Beijing in a Weekend
Beijing in a Weekend
Beijing is MASSIVE. My first impression of the city filled me with a small amount of terror that I wasn’t going to be able to fit everything in that I wanted to do. On the car ride to the hotel alone, we passed urban jungle after urban jungle of towering high rises that all looked identical. After we spent a couple days there though, I look back and wonder why I was ever so nervous.
Beijing is very manageable if you know how to plan it right. We did Beijing in a weekend, 3 days, 2 nights to be exact. But we packed in as much as we could before we had to travel to our next destination. Beijing has such an interesting mix between new and old, it’s hard to choose what to do.
We stayed at a hotel within walking distance to the Temple of Heaven which made life very simple. Plan for 2-3 hours at this massive complex and you might want to stay all day. It would be really great place to have a picnic if you have spare time. Arrive early if you want to see Beijing locals taking part in their morning routines. There were dance groups, ribbon twirling, tai chi, chess and checkers, and sword wielding going on while we were there. A popular game in China is some form of card playing where aggressive discarding happens every turn. It’s really entertaining to watch!
The Temple of Heaven and complex is massive and beautiful. The Temple itself was constructed in 1406 to 1420 and is a beautiful representation of architecture in China during this time. Each one of the 92 buildings has different uses and meanings, so be sure to read the descriptions throughout the park. The Chinese culture relies heavily on symbolism and the Temple was built to conform with this value. The architecture is fascinating and is supposed to have the greatest connection with temple and earth, and was used for many important rituals throughout history. We spent hours just wandering around, marveling at the beautiful ancient buildings. Be sure to find the door that only one person has ever walked through, decreed by
Treat this market as a game, and you will have a great time. Overly aggressive vendors will push all sorts of products on you while you bargain them down. Products range from purses, electronic gadgets, sports jerseys, and many more. The upper floors have nicer quality products, such as true jade and pearl jewelry. Shop for all your souvenir needs, but beware of walking out with more than you can carry!
This was a treat! Dancers perform the story of Kung Fu in a graceful and elegant manner with very fun visual tricks on stage. English subtitles are provided and there are translations for multiple other languages also available upon request. I would recommend buying tickets ahead of time through the website, as it can get crowded at the time of show!
Beijing is set up in ring roads, with each ring road expanding from the Forbidden City. The actual center of the sprawling metropolis is an ancient emperor’
s palace turned into major tourist destination aka
The Forbidden City. Go early in the morning to avoid long lines and crowds. This complex is huge with 980 buildings; each one of the building’s architecture is stunning. This really is a slice of history, smack dab in the middle of China. Super cool!
Located 1.5 hours (depending on traffic) outside Beijing, hire a private car to get here for the easiest option. Our driver was great, spoke English, and took us past the Olympic complex on our way back into town. We chose to head towards the Mutianyu portion of the wall for thinner crowds and a more rustic experience. If you’re able, hike along the wall for as far as you can! The views are stunning and the farther you go the less people there are. There are restaurants and souvenir stands at the bottom of the entrance.
So unfortunately our jet lag caught up to us at this point, and instead of heading to the Wangfujing Food Market, we fell asleep L This is one of the things I wish I would have been able to visit because it looks like it would be amazing! We definitely tried all sorts of other food items while in Beijing but if you can make it to this market, definitely go!
The Peking duck is one of the most culturally significant dishes to come out of Beijing, so we had to try it! Dining in China was still a tad new for us, so the experience was pretty hilarious. The waiters spoke a smidge of English but ended up bringing us an entire duck to split between the two of us. We were stuffed on duck! We were really glad we tried this delicious dish in the city it’s known for.
Holla for pandas! See these little cuties munch on some bamboo over at the Bejing Zoo. Also houses a lot of regional animals that I haven’t seen before in the zoos at home. I had a good time walking around the zoo. We had read that the Beijing Aquarium was unmissable…but would not go back if we had the option. The tickets are severely overpriced and if you’ve been to an Aquarium, you get the gist of it. Stick to the zoo and you’ll have a great time!
Traffic is a very real problem in Beijing. Plan ahead and if you can walk places, it’s much easier than battling the traffic. The metro, although very crowded during peak times, is also a fun alternative to taxis. Plus in the Metro, the names of stations are also written in English so you don’t have to worry about trying to explain where you’re going to a taxi driver!
This is only scratching the surface of what is Beijing. Go in with an open mind, and you’ll be sure to have an unforgettable cultural experience like no other!