to try getting off the beaten track and dining at a less touristy restaurant and try your hand at ordering in the local dialect.

Another fun dish to order, especially when eating with a group, is Beijing Hotpot, where you are served a simmering metal pot of and a variety of different foods to dip and cook in it. Common ingredients include different types of thinly sliced meat, seafood, dumplings and leaf and root vegetables.

> Click here for Cheap Flights to Asia or HOT China Holiday Deals

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