Must sees in Beijing in 72 hours – Part 2
In the first part of this article, I showed you the more modern side to Beijing. In this list of 5, we hit the must see places in Beijing of a more historical and cultural nature.
1. Ancient Observatory – 1 hour
Next on my “random museums to see” in Beijing is the Ancient Observatory. It’s a small museum, but with many different instruments and information about how astronomy was done since ancient China until the modern day. It’s a great place to look if you’re interested in the development of astronomy.
2. Hutongs and the Drum and Bell Towers – 2 hours
Further than Jingshan Park you have Shichahai which is an area with three lakes and many, many buildings and alleyways packed closely together; these alleys are known as hutongs and are very famous in Beijing for being old and narrow. In winter, the lakes in Shichahai usually freeze and you can go ice-skating and sledging on them.
Just a little bit further than Shichahai you have the Drum and Bell Towers close together. These are accessible by steep staircases so go careful! The Drum Tower offers a better view back towards the Forbidden City, as well as drum beating demonstrations throughout the day.
3. Forbidden City – (The Palace Museum) – 3 hours
One of those “why would you not go there?” attractions. The place is huge and filled with many alleyways to get lost in. I’ve visited the Forbidden City three times and probably haven’t seen all of it! Inside the City itself, there are also other mini museums dotted all around, including the Clock Museum with many ornate clocks from all over the world on display. At the exit of the Forbidden City there is a Jingshan Park with a hill you can climb and see back across the Forbidden City and to Tiananmen Square, if the smog decides to be good to you!
4. Temple of Heaven – 2 hours
Most people hear this and think of this wonderful building:
However, this most famous of temples is actually called the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests. The Temple of Heaven itself covers all the different buildings in the park itself, including the Temple of Sun, the Temple of Earth and the Temple of Moon. The park is fantastic to walk around and all the architecture is stunning, so really take your time to visit the whole complex. There are often people doing tai chi, running and even kite flying in the park, so it’s well used by the local population as a communal area too.
5. The Great Wall – day trip (able to do something in the evening)
There is an old Chinese saying: 不到长城非好汉 (bú dào Chángchéng fēi hǎohàn) – “He who has never been to the Great Wall is not a true man.”
I’m sure many people who visit Beijing all have the Great Wall on their minds as well. The main decision is deciding which section you would most like to visit. The highly advertised Badaling section is usually filled with domestic tourists, so it’s wise to steer clear of this part of the wall. Better sections include Mutianyu (which also has a toboggan run to go down the hill again), Jinshanling and Simatai. All require a fair bit of exertion to climb the steps, so wear suitable footwear.
Do you prefer modern or ancient Beijing?
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.