Five Cool Things in Beijing
Beijing is a huge, bustling city jam-packed with things to do. Your dilemma won’t be finding things to do, it’ll be narrowing them down to fit your time. There’s all the main attractions: Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, the Great Wall and the Summer Palace, to name but a few. They’re easily found in guide books, but what about the smaller places, that won’t be in a Beijing top ten?
Dashanzi Art District
Previously a bunch of factory buildings which fell into disuse, the District (a.k.a. 798) now houses some of the hippest art installations in the city. The area is really fun to simply wander around as any installations are outside in view of the public. There’s a communist edge to the place thanks to the Maoist slogans dotted around. More than just a collection of galleries, the district also contains boutique shops and eateries and will easily fill a day with all its wonderful sights.
Worker’s Cultural Palace
Situated centrally in Beijing, to the east of Tiananmen Square the Worker’s Cultural Palace is not as well known as some of the other temples in the city. During the Ming and Qing Dynasties, the royal family would offer sacrifices to their ancestors in here. It’s a good way of seeing a part of the Forbidden City with a few less tourists than the main bit, but without compromising on the grandiose splendor of the buildings.
Beijing Ancient Observatory
The Observatory was built around 1442 and has great historical significance in the world of astronomy. The ancient dynasties had an important role to play in early astronomy, with contributions being made prior to the Ancient Observatory being built. It used pretelescopic instruments to view the skies, some of which even predate the Observatory itself and are on display today.
Not a single attraction, but a region of Beijing which has recently received a bit of a facelift. It hosts a range of trendy cafes, second-hand shops, boutiques and bars in which you can spend the day chilling out and observing the people of Beijing. When you read your guidebook and it tells you to go to Nanluoguxiang, head to Wudaoying Hutong instead. It’s kind of the same, but it’s more up and coming, so perfect for you hipsters out there. It’s full of coffee shops, with wi-fi. Need we say more?
Learn to cook it up, Chinese style
They might be a fairly common tourist activity, but cooking classes are a great way to bring the flavour of your trip home with you. Nipping down the Chinese takeaway isn’t going to satisfy those cravings for all the lovely things you had when you were in Beijing. Time permitting, sample the local delicacies first then find a class that suits you, that way you’ll be learning to cook something you know you like.
Before you head out, make sure you’ve found cheap holiday trip insurance. Beijing is a fantastic city; plan your trip carefully to ensure you get the best of everything it has on offer.