Hi dear friend! Today I’m going to dive into our time in Beijing! We packed so much into just a few days, from city markets to iconic historical sites. Beijing is a very vibrant and busy city with what seemed to be never ending “rush hour” traffic. A city where crossing the street is a game of survival of the fittest. A walk signal in Beijing does not mean the pedestrian has the right away! Kervin came up with the “buddy system” in order to safely cross the street. We would find a “buddy” (a local) and walk shoulder to shoulder with them across the street as they seemed to have an understanding of the chaos! Our taxi driver from the airport drove us to our darling hotel which was tucked in the tiniest alley lined with cars on either side. I had to close my eyes on multiple occasions as we narrowly passed pedestrians and commuters on pedal bikes in the alley. To say the least, it was quite the start to our adventure in Beijing!
In order to get the most out of our time in Beijing, I really felt having consistent transportation and a detailed schedule was our best bet. For us, this meant researching and finding a tour company that would that would cover all our “must sees” in Beijing. As I’m sure you can guess, the internet is filled with tour options. I did quite a bit of research before deciding on a 2 day China Highlights Tour. This ended up being one of our best decisions and our guide, Mark, provided us with so much insight of the history and culture about each place that we most likely would never have otherwise known! Lunch at local restaurants with traditional Chinese food was included on both days. Our first day consisted of Tiananmen square, The Palace Museum, and the Great Wall at Mutianyu! It was amazing to see how the city was built up around such HUGE structures as the Forbidden City. The Great Wall was just absolutely breathtaking! During our 1 1/2 hour drive to Mutianyu we were all very thankful we could just take in the scenery rather than worry about navigating the roads. Our trip to the Great Wall at Mutianyu ended in a toboggan ride all the way down! The tour description did NOT mention this so it was quite a fun suprise! You can check the video out HERE
Per the recommendation of our tour guide Mark, we walked along Wangfujing Street that evening. The street is pedestrian only and lined with high end shops, at one end it opens into a crowded and vibrant street market. There were scorpions for the very adventurous and stalls upon stalls of meats, seafood, and sweets. The street was packed with people and very noisy as vendors attempted to get our attention. I tried the sea urchin which was VERY good and had a consistency of soft scrambled eggs, squid on a stick, and orange chicken!
Our second day included touring the Summer Palace, Temple of Heaven, Jingshan Park and Beijing 2008 Olympics Sites. It was VERY cold and windy that day which was quite the contrast from the beautiful weather the day before!
That night we ventured out on the Subway which was fantastically simple to use, over to Hou Hai Bar Street for some live music, drinks, and food which was another suggestion from our great tour guide, Mark!
Where We Stayed: Double Happiness Courtyard Hotel (included traditional and non traditional Chinese breakfast buffet!) The hotel also had a cozy restaurant and bar and each night our bartender served us pringles (of various flavors: from chicken to tomato) with our drinks! 🙂
How Long We Were There: 4 days, 3 nights
Top Picks: The Great Wall, Forbidden City, Hou Hai “Bar Street”, Wangfujing Street (food market), China Highlights Tour
Top Tips: Booking a tour saved us the stress of worrying about the high volume of traffic in and around Beijing!
U.S. Citizens: American citizens need a visa for travel in mainland China. Check with your local embassy office for information! I suggest beginning the process at least 2 months before scheduled travel date.
Have you visited Beijing? What was your favorite part? I want to hear about it!