Beyond the tourist traps and famous attractions, there are a range of stunning hidden gems to be found throughout China’s capital city. Alice from Wherever I Want shares her top tips for making the most of a trip to Beijing.
We asked some of our favourite travel bloggers to share any destination that they’ve fallen in love with and tell us what makes it special to them. This month our City Spotlight feature comes from Alice from Wherever I Want who gives us the lowdown on Beijing, China, sharing her tips for discovering what this capital has to offer to new visitors.
Beijing: Exploring The City’s Lesser Known Locations
If you don’t think of Beijing when you think of world capitals, you should start! Beijing, capital of China, is one of the most historic and populous national capitals in the world. It has an amazing mix of royal architecture, expansive parks, unique food, and must-see UNESCO sites.You can visit whatever you’d like in Beijing, from the world classic to the sleek and modern. You could easily spend two weeks in Beijing and the surrounding area. Don’t forget to visit the Great Wall of China, the Forbidden City, and the Temple of Heaven. But regardless of how much time you have, these are lesser-known can’t-misses.
Even if you’re not a foodie, this is one of the best culinary specialities of Beijing (which used to be called Peking, hence the different spelling)! It differs from most types of roast duck in Chinese restaurants all over the world because Peking duck usually isn’t roasted so all the duck fat drips off. Instead, it stays with the meat and rolls off the bone! The chef/staff often will cut the duck in front of you for a little show, and cut off the skin. The duck skin can be dripped in sugar crystals and eaten directly.
When you visit the Forbidden City (when, not if), it’s best to arrive from the south side. That’s where Tiananmen Square and the subway station are. Spend a couple hours going through the Forbidden City, at least! You could easily spend more time if you’d like. When you leave at the north side of the UNESCO site, go directly across the street to Jingsan Park.
Many people miss Jingsan Park because they don’t know you can climb a small hill and get an amazing aerial view of the Forbidden City! It costs the equivalent of $1-2 but can give you a great overview of the vastness of both the Forbidden City and Beijing! And unlike some of the other parks, Jingsan usually is not too crowded and you can find little alcoves to take a seat and rest for a bit.
The Temple of Earth
One of four major temples in Beijing, the Temple of Earth is often overshadowed by the UNESCO Temple of Heaven. While both temples are stunning and worth a visit, I highly recommend visiting the Temple of Earth! Not only does it have multitudes fewer people (maybe 1 per every 20 at the Temple of Heaven on any given day), it is just as symbolic. The main alter where the Chinese emperors would make sacrifices are square, representing the Earth in Chinese culture, and there are plenty of places for you to relax among the flowers and weeping willow trees, which represent luck in Chinese culture!
Beijing has a lot to offer, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the people and tourists in places like the Great Wall or Temple of Heaven, but take a break in these places to get a more local and less crowded experience!
About our Guest Blogger
Alice Chen writes and vlogs about travel tips to Make Anywhere Possible for the curious traveler. She focuses on leveraging frequent flyer miles to get international flights as cheap as $25, and using the experiences of other travelers to craft your perfect itinerary! She also writes guides of attractions and reviews of her own itineraries so that travelers to places she’s been can spend their time soaking in the experience, not doing research.
All images courtesy of Alice