Visit Beijing, the capital city of the ever-growing Chinese superpower. Though it is quite a modern city with rapid street life, you will still find ancient architecture, culture, and and traditions that truly make this city a top destination in Asia.
Beijing is home to many of China’s famous sights, like the Great Wall, the Temple of Heaven, the Forbidden City, and the Summer Palace. Moreover, there are innumerable cultural sights and activities. For example, a walk along the “hutongs” (old narrow-allied neighborhoods) offer you a glimpse of the traditional China. There is also the historical Tiananmen Square, which won’t easily escape your eye. Mao Zedong's mausoleum lies here and you can actually see his embalmed body. From there, you can visit the Great Hall of the People, the Opera, and of course, the Forbidden City. If you're an early bird, you can also watch the impressive flag-raising ceremony every morning before dawn.
Once inside the walls of the Forbidden City, the massive open spaces, old buildings, red-colored walls, and delicately shaped golden roofs are overwhelming. If you go early in the morning to avoid big crowds, you may even feel the place's original atmosphere. In its heyday, the Forbidden City was exclusively held for the emperor and his entourage. A little further to the south, you can find a large park where the Temple of Heaven is situated. After you’ve seen this, no other temple will ever compare!
Make a daytrip out of your visit to the Summer Palace, since it is more of a park than a palace. From the top, you can see the beautiful lake and even catch a glimpse of the contemporary Beijing skyline. If you are not too busy, this is a wonderful place to stop and relax!
There is no way around it, you simply HAVE to visit the Great Wall! For the active traveler, the hike from Simatái to Jinshanling is a good option. This route takes about 4 hours over some less restored parts of the wall. Since this route requires some stamina and skill, you can easily avoid tourist groups.
Since there is so much to see and do in Beijing, it is easy to spend all of your time jumping from one attraction to the other. However, make sure you spend sufficient time away from the major sights. If you really want to discover China, we recommend that you observe the local rhythms, explore the smaller streets, and take in the daily life of those around you. These smaller, less advertised discoveries will leave a lasting impression.
Rent a bike and peddle or walk through some of the city's hutongs. Make sure you stop for some freshly prepared “baozi”. You’ll enjoy the taste of steamed paste filled with meat or vegetables. While you’re busy trying Chinese cuisine, be sure to sample some Beijing Duck. Select a small eatery for your dinner that is filled with local people. These local joints are the best if you want an authentic experience. Since the chef is unlikely to understand anything else than Mandarin, the best option is to point some ingredients. You can also wander around and point to some dishes that are already being served. You might not know what you are eating, but why not be adventurous?
When you’ve finished your meal, you might consider going to a Chinese opera performance, a Kung Fu action show, or some other alternative cultural performance in one of the big theatres. To experience contemporary Chinese culture, spend at least one night singing along to the Beatles or the Venga Boys in a karaoke bar. Ask “karaoke?” to anyone on the street and it is likely there will be a bar nearby. Chat with some locals over a few beers and enjoy the night. Remember that “campei” means "bottoms up"!
Did you know that KILROY can also help organise your study tour to Beijing? Read on to learn more about how we can plan your study trip with the right academic content and interesting study visits in the city of your choice.
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