There are so many things to do in Beijing. Any travel website or guide will give you a lot of information about Beijing, the capital of China, the most populous country in the world. However, to really get a feel of what a city has to offer, you need to be there, breathe in the air, get a feel of the atmosphere, taste the food and observe the local people and their life.
Beijing has a lot to offer to a visitor. Like most capital cities, it is the center of political, cultural, economic and trade activities in the country. You will be able to see many historical attractions giving you a glimpse into the ancient past. You will also understand why it is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world with more than 4 million international tourists and 140 million domestic tourists coming in every year.
If you are excited about the idea of visiting Beijing but feeling a bit overwhelmed and don’t know what to do and where to start, here are a few things to do in Beijing:
5 Things To Do In Beijing As A Tourist
1. Sight Seeing
I’m sure this is the main purpose of any tourist visiting Beijing. Not sure about what the major attractions are? Here’s the must -go list:
- Forbidden city (Imperial Palace)
- The Summer Palace
- The Great Wall
- Ming Dynasty Tombs
- Tiananmen Square
- Beijing Hutongs
- Temples of Heaven
- Beihai Park
- Jingshan Park
2. Take a rickshaw ride
Considering the traffic situation in Beijing, only the most maneuverable vehicles can really get you somewhere fast and rickshaws fit the bill perfectly. They have this knack of making progress on chocked roads by driving on the footpaths, going the wrong way on one way streets and in general disregarding all road rules.
Lights and indicators probably don’t come as part of standard equipment for rickshaws as many are without these essential devices. However, that doesn’t prevent them from operating at night. A rickshaw ride through Beijing can be as exciting as the ride of an adventure theme park, the only difference is that in this case there is real danger. If you want to know what it is like, take a look at James Bond’s rickshaw ride in Octopussy. You will have your heart in your throat during the ride and will thank your stars when you get off alive.
I know you are getting worried by now. Don’t be. There are also rickshaws taking people around Beijing Hutons, Shichahai and other historical areas leisurely. The seats are comfortable, drivers (also the tour guides) are friendly and knowledgeable and price is like less than 30$ an hour.
3. Try The Local Cousin
Food is Beijing is generally fresh, delicious and cheap. If you are in Beijing, you should not miss the famous Peking duck. Also called the Beijing duck, this roast duck is one of the most famous foods of China. There are many famous Peking duck restaurants in the city like the Quanjude Beijing Roast Duck restaurant and the Dadong Peking Duck restaurant. Pecking duck is usually served with pancakes, sweet noodle sauce and spring onions.
If you are looking for something exotic, the Wangfujing Snack Street is the place to go. It is packed with food stalls offering a wide variety of local street delicacies. You can either settle for the less exotic lamb kebabs or for fried scorpions and insects which can give you an Indiana Jones experience.
You can be sure that the fried insects are fresh as some of them are still alive when they are on the skewers. I didn’t see any locals eating it, so it could just be a tourist only delicacy for brave people.
If you are looking for some simple snack, I recommend you try baked sweet potatoes from a local farmer. At five yuan (less than a dollar) for three pieces, it is definitely worth it. You have to be careful about what you drink, especially on the streets. Water borne diseases like diarrhea are common. When you are in doubt, it is better to stick to hot beverages like tea or coffee.
4. Get A message
Beijing is massive and there will be lots of walking involved. A good massage is very relaxing after a tough touring day in Beijing. Massage parlors offering massage for about nine dollars an hour are available round the clock. It’s a far cry from 90 dollars an hour price tag in Sydney. So enjoy while you are there. There are many large massage/bath houses open 24 hours a day. If you are too tired to travel to the massage place, they can come to your hotels too.
From international brand names to little street stalls, Beijing offers all kinds of shopping experiences. China is laced with spectacular places to visit, but when it comes to shopping ‘Wangfujing Street’ is brilliant. It is ripe with various shops to fulfill all possible needs one could possibly think of. Encompassing the Chinese culture and all it has to offer, it can be a goldmine for tourists looking to find souvenirs and other items of interest. You can buy souvenirs from all the tourist attractions too. The price can be tricky though.
This Chinese army hat is my favorite souvenir I bought from a normal shopping street in the heart of the city for 10 Yuan ( 1 dollar something).
The same hat was selling for 45 yuan in Summer Palace. At the great wall, the price for this hat was 80 yuan. Unfortunately I lost my hat in a taxi a couple of days after I bought it. But luckily I still have this photo as souvenir.
So when you go as a tourist, do the things to do in Beijing that a tourist would do and have fun. I loved my Beijing trip, despite loosing my favorite Chinese army hat.