Heading to Beijing? Want to experience the best the city has to offer? Check out our list of what to do!
The land of the rising sun attracts many tourists, and even more English teachers these days. With so many exciting places to visit in China, Beijing is often on the top of many tourists’ lists. Why? As the capital of China and one of the most populous cities in the world, it has so much culturally and historically to offer as well as being a decent place to party. Check out our list of interesting things to do while in this bustling epicentre of Chinese history and culture:
1. Walk around Tiananmen Square and see Mao’s body lying in state.
Be prepared to be checked by security before you enter and watched by guards while inside Tiananmen Square as historically it’s a place where people express their discontent, with protests and riots taking place in the past. That being said, you’ll struggle to find a more interesting, slightly bizarre, and relevant experience anywhere else. In the square you can see the Monument to the People’s Heroes (erected in memory of those killed in the revolutionary struggle during the 19th and 20th centuries as well as a place for protests in the late 80s), and Mao Zedong’s Mausoleum – make sure you maintain a sombre expression while visiting it though, as to talk or smile is not allowed.
2. Take some unique holiday snaps at the Panjiayuan antiques market.
You might not be looking to spend too much money on your trip, and if that’s the case simply bring along your camera and a creative eye to catch some of the coolest finds at the market. The selection of ‘antiques’ range from books to classic calligraphy, from Buddha statues to Propaganda posters, so if you are in the market for a bizarre souvenir, you’ll be able to find it here! It’s open Monday to Friday from 8am to 6pm and Saturday and Sunday from 4:30am to 6pm. It might help you to learn a few key phrases in Mandarin before you try your hand at shopping in the market too – every little bit of language helps, especially seeing as if you haggle smart enough, you could get the prices cut in half!
3. Get a drink and absorb some of the local color at The World of Suzie Wong club.
Suzie Wong’s has stood the test of time in Beijing, being one of the longest-running nightclubs in the city. The décor may remind of you of a Chinese red-light district’s Madame gone mad and, well… the red lanterns and lattice screens are a pretty awesome sight to behold. You’ll get a mixture of patrons here from locals, foreigners, models, tourists, to even a few ladies of the night; though don’t let that deter you from dancing the night away with some of the most ambitious amateur dancers you’ll find in the city. This place is pumping just about any night of the week!
4. Wander around 798 Art Zone.
It’s industrial, and huge and largely untouched. Well, that is, except for the artwork. Originally the space was a complex of 1950s factory buildings. There are still Maoist propaganda slogans painted on the walls, though juxtaposed with this is some beautiful contemporary Chinese paintings, unique sculptures and art installations. If you’re not wowed by modern art, head this way for the food. There are interesting cafes and eateries sprinkled throughout the area, as it’s quite a trendy place to be. Open from 10am- 5pm every day.
5. Start on Nanluoguxiang and get happily lost.
Nanluoguxiang is a street measuring 786 meters long by 8 meters wide, and is over 700 years old. The street ambles through the north end of the Forbidden city and is now a place to go for cafes, bars and boutiques. You can see a mixture of traditional homes and newer cafes and shops, and if you’re tired of walking rent a rickshaw or bike and travel through what has become a trendy area of old, historical Beijing. From Nanluoguxiang check out the Drum Tower and Prince Gong’s mansion, but the best part of the trip is the tiny lanes that seem to flow from Nanluoguxiang like arteries to new, ready-to-explore areas. You might get lost, but it won’t matter as this area is so rich in things to see and do, you won’t mind stopping in a sweet café to ask for directions back to your hotel.