Beijing is a humongous city! And I mean it! I knew it’s big, but I didn’t expect that scale! I think it’s comparable with Tokyo, the difference is, you have to walk way more than in Tokyo as subway stations are really far apart. And I did not master buses in China 🙂 It is the most populous capital city in the world.
What I noticed immediately were all the security measures. They are crazy! Every time I accessed the subway I had to scan my bag. When you buy a ticket for a train, to some monument, you have to show your passport. The ticket to the Forbidden City was my passport! There is police, military or some other kinds of guards every 3m. No kidding! They have these tiny police cars in every corner with like 5-6camras on top. Don’t even make me start on cameras. Poles with 10 cameras bundled together! On one crossroad I counted 17 of them, and I am sure I missed some.
It is also an immaculate city. Even though it’s widespread for people to spit while walking (and making me wanna puke, bleh, horrible habit) they have an army of people walking and picking up every single piece of trash o. O It makes the city spotless.
I will write another post of how I moved around in Beijing. That takes some explanations. So let’s move on to what to what you can do and see:
The Forbidden City
The Forbidden City is obviously the first stop! It is the largest palace complex in the world! On top of that it is an UNESCO Heritage site.
I would recommend coming early in the morning. There is a limited amount of tickets, and there are many people. Though, don’t think you will get a head start even if you come early. You will just have more time to wait in the queue and maybe see a little bit more. Maybe 🙂
In the beginning, I went through the middle, from the outer Palace to inner Palace and then to the garden. Along with that route there are a Dragon Throne, Emperor and Empress bedchambers. Truth to be told, I didn’t see much as I don’t have Chinese queue pushing power and got really overwhelmed by them 🙂 Later I went back and got into where Ningshougong is. That was an area where I had to pay extra to enter, but it was worth every penny. Much fewer people. I actually managed to get some pictures alone! I know! Sounds impossible!
After I got out, I retracted back to the entrance as I noticed people on the Forbidden City walls. Through my broken Chinese, I got a clue where I can go to get to the wall. That was an excellent choice! I got to see how humongous the city is! I do hope the emperor didn’t have to walk much and got someone carrying him around 😀
On the other side of the exit from the Forbidden City (North gate), there is this park. After climbing some stairs (yep, no escaping) I was presented with a view of the Forbidden City. I wasn’t super impressed as I saw a lot from the Forbidden City wall beforehand and the smog was so heavy I couldn’t see much either way. Netherless, it is a charming spot to see city panorama. On the other side of the hill you can see the Drum, Bell tower and Bai Ta in the distance.
What amazed me about the park was how active it was! Some people were playing shutter cock, some were dancing, some were singing! Some singing groups had even a conductor, while others consisted of just couple friends and an acordeon. Some were just singing karaoke to a phone! Bizarre experience! You have to go and check this park out, it was cool!
I took the road in the park as I needed to go to the subway, so I have decided why not through the park. Better than just normal road. Like most of the parks, I was at, I had to pay the entrance fee. But it wasn’t anything outrageous.
There is a really cool island in the middle. Again I had to pay more to see it and then climb more the stairs to reach Bai Ta. At this point, I already started getting used it.
A lot of people were taking boat rides which seemed really great! I couldn’t try as I was pressed for time.
Overall, it was a charming park for an afternoon walk😊
Nan Luo Gu Xiang
One of many hutongs – alleys formed by lines of traditional courtyard residences, in Beijing.
I did not expect to see so many people there! I know… Still getting surprised 🙂 Personally, hutongs are nothing special to see. But it was a cool area with many different food stalls and souvenirs. I finally got myself Ocarina!! My neighbors gonna love it!
It’s a good place for an evening stroll and grabbing dinner 😉
You might have heard the story of the Tiananmen Square Massacre. In 1989 students were demonstrating and were forcefully suppressed after the declaration of martial law. The protest ended up in a massacre where troops with assault rifles and tanks started firing at demonstrators.
It is located in front of the Forbidden City. I went there but didn’t manage to get there entirely as I saw a large crowd and decided I don’t really wanna see it that much.
Central television tower
That was totally not planned but excellent stop. I had to get to the central railway station to pick up the train tickets and saw it on the map. So I decided just to go.
It’s located between to subway stops, meaning a lot of walking… Once I got there, I entered the elevator to the 238m floor. Yes, they don’t use numbers for levels just meters. Restaurant kinda sucked there, but the observation deck was great! I got to see the panorama of the city from high above! Really cool. Too bad I couldn’t really see far as again, smog … Nonetheless, really cool place.
There are also many other places I have not managed to see like:
- Summer Palace (UNESCO Heritage site)
- Old Summer Palace
- 798 Arts District
- Panjiayuan Antiques Market
- Silk Market
- Eastern Qing Tombs
- Lama Temple
- Temple of Heaven (UNESCO Heritage site)
- Tian Yi Mu’s Tomb
But at least I have something to look forward the next time I visit Beijing!