Beijing, a place with so many different definitions, was like a mystery to me. Well, I simply knew that it is the capital, so I decided to have some fun there last September.

Preparation:
The preparation was just flight tickets and hotel booking, actually not much to do. I stuck to my principle of convenience and chose two accommodation places, both of which were youth hostels. But for the first night, I booked a hotel close to the airport because the flight I booked was a night flight which arrived at 23 o’clock. The hotel also provided free transfers to and from airport. The most important preparation was to figure out where I wanted to visit. Well, I knew about the Tiananmen Square, the Forbbiden City, the Great Wall, the Summer Palace and the Old Summer Palace plus the Temple of Heaven. It turned out that I knew not a few places there.

Transportation:
We took flights between Beijing and Guangzhou. The round-way flights were 1840rmb per person including tax, which was quite reasonable. I also considered about taking the high-speed trains. But it was 1700rmb and took at least 8 hours per way. So we finalised with flights. The Air China flights were not too bad. I slept on the plane for 2 hours among the total 3-hour flight for I was tired just after work.

As for the transportation in Beijing, mostly we took the subway or public bus and of course, walked for the most of the time. We bought transportation cards the minute got off plane. It required 20rmb for deposit and was available at the subway stations. The deposit was refunded when we gave back the cards. The buses in Beijing only charge for 1rmb for any distance but you need to swipe the card not only when you get on but also when you get off. Otherwise, you will be charged for more the next time you take a bus. The subway is also very convenient. I didn’t take a taxi during the tour but the subway and bus were enough for me to get around. I love walking pass various streets with a map in hand. I just wandered with my big sister. You will get a lot from the walking on the condition that it is safe. The taxies were clean and in the same style and colors. Electric passenger tricycles were scattered around scenic spots. You may have a try of this but remember to bargain for a better rate. We took a ride on this when went for watching the flag-raising ceremony. It was 10rmb and felt wonderful. We certainly walked for long. If you are not athletic, bring some massage cream with you. This way you may relax the legs at night.

Budget:
Around 4000rmb per person.

Day One: Flight from Guangzhou to Beijing
Today was just the flight. I did take some nice pictures though. The hotel we stayed was not bad. It was 180 per night and it has a window. The driver picked us up at the airport was friendly and polite.

Beijing Night View from the Plane
Beijing Night View from the Plane

Day Two: Temple of Heaven, Sanlitun Bar Street, Bird’s Nest,Water Cube
We were sent back to the airport by the hotel free transfer. Then we took airport line to Dongzhimen station. The airport line was 25rmb. I booked a mix dorm at the Leo Hostel on Dashilar Street (10 minutes walk after getting off the subway at Qianmen station). It was 90rmb per night. We did some unpacking quickly, then left for Temple of Heaven by bus. It was very convenient.

[Temple of Heaven] It was a beautiful square, very big. We walked there for 4 hours. There were a huge crowd. Didn’t get the chance to take a picture of the Echo Wall. I will just put a picture here to speak for me.

Temple of Heaven
Temple of Heaven

[Sanlitun Bar Street]Then we went on to the Sanlitun Bar Street. Don’t know why, I had a special feeling with this place.

Dusk at Sanlitun Bar Street
Dusk at Sanlitun Bar Street

This is the dusk of Sanlitun. Though this picture was not prefect, I love it deeply. We wandered there for a while and then went to the back streets for snacks. After satified ourselves with food and drink, we went to the Olympic Green.

[Olympic Green]Love the colors of the Water Cube the most, very similar to the chocolate chips and Skittles. We couldn’t get in, but still took several amazing photos.

Day Three: Mutianyu Great Wall, Dashilar Street, Liulichang Cultural Street
[Mutianyu Great Wall]If you can go for Mutianyu Great Wall, you’d better not visit Badaling Great Wall instead! We set out at 6 o’clock in the morning for it’s a long way. Mutianyu Great Wall is the part with least human contruction among the parts open to tourists. It is in Huairou district, so it’s not very convenient to pay a visit. Normally tour groups won’t go there, therefore it is way less crowded. This is the part where Mrs. Obama climbed. It is also said that she ate at the Subway at the foot of the Great Wall. Well, I ate at the Burger King, which was more international I thought. Heard that a kind of fish was quite popular here, but I was not a fan of fish, so I skipped it.

You need to take the express bus 916 at the Dongzhimen Bus Station to get to Mutianyu. We got off at the terminal and then went by unlicensed taxi. Actually the unlicensed taxies were the only way to get there. The driver we had was nice but he charged a bit high. It was 30rmb per person because no one shared the car with us at that early time. Usually it should be 10rmb per person.

