Get to Know the Best of Beijing
It's your first trip to Beijing, China and you have a longer list of things to do and places to see
than you do days in your itinerary. Which absolute must-see classic
sights of Beijing would make your friends gasp in horror if you didn't
visit them? Well, the big five that turn up on almost every top ten
list about Beijing are the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, Summer
Palace, Temple of Heaven, and of course the Great Wall of China.
These classics all need a place in your itinerary, but save some time
for the more obscure as well; they're usually surprisingly delightful
breaks from the typically more serious tourist fare. From biking the
alleyways of the hutong neighborhoods to ferreting out the best Beijing
duck in the city, there are other must-do experiences in Beijing. A
combination of the classic and the surprising is sure to make your
summer vacation memorable.
As you start to prepare, remember that summer in Beijing is
hot; in fact, it is the hottest and rainiest time of the year in the
captivating capital of China. Don't let that deter you this summer;
rain showers are usually brief. Bring your sunscreen and umbrella,
break out the shades, dress light, and you're all set to explore this
fascinating city, no matter what the weather.
Experience the Classic Must-See Beijing
There are two types of travelers, those who go to a place to do
all the classic things, like visit the Eiffel Tower when in Paris, and
those who travel the unbeaten path, like finding that funky underground
club in Prague. If you fall into the first category, then a visit to
Beijing, China will include these sights for an authentic tourist
The Forbidden City
is on everyone's must-see list when visiting Beijing. It is also known
as the Palace Museum, since 24 Chinese emperors' palaces make up the
museum. It is among the five most important palace complexes in the
world; the White House is also among those five to give you an idea of
its significance to China. A truly magnificent site, it houses a vast
collection of Chinese historical and cultural relics.
Of course, no one can go to Beijing without visiting the Great Wall of China
The Badaling section of the Wall, a little north of Beijing, is the
most visited, and therefore the most crowded, because it has been
preserved the best and it offers breathtaking views. This part of the
wall has a steep mountain slope with tortuous roads, which proved
beneficial in Chinese history by making it a military stronghold
against those who were the opposition.
Tiananmen Square is by far one of the most important places to visit
while in Beijing. The combination of its structural beauty and gorgeous
surrounding make it the perfect location for photography buffs. The
Square plays a large part Chinese culture where a multitude of
important events have taken place. In modern times, it was also the
site of the deadly Tiananmen Square repression of protesting college
The Summer Palace is a tranquil and magical location that many
visitors are surprised to find they actually prefer to the Forbidden
City. It is an area of natural beauty; pavilions, halls, and gardens,
dot Longevity Hill. The other side is fronted by Kunming Lake, where
visitors can take a serene boat ride. The park can get crowded, so try
to plan for times with less traffic to truly experience it at its best.
The Temple of Heaven was important to the emperors of the Ming
Dynasty and was where they held the Heaven Worship Ceremony. It remains
the most important sacred building in China. Its majesty is because it
is the earthly home of Heaven, therefore nothing greater on Earth could
be built for man. Today, it is open to the public and is the most
iconic representation of ancient Eastern tradition in China.
Discover Beijing off the Beaten Path
If you are on a tour, you'll generally have a limited amount of free
time to explore Beijing in a more personal way, so making the most of
those precious moments is important. Rather than the Chinese Opera, for
example, you could take in the mind-boggling action at the Tianqiao
Acrobatics Theater. Try squeezing a few of these other items into your
itinerary to add a little Zen and local flavor to your whirlwind
Rather than being herded through one of the few remaining hutong
neighborhoods in Beijing, rent a bike from Beijing Bike Rental Company
or join a guided bike tour
and wind your way through the lanes and alleyways of the hutong near
the Drum and Bell Towers. If that sounds like a little too much freedom
for you, ask about a hutong bike tour at Cycle China; you'll still
experience more on a bike.
Beijing duck is a must while in Beijing and it is easy to come
by. Do yourself a favor though and seek out Huajia Yiyuan restaurant on
your bike ride through the hutong. Their Yongzheng Roast Duck recipe
dates back to the Qing dynasty. Tantalize your taste buds with the best
of traditional Beijing duck. Those who prefer a hands-on culincary
experience can learn how to make authentic Chinese food in Beijing cooking class
, taught by an expert chef.
Behind the Forbidden City, you can take a short early morning walk up
the hill to Jingshan Park, which dates back to the Ming Dynasty. The
cooler air and natural beauty of the park combine with stunning views
of the Palace below to fill your senses. Join in the graceful flow of
tai chi with the many Chinese who start their day in this fengshui
No one should visit Beijing without experiencing some aspect of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)
What a perfect time to try an authentic Eastern healing modality at a
reasonable price. Get a tuina massage at a local clinic, a massage at
one of the many Dragonfly locations, or even a reflexology foot massage
at a Liangzi Foot Body Massage Center.
Be Mindful of Traditions of Respect and Honor
One of the most important pieces to traveling to new countries
is having a general understanding of Chinese etiquette, so you don't
accidentally insult the people of the country you are visiting. This is
especially true in many Asian cultures where manners and customs are
highly valued; Beijing, China is one of these places. One resource that
can help is It's All Chinese to Me: An Overview of Culture & Etiquette in China
The first thing you should understand is that there are three
categories of etiquette with quite a few customs in each, so you can
just brush up on the ones you feel you may be most likely to
You will surely want to know about daily life etiquette, which
represents the proper way to introduce yourself, how to make
conversation, how to participate in dance, how to give a gift, and
more. This is the category that will be most useful, because it deals
with the day to day interactions with local people. Knowing what
events, sites, and situations you may to find yourself in before
traveling will give you an idea of what types of etiquette protocols
you will want to memorize.
This is where the second and third categories come into play; festival customs and celebration etiquette, and Chinese Business Etiquette
If you are planning to visit Beijing on business, it is important to
know the proper way to behave and speak in negotiations, conferences,
and more. If you are looking forward to one of the many festivals,
learning the appropriate customs will ensure you donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t offend
anyone and will also allow you to join in the celebrations properly.
While these are main areas of etiquette you will probably encounter,
remember that the overriding principles of all customs in China are
respect and honor. Other sub-categories of etiquette permeate every
area of life. Home, job, and public relations etiquette each have their
own governing customs too, although you are less likely to need those.
This is a culture with a low tolerance for shenanigans and rude
behavior, so enjoy yourself, but be a good guest.
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