On the second last day of our trip,it was time for us to catch the bullet train to the capital city of Beijing.At a speed of about 330 km/hr,this is the world's third fastest carrier with networks stretching for about a radius of 2000km.First up was the Forbidden City-a place where the Ming and Qing Emperors resided for more than 500 years, which used to be off-limits to the common people.After exploring the main buildings in the Forbidden City, drive around Tiananmen Square to see the biggest city-center square in the world, as well as some of the iconic buildings like the Front Gate, Chairman Mao's Mausoleum, Monument to the People's heroes, Great Hall of the People, Tiananmen Gate and National Museum of China.
Best Time To Visit
Best time to visit Beijing is from April to June and from September to October
How To Reach
Book a Package Tour
Tiananmen Square (Tiananmen Guangchang)
The Tian'AnMen Square is known as the spiritual heart of China. Famous for its historical events, like demonstrations on May 4th, 1999, that inspired young Chinese to fight imperialists and warlords, and build a strong independent country. The Gate of Heavenly Peace is on the square's north end. And at the center of the square is the 40m-high Monument to the People's heroes and Chairman Mao’s Mausoleum. Also, the Great Hall of the People lies on the west along with the Museum of Chinese History.
GREAT WALL OF CHINA
On the third day we went for an excursion which was unique and exhilarating! We took a vintage sidecar motorcycle for a scenic trip to the Great Wall at Mutianyu. We explored the city, followed by rural neighborhoods and finally the wall itself from the comfort of the sidecar with frequent stops for pictures. Afterwards we went to The Brickyard, a former tile factory transformed into a eco-retreat, where I enjoyed the spa with views of the Great Wall.
Temple of Heaven Park
The Temple of Heaven Park is located in the Chongwen District, Beijing. It is China's largest and most representative existing masterpiece among China’s ancient sacrificial buildings. The Temple is divided by two encircling walls into an inner part and outer part. The main buildings lie at the south and north ends of the middle axis of the inner part. The most magnificent buildings are the Circular Mound Altar (Huanqiutan), the Imperial Vault of Heaven (Huangqiongyu) and the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest (Qiniandian) from south to north.
Gate of Heavenly Peace (Tian'an Men)
Most people visit Tian'anmen Square on their way to the Forbidden City. Both can be done together in a morning or afternoon. Tian'anmen Square is the largest public square in the world. It is arguably the most-visited site in Beijing. It lies on the historical central axis going through the Forbidden City.
This is one of the most famous places that has successfully attracted many artists, poets and painters over the years whether Chinese or from other parts of the world. It is also known as Dashanzi Art District and is 18 km away from the first stop. It is one of the biggest and celebrated art area in Beijing. The area has its roots in the abandoned factory buildings. The art area of 798 can trace back to 2003, when an abandoned factory was rented to a freelance painter, who opened his own art gallery. 798 refer to the name of the factory. The spacious site is a welcome for art galleries and ambitious projects. It goes without saying that 798 has become a hub of contemporary art in modern Beijing. It is a well suited area for art galleries. A walk down the area will help you see the preserved appearance of old factories, rusty steel construction or abandoned site. It is like reliving the past of 798 factory in the old city of Beijing. Today this place holds top quality exhibitions, quaint museums, cafes, cinema screening films most days. It is perfect example of upholding traditions in a modern city. The rustic charm that it endorses truly made it one of my favourite places in the city.
Temple of Heaven
The next day after breakfast we went for sightseeing. Our first stop was the Temple of Heaven where Beijing’s seniors gather each morning to enjoy a variety of activities; from badminton and Tai Chi to street opera and ballroom dancing, This is a true taste of Chinese community life! Of course you also visit the magnificent temple itself.
Later we visited the renowned Forbidden City, for centuries the heart and soul of imperial China and one of the grandest historical treasures in the world. We then went across the city for a rickshaw tour in Beijing’s ‘Hutongs’, a maze of traditional old alleyways and courtyards. We even had tea with a local family and visited the impressive Drum Tower. We ended the day with drinks in the Legation Quarter, a collection of stunning historical buildings converted to restaurants and upscale lounges.