I have to admit that climbing the Great Wall is my favorite part of this tour. The sky was blue, with the sun shining happily. We went wild with nothing to bother. People, from around the world, nodded or said “Hello” to each other though they were totally strangers. We met a few nice people along the way, an energetic old couple, who arrived at the Wall at 5 in the morning, an old lady from Tianjin, who suggested us to visit Tianjin also to try the Jianbingguozi, a young couple from Sweden, who questioned my sense of direction, a handsome guy, who took a picture with us, a little girl with blond hair, who mumbled “One step, two steps…”, and a middle-aged genteman, who persuaded us not to visit Zhangjiajie. We climbed for 5 hours in all. It was tiring but I was much happier with the stunning views and nice communication.

Cable Car at Great Wall
Cable Car at Great Wall

These are the cable cars at the Great Wall. Your feet will be dangling. Very exciting!

Mutianyu Great Wall
Mutianyu Great Wall

The Leo Hostel was quite close to the Dashilar Street and Liulichang Cultural Street, so we wandered at these places almost everyday.

Day Four: Flag-raising Ceremony, Tiananmen Square, Forbbiden City, Jingshan Park 
[Flag-raising Ceremony]We got up at 4:30 this morning to watch the flag-raising ceremony. But it was still not early enough, there were moutains of people at 5:15 when we arrived. If not for the handsome soldiers, I would have gone into sleep standing. I couldn’t explain why I wanted to attend the ceremony. Well, what I can say is that I had no idea that the national song needs to be played for three times. At this solemn occasion, I wouldn’t take any picture, so just followed with the music in my heart. It was a special experience.

We had breakfast at Pizzahut nearby the square after the ceremony. After a bit rest, we went ahead to ascend the Tiananmen Gatetower. It was 15rmb. It was only for taking this picture that I did this.

Tiananmen Square
Tiananmen Square

[Forbidden City]Okay, now, let’s get in the royal palace. Remember to get in from the Meridian Gate (Wu Men) and out from the Gate of Devine Might (Shen Wu Men). It is called Meridian Gate because the emperor believed that the meridian line went right through the Forbidden City and his imperial residence was the center of the whole universe. I recommend visiting the palace in this order is because that this way you may get to the Jingshan Park, which is close to the Gate of Devine Might, to have a panorama view of the royal palace. This is “Perfection”! Check below.

Panorama View of Forbidden City
Panorama View of Forbidden City

You need to rent a detailed map of the palace from the ticket office or find one elsewhere so that you can fully explore it in limited time. At least 6 hours are advised to be spent here for a thorough visit. You may bring some snacks in case you get hungry. The palace was quite grand. So many stories, so many vicissitudes it had gone through! I was so tiny, faced with it.

Day Five: Summer Palace, Old Summer Palace, Sanlitun Bar Street 
Another early up, we left Leo and checked in at the WADA Hostel in Xicheng district (Xinjieli station). It is located in the Hutong area. Here we shared with two other girls. Everyone was polite and kind. Putting aside the luggage, we set off for Summer Palace. In fact, the Old Summer Palace was quite close to the Summer Palace. We stayed at the Old Summer Palace till 5 o’clock in the afternoon. The setting sun sprinkled onto the ruins. We sat there for a while, silently. This is a different China.

Old Summer Palace Ruins
Old Summer Palace Ruins

Day Six: Prince Gong’s Mansion, Nanluoguxiang, Beihai Park, Houhai area, Yandai Xiejie (Yandai Xie Street), Wudaokou 
[Prince Gong’s Mansion] Prince Gong’s Mansion was a place that I also had a special feeling. It was the former mansion of Shen He, a corrupt official who I had heard much about. There is a saying that Prince Gong’s Mansion preseves half of Qing Dynasty’s fortune. The Forbidden City is grand, while Prince Gong’s Mansion is luxurious. Many people think that this place isn’t worth a visit. However, I adore it from a different perspective.

Nanluoguxiang was flocked with people and snacks. On the way to Beihai Park, I helped a stranger to figure out his way. At Houhai area, we experienced a rickshaw ride. If you want to do this, remember to bargain. The rickshaw master was very friendly and introduced us to a few mansions and various stories. We sent out all the postcards at a post office on Yanda Xiejie. Then I took my sister to Wudaokou for a yummy South Korean dinner. We went back to the hostel at 9 in the evening.

Day Seven: Flight from Beijing to Guangzhou 
We went home today. Beijing is big, and the world is much bigger. I want to see it all if possible.

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