The Forbidden City
This is one of the main attractions in Beijing. It is located just beside Qiamen Square. This massive palace was the home to the Qing dynasties. It is an impressive structure comprised of a number of large gates leading from courtyard to courtyard. The flow of people can only move in one direction. You start from the South Gate and move North through the City. Make sure to bring your passport as there are a number of security checkpoints before you enter.
Tickets and be purchased online or on the day. Our hostel offered to buy them for us at a reduced price which was a great help. As I said the City itself is huge. Walking through you are met by large walls and ancient buildings, although they have been rebuilt in recent years.
The day we went was there were a large amount of people so you find yourself just moving with the crowd from building to building. Another tip we would give is to make sure you bring water with you. You can buy some bottles on site but it is quite expensive. The Palaces and Pagodas of the Forbidden City are stunning. It is well worth a visit and you will understand why it is one of Beijing’s main attractions.
Located in central Beijing the first thing you notice about Tiananmen Square is the sheer size of the place. Most of us would recognise Tiananmen Square from photos or TV but they don’t do it justice. To have such a large flat area located in a capital city is somewhat unique. With the Forbidden City on one side, the Monument to the People’s Heroes in the middle and the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong to the south this area is a must visit. Our hostel was just south of the square near the Zhengyang Gate so we had the opportunity to wander around more than once.
Our visit was in early September and the 70th year anniversary of the formation of the Chinese State was a month away. This meant that we got to experience something quite unique. On two separate nights the entire area of Tiananmen Square was shut-down. Bus loads of soldiers and police practised their performance for the celebration each night.
Although we weren’t allowed to see it, we could hear the sound of the chanting and marching heard from our hostel. There was even an early morning flyover by some military jets. On normal days it is a great sight to visit.
The Summer Palace
This magnificent Palace located in the North East of the city was by far our favourite place we visited in Beijing. When you first walk into this beautiful area you are greeted by Kunming Lake. This large body of water occupies three quarters of the area of 2.9 square km’s.
Dating back to the 1153’s it was then mainly used by the Qing Dynasty as their Imperial gardens. There are boats to rent to go on the water but you can also walk along the perimeter of the gardens.
The area is filled with magnificent halls, pagodas, bridges and towers. The main being the Longevity Hill. The day we went was a Friday so it was quite busy but it is well worth a trip. You can spend hours just wandering around enjoying the scenery from all angles.
If you want to explore the entire palace then you should give yourself the day. On a side note we exited from a different entrance than we entered and came upon a group of elderly people swimming in the canals. It seems to be common practise but strangely some swam with ducks perched on their shoulders.
The Temple of Heaven
Another nice way to spend a day in Beijing is to visit the Temple of Heaven and surrounding park. It’s three main attractions are The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, The Imperial Vault of Heaven and The Circular Mound Altar. These locations are all linked together by a vermilion walkway which makes it easy to explore.
The park itself is much larger. It is crisscrossed by pathways lined with trees. Squirrels dart across the dark flagstones. It also seems to be a location that most locals of Beijing use for exercise. You are passed by many people jogging and families with children out for walks.
Like the other locations mentioned above are all good places to spend a day in the city. There are of course many other things to do in Beijing but these are just a few of the ones we enjoyed.
Hope it helps and check back in again soon for more blogs. To keep more up to date with our travels follow us on Instagram.