Wednesday, 30 May 2007
5 Things To Do when in Beijing
1. Great Wall in Mutianyu
Visiting the Great Wall is a must and the most impressing sight in China. From Beijing downtown to Mutianyu it is about 1.5 hours to drive. It is not the closest part of the wall, but the best if you want to be away from the crowd. You can take the gondola / cable car (which Bill Clinton has taken). On top of the wall walk to the left, where you are almost for yourself.
If you walk to the right, there might be more people and it is a more steep way down. But at the end you can go on a fun sleigh ride back to the parking area. - Toilets near the parking are okay.
Remark: A great alternative to Mutianyu is the "Commune at the Great Wall" for its architectural expo of houses that are actually for rent from the Hotel. They have private access to the Great Wall. Follow a hidden path through a forest up hill and enjoy about 1 km of not restored wall. Ask at the reception for directions. For special occasion (pack a bottle of Champagne in your backpack).
2. Forbidden City
You can spend here several days or just 1.5 hours to get an overview. Enter from the South Gate (north of Tiananmen) and walk to the North Gate. Make sure you enter at least 2 hours before they close. At the moment a major part is under renovation for the Summer Olympics in 2008. Workers and bamboo scaffold might appear in your pictures.
3. Further sightseeing can include 5 more spots:
--> Drum Tower and Houtongs around here and around Houhai Lake (Hutong tour by bike or rikshaw is a nice experience)
--> Summer Palace (partly under renovation)
--> Lama Temple (the Confucius Temple opposite is still closed for renovation)
--> Temple of Heaven with its park (across the Pearlmarket...)
and on a weekend
--> Panjiayuan Antique market (I know, this could belong to number 4 'shopping' but it is sightseeing as well!), see also my other post
I love Beijing for its shopping adventures. Shopping here is just so different from the western world. Of course nowadays, new malls with international labels open up every month. But still, it can be an adventure browsing the markets. It is amazing what you get for little money. Of course the very cheap shirts, pearls, bags, watches etc. lack quality. So you have to take a very close look on what you buy. I really mean close: turn the sweater inside out and check the sewing, check for spots, holes. Try the zip twice of jackets and bags. Turn the JL Coultre watch around for surprises. - Pull it, knock it, cut or bite it (pearls) - You can find original brand stuff, but remember that it might be in the market because it is faulty. The Chinese do quality control. But the good quality is exported abroad. The bad quality is sold off in the markets in China. Or the clothes are from old collections from years ago. Or it is from over-production. And even sometimes things can be 'fallen from the truck'. Anyway, the patient hunter can find real good things. Check my shopping & bargain guide.
By now you might be hungry and we come to point 5.
5. Eating experience
As in every capital in the world, Beijing offers a wide range of international restaurants. But to impress visitors, I would take them to:
- Whampoa Club ($$$$), Nouvelle Beijing Cuisine in courtyard house, modern Chinese decor, cosy bar, private dining possible
- Green t. house ($$$), fantastic decor and creative menu
- The Courtyard ($$$$), window seats with view on the Forbidden City (no yard)
- Made in China ($$$), unique restaurant in the Hyat Hotel for Beijing Duck, book a table by the open kitchen
- Duck King ($), for Beijing Duck
- Bellagio ($), spicy Taiwanese food and great mango deserts, fast service, late dining, no reservation, a bit hectic
- Source ($$), set menu in a renovated Courtyard house, nice sitting in the yard
- Red Capital Club ($$$), renovated Courtyard house, waitresses in Mao-style uniforms
- Lan Restaurant ($$$), Philippe Starck's latest creativity outburst
- Hatsune ($$), best fusion Japanese (American Style) restaurant in town
I can recommend these as I like them myself. I will post address and telephone numbers later.
Was this post helpful? Do you want to know more about Beijing? Come visit this blog again. (updated September 2007)
Photo by musicmuse