Hello, I am excited to write another travel post for my blog. I spent a year living in Xiamen, China, and while I was there, I got to travel to Beijing with my sister. This is one of the cities I was most excited about seeing in China because I absolutely love history, and it really doesn’t get much more historical than this ancient city. Before you travel to China, please check out my Tips for Travelling China post so you are well prepared.
Where to stay?
We stayed at 365 Inn Hostel in Beijing. While this wasn’t the most extravagant of hostels with the greatest amenities, it got the job done and I loved it’s location. It was located in Xicheng District, which is full of other hostels and restaurants and is a very active place to be. It was also walking distance from the Imperial City, Tiananmen Square, the Mausoleum, and near a major subway station, making it easy to get to other locations around the city. The staff was nice and their is a restaurant downstairs, though it was not the greatest FYI, it was a great place to meet people.
What to do?
Of course, you can’t go to Beijing without seeing the Great Wall of China. There are a few stretches that are open to the public and vary in prices depending where you go and how you get there. We hired a spot through a tour company to take us to JinShanLing. Yes, this was much more expensive than going on your own or to a closer location (it was 3 hours by tour bus) but, we were literally the only group there. I absolutely hate tourist crowds (yes, I see the irony because I am a tourist lol) and I love to be able to see as much of each attraction as possible. You take quite a hike from one spot to another so come dressed accordingly (as you can see, we weren’t) and bring lots of water. The extra money and the sweating were so worth the view, and this part of the wall is considered the most beautiful. There are many other places to go, including some that are wheel chair accessible, limited hiking, and even a part where you can ‘sled’ down a slope. All the different spots vary, and I am not familiar with them specifically, so check out this website to decide which one is best for you.
Be sure to check out Olympic Park and see where the Summer Olympics in 2008 were hosted. It is crazy how modern the building is when so much of Beijing is known for its history.
The Summer Palace is absolutely massive and is beautiful both architecturally and nature wise. Wear your walking shoes and bring lots and lots of water because you will spend a good portion of the day walking around the grounds. My sister actually became so dehydrated while walking around and got really sick so heed my warning lol.
The Shichahai lakes are a site to behold. If you can make it here and bike around, I imagine it would be a great experience. We went to Beijing in the dead of summer and as I mentioned before, my sister was struggling with the heat and humidity, so we did not get the opportunity to do this.
Visit and pay your respects at Tiananmen Square. This square has an absolutely brutal history where thousands of protesters were killed by the Chinese military. I will remind you guys that China is a communist country, so please don’t speak ill about the government, but it was really important to see this square and acknowledge the history.
The Imperial City is a short walk from Tiananmen Square. It is very beautiful and the it is hard to fathom how old the buildings actually are. To get in here, they do not take WeChat pay so bring cash. I will say, it did remind me a lot of the Summer Palace so I recommend doing these two attractions at opposite ends of your trip so it doesn’t feel like to much of the same back to back.
Visit the 798 Art Zone. My sister and I both said, this was our favorite thing in the city after the Great Wall. It was a bit far away and you had to change subway lines a lot, but it was so worth it. It was just this small little area with art and murals decorating the walls of buildings and many different artists shops and museums that you could go into. Much of it was free too! I can’t recommend getting out here enough if you have a chance to visit the city.
In general, check out the many parks in the city! They are a great place to just sit and relax and people watch. And if you go at the right time, you can see a bunch of Chinese women dancing and practicing routines, which is really cute!
Don’t forget to check out the different markets! There are also quite a few around the city, but I think Wangfujing is probably one of the more well known ones. Beijing is massive and there is so much to do. This is literally just the tip of the iceberg, but plenty for 4-5 days visiting the city!