Beijing has certainly been in the spotlight recently and now that things have quietened down on the sporting front – tourism is back on the agenda. We have seen the breathtaking images of China’s historic landmarks like the Great Wall, Forbidden City and Summer Palace. But you really need to visit this bustling city to appreciate the enormity of these places, experience the sights and smells and intereact with the people.
Travelling around Beijing on the subway, or Underground Dragon, is the best way to get around the city. Buses are crowded and slow and as there are about 150 different routes, very confusing. Taxis have improved but it is still best to have your destination written in Chinese characters. If you are in for adventure, then some hotels will rent out bicycles, or there are bike-hire shopfronts near the main tourist areas.
Explore the ‘Hutongs’ or back alleys of Beijing on foot, or take a rickshaw tour of the narrow, twisting, suburban streets. Visit the Beijing Zoo and see the iconic Giant Pandas. Shop at the new Silk Alley Market where everything is designer (and everything is fake!). Dont stay up all night singing karaoke, get up early and visit the sights.
The Park Plaza Beijing is one of the most popular hotels, with a great location in Wangfujing commercial and shopping district and minutes from the major tourist attractions of The Imperial Place and Tian’anmen Square. Contemporary and stylish decor, free internet and spectacular city views. Rooms from AUD$110 per night.
If you like a hotel with romantic charm and historical character, stay at the Raffles Beijing on Chang An Avenue – one of the city’s most prestigious addresses. The guest rooms are decorated in an elegant French style with Oriental accents of bright, textured fabrics and furnishings. If you have time to relax you can use the gym, indoor squash and tennis courts, and the swimming pool (although you will need a bathing cap)! Stay at this 5 star hotel for around AUD$300 per night including a hot buffet breakfast daily.
The Chinese economy is booming, and behind the skyline of construction and cranes lies an historic city steeped tradition and culture. Make sure you have enough time to explore its fascinating past as well as its modern attractions (read: shopping!).