I started my journey from Qianmen Street which is south of Tianmen Square. It is a pedestrian street in the architectural style of old Beijing. The architecture therefore is impressive. Along the street is a water fountain that had been created by a 3D street artist. I started this trip by trying to capture myself believably in this 3D painting. 3D paintings are on a rise in streets where more tourists are expected and Qianmen Street is a good example of it. The area has some shops and restaurants. A quick meal and you will be set for the entire day.
Great Wall at Mutianyu
It was an amazing experience to see the Great Wall Of China and to set your feet on it as you have only heard and learned about in Books and Television only. But the feeling you get when you see thousands of people from all around the world and even you are part of it. It is as beautiful as we all have seen in pictures.
After lunch, we will drive to the famous Badaling Great Wall. Badaling was built in 1505 during the Ming Dynasty. This section of the Great Wall is the best preserved and most visited one. It is 7600 meters long and 1000 meters above sea level, commanding a strategic position in ancient times.
The Forbidden City was the Chinese imperial palace from the Ming Dynasty to the end of the Qing Dynasty. It is located in the center of Beijing, China. Built in 1406 to 1420, the complex consists of 980 buildings and covers 7,800,000 sq ft. Its worth seeing the Forbidden City.
5. BEIJING NATIONAL STADIUM: Another place that makes it to the to- do list is the Birdnest Olympic Stadium and the Olympic WaterPark. It was designed as the main stadium of 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. National Aquatics Center, and colloquially known as the Water Cube, is an aquatics center that was built alongside Beijing National Stadium in the Olympic Green for the swimming competitions of the 2008 Summer Olympics. Despite its nickname, the building is not an actual cube, but a cuboid (a rectangular box).THINGS TO EAT IN CHINANow, China is a hard core non vegetarian country. Anything and everything you can think off is eaten here which might just amaze you throughout your trip. The place is a paradise for all the non- vegetarians, however, survival seems to be difficult for someone like me who happens to be a vegetarian. Here is a guide to some of the very well known sumptuous feasts in China:1. The Beijing Duck: Peking Duck or Beijing Duck is best-known for the thin and crispy skin, rich taste and long history. the popular opinion is conclude some ways and timing to eat Beijing duck. The duck is tasted palatable in spring, winter and autumn. The authentic versions of dish should be served with most skin and little meat. Generally it is eaten with pancakes, sweet bean sauce and scallion. The sweet bean sauce is smeared on the pancakes, then slices of meat is put between the pancakes. 2. DUMPLINGS: Dumplings have a delicate wheat-flour skin around warm, moist prawn or pork contents. They are similar to what we call Momos in India. The crescent-moon dumplings are served steamed, fried or in a soup, sold by the number of dumplings or weight. Use your chopsticks to share from the one platter–the Chinese way. On your table you’ll find black rice-vinegar and smoky chilli-oil to drizzle into your little dipping sauce dish. Be ready for the juicy dumpling contents to burst with flavour in your mouth. 3. FLATBREAD: Golden-toasted flatbreads and pastries come in many tasty forms in China’s capital and make a filling street food cooked on the spot or a shareable restaurant starter.They are similar to sweet pooris in India. 4. MOONCAKES: A Mid-Autumn Festival favourite, I did not have the chance to try them but it remains a very sought after thng. The classic yuè bĭng is a sweet biscuity cake with a dense filling of red bean- or lotus-paste around an egg yolk ‘moon’. No sweet snack looks as prosperous and self-contained as round moon cakes branded with Chinese symbols glazed in the tops. 5. BARBEQUE SKEWERS: Beijing has adopted the Chinese-Muslim lamb skewer from Xinjiang and evolved it. Anything that captures your imagination can be skewered and roasted at street hawker stands. The hawkers just stop to as if you'll like it Point to what you want spicy (là) or not (bùlà). as soon as the sun starts to set, these hawkers start putting there stalls on the pavements and you can see a group of men sitting on the small table chit-chatting. As you’re in Beijing and the buzz and dazzling lights of the market might just convince you to try spicy shark, snake, starfish, seahorses or sheep’s testicles. 