Beijing is located in Northern China and as the capital of the Five Dynasties of China, it is the biggest city with a population of over 11 million people. Having homed 34 emperors, whilst being one of the last of the four great ancient capitals, the city possesses a long and impressive history dating back over 3000 years. If you are one to appreciate culture, then a city overflowing with well-preserved cultural and historical attractions, home to seven UNESCO World Heritage sites might be the place for you.
Things to do
With seven World heritage sites: the Forbidden city, Temple of Heaven, Summer Palace, Ming tombs, Zhoukoudian, the Great Wall, and the Grand Canal, you will never be out of places to explore on your weekends off.
The Great Wall – To go to Beijing and not visit the Great Wall of China would be a crime. Built and rebuilt within the 5th century BC and the 16th Century under the Qin, Han and Ming Dynasties, to protect the northern border from attacks, the wall has amazing cultural stories to tell. The Wall stretches 13,170 miles long, and while many parts of the wall have been left to crumble over time, it is definitely worth viewing the well-protected section open to tourists in Beijing.
The Forbidden City – Another amazing cultural experience not to miss is to visit the Forbidden city, home to the Palace of the Ming and Qing dynasties (1368-1911) and extravagant Chinese Art. The Palace complex is the largest, covering 74 hectares open to the public. Tours are open daily so a trip is definitely worth it!
Wander endlessly around Hutong Lanes – With other 7000 alleys and old lanes all with different stories you can find yourself wandering endlessly around the lanes. If exploring for yourself isn’t enough then you can even book a Hutong tour.
Airports – Two, soon to be three airports. In the South city is Nanyuan Airport (about 8 miles from Tiananmen square).In the Northeast of the city is the larger Capital International Airport (about 16 miles from Tiananmen square), with flights operating from over 200 destinations. The airport is easily accessible by shuttle bus.
Train – with four railway stations as well as high-speed rails, the city’s railway is a great and efficient means of transport to and from other cities. Top tip: If you want to get away for a weekend, travel to Shanghai in only 5.5 hours. For shorter distances, taxis, subways and buses are also an easy and cost effective option to travel.
Bicycles – Beijing is often referred to as ‘bicycle capital’ as it is a main means of transport for the locals. Instead of walking or catching a train, why not cycle and indulge in a different perspective on the amazing city. Bus renting points are available and open to the public all over the city, making it easy for you to get around.
Beijing has numerous streets, centres and markets for you to spend your hours shopping. Try Wangfujing Street for an all-round day of entertainment: with fashionable modern shops, entertainment and plenty of restaurants to choose from, you can shop ’till you drop. If you fancy something a little bit more cultural, then try Beijing Curio City for an Antique market, featuring over 500 stores ranging from furniture, paintings, porcelain and jewellery. With such a variety of stores it might be worthwhile to spend a day here.
Whether it be live music, a gentle drink in the pub or clubbing until the next morning, you can be sure to find plenty to do when the sun sets in Beijing. For bars, restaurants and more shops Sanlitun Bar Street is a spot not to miss. With over 80 bars located here (and around 60% of bars in the city) you will be spoilt for choice. With many tea bars, cocktails, homemade wines as well as juices and soft drinks available, there really is something for everyone, and to make your experience really special then grab a table outside and take in the view. For live entertainment why not try something different and visit Huguang Huiguan Ancient Opera, or instead if you fancy an acrobatic show then give Wansheng Theatre a visit.