PEK: China had been on my travel list for a long time! Similar to going to Japan, I knew it would be a destination filled with history, culture, and new experiences. Beijing is the capital city (2nd largest populous city in the world) and full of amazing architecture both modern and traditional. I was so excited to explore!
WHERE TO STAY: Our travel specialist booked us in the New World Hotel. We LOVED this property, which is only found in China, Hong Kong, Vietnam and the Philippines. While the Four Seasons and the Peninsula are also located in Beijing, I recommend trying a property that is different for this part of the world. We took a lot of taxis in Beijing so, no one area seemed better than the other. With that said, we were walking distance to restaurants and near to the historic landmarks.
WHAT TO DO: Be sure to get in a “day of history”. We started off the day by visiting Tian’anmen Square, the largest public square in the world! It is said to be able to hold 1 million people!!
Then, we continued to the Forbidden City. This was the Chinese imperial palace from the Ming dynasty to the end of the Qing dynasty (Years 1420 to 1912). It now houses the Palace Museum.
Summer Palace was one of my favorite places. It was the “summer house” to the emperor and consists of a big lake and gardens. It is also the largest preserved park in China. I would recommend spending more time here and taking a paddle boat around the lake.
While in Beijing, be sure to check out the Olympic Stadium and get a local Chinese massage. Another popular place, that we didn’t get to visit, was 798 Art District.
HOW TO STAY ACTIVE: You can find bikes on every side walk and store front in Beijing. The city uses a bike share app that scans to “unlock the bike” and ride it anywhere. While it is similar to citi bike in NYC, these do not have specific destinations to lock them. You can take one and leave one anywhere, making it convenient for everyone!
The best activity we did was a hike on The Great Wall of China. The Simatai section is 10 towers long and took about 2 hours round trip. It is less crowded due to pre-purchased ticket requirements. The narrow width and slopes makes for uneven terrain, giving it a more active experience. It was pretty surreal… the landscape surrounding it was so open and you could see sections of the wall just going on for miles and miles. This was probably one of my favorite hikes and experiences I have ever had.
Prefer to stay active with a workout class? Check out Space Cycle Beijing. Your first class is FREE and if you purchase a package after class, you will get 15% off. Shay Kostabi of The Local Skill (LA and NYC) is a consultant for Space Cycle – be sure to check it out!
THINGS TO KNOW:
-No one speaks English! You would think that in such a metropolitan city it would be spoken more, but we had a very difficult time, especially in restaurants. Luckily we had a private English guide during the day. Download an app prior to departure.
-Tipping is not customary in restaurants or in taxis but it is appreciated (and expected) by guides and tour drivers.
-Beer and water are served room temperature. Ice is not common
-Be prepared to be cut off from Gmail and Social Media platforms
Have any questions or looking to book a trip? Contact me!