A long weekend getaway to Beijing was one of the best few days of my travel experience here in China. I have always wanted to visit this busy, ancient and cultured city. I finally got the chance when I decided to head there for a long weekend break, here’s how and what I did when I visited the Chinese capital.
I flew using an online travel service Ctrip, a popular all in one flight/train/tour/hotel search engine. Ctrip has it’s own easy to use and efficient app for anyone traveling around Asia. I booked very last minute flights at between 700-800Rmb each way. As I decided to fly incredibly last minute it’s always a gamble as to whether you are able to get the best price but i was pretty happy with what I paid, especially as it’s a popular time to visit!
I also booked my accommodation as I was waiting at the airport to depart, through Ctrip and stayed at The Sanlitun Inn located 10 minutes walk outside of Sanlitun main area and 10 minutes away from line 2 subway stop Dashitiao. I found it had what I needed and I stayed in one of the budget rooms with bed and bathroom for 200rmb per night. It was all I wanted as I didn’t plan to spend much time in the room. I also got A/C which was a plus!
I would always encourage people to ‘plan as they go‘ it’s the best way and comes with less frustration. I’d also say make sure you have an idea of what you want to see from a weekend trip, as you do have to think about the timing. I knew I wanted to see The Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, eat Peking Duck and obviously walk The Great Wall! With this in mind, anything else I managed to see and do was a bonus!
I arrived on the Saturday afternoon, checked in and instantly made my way to the Subway to head over to Tienanmen Square. The subway is easy and efficient to use, download this app to make your trip effortless when it comes to getting around the city.
Day 2 and my first full day of exploring. Sunday I headed out early, around 6:30am to head towards my first checkpoint: The infamous Forbidden City! Getting up at this time also allows you to catch a glimpse of early Beijingers lives. The elderly usually gather to take part in dancing, taichi and games at this time. You’ll see morning commuters and catch an authentic insight into daily life of the people here. I paid 60rmb per person in peak times to enter The Forbidden City but off peak is 30rmb pp. I spent a couple of hours walking around the compound which is huge. You can’t possibly cover all of it in a weekend trip unless you dedicate a huge amount of time, which I didn’t have. I streamlined straight through to the end and made my way up through Zhongshan Park (10rmb per ticket) to get a view of Beijing from above, which if your lucky weather wise, is amazing!
Once I’d taken in the incredible view I headed over towards the Temple of Heaven at subway stop Tiantandongmen . I grabbed some lunch before I entered the park and then made my way to my next checkpoint: The Temple of Heaven – 35rmb entry ticket.
I finished around mid afternoon so still had plenty if time to fit in some other unplanned things! I enjoyed just walking round parts if the city taking in the atmosphere and sights. In the evening I ventured over to Sanlitun shopping area, an expat hub which had tones of malls, shops and restaurants as well as clubs and bars. My mission though, was Peking Duck. We found a small bar that served roast duck. For half a duck I paid 170 Rmb which is a little pricey but when in Beijing…
P.s. It was definitely worth it!
For my last full day I had planned one thing and one thing only. The Great Wall of China! I had found a tour via another blogger – a private hire car service which you can read more about here. I was short on time and was willing to pay a little more to make sure I got to the wall smoothly and easily. I visited the Mutianyu section of the Wall, as I wanted a little less of a touristy experience and I can honestly say it’s one of the best things I have done in my travel experiences. It seems to get mixed reviews but I had dreamt of visiting the iconic wall since I even thought about visiting different countries. It’s one of the main things I wanted to make sure I saw during my China adventures and I was left in awe. We headed there early around 7:15am and I was on the wall by 8:30am. Just in time to catch the sun coming up behind the mountains, creating a misty cloud around the wall in the distance. Truly a spectacular sight!
We were finished by 12:00pm, I took a toboggan down to the bottom of the wall and headed back to Beijing. I asked if I could be dropped of at Sichahuai and my driver was more than happy to help. As I had only planned one thing on this day, the rest was all unplanned and a bonus!
I explored Beijing’s famous Hutong districts. A collection of very old streets as buildings untouched by modern development as they are located around the centre of the city. Some great photo opportunities and chances to imagine the locals daily life years ago.
I managed to visit Beijing’s drum tower which served as the central time keeping for the citizens back in the day. I paid 20rmb but you can buy a combo ticket for 30rmb to visit the drum as bell towers located opposite each other. They have regular drum performances throughout the day and is definitely worth a visit if your looking for something extra to do during your stay.
The evening I spent eating duck and lots of street food over at Wangfujing and taking some night time snaps.
My last half day to explore and I decided to head to Beihai park to visit the Buddhist White Dagoba there and experience a little nature before I left. I paid 10rmb for the park ticket and 10rmb to enter the Dagoba. A charming little(well very big) park that offers old temples, traditional architecture, boating, dancing, singing and a huge white Buddhist Dagoba located in the middle of the lake. I also paid 10rmb to ride on one of the ferries one way taking people across to the Island. The perfect way to spend my last few hours.
I caught a flight in the evening back to Shanghai and was left feeling completely in awe of this great city. True, cultured, authentic China that I had always dreamt of seeing. I learnt that the Chinese people love steps, stone and squares! If you haven’t thought about heading to Beijing, I’d thoroughly recommend it!
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