Must sees in Beijing in 72 hours – Part 1
The ancient capital of China, drenched in history. No-one can deny that Beijing is one of those fascinatingly enticing cities. I’ve heard many people say that they’d love to go, yet are intimidated by its size and what it has to offer a visitor. Fear not, as I bring you a two-part article in order to unravel the mysteries and history of Beijing, in a 72 hour visit!
In this first part, I recommend the best, more modern sights to visit in Beijing, which despite not having the westernised feel of Shanghai, are no less worthy of a visit.
1. Tiananmen Square – 1 hour
Located centrally in Beijing, this huge square with controversial history is really difficult to miss. It covers an area of 440,000m2 and is the third largest city square in the world. It’s an interesting experience having your bags security checked to enter the square, as even as recently as October 2013 there have been security incidents around the square. If you want to, you can also enter Mao Zedong’s mausoleum (before 12pm most days) and view his body which was embalmed in 1976 and laid in a crystal coffin. On his birthday (26th December) and the day he passed away (9th September) it can get very busy here with people coming to pay their respects to the Great Helmsman.
2. Qianmen – 2 hours
A great place to head either at night or during the day for food, entertainment and a good look around. It’s full of shops, restaurants and a tram which goes down the centre of the road, with all the buildings, including a Starbucks, housed in traditional-style buildings.
3. Silk Market – 2 hours
For the shoppers amongst you, the Silk Market is a great place to pick up gifts and souvenirs of your time in Beijing. Many vendors will approach you, which is part of the whole experience. If you’re looking to get a suit, dress or shirt in 72 hours, head here first so they can take your measurements and make it before you leave!
4. Beijing Olympic Park – 2 hours
I had London2012 tickets and wasn’t planning to use them until I visited Beijing Olympic Park. The scale and grandeur suddenly made me realise what I was going to miss out on. The Bird’s Nest National Stadium is a beautiful building and thoroughly deserves all the plaudits and international recognition that it gained. There’s the opportunity to take a tour around it as well, however, I believe it’s somewhere best experienced at a sporting event, which isn’t so difficult as even English Premier League teams such as Arsenal and Manchester City have both played at this venue.
The Watercube, which held the swimming and diving events is still open as a water venue and water park and you can pay admission to swim there.
5. Beijing Planning Museum – 1 hour
An unlikely recommendation I am sure, but I believe it’s definitely worth a look around. It maps all the development of Beijing from an ancient to modern city, with many informative displays available. The best thing about this museum however, is the scale model of Beijing which is on the top floor. You can’t quite act “Godzilla” over it, but all the landmarks are clear to see.
Check out the next Beijing post for more historical places to visit.
China, notoriously difficult in its visa processes, has recently made itself more accessible to foreign tourists for 45 countries by offering 72 hour visa-free access to several cities throughout China when arriving by air.
Having started with Shanghai, this policy is now in place in 4 other major cities, Beijing, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Chongqing; Dalian and Shenyang are 2 more cities who will soon be granted the policy early in 2014.
This series will give you ideas about what you can do in your 72 hours in each city and introduce China as a new stopover destination for anyone wishing to break up their long haul journey, as the flights are, for example, around 12 hours to London and 12 hours to New Zealand.
Are you interested in going to China? Plan your trip now with the China specialists.
The visa itself is still a transit visa, so those wishing to use it must have an onward ticket to a third country, declare their intentions to their airline and must not leave the particular city itself. For more information on the visa-free rules, check this page out.
Bennett from The Further Adventures of Bennett planned to spend 6 months teaching English in China and left 2 years later. She can currently be found residing in New Zealand, having swapped teaching children English for babysitting dogs and cats and you can follow her on Twitter.
To read more about Bennett’s Chinese experience, head over to Amazon “Add Your Brick to the Great Wall” which is a collection of experience and advice for anyone wanting to live, work or travel throughout China.