Highlights of Beijing
There is so much to do in Beijing and as usual with travel you only have so much time to explore. We chose to do most of the tourist highlights in Beijing as they are so important to Chinese culture and political history. We were not expecting Beijing to be so crowded as the weather is very hot in July, however we soon discovered that it was tourist season for the Chinese because students are out of school. The public transit is very reliable and we felt safe the entire time. Taxis were cheap, Uber was easy and the subway was extremely clean. People were very friendly but very few spoke any English. Feel free to just scroll for pictures as we all know that’s the best part!
Tiananmen Square and The Forbidden City
Both locations were very busy but the process for buying tickets and navigating the area was very simple and streamlined. It was interesting to see how important these two sites were to the Chinese for both spiritual and political reasons. Many people travel very long distances to see the tomb of Mao and to take pictures with his portrait in the background. Many people also struck the door on the gate to the Forbidden City with coins until it stuck without sliding. They did this to bring good luck to their family.
The Summer Palace is gorgeous and relaxing. Spend time reading or walking as it is the only nice to get out of the city and in nature. If you want to splurge rent a peddle boat on the lake. The lake and mountain are both man made for the palace.
Pandas! I would obviously rather see animals in the wild and I understand the controversy of zoos, but I had to respect the effort being done to protect pandas in a developing country. With the limited time we had we wished we had spent it some where else in the end.
Great Wall (Mutianyu Section)
Everyone goes to the Great Wall, but after we saw pictures of how busy it was in other sections we were so glad we made it to this one. It was more expensive and hard to get to as there is no public transit. Sharing a über and hiking instead of taking the gondola can make it much more reasonable. Bring lots of water as they will rip you off at the wall! The wall is very well maintained near the gondola but walking left up large hill allows views of what it really looks like after thousands of years!
Last minute decision to go on our last night and so glad we did! So many weird and delicious foods to choose from. It looked sketchy but did not bother our stomachs. We did not have the courage to try any bugs or reptiles yet! Sorry, but here is a hint of what we saw: scorpion, tarantula, cicada, centipede, gecko, snake, starfish, seahorse, cricket, mealworms, lizard, and starfish.
Temple of Heaven
We were fortunate to get a mini lesson on tai chi in the park. Very beautiful and nice to get out in the green after the city. Check out the old men working out and swinging upside down on the park bars. So impressive!
Drum Tower and Hutong
Hutong is the old quarter of the city and is a sneak peak into how people have lived for hundreds of years. If you can try to get a meal with a local family or least tour a courtyard. While it might look like a run down neighborhood it was clear the people loved and cherished the homes their families had owned for generations. This was definitely a highlight in Beijing.
Feel free to contact us with any questions on Beijing and thanks for checking out our blog!