The Great Wall, China

The Great Wall, China

Hello!

I’ve been back for a few days now and am still pretty tired from the rather intense holidays I had and (probably) still slightly jet lagged.
For those who didn’t know, as I did not really write about it on the blog, I went to visit one of my very best friends who is currently living in Shanghai. Since I had to fly for 11 hours to go there and 12h40 to go back, I thought I might as well visit a few places while on the other side of the world and picked Beijing and Tokyo.

Travelling alone was a wonderful experience in China, as you tend to be an attraction when you don’t look asian and people keep on talking to you in a very natural manner. All in all, I actually felt most at ease with the Chinese folk, as they don’t care much about conventions and seemed overall rather chilled. Yes, they do talk loudly and yes they spit (which is well… eww) BUT they are also warm and laugh easily and always help even if they don’t know how to speak english.

FORBIDDEN CITY

Quite obviously, who says Beijing, says Forbidden City, so this was one of the few things that I had on my absolutely-have-to-see-list.
My hotel was in the hutongs, so I walked to Tian’Anmen Square and entered the forbidden city on that side. I was told to start there and it is indeed the common way of circulation.
On a side note, if you ever go to China, try to choose the usual way of circulation, as mass movements in China are planned as to be fluid and slow paced, if you go through the other way, it’s annoying to say the least.
You will also need your passport for some museums, so take it with you. I belong to those tourists who always have their passports on them so it wasn’t much on an issue for me, but I know some people keep it in a safe at the hotel.

SO! The forbidden city!
The word “city” is not an understatement, it is absolutely gigantic. It covers 72 ha and is basically a closed district. You have to buy tickets as you go as there’s not one ticket that covers everything.

Gate of Heavenly Peace, The Forbidden City, Beijng

Gate of Heavenly Peace, The Forbidden City, Beijng

The first front gate is something you need to pay for and be aware that you are not allowed to take your bags up with you.
Once you are up you have the best view of Tiananmen square and also realize the hugeness of it.

Tiananmen Square, The Forbidden City, Beijng

Tiananmen Square, The Forbidden City, Beijng

You then proceed to walk in a straight line from the south to the north through many gates. It’s easy, all people walk that line, so you can’t really miss it.

However there’s so much more to see in the forbidden city and for me the gems were on the sides.
For one, because there’s virtual nobody there so it’s nice and calm, but also because there are many exhibitions in the halls and you get to see the beautiful inner and outer wooden work of the buildings.

At the end of the city, you can (and should!) climb up on Jingsham hill, where you have a stunning view of the vast complex.

The Forbidden City, Beijing

The Forbidden City, Beijing

I then also went in Beihai Park and up to the white Dagoba, where I finished my day looking at the lake and pondering about life and what to eat that night.

SUMMER PALACE

Another Unesco world heritage, the Summer Palace is another vast complex of halls, temples, gardens and lake that should not be missed., I almost didn’t went because I had other plans, but changed my mind last minute. Good thing I did, it is a magnificent park and complex.
I arrived through the north gate by subway Beigongmen. Which isn’t the typical route, but seemed to be less exhausting that the common entry in the East.

The most beautiful building is the Tower of Buddhist Incense and eight-storey pagoda that overlooks the lake.

But the park is big and there are many other temples, halls and gardens to see.
One that I found especially interesting was the Dehe Garden with the Great Opera Hall. All around the hall where alcoves of about 5 seats where high dignitaries could sit, eat and enjoy the show.

The Garden of Harmonious Pleasures, which was beautiful and peaceful.

Garden of Harmonious Pleasures, Summer Palace, Beijing

Garden of Harmonious Pleasures, Summer Palace, Beijing

And lastly I did Zuzhou Street, which is a Venice-like Shopping street that offers beautiful views.

ART DISTRICT 798

On the same day I did the Summer Palace, I went to an art district that was recommended to me. If you are an artist, interested in art or just love industrial areas, this is something that you should love.
I followed the instructions found in a lonely planet of my friend and it was easy enough, so here you go :
From Exit C of Dongzhimen Subway Station, take Bus 909 (2yuan) for about 6km northeast to Dashanzi Lukou Nan, where you’ll see the big red 798 sign. Buses run until 8h30.

How to Go to Art District 798, Beijing, Lonely Planet Guide

How to Go to Art District 798, Beijing, Lonely Planet Guide

This place was the most exciting of all for me, because there was so much to see and so many old crumbling industrial buildings. It’s also filled with cafés, restaurants, designer shops and art galleries, so you can’t get bored.
I think 1 day would be more suited to enjoy it, but even if you just have a few hours to spare, go for it, absolutely worth it if you’re into that kind of artsy district.
Also quite a surprise for me, as I thought the contemporary art scene was not that huge and realized it is very much alive in China.

