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bootlegga Beijing Shi - A travel report by James
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Beijing Shi,  China - flag China -  Beijing
9149 readers

bootlegga's travel reports

A short trip to Beijing

  26 votes
Page: 1 2
The capital of communist China will inspire even the most ardent anti-communist person with its incredible sights, amazing history, and friendly people.

The Temple of Heaven
The Temple of Heaven
Beijing is the capital of China and a huge city. Unlike the more prosperous south, Beijing looks a little old and drab. Despite this, there is something for just about everyone. Still, for a city that has been capital of China for almost 1000 thousand years, it could be worse.

A city of over 12 million, Beijing is one of the world’s biggest cities, and has the pollution to prove it. This is likely due to the current trend of trading in your bicycle for a new Volkswagen. The weather tends to be very cold in winter (-15 Celsius is not uncommon) to warm in the summer (+25 Celsius is about the average). As it is several hundred KMs from the ocean, it is drier in Beijing than in other major Asian cities, like Tokyo, Seoul or Bangkok.

Some good websites with many links to other China-related sites are;

Beijing has lots to see, from the incredibly decadent Summer Palace, with its man-made lake and dozens of temples and pagodas, to the hutongs, small clusters of older homes and shops that harken back to a Beijing of 500 years ago.

A trip to see the pandas at the Beijing Zoo are a must if you've never seen them before. Of course, Beijing also has plenty of shopping, clubs and bars for night time fun too.

Favourite spots:
The Great Wall at Simatai is built on a huge ridge.
The Great Wall at Simatai is built on a huge ridge.
The Great Wall at Simatai. While it is farther than the more popular (and far more touristy) Badaling, it is worth the trip. Here the Great Wall hasn’t been fully restored, and it resembles what the original wall looked like 500 years ago.

It also has the advantage of having fewer shops, hawkers, and others looking to sell you ‘Great Wall’ souvenirs. Another bonus is that because it takes 2 hours to get to by bus, it is not overrun by hordes of tourists, like Badaling. When I went, the only way for most to go was to take the tour bus from the Jinghua Youth Hostel that was about 60 RMB. Now there is also a public bus from the Beijing Bus station.

What's really great:
Hiking on the Great Wall
Hiking on the Great Wall
Beijing is the capital of an ancient and historic empire, and has an incredible history behind it, not unlike Athens or Rome. The Middle Kingdom is full of ancient artifacts and buildings, from the Great Wall to the Terra Cotta soldiers to the Forbidden City.

Inside the Forbidden City
Inside the Forbidden City
There are tons of great things to see in Beijing, so many that you would likely need a couple of weeks to see them and fully appreciate them all.

One of the best is the Temple of Heaven. This massive park houses several dozen buildings, most of which have been restored, including the very famous Temple of Heaven. The grounds on which the Temple is built are now a large park, and filled with people everyday, some doing tai chi, others picnicking, flying kites, and obviously, a lot of tourists taking pictures.

The Forbidden City is another must see, and was under extensive restoration when I went, funded by American Express if you can believe it. The Forbidden City was where the Emperor and his family lived, and it was off-limits to the common folk. Anyone found there who didn’t belong was put to death. There are dozens of amazing halls and buildings. The ground needed re-cobbling, as many tiles on the paths were loose and/or missing.

Hua Le Yuan Hotel
Hua Le Yuan Hotel
We stayed at Hua Le Yuan hotel, which was clean and relatively close to most major sights. The taxi ride from the airport was about 140 RMB.

One of the best ways to find a hotel is to book online. My friends, who stayed longer than I did, found a special online rate at a five star hotel for $25 US/night! Even Expedia and Travelocity now book hotels in China.

Some accommodation websites to check out include;

Another way to find accomodation is to search for tours of Beijing and the surrounding area as well, as many multi-day tours include accomodations. Keep in mind that these accomodations tend to be lower end hotels catering to Chinese citizens, so amenities and the staff's language skills might be a little lacking.

