Planning a trip to Asia? Beijing could be one of your stops! Beijing is a great place to visit…but there are a few things to keep in mind before flying over there! Here I’ve given you a few of my tips and tricks when it comes to taking a trip to Beijing…enjoy!
absolute must to visit!: the great wall of China
Out of all the things to do in Beijing…a visit to the Great Wall of China is an absolute must! Being one of the seven wonders of the world, the Great Wall of China is a site to see. Whether Beijing is just a stop-over, or you are there for just a day…the Great Wall is a perfect place to spend the day!
Fun fact: it is made from stone, brick, tamped Earth, wood, and stick rice (yes, stick rice!). The sticky rice was mixed with mud, which is part of the reason as to why it is still standing today, after enduring many earthquakes!
To get to the wall itself, you either have to take a cable-car or a chair-lift. Coming down, you can take a cable-car, chair-lift, or toboggan! You need to buy tickets for all three, which are available when you get to the Great Wall.
On the Great Wall itself: There are different sections to climb. For an easier climb, I suggest going on the Mutianyu part.
FAQ: Should you take a tour guide with you? This is a difficult question, because there really isn’t a right answer. It all depends on preference. A tour guide would be great for gaining more information on the Great Wall, and they would also be helpful in communicating with ticket vendors and other locals easily in Mandarin. If you would like to book a tour guide, click HERE.
where i recommend staying
Where you stay in Beijing is key. We found traffic to be a major issue in Beijing, so staying somewhere in the city is key to avoid that. It is also important to keep in mind tour guides that your hotel may have to offer. I would highly recommend going around Beijing with a tour guide to learn more, but also to make communicating easier. Booking tour guides through your hotel, rather than through a public company, will definitely be cheaper.
What I recommend: I highly recommend the Marriott Beijing City Wall Hotel. It had an excellent location (walking-distance from a mall/market), and their tours were great.
Tour Information: Most tours usually have the option of a private tour or a group tour going to various activities. Depending on what you book, the tours will take you around Beijing…as mentioned above, I highly recommend booking at least one tour that includes the Great Wall of China. In addition, booking a tour that includes the Forbidden City and Tian’anmen Square would be great as they hold a lot of history, are beautiful and open spaces, and have funny stories that go along with them (which the tour guide will tell you!).
Always keep in mind four things when shopping in Beijing:
1. find a place selling a real product
2. distinguish the real material
3. pay the real price
4. get the best quality
The first rule of shopping in Beijing is to not go to the tourist places. You have almost zero chances of finding real silk at the famous Beijing Silk Market. Instead, go to government-owned factories, where you can be sure about the quality (do keep in mind that those prices will be higher than average, but you will be getting the right stuff). I highly recommend going to a silk factory if you get the chance…you get to see the silk being made in action.
If you don’t want to go to the factories, or spend too much money, try visiting Beijing markets that are more popular among Chinese citizens. The biggest one is located next to the Beijing Zoo (Line 4, Beijing Zoo, Exit C).
If you are determined to buy silk, and want to be sure about the quality and prices, I would recommend taking a short trip to Suzhou. This is a city not far from Shanghai, dubbed the Capital of Chinese silk. You could stop by to or from Beijing:)
Recognizing if you are being cheated: Taking a seller’s word for it that they’re product is legit is one thing, however testing it yourself is another. To test the silk yourself, burn a thread (most stores should do this without question). If the silk is real, the smoke will be white, and the ash left will be black and look like powder. If it is polyester, the smoke will be grey or black, smell like burning plastic, and the ash left will look more like burnt plastic. Despite this, pay attention. Make sure the cloth being tested and the cloth you are buying are the same.
Your visit to Beijing will be much more enjoyable if you have everything you need. I strongly recommend taking face masks to wear, especially if you have allergies. In addition, I highly suggest sunscreen as Tian’nmen Square and the Forbidden City have absolutely no shade, and is a completely open and large platform.