For those who don’t have a lot of time in a city packing in all the sites can be a daunting task. Most of the time we struggle and end up missing something we really wanted to see. We only had three full days in Beijing and we wanted to make the most out of it!
Forbidden City – 9am
As the most iconic site in China (with the exception of the Great Wall) we made this our first stop. Make sure to walk through The Gate of Heavenly Peace so as to get the full impact. Also, if you are not doing a group tour, try to purchase your tickets ahead of time as the lines can get long. The site is in Chinese so this page will help you with purchasing.
My favorite things that we saw were: the Outer Court/Hall of Supreme Harmony, which I immediately thought of Mulan where she gets her medal and where you will see the throne room where a bronze ball hangs so as to crush any pretender to the throne; the Imperial Gardens which are beautifully manicured, and the Gallery of Treasures which, of course, was impressive. There is also a particularly funny banner in The Palace of Earthly Peace (where royal couples consummated their marriage) that reads “Doing Nothing”.
Temple of Heaven – 1pm
After stopping for a quick bite a short cab ride will take you down to the Temple of Heaven. If you go in the morning you can see people practicing Tai-chi in the park surrounding the temple, and on sunny days it’s perfect for a picnic. You won’t be able to go inside the temple, but you can look in and see the beautiful craftsmanship inside. Made completely out of wood without using nails, it is held up by the nine pillars inside, the number of the emperor. You’ll see that number around the whole city at important sites.
Summer Palace – 5pm
We arrived at the summer palace towards the end of the day which made the experience that much better; the sun was low in the sky and was casting an orange glow over the lake where we boarded the dragon shaped boat taking us to the other side. As we docked you can see the marble boat built by Cixi with money intended for a Chinese navy. They say he built it because one of his men said he couldn’t build a boat that wouldn’t tip over, well, he showed them, ha!
The most famous site here is the Long Corridor, a wooden covered walk way. Shaped like a bat, a symbol of good luck, it has glass cut outs on parts of the corridor with little paintings which are intended to give the viewer the best views of the lake, no matter what time of year.
Duck de Chine, literally the best duck I’ve ever eaten! We sat down at our table and as soon as we did our waiter said, “You’re here for the duck?” and we said, “Absolutely!”. They also have an amazing champagne bar, so make sure to order some to accompany your duck. Ask your hotel if they can make a reservation for you as it tends to get very busy for dinner.
Next up will be day two! Let me know what you think and if there is anything that you loved while visiting Beijing or if you have any questions that you would like me to answer in the comments.