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Travel Guide: Beijing, China

I still can’t believe I spent two weeks travelling around China. In a wee series of blog posts I am going to share a short travel guide to each of the cities I spent 3 or more days in! First up in the series is Beijing, the capital of China!

We arrived in Beijing during the first week of Spring Festival to freezing cold -8 degree temperatures. I would highly recommend wrapping up warm and packing thermals if travelling to Beijing in the winter as it can be exceptionally cold! Don’t forget your sunglasses though, the weather was very cold but it was sunny most days!

We arrived late one evening after a 22-hour sleeper train ride which was an interesting experience! We went straight to the hostel and bed as we had an early start the next day.

We awoke the next morning and was picked up by our tour guide to head out to The Great Wall of China. We chose to go further out of Beijing to the Mutianyu section of the wall. This part is quieter than the Badaling section of the wall which is closer to Beijing and more popular with tourists. By exploring the Mutianyu section, at times it felt like we were the only people there.

The Great Wall of China was incredible in terms of structure and views. Much of the wall in this section has been restored for tourists, however the wall is very uneven and incredibly steep in some areas. It was a hike for sure but well worth it!

Once we finished exploring the wall, it was time to head back down. In the Mutianyu section of the wall there are three options to descent: walk, cable car or toboggan. A once in a lifetime trip to The Great Wall of China had to be finished with a toboggan ride! It was so much fun, again with fantastic views and experience I will never forget.

After our adventure to The Great Wall of China, we were dropped at The Summer Palace by our tour guide. The Summer Palace was incredible, the lake had frozen over and children were skating on the ice. The sun reflected off the ice, creating a beautiful view. I was mesmerised. The detailing in the architecture was truly incredible. The intricate details and colours were beautiful and reflected in the setting sun. I was so mesmerised I forgot it was -8° outside. I felt like I had walked into a winter wonderland and enjoyed exploring the huge park. You could honestly spend a full day there exploring the grounds and all of the buildings and Palaces that are there.

Unfortunately, we only got to spend a few hours roaming the park and taking in its beauty. I could have definitely spent a full day there. I hope to go back to Beijing and experience the Summer Palace in the summertime. I can only imagine how beautiful it will be during that time.

After the Summer Palace, it was time to get some food. We headed back into central Beijing and went to a restaurant that specialised in Peking duck. The food was spectacular.

We were given every part of the dark. Much of the duck was shredded to eat in the traditional pancakes and the rest was deep-fried for us to nibble on. We also got two of the potato dishes, one which was shaped to look like Grandpa Rabbit (The Spirit Animal of Beijing) and the second were sweet potatos that looked like an ice-cream cone.

After food, it was time for some well earned rest and get ready for the next day.

We awoke the next day and headed to the Forbidden City. We got there mid-morning, around 10am, and the place was already packed. It was incredible to see such a beautiful place in real life as I’d seen it many times on television and online. I would recommend getting there as early as possible as it is so busy with tourist and people taking in the beauty of the place.

The former Chinese Imperial Palace had such beautiful detailing on the buildings and the colours were spectacular. We spent hours wandering around admiring the buildings, the throne rooms and the gardens under the cold, winter sunshine.

Once we had finished wandering around the Forbidden City, we headed across the street to see Tiananmen Square before we headed to Qianmen Street for a wander around the markets and grabbed some street food.

We then went to try and see the Temple of Heaven however, we were unlucky and arrived too close to 4pm to be allowed entry! Most tourist attractions in Beijing close at 4pm sharp – so make sure you get to the places you want to see in plenty of time!

That evening I decided to stay in the hotel as I wasn’t feeling great and as we were flying to Zhangjiajie the next day, I wanted to grab an early night to feel better and not feel rubbish the rest of the trip!

The next day, we had a half day in Beijing before we needed to head to the airport to catch our flight. We got up and checked out of our hostel and headed to the Lama Temple.

The Yonghe Temple, popularly known as the Lama Temple, is a temple and monastery with artwork in a combined style of Han Chinese and Tibetan. The place was beautiful and breathtaking. It was made even better by the blue skies and the sun shining down on us. The sunlight hit the buildings highlighting further the beauty and craftsmanship of the artwork.

The Lama Temple is also home to an 85 foot Maitreya Buddha carved from a single piece of White Sandalwood and was included in the Guinness Book of World Records in 1993. It was beautiful to look at the carving and the intricate detailing that went into such a beautiful statue.

After spending the full morning at the Lama Temple, we returned to the hostel to pick up our bags and head to the airport for our flight to Zhangjiajie.

I hope you enjoyed the whistle stop travel guide to Beijing and reading what I got up to in my few days there. Next up in the travel guide is Zhangjiajie!

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