Also known as Peking, this Chinese capital with more than 5000 years of history is an overwhelming place to be at for any traveller. With grand palaces, pristine temples, open spaces, shopping avenues, and mouth-watering cuisines, this city will leave an unforgettable impression in your mind. With rich history that has hosted the Yuan (Mongols), the Ming (Han Chinese) and the Qing (Manchu) dynasties, the city is still is home to their heritage legacies. People of this city are bound by food, and it is what keeps them together. Beijing is also a cuisine powerhouse been fuelled by dishes from all corners of China. Despite censorship, operas in Beijing are blooming and there haven’t been more contemporary arts exhibit than ever. Beijing is now, and here are top things to do.
The Great Wall of China – The nearest section of Great Wall to Beijing is one hour drive at Badaling Pass. This restored section is usually over crowded, but you’ll be able to enjoy towers, parapets and surrounding scenery. If you seek adventure, hiking or cable car fun, Simatai section would be best.
Forbidden City – Former home to Emperors, and world’s largest palace complex, it consists of 800 buildings and has been around for six centuries. Must see spots in here are Gate of Heavenly Peace, Hall of Supreme Harmony, Hall of Clocks and Watches, Gallery of Treasures, and Imperial Garden.
Tiananmen Square – It is world’s largest public square covering 100 acres of land. Highlights in here include Monument to the People’s Heroes, Tiananmen Gate, and Qianmen. Must visit notable attractions nearby are Mausoleum of Mao Zedong, and Museum of the Chinese Revolution.
Summer Palace – It was the royal retreat of emperors. It boasts of having largest imperial garden in China. Attractions within are manmade Kunming lake, beautiful gardens, Hall of Well-being and Longevity, Hall of Happiness and Longevity, Great Theatre, Marble Ship, stone bridges and Pagodas.
Temple of Heaven– It is one of Beijing’s most sacred spots. It was here emperors made sacrifices of animals for fruitful harvest. Must see in here are Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests which is a visual masterpiece, Animal killing pavilion, Zhaoheng Gate, and Echo Hall that works on minutest of voice.
Beihai Park – This grand imperial garden is popular for inbound lake. Built in 12th century, it houses many attractions like Tibetan styled White Dagoba, garden within garden Jingxin Studio, largest square pavilion-style palace in China Little Western Heaven, and a circular fortress Round City.
Lama Temple – It is one of most important n functioning Buddhist temple of city. It is also seat of Tibetan Buddhism in Beijing. The serene surrounding and incense filled air are perfect. Must see in here are Pavilion of Ten Thousand Fortunes, Buddha statue carved from single piece of sandalwood.
798 Art District – Also known as Dashanzi Art District, it is the hub for contemporary arts in Beijing. Formerly this site was group of factories where in late 90’s, art galleries, studios, restaurants and bars started coming up. It also offers hip shopping opportunities with book stores and souvenirs.
Wangfujing Street – By day it is a shopping district and by night a very busy market. It is popular for its Chinese architecture, and also street food. In here you’ll also find Sea horses, scorpions and starfish served on skewers. Must try food are bingtanghulu, lvdagunr, aiwowoand tanghou shao.
Bell and Drum Tower – They were once used as musical instruments and later as Govt. official time pieces. For centuries they have been tallest towers of Beijing. After throwing of last emperor they were also briefly used as Cinema and Library. Also views of city from top of them are stunning.
Hutongs – They can be found near Guloudajie (Drum Tower Street), and Sichahong District. Now hutongs are occupied with quaint shops, innovative restaurants, traditional single-storey siheyuan (quadrangles), and vintage hotels. It is must see to experience on how Chinese people once lived.
Olympic Park – Built for 2008 Summer Olympics, it might not host that grand event every day but its grandeur is worth exploring. Must see is Birds nest stadium crafted from 42,000 tons of steel, National Aquatics Center or Water Cube with a waterpark side, and Olympic Green (open space).
Confucius Temple – It is built in memory of sageConfucius. It has inscriptions of 50,000 people that have passed the highest exams here. Hall of Great Achievements is must see to witness artefacts closer to Confucius. The complex also has an Imperial Academy once imparting his teachings.
National Museum of China – It world’s largest by display size, and second most visited museum. With more than 1 million artefacts in 48 halls, it is a must see. Must see is Simuwu Ding world’s heaviest ancient bronze ware, and halls dedicated to ancient gold, jade, and ceramic artefacts.
National Centre for the Performing Arts – This architectural marvel also called ‘The Egg’ is best place to watch Beijing Opera, which has nasal singing and clamorous music. The complex consists of Opera House, Concert Hall, Theatre and artificial lake. Visiting early you can also catch artist’s makeup.
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