As I have written before, I spent 1 week traveling around Beijing alone as a solo traveler. Leading up to this trip I was a bit nervous about being alone for a week in country that was completely foreign to me. I surprised myself and had the time of my life in Beijing. In this post I want to give you some of the highlights, things I loved and must sees in Beijing. Here they are in no particular order;
1. Bike Through The Hutong
Rent a bike and explored the Wudaoying Hutong! The Hutong are a cluster of ancient alleyways that existed years ago. They include many homes with colourful doorways and little side street food stands or shops. This Wudaoying Hutong can be found near the Confucius Temple and is a short subway ride from the city centre. A great place to rent a bike is called Natooke which is located on the main street in the Wudaoying Hutong. Also on this street is a YHA hostel and an awesome Cat Cafe called Sirena. This Cat Cafe is definitely a must see! Sirena is home to 15 + adorable little kitties. The food is delicious and service is good. Cat Cafes are a phenomenon in China and slightly strange and foreign to the western world. Yes make sure you put exploring the Hutong by bike on your list!
2. The Confucius Temple
This gorgeous temple is located in the Wudaoying Hutong. Once you have finished exploring the Hutong you can walk or bike over to this temple. Elaborately decorated with beautiful courtyards this temple is definitely a must see. Plan to spend about 2 hours taking in the history of the temple.
3. Visit Tiananmen Square
Tiananmen Square is located in the heart of the city. You can’t go to Beijing and not see Tiananmen Square! It’s the symbolic heart of the Chinese universe. Walk through the Imperial Garden to the Gate of Heavenly Peace where you will see the infamous portrait of Mao.
4, The Forbidden City
After you’ve see Tiananmen Square you can venture through the Gate of Heavenly Peace and then come to the Forbidden City. The Forbidden City is another must see! You will have to pay to get in an see it (it’s half price for students with a valid student ID card). It’s well worth the price and even better if you can go on the off season and avoid the crowds.
5. Go to a Pekking Duck Restaurant
Going to a Pekking Duck Restaurant is an experience you will never forget! The cooks bring the duck out near your table and carve it right before your eyes! You take the duck and wrap it up in circular rice patties and enjoy. It is delicious! Enjoy with your choice of other amazing cuisine. One Pekking Duck Restaurant to check out is Quanjude Roast Duck Restaurant. This is one among the many you’ll find in the city.
6. Go to the 798 Art District
The 798 Art District is a little ways out of the city centre but it is well worth the trip. Here you will find hundreds of artist studios and exhibits. Being a visual artist myself I spent more than half a day here. There is so much beauty to behold in this area. Well worth it!
7. Go See an Acrobat Show
While watching one of these acrobat shows my jaw was dropping and I was on the edge of my seat the whole time!! The show is a mixture of traditional Chinese Dance and acrobatic stunts. One of the stunts included men on motorcycles driving in formation around a giant metal sphere. Check out the Flying Acrobats at the Chaoyang Theatre.
8. Enjoy Some Delicious Street Food
Hands down one of the best things about Beijing is the street food! You can find little shops and carts all over the city. They serve anything from delicious dumplings to Conje (a watery rice dish) to Scorpion on a stick! Yes I did eat a scorpion!! You don’t have to eat a scorpion but do try some of the other delicious options.
9. Take a Tour of the Great Wall of China
This is a given, you can’t go to China and not see the Great Wall! Most hotels and hostels can book a tour for you. There are many walk in tour companies that advertise along the streets in the city centre. The Great Wall is only a 1.5 hour drive from Beijing. Don’t miss the Great Wall. It’s one of the top 10 wonders of the world!
10. Visit the Temple of Heaven Park
One of the largest parks in Beijing, the Temple of Heaven Park is a quiet place for many Beijing residents. While wandering through this park you can see people singing Chinese opera and playing beautiful stringed instruments. The temple of heaven is the main attraction and is located in the middle of the park.
That’s it for the Ultimate Guide to 1 Week in Beijing. I hope you get the chance to go and taste, see and experience all the Beijing has to offer. Seriously one week doesn’t cut it! Happy traveling!