6. BEIJING HOT POT: Now, this one is a must do.This bubbling copper pot of soup is cooked at your table by you and your friends, adding fresh meat and veg. It’s a warming Beijing favourite.The pot is shaped like a ying-yang. One side the broth is spicy equipped with the famous Chinese spices and the other side is just salt water. Choose what raw vegetables and lamb (or other meat, fish balls or mushrooms) you would like on your platter to cook for yourself in the pot. Then drop in ingredient-by-ingredient what you would like to cook and eat. Each person scoops out their goodies with a slotted spoon (or just chopsticks) and eats it with a dipping sauce, which can include sesame oil, savoury BBQ and fermented soybean. At the end, add the noodles to the soup to draw up the flavours.THINGS THAT MIGHT HELP1. Learn a few Phrases in Mandarin. Very few people are able to speak in English, so it was always great if are able to converse in their language. Like, I am a vegetarian so the words 'Sùshí zhǔyì zhě' were like my trump cards. Plus, you are able to impress them.2. The Beijing Subway is extraordinarily cheap- 2 yuan anywhere in the city. Make good use of it.3. The people in Beijing are relatively louder than the average. It might appear that these folks are fighting but instead they are just having a normal conversation.4. The men prefer to grow the last fingernail of their right hand as it is used to pick the ear and the left one won't do it as well as the right one. 5. Learn to master the art of using chopsticks. These folks eat rice with chopsticks and spoons are difficult to find.
Hutong, an ancient Beijing city, is located in the city center, with about 700 years history. The word "hutong" originated from the word "hottog" which meant "well" in Mongolian. Legends have it that villagers dug out a well and inhabited the area. Those old natives are till date constituting the local families there. In fact the passage formed by lines of Siheyuan (a compound with houses around a courtyard) where old Beijing residents live is laid down in this ancient face of Beijing city. You're sure to get lost in those winding lanes and alleys!
Ritan Park （North Gate）
In Beijing, we stayed at the Fairmont Hotel, just a short walk from the vibrant Jianguomen district. From there we visited in Beijing was Ritan Park, one of Beijing’s most authentic and peaceful parks. Afterwards we went to Lao She Teahouse for a taste of true Chinese tea culture and entertainment.
Great Wall of Badaling
I took the 877 bus to Badaling wall. The 877 bus stop is next to it. You pay when you get onto the bus. CNY 12 per person. Quite a comfortable trip. On the bus, there was a kind guide who provided information about the Great Wall of China. Honestly, I never thought there would be a guide to tell us all these information in the first place for a public bus and at this considerably cheap price. He would tell you the do and don`ts; where to get the best view; the time to come back for the last bus; etc. It was an unexpected good service. Some of the walkway could be quite steep. And the steps are knee high. It was quite tough. Firstly, I thought of going to the highest point. Gave up when I reached the 5th station. (9th being the highest).Nevertheless, despite the hardship of climbing it. It was still an adventure. After returning from the North Side. I had some sausages before I went to the South Side. Sausage are the the staple snack food for the Chinese. You will see it everywhere.
Songzhuang Art Gallery
Beijing is an art lover’s bliss. The city has found a release for its coy nature in form of some discerning art. The well-elucidated colorful strokes of every painting upgrade this otherwise grey capital. Art and history are two things that are well cherished in Beijing. A city with such historical charm has managed to attract many artists. The growing artist colonies stay proof to this. Songzhuang art colony is a classic example. Street art as a culture is taking root in Beijing, though slowly and restrictively. I say restrictively because every district here is home to a limited number of artists.
Be picked up from your hotel by an English-speaking tour guide and private vehicle at 08:30 am. Drive 1.5 hours to Ming Tombs. The Ming Tombs are the final resting place of 13 Ming Dynasty emperors, along with 23 empresses and a number of concubines. It has a history of over 600 years. Surrounded by mountains on three sides, the Ming Tombs feature splendid landscape. Chang Ling (the Tomb of Chang) was built by the third emperor of the Ming Dynasty in 1409 AD. Chang Ling is the largest tomb in architectural scale. The hall of Chang Ling is the largest structure of nanmu wood in China.
