So I’ve been away because I went to China and I’m so excited to share all about my traveling experiences!
Handy tips and info
The first thing I want to point out is that if you’re traveling to China you have to take transportation into consideration! It’s a huge and crowded country so as you can imagine, booking train tickets for long distance rides can be a pain if you don’t plan it beforehand. This is definitely my first tip for anyone moving around China. I’ll share a lot more about my transportation experiences once I get all of my photos and videos back so you can see how it is to travel on a student budget in China. IT WAS DEFINITELY A COMPLETELY NEW ADVENTURE! (you’ll see what I mean if you keep up with my upcoming posts). So, Beijing was my last stop but the first one I’ll share about. Beijing is a huge and modern city with a population of approximately 19 million. (According to the 2010 Chinese Government Statistics Agency). Beijing is the city where you can find a lot of cultural insight about ancient dynasties and the spot close to the Majestic Great Wall. Beijing has a lot of foreigners so you’ll probably find hotels very easily if you book it beforehand. However, there are some hotels/hostels that are exclusively for Chinese people and don’t usually like to rent to foreigners. We encountered this as we were walking around in a very touristic area looking for a place to stay, and people at these Chinese hotels were usually very rude to us even if we spoke in Chinese to them. So my second tip is to book a hostel before arriving. Lucky for us, we found this cool hostel for foreigners with a great location and a good environment. The name is Leo Hostel and they’re located at a very cool street and just 10 minutes walk away from Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City and Qianmen subway station. They also offer good tours to their guests. My third tip is to avoid tours or just try to be careful with the tours people offer. It’s very hard to find a good tour as many tours in Beijing can be very expensive and most people will try to swindle foreigners. Unless you don’t want to do your research about how to get to a specific place or if you don’t have enough time, you might be better off taking a tour. There’s a difference though between a tour for foreigners and a chinese tour. Chinese tours are obviously a lot cheaper; but famous for making several stops to take you shopping and this can get annoying at some point. I strongly recommend you to get to the place by yourself, taxis are not that expensive and the subway charges 2 rmb to any station.
1. Tiananmen Square: Beijing is a very nationalist city, and you can experience the whole nationalist environment by going to the famous flag-raising ceremony that takes place at the Tiananmen Square every morning around 6am. If you want to be at the ceremony, you can either take a cab, walk or book it on a tour. If you just want to visit the place you can take the subway and get off at tiananmen dong and tiananmen xi station.You can also get off at qianmen station, go through exit A or B, and walk north.
No entrance fee.
2. The great wall: The great wall was built in different years, first during the time of the first emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang, however little of those remains exist, as it was rebuilt again and again. The existing parts that we can visit today were rebuilt during the Ming Dynasty. Visiting the Great Wall is a must if you come to China, and depending on what you’re looking for you can go to different spots at the great wall. The most famous ones and touristic ones are Badaling ( 八达岭) and Mutianyu (慕田峪). If you prefer a secret place or camping at the great wall you can ask at Leo Hostel (or your hostel), they offer a tour to a secret place where you pretty much have the great wall to yourself and you can always meet up with other travellers at your hostel to plan a camping tour where you can sleep at the great wall.
Directions: You can arrange a tour, take a taxi, or the bus depending to which spot you want to go to.
Entrance fee: 45 rmb
4. Beijing Olympic Park: I had to visit the Olympic Park. Ever since I saw the Beijing Olympic Stadium I knew I wanted to be there someday. The famous Bird’s Nest along with National Aquatics Center are just stunning pieces of architecture that take your breath away.
Directions: Take the subway and get on line 8 (the green one), get off at Olympic Sports Center.
Entrance fee: No fee, unless you want to go inside the stadiums.
Bird’s nest: 50 rmb Water Cube: 30 rmb
Water Park: 200 rmb Swimming only: 50 rmb
5. Forbidden City: It was the imperial palace of the Ming and Qing Dynasties. Since both dynasties believed in Tibetan Buddhism, the palace was full of buddhist sculptures that you can still appreciate at the museums. The palace is a great place to get a clear image of what the royalty lifestyle was like. You can visit the main court and important rooms where the families used to receive foreign guests as well as admire ancient musical instruments and weapons.
Directions: Get off a Qianmen or Tiananmen station, walk through tiananmen plaza and you will get to the entrance.
Entrance fee: 40 rmb / 25 rmb with student ID
6. Lama Temple: A temple and monastery of tibetan buddhism. Once the court of Prince Yong (future Yongzheng emperor), the building mixing a Han Chinese style with the Tibetan buddhism temples styles was transformed into a monastery. Tourists are now allowed to visit the temples, but are not allowed take photos inside.
Directions: Take line 2 (the blue one) and get off at Yonghegong station and take exit C. Turn left as you exit and keep walking straight for 5 minutes and you’ll find the big entrance.
Entrance fee: 25 rmb/ 13 rmb with student ID.
7. Hutong Tour: A hutong ( 胡同) is a narrow alley that is usually related to old Chinese villages in Beijing. If you love history, you can get a ride in a pedicab around the most ancient and popular hutongs in Beijing with a tour guide explaining historical facts. The tour price is 50 to 100 yuans per person. You can find the tour guides after you exit the Forbidden city where you will see a lot of Chinese guys offering this tour. Never accept the first price, 40 or 50 is probably the lowest you can get depending on your bargaining skills and don’t pay more than 100, it’s definitely not worth more than that.
I wasn’t able to visit many places as I wanted but these are the places I went to and info you might probably use if you want to go.
Here is a video of my trip so you can get a better visual idea of the places I visited.
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