China’s majestic capital Beijing is vibrant and bustling city, not only renowned for its soaring skyline, but also its fascinating cultural heritage, home to a wealth of captivating ancient landmarks and impressive contemporary developments.
6 hours in... Beijing
Beijing is best known for its collection of historic landmarks, but there simply so many; you will have to prioritise what you want to see if you only have a limited amount of time in the city.
In the heart of Beijing sits the Forbidden City, which is arguably the Chinese capital’s most popular and iconic attraction. The Forbidden City was the home of some of China’s most famous historical leaders, including the Ming and Qing dynasties, and unlike many other ancient sites, has remained relatively untouched over the centuries and is therefore the perfect place to showcase authentic Chinese heritage.
The Forbidden City is located on the world-famous Tiananmen Square in Beijing’s Dongcheng District. Tiananmen Square is the world’s largest public plaza, but is best-known as the site of the infamous protests which took place back in 1989. Aside from the Forbidden City, the square is also surrounded by a number of other majestic structures, including the the Qianmen Gate, the Great Hall of the People, the Museum of Chinese History, the Museum of the Chinese Revolution.
If you have just one day in Beijing, Tiananmen Square is the best place to start. Here you’ll find a host of incredible attractions all located conveniently close to one another, offering the chance to appreciate many of the city’s most iconic landmarks in just a few hours.
Cruisers with a little more time in Beijing should take the time to travel outside of the city to one of the world’s most iconic landmarks – the Great Wall of China. This so-called wonder of the world is top of many a bucket list, and attracts visitors from all over the globe.
The Great Wall is located about one hour’s drive from the centre of Beijing, but can also be reached in the same time by train. The wall’s Badaling section is perhaps its most popular, but many people may find it to be too overcrowded, so intrepid visitors could consider a journey to more remote sections, including Huanghuacheng, Simatai and Jinshanling.
The Great Wall of China is definitely a must-see, but you’ll have to set a whole day aside to get the full experience. If you consider the time you’ll need to travel there, explore properly and then travel back, it can become a lengthy excursion, but is well worth taking the time to see one of Earth’s most spectacular structures.
Can’t keep away?
Beijing is a vast city with many intriguing districts, but a fantastic way to get a taste for life in this fast-paced metropolis is to spend a day exploring its many shopping areas, markets and restaurants. You’ll discover a wide range of colourful markets, especially at Xizhimen in Xicheng, Silk Street in Chaoyang and the Hong Qiao market in the vibrant Chongwen district.
Also, what better place to enjoy authentic Chinese cuisine than in the nation’s capital? There are plenty of traditional Chinese food stores and marvellous dining venues throughout the city, so make sure to sample you’re fair share of local grub during a stay in Beijing.
Don’t even bother!
A ride through Beijing in a rickshaw is a fantastic way to get around, but beware of local rickshaw drivers who overcharge, especially around the main tourist areas such as Tiananmen Square. It’s always best to negotiate the cost of your rickshaw ride before you set off, and although the majority of drivers are very friendly and honest, it’s always better to be safe and avoid being ripped off.