We stayed in Beijing for a 2 weeks, from Friday 11th June till Thursday 24th June. We stayed in the Hai Inn, close by to the Lama Temple. This hotel was in a fantastic location, right beside the underground and in walking distance of most attractions. Also the staff spoke good English, which was really helpful as so many people don’t speak English in China. Most people who come to China seem to be on tours, this is probably because of the lack of spoken English. We managed to get on fine though, as the hotel staff were able to point us in the right direction. We mostly used the underground to get around the city, the stops are written in English and it is easy to follow. A journey on the underground to any destination, costs just 2 Yuan each (20p). We will get a shock when we return home and have to pay over £2 for a 15 minute journey on the bus!
We really enjoyed our time in Beijing. It is both a modern and cultural city. Parts of the city look similar to any other built up city, with lots of modern shopping centres and restaurants. Whereas other parts of the city have kept onto their Chinese routes, with traditional Chinese roof tops and traditional houses and buildings.
Must see streets in Beijing
There are a few streets in Beijing which you should definitely visit whilst you are there.
We went to this street in the day and the evening. There are a few shopping centres here and also market stalls. In the evening there is a night market, which we went to one evening. You will be able to taste lots of traditional Chinese food here, that is if you are in to eating lots of different meats. Being a vegetarian I wasn’t too keen on seeing the many meat treats on offer! Whole ducks, with their heads left on, liver, …..and who knows what else they were selling!
There were lots of traditional Chinese gifts to buy, including paintings and many musical instruments. Be prepared to bargain as they will put the price right up at the start. You have to type the amount you want into their calculator, as most people will not understand the amount you are saying. I was buying a fridge magnet and I asked one stall how much and they said 30 Yuan (£3). I decided to go to another stall to see how much they would say, for the same magnet and they said 55 Yuan (£5.50). I knew then that they were just saying whatever price they wanted, so I walked away. She shouted back to me 30 Yuan, 20 Yuan. She could see that I was still walking away, so she shouted 5 Yuan (50p). So I went back to get the magnet. I probably could have got it cheaper, but I was happy with this price.
How to Get Here
Take a Subway to either Dongdan or Dengshikou (Line 5). The journey will cost you 2 Yuan.
Sanlitun Bar Street
This is where you will find most of the Bars in the city, hence the name ‘Bar Street’. There are also lots of shops here, including a new shopping centre which will be opening very soon.
How to get here
Take Subway line 2 to Dongsishitiao Qiao or Subway Line 10 to Changhong Qiao.
This is where you will find Modern shopping centres in Beijing, with lots of designer names like, Guess and Louis Vuitton.
How to get here
Take subway line 4 to Xidan.
This street was one of our favourite streets. Although it has been developed in recent years to be more modern, it still captures the look of traditional Chinese Street. There are both traditional Chinese shops and many high street stores also.
There were also some nice little side streets with stalls. I bought a new instrument. The lady had a stall full of lot’s of Chinese instruments. She didn’t speak English but someone she was able to communicate to me about how to play the different instruments. I wanted to buy them all, but I had to restrict myself to one. I’m not sure what the name of the instrument is exactly, I will find out. Here’s a picture of it
She tried charging me £25, but in the end I managed to get it for just £7. I want to buy one of the wooden flutes; I’m going to have a look out for one. There are lots of different sizes to choose from.
Parks in Beijing
We also visited many parks. You have to pay in to most things in Beijing, but most of the parks only cost about 2 Yuan (20p) so it’s not too much at all.
- Jingshan Park- We visited this park on our second day in Beijing. It is found just North of the Palace Museum. It costs 2 yuan to get in. The gardens are really clean and peaceful. There were two ladies practicing a dance routine. Apparently it isn’t unusual to see locals in the park early in the morning, practicing routines and meditating. A great place to sit and have your lunch. Also in the park is a temple located on a hill top. From the top you will see over the whole city. The rooftops look amazing from here. We enjoyed just sitting up here for a while and watching the city from above.
- Yuanmingyuan Park (Old Summer Palace)- To get here you should get the underground to Yuanmingyaun Station. This is the old summer palace. It cost 10 Yuan each (£1). There is a massive lake in the park with lots of lovely bridges. There are also many food stalls and souvenir stalls in the park. Lot’s of people come here for picnics.
- Yuyuantan Park-To get here get the subway Line 1 to Military Museum station. The park entrance fee is 2 Yuan (20p). This is a very relaxed park with lot’s seated areas to sit and enjoy the peace. There is a large lake in this park. There were a few locals playing musical instruments in the park.
- Beihai Park-This is a large park with a lake, located beside the Palace. We didn’t go to this park, although we did go to the lake just above (Qian Hai). This is just across the road from the park. This is a really nice free area, where you will find lots of restaurants located around the lake. You can also hire out boats and take them on the lake. There is a little alley way with really nice shops on. Also you will find lot’s of bars in this area.
Other things we did whilst in Beijing
- Visited the Olympic Grounds from the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
- Visited the Great Wall of China at the Badaling Section of the wall
- Visited the Beijing Zoo (This wasn’t really worth the visit-the cages are way too small for the animals-and it is very run down)
We got the train from Beijing to Xian on Thursday 24th June. The train set off at 4.30pm and arrived at 5am the next morning. The train cost us 250 Yuan (£25) each.
We will write more about our time here in Xian later.
Ruth and Paul