As the country has opened up to foreign visitors more and more, especially since the 2008 Olympic Games, Beijing has been the focus of attention for many China-bound tourists. Like many other major cities in the world, it has an array of famous landmarks, but after a while, they can all seem a little underwhelming, especially to world-weary travellers who want some genuine excitement.
To try and make your visit to Beijing a little more exciting, we’ve picked a few sights and attractions that show you what the city’s really like, from beautiful Snow festival gorges or the red carpet HK Film Festival.
The Forbidden City
Constructed in the early 15th century, this part of the capital has 980 different buildings, many of which centred on the imperial palace which was home to the Ming Dynasty. As a good place to see traditional, palatial Chinese architecture, some parts of the complex are a little quiet and eerie!
Flickr Photo By: Uncornered Market
In a city awash with museums, this one is probably the best and most authentic place to learn about how modern Beijing came to be. Some of the exhibits date back thousands of years, while others give an insight into how the city has developed to become the busy metropolis that it is today.
Flickr Photo By: Sftrajan
Baiyuan Guan (True Taoist Monastery)
Although Beijing might not seem like the sort of place where religious imagery is commonplace, the city has plenty of spiritual retreats which are far removed from the sea of skyscrapers. Baiyuan Guan is one of the best, as it teaches you about how important Taoism was to the development of China.
Flickr Photo By: Jean-philippe Gams
Baoguo Si Market
Central Beijing is now awash with chain stores you might expect to find in London, New York and Paris, but this market is a good place to pick up some traditional Chinese wares. Spices, foods, clothes and medicine are all readily available, but the best time to go is on a Thursday when it’s not so busy. Look around this area for some delicious and weird Chinese street foods!
Biyunsi at Xiangshan Mountain
Known as the Temple of Azure Clouds, this spiritual hideaway is made all the more striking by its location on the side of Xiangshan Mountain. Here, you’re miles away from central Beijing and all the noise, but you’re around 100 metres from the ground, allowing you to look out on the city. The temple itself is built over six levels, has over 500 different statues and reminders of its long history.
Flickr Photo By: johnnyringo82
If you’re looking to visit Beijing any time soon, keep this list in mind but also leave space open for extra sites and activities. The capital is more than just traffic, people and trips to The Great Wall. Get lost in the winding lanes of the old town and hunt down some delicious authentic Chinese food (like Peking Duck) around the city’s central shopping area.
Have you ever been to Beijing? What are your favourite “delights”? Let us know in the comments below!