Top Five Things to Do In: Beijing, China

photo by Reid Bremer.

photo by Reid Bremer.

Located in Northern China, Beijing is the capital of the People’s Republic of China. This makes it a major political, economic, and cultural hub China. Its fascinating culture and history lures tourists from all over the world to experience the dichotomy of the modernization of – perhaps – the biggest superpower in the world and the ancient history that is survived by monuments, temples, palaces, and traditions.

The Great Wall

If you go to Beijing, an excursion to The Great Wall is a must. The Great Wall is a stone and earth structure built, rebuilt, and maintained from the 5th century BC to the 16th century in order to protect the borders of the Chinese Empire. There are various sections you could visit that exhibit different aspects of The Wall such as refurbished sections, sections that are maintained in its original state, and wild sections with steep peaks and broken bricks. Remember to bring good walking shoes, water, and snacks as the wall is over 4,000 miles long enabling you to explore the wall to your heart’s content.

The Forbidden City/Palace Museum

The Forbidden City (aka Palace Museum) was built in was 1406 and was home to the emperors for over 400 years who forbade anyone from entering without their consent. It was constructed to emulate the unique architectural style and features of ancient Chinese palaces. Today, you can see an extensive collection of artwork and artifacts from the Ming and Qing dynasties from as early as the 1300s. Architects and builders were intentional when constructing the city so that every detail would reflect their philosophical and religious ideologies. When you’ve finished exploring the world’s largest palace complex, enjoy a meal or refreshment at any of the restaurants or cafes located within The Forbidden City grounds.

The Oasis Café

True to its title, The Oasis Café is a great oasis from Beijing’s ebb and flow of busyness. Located just near the end of the Forbidden City, you can enjoy an authentic and reasonably priced coffee and snack in a relaxed and soothing atmosphere. Critics rave that The Oasis Café is a “lovely place” with “the friendliest service in Beijing.”

National Center for the Performing Arts

While you’re in Beijing you have got to see what’s on at the National Center for the Performing Arts (NCPA). The NCPA is one of the most prestigious venues in China. It houses three main halls. The Opera Hall is for operas, ballets and dances, which seats 2,416. The Music Hall seats 2,017 people. The Theatre Hall is for plays as well as the Beijing Opera and has 1,040 seats. There are no bad seats in the house so if you’re on a tight budget, you’ll be able to get cheap tickets and still thoroughly enjoy the show. The NCPA is not only known for its spectacular shows, but for its unique architecture as well. From the distance, it looks like an egg floating in the lake but once you get closer you can marvel at the beautiful titanium accented glass, which is especially brilliant at night when it is light up. Many curious tourists wish to go inside but become frustrated when they see no bridge over the man-made lake to the NCPA. The only entrance to the NCPA is an underwater tunnel so make sure to remember this insider tip before you walk around the lake four times and start to lose your mind.

photo by J. Wilson - http://jwsz.tumblr.com/

photo by J. Wilson – http://jwsz.tumblr.com/

Wangfujing Street

Visiting Wangfujing Street is also a must for those visiting the capital of China. It consists of upscale flea-market shops and others so you can “get your shopping on”. You can also find exotic foods like octopus and scorpion on a stick. On the slight chance you’re not in the mood for scorpion, Wangfujing Street is also a great place to people watch, but don’t be fooled into thinking this is a typical Chinese market, it is an oddity even for China.

In Conclusion

Beijing has much more to offer than what’s on this list so be sure to do some of your own research when planning your trip. Overall, Beijing is a great place to experience a wide variety of China’s history and culture. As the second most populated city in the most populated country in the world, Beijing has opportunities to experience history, watch stunning performances, develop your palette by tasting exotic foods, and gain a broader perspective of the world by experiencing life in a new culture.

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