5 Things to Do in Beijing

Heard of Peking Man? Peking was the old name for Beijing, the capital city of China. Peking Man, the earliest homo rectus fossils was discovered in the caves of Dragon Bone Hill near Zhoukoudian about 36 miles from Beijing.

According to ebeijing, Peking Man may have lived about 230,000 to 250,000 years ago. Part modern, part ancient, Beijing is China’s example of a 21st century city. This metropolitan city is filled with cutting-edge buildings yet rich in history and culture. It’s worth a plane ride from anywhere in the world even if you have to sit in a plane for 13 hours 42 minutes from Chicago to Beijing.

Here are Travelmath’s 5 things to do in Beijing:

One: Badaling Great Wall and Ming Tombs
Bring a pair of comfortable walking shoes with good traction and climb one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. The Great Wall of China, also known in Chinese as “Wan Li Chang Cheng” is China’s most recognizable landmark. The easiest part of the Great Wall to get to is the Badaling Great Wall.

Walk up the steep stairs past many watch towers and see the magnificent views of the area.

Note: The eastern side of Badaling Great Wall reaches up to 3,000 feet and the stairs can be slippery and uneven. If walking the steep stairs is a problem you may want to check with your travel agent on the availability of cable car services at the Great Wall.

Group tours to Badaling Great Wall usually include a side trip to Ming Tombs, another important UNESCO World Heritage site in Beijing. The sacred tombs built on the hills are burial grounds to 13 of the 16 Ming Emperors. Tourists are only allowed to view three of the 13 imperial tombs.

More information:
History of the Great Wall
Ming Tombs

Two: Nanluoguxiang Hutong
A trip to Beijing must include a cultural experience at one of the ancient hutongs. Hutong dates back to the Yuan (1206-1368), Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties in China. They are traditional courtyard-style homes (siheyuan) with cobbled-stone alleys.

Today the best representation of a hutong is the Nanluoguxiang Hutong between Gulou Dong Dajie and Di’anmen East Street. According to Chinatouristmaps.com this 768-meter-long south-north central lane has 16 hutong branching off the central lane. At Nanluoguxiang you can shop, drink coffee or tea, eat and visit the local artists. Some tours will take you to local homes and participate in cultural activities.

Chinatouristmaps on Nanluoguxiang
10 Most Attractive Hutongs in Beijing

Three: Peking Duck Dinner
Peking duck is defined as:
Slow roasted and succulent, this famous dish is served with thin crepe-like "lotus leaf pancakes" (heye bing), sweet noodle sauce (tianmianjiang) or hoisin sauce (haixianjiang) and finely sliced green onions.

We recommend Quanjude Restaurant located near Hepingmen Gate (Peace Gate) for your Peking Duck experience.

History of Peking Duck

Four: Peking Opera
Apart from the painted faces, the Beijing opera offers guests the opportunity to enjoy dance, vocal, martial art and theatrical performances all in one show.

Check out Huguang Guild Hall, a historic Peking opera house with a small theatrical museum at the entrance.

History of Peking Opera

Five: Tiananmen Square and Forbidden City
Visit Tiananmen Tower, Monument to the People’s Heroes, Great Hall of the People and the Chairman Mao Memorial before heading to the Forbidden City, the imperial palace that houses hundreds of buildings covering almost 200 acres.

Some of the highlights in the Forbidden City include Hall of Supreme Harmony, Hall of Central Harmony, Hall of Preserved Harmony, Meridian Gate, Hall of Ancestry Worship and South Fragrance Hall.

Beijing travel tips:
1.  Avoid Golden Week (National Day Holiday) from September 29 to October 10, Chinese New Year and Labor Day Holiday from April 28 to May 4.
2.  Use Travelmath’s currency converter before traveling to Beijing. At the time of writing US$1 is 6.27 CNY (Renminbi).
3.  Airlines flying to Beijing.

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