After a much long walk around 798 Art Zone, I decided to catch a quick break at a former imperial garden of Beihai Park which is barely 16 km away. Don't miss this place as it contains numerous historically-important structures, palaces, and temples. First built in the 11th century, it is among the largest of all Chinese gardens. But what excited me the most was the captivating 3D artwork in the park known as "Broken Bridge". The artist couldn't have been more literal. Situated in the northwest of the Forbidden City, this place is beautiful and qualifies for the most relaxing hikes in the city.
Beijing Capital International Airport
We flew out of Beijing Capital International Airport on Air Koryo. For the "worst ranked airline in the world" it was a hell of a lot better than United! Yes, even the food was better. And the beer was free. This is not as much of a compliment to Air Koryo, North Koreas national airline, but an affront to United. Get your shit together guys.
Songzhuang Art Community
I then went to Songzhuang art colony which is I have a complete bias for. It is located in Tongzhou District and is the most famous and biggest artist community in Beijing. Painters, sculptors, performing artists, musicians, composers, writers, photographers, name it and you will meet them all in this single colony. It is in true sense home to about thousand artists. It used to be a laid back quite town but has today managed to emerge as the most sought after centre in China’s contemporary art scene. A tranquil place where all dreamers live next to each other! If you are looking for an environment blessed for deep inner contemplation then Songzhuang is what you are looking for. It is the best place to meet the artists, learn some of their struggles and stories of great achievements. You can begin your trip with a visit to the Artists Reception Center on Xiaopu Jie at the village square or to the Songzhuang Art Museum off Xiaopu Jie in northern Songzhuang.
It is the most talked about street in Beijing among foreigners. Well, I guess that`s why I see a lot of foreigners here. Wangfujing is famous for its food street. Along this street you will find many stall selling all kinds of food. Even some weird weird food items you don't usually find. Tips: It gets cheaper as you walk further.
Easily accessible by subway to Hujialou Station. Chaoyang Theatre is right next to the Exit C. My advice; get a discount online instead of purchasing through the counter by yourself. Tips: Actually the hall is not so big. You don't have to buy the VIP seats. Even if you buy the normal seats, you would have a fine view of the show. Be there early to get the first row of the normal seats. The whole show lasted for around 1hour 45 mins.
The historic significance of the Forbidden City lies in the Chinese imperial palace, dating back to the Ming Dynasty till the end of the Qing Dynasty. It is located in the center of Beijing, China, and currently houses the Palace Museum. For almost 500 years, it served as the home of emperors and their households, as well as the ceremonial and political center of Chinese government. The Forbidden City was declared a World Heritage Site in 1987 and is listed by UNESCO as the largest collection of preserved ancient wooden structures in the world.
National Art Museum of China
Just 6 km further is the National Art Museum of China and is located on the Wu Si Street. It is focused on displaying, collecting and researching the works of the artists in China modern times. The museum is massive covering an area of 30,000 square meters. There are totally 13 exhibition halls in the museum. The collection is interesting with the old-meets-new concept reflected in the art form. The political and cultural dimensions are well balanced which came as a surprise. The display varieties include excellent works with different time features and different art styles like Chinese paintings, canvases, prints, sculptures, picture posters, pencil sketches, iconography, watercolor paintings and more. It also includes the traditional art works like puppets, shadow play works, kites, mud toys, embroideries and so on. It is not the most beautiful museums you will see but definitely worth a visit. Travel Tip- Make sure to carry your passport for entry.
Museum of Beijing Stone Inscription Art
It is located in the grounds of Five-Pagoda Temple. The museum is arranged on all four sides of the pagoda. It is divided into six sections: comprehensive stone inscription, tablets of merits and virtues, epitaph, calligraphy, temples and guildhalls, and stone carvings. From applauding famous officials for their good deeds on the tablets to 300 inscriptions on tombstones all from different dynasties, made this an highlight of my imperial trip. The guildhalls has collection of inscriptions from provincial and commercial associations while the stone carving section showcase the Yuan Dynasty dragon and phoenix slab stones, and other statues from the Ming and Qing dynasties. This place successfully preserves the history of the many great dynasties.