It can be safely assumed that when most tourists think of China, they think ‘Great Wall’ – many parts of which are situation in and around Beijing. However this site is by no means Beijing’s only show-stopper. China has one of the most fascinating cultural histories in the world and such means that there are more than a handful of places of interests for tourists to enjoy on a trip to Beijing. Public squares, beautiful parks and magnificent, colourful temples are just a few things visitors should to include on their holiday itinerary. There is also, of course, many a market to shop at and an array of cuisines to check out before you head home too.
There several parts of the Great Wall open to tourists in Beijing and there are a number of ways in which a tourist can visit. There are many tour operators in the city (often these can be booked with your hotel/hostel) who will be happy to charge you a fixed fee for a trip to the wall and a few other stops along the way. These trips are usually pretty good value for money as a meal will be included as will all of the entrance tickets for the day. However, these tour operators all visit the same one or two parts of the wall (namely Badaling) – the easy access parts- which, whilst very impressive, are usually full of tourists and covered in traders trying to sell you souvenirs. The Mutianyu section of the wall is reachable by bus from the main bus station (Dongzhimen) in Beijing and is much less overrun with tourists.
Visitors should remember that the wall is made up of a LOT of steps so appropriate shoes and other such attire is necessary so as to make the most of your time there. A bottle of water would also be a good idea!
Since the opening of line 4 of the Beijing subway in 2009 this vast and amazing park now has its own subway stop making it very accessible. The largest and best-preserved Imperial Garden in China – these 11 squared kilometres of luxurious trees, lakes and temples are definitely worth a visit, whatever the weather.
Probably the most impressive temples in Beijing- this site and the park surrounding it is definitely worth a place on any visitors itinerary. The park is filled with dancers, choirs, karaoke and all manner of people enjoying their spare time and they are always keen to encourage visitors to join in. The duck restaurant and pearl market across the road are also a bonus!
The Silk Market
Beijing is a great place to get some bargains providing you are willing to join in the haggling antics with the energetic market vendors. The Silk Market has everything from ‘Louis Vuitton’ bags to watches to cocktail dresses. These enthusiastic vendors are used to haggling with foreigners and can do so in many languages so expect to work a little harder to get that ideal price. Whether you buy anything or not, its definitely an experience.
Eating out in China is very very reasonable. There are restaurants lining the streets wherever you go with incredibly low prices. Many establishments will have picture menus so you can do some pointing and smiling to order if there is no one around who speaks English. You are likely to see some weird and wonderful things on offer in China- make the most of it, you never know what you might acquire a taste for!