Travel Guide – Beijing, China
Author: Alison Delaney | Last Updated: 21 Mar 2018
As the capital of China, travellers should expect great things from Beijing. Located not far from China’s Yanshan mountains, the city is home to more than 20 million people and has easy transport connections to cities all across China.
Some of the country’s best-known attractions and sightseeing locations located in Beijing like the Great Wall of China, Coal Hill Park and the Heavenly Temple. Travellers after a more modern touch will be glad to know that the stadiums and structures used during the 2008 Olympics are still in use and on display for visitors coming to the city.
How to get there
There are regular flights to Beijing from just about every major city in the world with all the leading airlines. Travellers who are planning a trip to Beijing will require a China Tourist Visa in order to gain entry. In order to obtain one of these, be sure that you have: at least 6 months validity on your passport, a recent photograph that meets criteria (ie. is not obscured etc), a documented travel itinerary, and proof of accommodation whilst in China (normally this will be your hotel accommodation receipt).
Forbidden City or Imperial Palace
The Forbidden City or the Imperial Palace is one of China’s most famous sites. Dating back to the 13th century the gigantic palace was the centre of the Yuan Dynasty and was further enlarged in the 1400s during the Ming Dynasty.
As the home of more than 24 emperors, the Forbidden city was originally a sanctuary for China’s leaders and all common and ordinary citizens were blocked from entering by its huge 10-meter walls and 50-meter wide moat. The massive palace is spread across more than 720,000 square meters and showcases some of the most complex and intricate architecture and cultural history that simply can’t be found anywhere else in China.
Tourists can get to the palace a number of ways including the subway and busses and entry fees are just CNY 60 and CNY 40 depending on the time of year you’re planning on visiting.
The world’s largest city square, Tiananmen Square can hold over one million people. As a recent addition to Beijing, built in 1651 and later expanded in 1958, Tian’anmen Square was designed and constructed to be a place for the city’s residents to celebrate China becoming a republic.
Some of the squares best attractions include the Monument to the People’s Heroes, or Rénmín Yīngxióng Jìniànbēi, standing at a massive 38 meters tall and built from more than 17,000 granite and marble pieces the obelisk serves as a reminder of China’s struggle in the early 19th and 20th centuries. The entrance gate to the square, Gate of Heavenly Palace, is another of the squares best attractions. Painted in brilliant red and with an arched walkway through to the square, it’s the perfect place for a photo op.
Tours of the square are priced around $40 to $60 and are a great way for travellers to get the best look into the history and entire scope of the massive square.
Only a few minutes from Imperial Palace is one of the most elegant and sophisticated gardens in all of China, and possibly the world. Beihai Park is one of the oldest surviving gardens in Beijing, lushly living on for almost 1,000 years, the park is surrounded by lakes, walk bridges and has countless smaller sub-gardens that are filled with a range of diverse Chinese plants.
The park’s pavilions sitting on the lake are some of the most photogenic sites the park has to offer. Traditional Chinese architecture is visible throughout the park and is particularly visible on the Five-Dragon Pavilions. In the centre of the park is the smaller Jade Flower Island, where visitors will find the soaring 40 meters tall White Pagoda made of glistening white stone.
Tourists can go boating around the park and relax on small rowboats with friends and family. The park is open all year round and admission is just CNY 5 or CNY 10 depending on the time of year.
Beijing National Stadium
One of China’s most recognisable buildings is Beijing National Stadium. You may remember the 80,000 seat stadium from the 2008 Summer Olympics and multiple films. Aptly nicknamed the Birds Nest because of its distinctive nest-like design, the stadium is definitely worth taking a look at if you’re visiting Beijing.
The stadium’s intricate architecture and massive size are just two of its many features that tourists will be left in awe of. Adding to the stadium’s magnificence, in the winter time the Birds Nest is transformed into the worlds largest manned ski slope for the city’s residents to use. On top of this, some of China’s largest football games, pop concerts and operas are all performed inside the Beijing National Stadium.
Travellers will be pleased to know that there are self-guided audio tours of the stadium and low admission fees sit at just CNY 80 for the stadium and CNY 160 for all attractions around the building like the Water Cube and Battery Car.
Beijing Capital Museum
Not just an architectural marvel, but a cultural and educational hub, the Beijing Capital Museum is the city’s largest museum and home to over 200,000 artefacts. First opened in 1981, the museum has grown massively in both floor size and its offering of art, statues, bones and more.
The museum is spread across 24,000 square meters and home to more than 5,000 years of China’s history means the Capital Museum is one part of China’s capital that travellers can’t afford to miss. The museum even boasts a massive 40-ton statue of Emperor Qian Long along with ancient writings and other scripts.
Tourists looking for private tours won’t be disappointed here, with the Capital Museum offering private tours that also include lunch and transportation from hotels for just $50.
Beijing’s typically seen by tourists and backpackers and tourists as an ancient, highly traditional conservative city. In some ways this is true, but Beijing is fast becoming a hub for modern global attractions that go beyond just The Great Wall of China.
The city is soon to be home to the worlds largest and most comprehensive subway network, making travel and movement throughout the city a breeze for tourists. On top of this, Backpackers will love the city’s near-unlimited dining options, shopping malls and other cultural different experiences the city has to offer.
So with that said, make your visit to Beijing a memorable one and take some time to see some of the lesser known more modern attractions after you see The Great Wall of China.
Categories: Travel Guides