Tiananmen Square
Tiananmen Square
Probably the busiest part of town is Sanlitun, in the NE.

The Old Poachers Inn in Sanlitun is one of Beijing’s best known pubs. Popular with ex-pats, it has live jazz music on Thursdays, and the nightclub next door operates as a disco on the weekends.

Two other popular pubs are the Pig & Thistle and the Goose & Duck pubs. I didn’t get a chance to visit them, but an Irish lass I met on the bus to Simatai vouched for both of them.

The gate to the Forbidden city
The gate to the Forbidden city
We ate dinner at the restaurant in our hotel the first night we were in Beijing, and the food was both good and cheap. The 2nd night we ate in a touristy area for essentially the same dinner was 500 RMB - 3 people. Still, getting tea in that restaurant was an experience. For more info, check out my travellog about my trip to Beijing.

I would basically rate restaurants in 3 categories (for 2 people);

1. Budget (20 - 70 RMB)

2. Mid-range (70 - 200 RMB)

3. Expensive (200+ RMB)

The first two types of restaurants likely will not have English menus. Budget restaurants may give your stomach some problems initially, but you’ll adapt if you stay long enough. Our hotel restaurant was mid-range (about 280 RMB for 4 people) and nobody had any problems.

Other recommendations:
Qian Men gate at the south end of Tiananmen Square
Qian Men gate at the south end of Tiananmen Square
Directly south of the Forbidden City is Tiananmen Square, where a pro-democracy demonstration was crushed by government forces in 1989. It is said to be the largest such square in the world. Let me tell you, it is huge. The government plays music on loud speakers all day long and it is usually filled with people going on walks, flying kites, or just resting.

If shopping is your thing, check out Silk Alley. Just a few blocks from the Beijing Friendship Store (another great place to shop for souvenirs), Silk Alley has (obviously) a wide variety of silk goods. A friend bought tons of silk pillow covers for about $3 each for Christmas gifts. The Friendship store also has a wide variety of goods. My advice is to head to the 3rd floor and check out the handicrafts and such.

There is so much to see and do in the Beijing area, but there are several other big sights to see. They would include the Great Wall at Badaling, the Ming Tombs, and the Lama temple.

Published on Sunday October 31th, 2004

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Thu, Mar 19 2009 - 08:03 AM rating by krisek

Great report with plenty of practical info. Many thanks!

Mon, Jan 09 2006 - 09:00 AM rating by frenchfrog

Very informative, I went to Beijing myself, you gave a very detailed report.

Mon, Apr 18 2005 - 05:53 PM rating by traveling_gal

Wonderful report; I enjoyed reading it. Good job.

Wed, Nov 17 2004 - 08:29 AM rating by bineba

Really liked your report.


Mon, Nov 01 2004 - 05:59 PM rating by mortimer

Hi James
Truly a good report... I know how difficult it is trying to get everything of this huge city in one small report (it was the very first one I wrote). Anyway to me some interesting points are missing and some of the feeling I had didn't provoke but it's very informative. I found the information about the forbidden city with dozens of rooms funny.... the forbidden city is said to have 9999 rooms 1 less than heaven!

Mon, Nov 01 2004 - 12:28 PM rating by spaceout

Great report!!.. I especially enjoyed the picture of The Great Wall at Simatai .. It must give one a feeling of walking back in time..

Mon, Nov 01 2004 - 09:41 AM rating by mistybleu

This is a very detailed report, I really liked it. Rgds Misty

Mon, Nov 01 2004 - 06:34 AM rating by magsalex

Great report. Informative

Mon, Nov 01 2004 - 03:41 AM rating by downundergal

Great report. How long were you here for?

Mon, Nov 01 2004 - 12:54 AM rating by gloriajames

a good read! 5*

Mon, Nov 01 2004 - 12:29 AM rating by ravinderkumarsi

hii james,
excellent report after a long time on china.

Mon, Nov 01 2004 - 12:18 AM rating by picasso

James,your report is very well written,with a lot of recomenrations
For me was interesting to read.
Thank you


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