Beijing or Peking, as it was previously known, is the capital of the People’s Republic of China. It is one of the most crowded cities in the world with more than 20.5 million inhabitants, with only Shanghai to beat it in size. Beijing is however, the nation’s political, cultural and educational centre. Beijing means Northern Capital in Mandarin, but it has held many names over the part 3000 years being the home of several of the different dynasties controlling China and up til now, being a republic with Mao as their leader. The remains of these emperors are one of the reasons why a trip to this part of the world is recommended.
Beijing is the host of one of the seven wonders of the world, the great wall. A massive wall built along an east-to-west line across the historical northern borders of China in part to protect the Chinese Empire against intrusions. The Great Wall started out as several walls being built as early as the 7th century before our time. These walls were later joined together and made bigger and stronger, are now collectively referred to as the Great Wall. The Great Wall itself stretches from Shanhaiguan in east to Lop Lake in west, and was meant as a protection against Inner Mongolia. The length of the Wall is debatable, but according to a BBC archaeological survey, has concluded that the Ming walls measure 8,850 km. Where 6.259 km is actual wall and the rest is trenches and/or natural defensive barriers like mountains and rivers. A part of the wall that can be recommended is Hiking Jinshanling great wall, which is located a few hours outside of the city. Furthermore Beijing is the home of The Forbidden City home of the Ming and Quing dynasties and as an insider tip, after visiting the city run across the road and into Jingshan park and walk up the tallest hill. Here you will find the most amazing view of The Forbidden City.
Another empirical home worth a visit is the Summer Palace located just outside Beijing. Here one could easily spent a day in beautiful nature and historical exciting surroundings. With its thousand temples Beijing sounds like a city for archaeological students, but Beijing is the far east mixed with the west, it has the modern new as a host for the Olympics the streets of Beijing has been cleaned up and the city has lots of brand new malls and city parts but, like described above if you look for old China it can be found not far away if you visit the old Hutton areas places allover the city.
There are nine million bicycles in Beijing, that is a fact, “a fact we can’t deny” as Katie Melua sings. And Beijing haslong been well known for the number of bicycles on its streets. Although motor traffic has created a great deal of congestion and bicycle use has declined, bicycles are still an important form of local transportation. Large numbers of cyclists can be seen on almost every road in the city, and most of the main roads have bicycle lanes. Being relatively flat, cycling is a convenient mean of transportation, and a cycle can be rented for cheap money but remember in China the jungle law is what is practiced in the streets. (if it is bigger than you, you move). This means that it can be a bit overwhelming trying to get around around the city along with the 20 million other people and the additional tourists. If you are not a dare-devil or interested in getting a few adrenalin rushes and near death experiences once you get the hang of it the Subway system can take you wherever you want to go in Beijing. Taxi is an option as well, but get the hotel to write the places you want to go in Chinese. Should you find yourself lost, you might be in trouble, because even though the people on the street will be more than happy to help you, if you look lost, none of the people I encountered were able to read a map.
While a capital is beautiful and exciting in all kind of weather, the best time to explore Beijing, in my opinion, would be springtime, when the is cooler and usually good at this time of year. In spring there are fewer crowds than at peak times and more deals to be found. Shoppingwise if you like markets, and deals Panjiayuan is an antique market where you can find things in every price class – other markets are Silk market and pearl market, do not forget to bargain. for Boutique shopping Dashanzi 789 located in the art district is a personal favorite.
And in planning a trip to this ancient capital, why not go in March, being the time for the Lantern Festival which celebrates the end of Chinese new year. During the Lantern Festival there will be midnight parades around in the city. And if not, April is another good suggestion. At this time the Qingming festival is on, celebrating and greeting the spring, and furthermore Flowering Crabapple Festival in Yuan Dynasty City Wall Relics Park worthy of a visit. And while being in a cultural mood the most famous dish and must try while visiting this capital is Peking duck. There are thousand restaurants serving this meal around the city, but Bianyifang is the oldest place in the city to serve it, otherwise Quanjude comes highly recommended. If in the mood for a lighter meal the Night market is a definite must, where you can have every kind of food from insects to seahorses. And if into the Chinese way smelly tofu is a delicacy. In terms of drinking spots Nanluoguxiang is the perfect place to be heading. This is located just east of Hauhai, and is one of the oldest places in the city and the hosts lot of intimate cafes and bars.
If this sound like an adventure you would like, then join Mulan in the quest to explore China.