China’s enigmatic capital can be overwhelming even for the most seasoned of city dwellers, but the sightseeing gems to be found make it all worthwhile. There’s so much to see and do in bustling Beijing, and it pays to have a rough itinerary in place before you embark on your tailor-made China holiday. If you’re keen to put some plans together, here are three essential experiences to bear in mind.
The Great Wall
It would be a crying shame to visit Beijing without stumbling across one of the world’s greatest wonders, the Great Wall. Beijing is one of the best places to observe this feat of engineering, and you will come across some of the best preserved parts of the structure if you’re not afraid to venture out of the energetic centre of the city into the suburbs. Less than 2 hours’ drive from downtown Beijing, you’ll find the areas of Juyonguan, Badaling and Simatai. You can hike as much or as little as you like, take those all-important Instagram-worthy snaps, and find out more about the significance and history of the wall from your guide. A single day tour can take you to as many as ten separate destinations, so it’s well worth devoting a day of your city break to see this epic sight.
Haggling for a bargain
If you’re a shopaholic or you can’t resist the lure of a bargain, you won’t be disappointed by Beijing. This city has no shortage of markets and there are stalls selling everything from souvenirs and antiques to fabrics and textiles, jewellery and paintings. If you’re a foodie, don’t miss the opportunity to wander around the aptly-named Wangfujing Snack Street Market, which plays host to some of the most dazzling selections of nibbles and edible treats you could ever hope to see. Silk Street is another popular spot for bargain hunters, and an excellent place to buy fabrics, as you may have guessed from the name. This market is not exclusively for materials, though, and there’s plenty of other wares on offer. You can buy handmade crafts, drawings, framed prints, accessories and clothing here too.
Seeing the sights
Beijing is packed with attractions, and it has such a rich history and diverse culture. You must take at least a couple of days to tread the tourist tracks, and take a trip to Tiananmen Square, the Temple of Heaven and the Forbidden City. Tiananmen Square is a vast square, which is illuminated by a giant obelisk. It is one of the world’s largest squares and it has significant cultural symbolism. The Forbidden City is close by. Today, this is a museum complex, but previously it was the site of the imperial palace. The Temple of Heaven is a tranquil spot, which comprises of a series of temples and buildings with religious importance. It dates back to 1420.
If you’re visiting Beijing, there’s absolutely no chance that you’ll run out of things to do or places to see. Hopefully, these ideas have given you some food for thought!