For a city to be a beguiling one, it must have a global appeal that will suit the taste of any visitors. The city has to have something for everyone to love and to like. Historical sights, tourist-friendly mass transportation system, high skyscrapers, interesting culture and a very active commerce completes the very cosmopolitan yet beguiling city of Beijing.
Discovering Beijing starts in discovering that the city has four seasons throughout the year – short windy Spring (April-May), long hot Summer (June-August), cool pleasant Autumn (September-October)and long chilly Winter (November-March). But whatever the season is, Beijing never looses a charm to explore. The city’s sights, districts and commercial establishments is well connected and accessible with its mass transportation system of buses, taxis and especially the subway train. So exploring the city is relatively easy and visitor-friendly. A do-it-your-yourself exploration of Beijing won’t be a problem if want to see the must-see and try the must-try. Actually you only needed a map and some Mandarin translation to guide and help you.
|The tall and majestic skyscrapers of Beijing.|
|Welcome to Beijing!|
|Classic buildings around the Dongcheng District, Beijing.|
|Serene lake during winter time in Beihai Park.|
|White Dagoba at Jade Flowery Islet.|
|Monument to People's Heroes across Tiananmen Gate.|
|A city of palaces with stunning Chinese architectures inside Forbidden City.|
|Colorful Chinese artistry at the gate of Jingshan Park.|
|One of 5 hill pavilions in Jingshan Park.|
|The viewing facade of Forbidden City from the hilltop of Jingshan Park.|
Situated in Xicheng District, Beijing Zoo is one of the biggest zoo I have been. The zoo is home to around 450 different species and has a population of some 5,000 animals. But the highlight of the trip to Beijing zoo is to see the Giant Panda. The animal is endemic to China and an endangered species. This is also the reason why there is a Panda Section Hall dedicated for the efforts in preserving the species and spreading messages about its importance. Other unique animals to see inside the zoo are White Tiger, Peacock and Oryx. A visit to Beijing Zoo is also an opportunity to shop good bargains of class A branded bags, clothes and shoes at Julong Underground Market which is reached via a connected walkway in the subway station of Beijing Zoo.
|The huge facade of Beijing Zoo.|
|A peacock displays his colorful tail at Beijing Zoo.|
|The Great Wall of China Mutianyu section.|
|One of the wonders of the world.|
|To hike or not to hike...|
If you still have time in the morning to explore Beijing, don’t miss to visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Summer Palace. Summer Palace is a huge royal garden in Beijing situated in Haidian District. The garden’s must-see are Longevity Hill, Seventeen Arch Bridge, Marble Boat and Kumning Lake. There are over 3,000 man-made ancient structures which count building space of more than 70,000 square meters, including pavilions, towers, bridges and corridors inside Summer Palace. Don’t also miss to visit Temple of Heaven near Tiantan Dongmen subway station. It was built with a purpose to be offer sacrifice for heaven by the emperors in a ceremony to thank heaven and hoping for a good future during the Ming Dynasty at 1420AD. The temple consist of magnificent buildings like the Circular Mound Altar, Imperial Vault of Heaven and Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest. Other interesting sights inside the temple grounds are Three Echo Stones, Echo Wall and Nine-Dragon Cypress. Temple of Heaven is bigger than the Forbidden City but smaller than the Summer Palace. Nearby the temple, there are many interesting place to see like Taoranting Park, Beijing Museum of Natural History and Hongqiao Pearl Market.
By nighttime, one of the sights to visit at in Beijing is the National Center for the Performing Arts or popularly known as “The Egg” because of its architectural design and admirable structural lighting. Symphonies, shows, ballets, dramas, operas and other kinds of performances are frequently staged here. The Egg is popular to locals and visitors for afternoon park strolls, sightseeing and jogging.
|The scenic view of Summer Palace.|
|The Egg or The National Center for Performing Arts at night.|
|Olympic Park with the "Water Cube" at the background.|
|The Olympic Park with two of Beijing's architectural wonders - The Water Cube (left) and Bird's Nest (right).|
While the night is young, explore the lively streets of Wangfujing. This exploration might lead you to high-end malls of Oriental Plaza and Wangfujing Department Store. Or find the cheapest souvenir items to bargain at Wangfujing Night Market. Or you might end your trip by trying to eat either the sweetest night snack or exotic roast of scorpion, starfish and seahorse at Donghuamen Night Market. Bingtanghulu or caramelized fruit is highly recommended. Don’t just limit your options for shopping and night market at Wangfujing. You can also head out to Silk Street for more bargain shopping options. This shopping center is a four floor building that offers affordable bargains from jewelries, clothes, souvenir s up to local treats. It is popular among international tourists for its wide selection of counterfeit designer brand apparels. Silk Street is easily reached via subway at Yong’anli Station that has an exit directly inside the market.
|The lively streets of Wangfujing.|
|A plate of delicious Peking roast duck.|
|Souvenir bargains at Silk Street.|
|Beijing - a beguiling city at night.|
-------------------------------------------------------------Beijing - A Beguiling City is part of my Beguiling Beijing.Captivating China series where I share my adventures, travel stories and first-time experiences in Beijing, China last March 20-24, 2012. You might also like the other parts of the series:
+Beijing - A Beguiling City
+Winter Sonata in China
+Roaming through Beijing
+One Spring Day in Beijing
+Forbidden City: Forbidden No More
+A Dragon Hike to the Great Wall of China
+Beijing's Architectural Wonders
+Peking Duck: An Authentic Chinese Cuisine
+Wangfujing's Lively Street Life
+The Imperial Gardens of Beijing