THE GREAT WALL

Close to Beijing are many possibilities to sight see the Great Wall. I had friends who went to visit it on the most touristic spots and were rather disappointed, so I checked for small guided tours and found one that beat all expectations.
It wasn’t cheap, but China is overall so cheap that you can indulge in one good tour.
You might find other tours but when I checked it was the one that appealed the most to me.

THE TEMPLE OF HEAVEN

On my last day in Beijing, which I left in the afternoon, I went to visit another temple that was recommended to me, the temple of Heaven.
Also in a huge (beautiful) park, this temple is cylindric and very blue, so it could only please my eye.

And that’s it! I arrived there on Monday afternoon and left on Friday afternoon but managed to see quite a lot, which involved an enormous amount of walking and photo shooting.
I loved Beijing and feel that I could have stayed a few days more to see even more.
The only “regret” I have it the pollution haze that never left. If you can go there in spring or early summer, the view should be a lot clearer and maybe the sky blue. But those are details, the building are always magnificent, no matter what the weather looks like.

xx
Stéphanie

30 thoughts on “Travelling : Beijing

  • November 3, 2016 at 1:10 pm
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    Magnifique !
    J’ai passé 15 jours en Chine en mai dernier, j’ai beaucoup aimé.
    Passablement déçue par la Cité Interdite, j’ai adoré le Temple du Ciel que j’ai trouvé simplement parfait. J’aurais bien aimé aller au Art District 798, mais ce n’était pas prévu au programme.
    Mais mon “huge crush” a été pour Shanghai.
    Cette ville est incroyable.
    Le Bund nous en met plein la vue tant l’architecture est démente et la vieille ville est superbe. Mention spéciale pour le jardin du Mandarin Yu qui est d’une beauté époustouflante.
    Merci pour ce partage, j’adore l’Asie 😉

    Reply
    • November 8, 2016 at 8:23 am
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      J’ai aussi beaucoup aimé la Chine, même si ce n’était pas la première fois 🙂
      J’ai été à Shanghai il y a trois ans, il faisait beau mais très chaud (ciel bleu par contre! ^^)

      Reply
  • November 3, 2016 at 1:38 pm
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    Absolutely beautiful! Thank you for sharing with us the images and the video of your travel!

    Reply
  • November 3, 2016 at 3:04 pm
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    Beijing and the Great Wall is on my to do list. My only problem is that the list is very very long and just growing…
    Nice to see you in the video!

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    • November 8, 2016 at 8:24 am
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      Haha, yes that list keeps growing 😀
      But it’s really worth it, so I hope you manage to check it off your list 🙂

      Reply
  • November 3, 2016 at 7:43 pm
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    Soooooooooooooooooo jealous….all those places I’ll never do to :'(

    Reply
  • November 3, 2016 at 8:31 pm
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    Merci pour ce guide! Un vrai bonheur que de te suivre à Pékin.
    La petite Venise chinoise est trop mignonne.

    Reply
  • November 3, 2016 at 9:35 pm
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    Wow! What a wonderful travel! And you could visit all of this in just a few days! I’m a little bit jealous!

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    • November 8, 2016 at 8:26 am
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      I tend to be an efficient traveller ^^
      maybe one day you’ll get to visit Beijing as well 🙂

      Reply
  • November 4, 2016 at 5:55 am
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    Welcome back! It sure seems to be a wonderful experience for you. May we expect a new Asian line from you with new designs? I am sure you must be full with inspirations now.

    Reply
  • November 4, 2016 at 6:34 am
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    fantastique
    merci du partage et de la visite

    (ps pour la pollution malheureusement je crois que c’est tout le temps (dixit un ami qui a passé plusieurs mois pour son travail là bas)

    Reply
    • November 8, 2016 at 8:28 am
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      Non, la pollution c’est surtout l’horreur quand il fait froid, parce que les gens chauffent au charbon. J’avais été à Shanghai en été il y a trois ans et le ciel était bleu.
      Après, ils y travaillent, d’ici quelques années, ça sera certainement un peu mieux.

      Reply
  • November 4, 2016 at 11:44 am
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    Fantastic! I thought you might be going for an exhibition as kawaii stuff is really big in Asia! So nice to see you had an amazing holiday. My friend has been to China twice and she loves it, she keeps trying to convince me to go, but it is not yet on my hot list, pics like this though make me reconsider!

    Reply
    • November 8, 2016 at 8:30 am
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      Indeed but I never really was into kawaii stuff and I more or less stopped making miniature food 🙂
      China is an interesting country, I visited Tokyo the week after, and I preferred China, mainly because I really like the Chinese folk 🙂

      Reply
  • November 4, 2016 at 6:59 pm
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    I was looking to some post about your travel since I seen that Great wall photo on instagram. Perfect tips. It must be rally a great adventure. For me China is so exotic place.

    Reply

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