Country: China
Currency: Yuan (CNY/)
Peak Season: January-April
Shoulder Season: April-May, September, October
Median Temperature: 11.80 C / 53.24 F
Main Languages: Mandarin, Cantonese, English
Primary Modes of Transportation: Metro, bus, trolleybus, rail, taxi
Recommended Duration of Stay: 4 days
Recommended Pocket Money: $80.00/day
Tourist Passes: BPT Pass
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The Republic of China’s capital—Beijing—is not your usual Chinese city. No, Far from it, we suppose—if all the walking in Hong Kong, Shenzhen and Shanghai beat your legs to a crawl, you’ll find this city to more laid-back, as Beijingers prefer to take it easy, perhaps due to all the turmoil of the past few decades. A concourse of modern and cultural, Beijing is known for its commerce and wealthy-yet-frugal locals, leaving all the lofty spending to tourists. Many advanced technologies are first tested and deployed here, giving it a foothold against competing country capitals. Since most of the hard labor is delegated to outlying provinces, Beijing enjoys a lively community and a plethora of unadulterated natural wonders.

Beijing is home to many cultural sites, many of which have been mentioned countless times in history books and novels. “Too little, too many,” is how most tourists describe their stay in the city. Indeed, Beijing has so much to offer the culturally inquisitive, so it’s better to plan ahead on your first (or next) visit to this crowded city. Be it for the experience, cultural highlights, education, or anything else in between, Beijing will amaze you.

Packing List

  • Walking shoes, seasonal apparel; there will be spikes in day/night temperature due to the climate
  • Essential medication (Pepto-Bismol if not used to Chinese food), toiletries, and office supplies
  • A translation device, guidebook or a few things to help communicate with locals; not everyone speaks intelligible English
  • A decent camera, lots of film/memory and batteries since most tourist attractions don’t have nearby electronic depots
  • Shopping bags, extra luggage for cheap finds; remember that authentic items are hard to find in Beijing

Things to Do

  • Hiking on several areas of the Great Wall (farther means less crowds); Badaling, Juyongguan, Mutianyu, Huanghuacheng, Gubeikou, Jinshanling and Simatai are its main sections
  • Visiting historic Tiananmen Square, host to the pro-democracy protests of 1989 that ended in bloodshed; here also lies the mausoleum of Mao Zedong, China’s founder of the People’s Republic
  • Visiting the Forbidden City, home of 24 emperors and a lasting symbol of China’s power; covering 7,800,000 sq ft and housing 980 buildings, it is one of the largest palace complexes ever built
  • Getting away from it all at the Summer Palace, which occupies more than a square mile of water and greenery; enter Buddhist temples for meditation or take on a pleasure cruise along calm waters
  • Enjoying nature at Beihai Park just northwest of the Forbidden City; it has Buddhist temples, pavilions, and plush gardens that exhibit meticulous Chinese landscaping

DON'T

  • Swipe your credit card inside shady establishments other than hotels and restaurants; instead, withdraw local currency from ATM machines
  • Drink tap water, it’s not advisable, so just settle for purified water; boiling won’t help eliminate toxic elements either
  • Book a super cheap hotel/apartment room; go for the added premium and stay inside a three- to four-star hotel for a relaxing night’s sleep
  • Get into a ruckus with locals by mentioning anything about politics; other sensitive topics to avoid are religion, economy, culture and net neutrality
  • Forget about their dress code and etiquette; Beijingers tend to be superstitious and culturally-inclined, so respect the norms