Lives in Boston, Massachusetts
Since Jul 2012
25-34 year old female
Architectural Buildings, Historic Sites, Monuments & Statues, Points of Interest & Landmarks, Lookouts
Architectural Buildings, History Museums, Speciality Museums
Parks, Points of Interest & Landmarks, Lookouts
Art Galleries, Neighbourhoods
Historic Walking Areas
Gift & Speciality Shops
Bars & Clubs
Points of Interest & Landmarks
Hiking & Camping Tours, Private Tours, Day Trips
Get on the subway and head to Qianmen on line 2. Leaving the station, exit B or C will spit you out near the front gate ("qian men") of ancient Beijing. To the North is the Forbidden City - you'll get there in a minute. For now, head South through the archway in the restored section of the ancient city wall and stroll along Qianmen street. This is the Beijing you came to see! It has its share of modern storefronts but there are plenty of treasures to be found in the "lao zi hao," or time-honored brands.
Head North from Qianmen to get to the Forbidden City. On the way, you'll catch a glimpse of Tiananmen. Don't be fooled by the history: a glimpse is enough. There's not much to see here, but you have to say you came.
Get ready for lots of people and plenty of walking! There are two good ways to do the Forbidden City: 1. Get yourself an audio guide. See the first few main buildings and then get off the beaten path - the structures on either side are beautiful, interesting, and way less crowded. 2. If you're not super interested in walking through the Forbidden City, don't go in at all. See it from afar by skipping ahead to Jingshan park.
If the thought of skipping the Forbidden City doesn't keep you up at night, try Jingshan Park instead. If it's early enough in the day, locals may be outside dancing, playing music, or jumping rope. Make sure you get to the top of the hill, which has a birds-eye view of the Forbidden City - a much more efficient way of taking it all in if you're not picky about the details.
You've done a lot today, but you need some Peking Duck to cap off the full Beijing experience. Here you have options. If you don't want to break the bank for a better ambience at 1949 The Hidden City, get yourself to the Tuanjiehu subway station area and learn what all the fuss is about.
If you want a no-holds-barred Peking Duck meal, reserve a table ahead of time at Duck De Chine at 1949 The Hidden City. This complex is an oasis of quiet in the middle of crazy Beijing. The prices are high, but the food is great and the surroundings are super cool.
Start your day by getting lost in the converted warehouses and factories of 798. The galleries can be hit or miss, so keep moving if you don't like something. Google for "798+[current year]" to stay on top of this year's hottest spots.
My favorite attraction in Beijing: a good mixture of less crowded + wow factor. Make sure you get all the way to the back to see the World Record-holding statue.
Off the same main intersection as the Lama Temple, on the Northwest side, is a Costa Coffee. Next to it is your destination: Wudaoying Hutong. This quickly gentrifying alleyway is still great for a stroll or a coffee. Poke your head in some shops and check out what the cool kids are doing.
Take the subway to the Nanluoguxiang stop and stroll north to south down this popular alleyway to do some souvenir shopping or take in the scene - it's usually a circus but an interesting circus. Excursions off the main street will be rewarded with less crowded shops and cool discoveries.
Beijing has great Chinese food, of course, but sometimes finding familiar cuisine in a new corner of the world is just as exciting. If you're in the mood for Italian, fortify yourself with a few pizzas and a cocktail before you go back into the frey. (If you want something more local, hold out for Ghost Street).
If you emerge from the northern end of Nanluoguxiang and you're in the mood for a cocktail, cross the street and walk straight into Beiluoguxiang. This residential hutong is quickly turning into an extension of its noisier southern neighbor, but you can still see what life looks like for hutong residents. Mai Bar is just 5 minutes down the street but it's a long 5 minutes when you feel like the locals are staring at you -- it's worth the walk to Instagram your travel photos like a real Beijing hipster with a cocktail in hand.
If you skipped pizza at Mao Mao Chong, you have to be starving by now! Take the subway from Andingmen to Dongzhimen, (or just hop in a cab), and get to Ghost Street! This stretch of Dongzhimen Nei was originally named for the ghostly aura of shopkeepers' lamps, but it's now known for spicy Chengdu-style hotpot.
There is no better way to see the Great Wall than with Beijing Hikers. Here's why: they will take you to unrestored, uncrowded parts of the wall that tours don't, and let you experience what's best about the Great Wall: walking on it. Their 3-4 hour hikes are a much better memory of this Ancient Wonder than a half-hour lap with a tour guide. You'll spend most of the day with them between hiking and transport, but it's a day you won't forget.
When you get back from your hike, you'll be exhausted, but if you can stretch yourself for one last cultural experience, go to Baoyuan Dumplings. This is not on the tourist roadmap, so make sure you have a written address or a phone number for the taxi driver in case you get lost. When you get there, the dumplings are friendly, colorful, and divine. For those who want to work a little less for their dumplings, Dingtaifeng will never disappoint.
Dingtaifeng is a chain and any location is delicious, but the Shin Kong plaza location has the advantage of being right off the Da Wang Lu subway and in a luxury mall. You don't have to talk to anyone to find your way there, just get yourself to the top floor of the Shin Kong plaza. The soup dumplings are incredible, but so is the service - it's the only place in Beijing where you can get service with eye contact.