You must have heard about the places to visit when traveling to Beijing, but, on this entry, we will reveal some of the less known -but not less interesting- places of this city. In spite of the non-stop coming and going of the inhabitants and tourists in Beijing, you will get find some peace and quietness around some of the places that we recommend.
As you know, Beijing city is located in the north of the People’s Republic of China, and it is the capital of this country, with a population of more than 19 million inhabitants. Beijing is a municipality in itself, directly under the central government, so it does not belong to any of the 23 provinces that make up China, which also has 5 autonomous regions, 2 special administrative regions (Hong Kong and Macao) and three other municipalities.
Being the second largest city in China (after Shanghai), it is no wonder that Beijing is divided into 16 urban, suburban and 2 rural districts. Unfortunately, there is not a single area where historical sites and buildings are concentrated, but they are distributed among the four cardinal points of the city. However, we can visit most of the scenic spots using the central lines of the underground.
Due to its location in the North, autumn days are cool with clear sky and gentle breeze, making it the best season to travel, although we can travel any time of the year as long as you are wearing the right outfit.
In our entry today, we will not be talking about the must see places in Beijing that we have heard about, such as the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace, the Temple of Heaven, the more traditional neighbourhoods, called “hutongs”, the pearl market, Tian’anmen Square, the Olympic complex, etc. Instead, keep reading to discover 8 places in Beijing that you might have never heard of.
There are several parks we can go to, not only to stroll and get closer to nature, but also to reach a better understanding of Chinese culture, since you will find groups of people performing all kinds of activities: singing, dancing, sewing, practising some sport, painting calligraphy on the floor or playing board games. The best-known and most accessible parks for tourists are Beihai Park (“North Sea”), which is located west of the Forbidden City and another park that is worth knowing, the Jingshan Park, the ideal place to end the visit of the old imperial palace with an excellent panoramic view of it. Park entrance requires a small fee to be paid right at the door.
If you have time, it will be worth getting lost in the labyrinth of bookshelves of the biggest bookshops in Beijing. On this link, they explain the location of four of them: the Xidan library, with four floors, and the Wangfujing Xinhua library, which we recommend as they sell books in other languages, not just in Chinese.
Eyewear Shopping Centre
Yes, you are getting it right: there is a shopping centre that only provides for sunglasses and eyeglasses, located in Chaoyang district. Choose your model, bargain the price and do not forget to take your old glasses with you so that they can graduate your new glasses on the spot. Nice, uh?
Nightlife at Sanlitun
Sanlitun is a bar area of that will carry you to an absolutely cosmopolitan place during spring and summer, when it will be packed with foreigners who come clubbing to places such as Vics, Kokomo or Salsa Caribe. Beijing is a city in constant evolution and change, so bars will shut down while a new bar will open all the time.
Helen’s bar is very popular with students and foreign workers. It is located in Haidian district, near some universities. It has a chilling atmosphere and you will always meet someone new and picturesque.
Fragrant Hills Park (Xiangshan Park)
Xiangshan park is situated in the east part of Western Hills, 28 km northwest of Beijing city, but it is worth visiting if you have been living in China for a while and you need to escape from the city, breathe a little less polluted air and have a stroll away from the everyday noise. On your way back, you can stop at a typical restaurant to have a traditional Chinese dish for lunch.
Great Wall of Simatai
Who does not wish to visit the Great Wall when travelling to China? In general, tourists staying in Beijing will not go to the Simatai section of the Great Wall because it is quite far away from the capital, and will require you to consider your physical ability as well. However, the Simatai section of the Great Wall is one of the few sections to retain the original appearance of the Great Wall. It is very varied in makeup. You will be have the opportunity to make a booking to visit Simatai from many agencies and from your hotel in Beijing as well.
Tianjin, 137 kilometers southeast of Beijing, is bordering on the Bohai Sea in the east. It is one of the municipalities of China directly under the Central Government. We recommend your visit to this city as it is located just thirty minutes by train from Beijing and, besides being the centre of multinational businesses, Tianjin is best known for its streetscapes of colonial era buildings, a residue of its status as a Treaty Port after 1858.
Before finishing, may we suggest trying donkey meat, an ingredient found both in soups and in sandwiches in various places in Beijing. Do not hesitate to leave your comments with questions or contributions, we will be happy to read!
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