Welcome to Beijing, the most populated capital city in the entire world. Blended by a mix of culture, tradition and futuristic technology, the Chinese capital can definitely enthrall you, the moment you set foot. The city of the Great wall, be prepared for a packed 3-4 day itinerary that can quite literally test your walking stamina.
Though there’s never enough time to explore Beijing , three to four days should give you a fair experience of the Chinese capital and it’s culture. Here’s how you can go about it
Hotel : Choose a hotel that’s close to city centre (probably near Wangfujing Street) so that a lot of shops are nearby to you. Else you will spend a min of 40 mins in the metro one way.
I stayed in Beijing 161 Wangfujing Street Hotel
( Closest metro was Dongsi – 100 metres away ). Plus this hotel offered me free phone with unlimited internet access (with a built in VPN) to access Maps, Facebook , Mails etc. So that saved me a bit of money and 1KM from the famous Wangfujing shopping street of Beijing.
Day 1 : Shopping
For most people, China is synonymous with Shopping (though not necessarily cheap). Though slightly cheaper than its cosmopolitan counterpart, Shanghai, you still pay a small fortune for most things, esp on branded things. However from whatever little I have observed, shopping in Beijing is pretty much reserved to Clothes ( fake and original ones) , fake pearls and fake silk and of course the famous Chinese Tea.
Places to Shop in Beijing
- Wangfujing Street
- Hongqiao Pearl Market
- Silk Market
- Dahongmen Wholesale Market
You can refer to my separate post on Shopping in China for the full details .
Day 2 : Great Wall of China
When it comes to visiting one of the seven wonders of the world, The Great Wall of China, you have several options. The Great Wall stretches to various parts a little outside of Beijing and goes by different names. The different zones include :
- Badaling Great Wall (Most famous of the lot)
- Mutianyu Great Wall ( Second most visited )
- Juyongguan Great Wall
- Shixiagan Great Wall
- Jiankou Great Wall
- Jinshanling Great Wall
- Gubeikou Great Wall
- Huanghuacheng Great Wall
- Simatai Great Wall
If you’re confused which one to pick , follow these steps :
If you’re going in a lean season and not much of crowds, go to Badaling Great Wall. Badaling is the biggest of the lot, has cable cars, pulleys to take you to the mid top of the towers and has other wheelchair friendly facilities as well. If you’re deciding to take a packaged tour , the default option would be to opt for the Badaling Wall. I personally opted to take the Badaling tour (along with a 1 hour stop at the Changling Ming Tombs) and lunch at a Jade factory premises.
The total tour costed 200 RMB (inclusive of lunch) = 2200 INR. The only reason why I opted for a tour was because , it wasn’t a straightforward trip to Badaling. A direct taxi will cost you a min of 500RMB one way. A bus on the other hand was available once per hour (with a long queue) and also easily a 15 min walk from the subway station . So to avoid this hassle, I opted for a direct packaged tour.
Entrance Fees for Badaling Great Wall : RMB 80 Yuan (generally included in packaged trip
Mutiyanyu Great wall is beautiful with lesser crowds and lots of space to walk. But again there are limited facilities, lesser tour options and not as big as the Badaling Wall nor as famous. The tour is almost a day long (from 7.30 am to 5-6PM) depending on traffic.
Day 3 : Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven & Tiananmen square
Prepare yourselves to walk a lot on Day 3 (even if you happen to rent a car or bike). Beijing has three key historic places that you need to visit for sure. This includes
- Forbidden city (You might have seen a glimpse of it in Karate Kid movie)
- Tiananmen square ( where the infamous Massacre happened)
- Temple of Heaven (Palace of the gods and Kings)
– Temple of Heaven
Head first to Temple of Heaven in the morning. A beautiful place to walk , relax and enjoy history at its finest in Beijing surrounded by gardens and trees.Temple of Heaven was built during the Ming dynasty and rebuilt during Qing dynasty , essentially to worship the gods of Heaven. The northern part which contains the semicircular structure symbolizes heaven while the southern part is a major square indicating earth.
Closest metro station / subway : Tiantandongmen
Entrance Fees : 15RMB (10RMB in low season) = 165 INR (Tickets can be bought at the venue itself easily).
Time Required : 3 Hours (Minimum)
– Forbidden City
A huge palatial complex in the heart of Beijing, this served as the primary palace for 24 emperors across several dynasties of China. Located right opposite to Tiananmen square, the Forbidden City ( also called as the Palace Museum) is 74 hectares in area.
The north to south walls is roughly 1 KM ( similar for east to west). So you might end up walking atleast 4-5 KMs inside if you want to cover most of the places
Print yourself a easy to read map of the place before you go there and that can save a lot of time in navigation(Must needed!!) . A map inside will cost you 10-15RMB and this can be avoided if you can print one from online.
Closest metro station / subway : Tiananmen East
Entrance Fees : 60RMB (40RMB in low season) = 660 INR (Tickets can be bought at the venue itself easily. Passport mandatory ).
Time Required : 3-4 Hours (Minimum).
– Tiananmen Square
The central square area in Beijing where the infamous massacre of 10,000 pro democracy protestors by Chinese troops happened. Now , a tourist spot to watch the flag raise (during sunrise and sunset) and is located right opp to the Chinese parliament.
Once you finish Forbidden city, head towards the exit and cross the road through an underground passage and you can reach the square.
Entrance : Free. Time Reqd : 1 hour.
Day 4 : Beijing Zoo
A trip to China is complete only if you get to see the adorable national animal, the Giant Panda. The Beijing Zoo is one of the biggest attractions among the locals and features animals and birds from almost every country in the world . A separate enclosure is available for the Giant Panda.
From aquariums, African elephants, tigers, lions , giraffes and pretty much every animal you can think of, the Beijing zoo has it all. Be sure to visit it without fail
Time needed : 3-4 hours minimum
Subway : Beijing Zoo
Entrance : 20RMB(Including panda and zoo entrance)
Here are all my other posts about planning a trip to China
Do check out Shrinidhi Hande’s post on his recent trip to China in November 2018: