Things to do in Beijing, China
Beijing is the definition of a bustling city.
During my quick layover trip to Beijing I experienced a whirlwind of interesting endeavors including magnificent places to visit as well as important things to be aware of.
We ate frog legs, hiked the Great Walls, and munched on deep fried scorpions.
This is a quick list highlighting places to visit and travel tips to help you plan your trip to Beijing, China.
- Tiananmen Square - Visit the historical city center site during the early morning. The day we visited it may have been picture day because troops were marching every which way taking photos. The square contains many historical monuments, museums, and serves as a site of cultural significance for Chinese history.
- Forbidden City - This architects dream serves as the home of emperors and their households as well as the ceremonial and political center of Chinese government for almost 500 years. Make sure to look up as you wander through the city walls, but don’t get stuck at the entrance because this complex can take up to 2 hours to walk through.
- Huanghuacheng Great Wall - Take advantage of the only place along the Great Wall with a lake view. If you are up for a little exercise take the hike around the lake then up and along the wall. This was one of the most picturesque locations I visited,
- Pearl Market (Hongqiao Market) - Most known for its pearls this three-story market has lots of other things like tech gadgets, textiles, and clothing to wander through. When I visited it was very hot inside, so dress in layers that are easy to peel off.
- Wangfujing Street - This pedestrian walking street can be explored all day long. On the main street you will find large department stores with all the brand name clothing and accessories you know and love. But as you walk along the street you will stumble upon an alley way steaming with flavors. Venture down the alley to find street food like fried exotic insects, onion pancakes, and seafood you won’t find on a menu. Try something new or grab a giant ice cream sundae.
- The Brown Door - Opposite the Pearl Market this hole in the wall restaurant has the best cashew chicken and cheap beer. The service is quick and the food is great for the price.
- Starbucks - I know this is not what you would expect to see on a must try list, but the products taste so much better than the ones in the US. Order the peach green tea. It comes with chewy peach jellies similar to a bubble tea. The baked goods taste so much more flavorful too. Order a blueberry muffin or cinnamon roll and let your taste buds enjoy.
- Quanjude Roast Duck Restaurant - Feeling hungry after your insect tasting? Hungry enough for a whole peeking duck? You will find this restaurant off Wangfujing Street. This rich delicacy is this restaurants main dish. They bring an entire roasted duck to the table and carve it in front of you plating it in intricate designs, like a rose. Make sure not to skimp out on the plum sauce.
THINGS TO BE AWARE OF:
- While there is WiFi access some places you will NOT have access to Google or its affiliates like Facebook , Instagram, etc. If you use Gmail for AirBnb confirmation or flight ticket information make sure to send these emails to another email platform or print this information ahead of time.
- Also if you have an Android phone you will have limited access to many things, even Maps. If you are using an iPhone Safari search engine will not work, but Bing.com will.
- In the winter Beijing can be very cold, so bundle up. While I was there in December it ranged between 20-40*F degrees. I recommend planning on wearing two pairs pants, packing gloves, and wearing a longer jacket that covers below your waist.
- The smog is terrible. I had a sore throat the entire trip. Drink lots of warm tea and limit your outdoor time in the city centers. Investing in a face mask is also a smart idea and you do not have to worry about being the only one wearing one. Safety first!
- I highly recommend bringing vitamins and other things like moisturizing eye drops (because of the dry air), and lots of moisturizing lotion too.
- It may sound silly, but many places do not supply toilet paper, so bring your own and also baby wipes and hand sanitizer because bathrooms do not have soap either.
- Comfortable walking shoes that are warm are a must. I purchased snow boots from Lands End and loved them. They were the only shoes I brought for my 20-day trip to Beijing & Mongolia and they were perfect.
- DO NOT drink the water. Always buy water bottles. Also make sure to thoroughly wash all fruits and vegetables before using them.
- Be aware of scammers on street. Do not trust anyone. Another thing, you may be approached by strangers or other tourists for pictures…with you in them. As a blonde I was approached multiple times in the Forbidden City and asked to take selfies or photos with peoples children. It was very odd, but I just smiled and let it happen.
- Most places accept cards, but it is easier to pay for things with cash when shopping in markets, especially the Street Food Market
- Pre-download WeChat, a translator app, and MapMe. DiDi (similar to Uber) is also a good application.
During our short trip we filmed a video for Peak Design showcasing their gear in Beijing. Click here to watch.