Beijing was the first place I ever visited in Asia. It was the antithesis of what I expected it to be, and allowed us to do a great mixture of activities. From tea and silk factories to incredible shopping to seeing part of the Great Wall of China, it has a great blend of things to offer to any type of prospective tourist.
- The Great Wall of China: There are several areas of the wall that can be accessed easily from Beijing, but we visited the Great Wall at Badaling. Quite bizarre is that a motorway cuts the through the mountains the wall is built on, but once you begin to climb and head away from the busy road you can begin to understand the sheer size of the wall and how incredible a work of engineering it is.
- Silk Factories: You can either visit a silk factory on your own accord or on a shopping excursion. Pretty extensive sales pressures are exhibited during both, but I was just interested in how incredible the works of art created in the factories were. Tapestries, linens and clothes of all types of styles and designs were on show and available to buy, and you’re able to learn about the history of the Silk Road and the process of creating garments and artworks from silk.
- Summer Palace: To this day the Summer Palace and its surrounding grounds remains China’s largest royal park. There are several buildings to visit, as well as a lake and river market. Views of both the city and the rolling countryside are visible from the palace’s high point, and the 30 yuan entry fee is definitely worth it.
- Xidan Shopping District: An incredibly diverse shopping district accessible by bus, MRT, bike or taxi. Modern shopping centres with chain stores, more traditional markets and independent stores, there’s everything from fried scorpion to Karl Lagerfeld and in between. There are several German market-esque chalets installed in the centre of the street where you’re able to sit and relax with a drink and people watch.
- Ming Tombs: We visited the Ming Tombs as part of or excursion to the Great Wall. A beautiful taste of Ming architecture and a sample of how religion and art came together to create these incredible memorials. A UNESCO World Heritage Site that is certainly worth visiting.