Beijing's best bits
For two months, I have been an English teacher in Beijing. However, there has been little time to visit the sights in the city where I live. Beijing is a huge metropolis, filled with historical marvels and modern developments. When my parents recently visited, I was able to see some of Beijing as a tourist. The city did not disappoint. As they say on 'The X Factor', here are some of the best bits …
1. Central Beijing
Tiananmen Square is the largest square in the world and lies directly south of the Forbidden City. You can walk through the square and see Chairman Mao’s preserved body in the sacred mausoleum. To the east of the square is the wonderful National Museum of China where you could spend days browsing ancient Chinese artefacts and modern Chinese painting. Built in 1420, the Forbidden City is the Imperial Palace that housed emperors and their courtiers for hundreds of years. It is a beautiful architectural complex and well worth visiting for any tourist in Beijing.
The Dongcheng area contains the wonderful old hutong. Hutong are Beijing neighbourhoods filled with shops and homes for the locals. There are many dazzling historical sights in this area including the Lama Temple, the Confucian Temple and the Drum and Bell Towers. Wandering around the streets magically transports you back to 15th-century Beijing.
Despite being one of the most polluted cities in the world, Beijing is home to many beautiful parks. The most famous park, the Summer Palace, was built solely as a getaway for the Emperor. Other parks in Beijing worth visiting are Behai Park, the Temple of Heaven Park and the small yet tranquil Ritan Park.
4. The Great Wall of China
From Beijing, it is easy to reach the Great Wall of China. We visited the Mutianyu area, a picturesque section of the wall, surrounded by scenic mountains. It was particularly lovely in the autumn leaves. To get to the top, take a terrifying cable car. Later, take the toboggan ride down the hill. This surreal slide back down completes a brilliantly breathtaking day.
The final and (I believe) best thing about Beijing is its food. The capital city offers food from anywhere in China. The Beijing speciality is Peking duck. Other delights include dumplings, spicy Sichuan, BBQ and hotpot. For any of these dishes, head to Beijing’s ‘Ghost Street’, which, despite the name suggests, is filled with restaurants and people. It’s a great place to end any long day of sightseeing.
Like its food, Beijing has something for everyone. It’s a fascinating place to live and to be a tourist. So, if you’re looking for your next holiday destination, why not try Beijing?