Last week we have talked a bit about China through the book I was presenting you, Shanghai Girls, but now it’s time to get some travel information abot an important city from this amazing country: Beijing. And how can we make this happen if not with the help of a local?
1. Let’s get to know you better: where are you from and what are you doing now in Beijing?
Hi! I’m Alice Chen, and I’m originally from Austin, Texas. I originally moved to Beijing for a work opportunity and to improve my Chinese. I ended up staying and working as an English teacher.
2. What do you like the most about Beijing?
Beijing is a fantastic place to visit if you’re at all interested in Chinese and Eastern history. The city has several UNESCO World Heritage sites including the Forbidden Palace, Summer Palace, and Temple of Heaven and has parks that were meant for emperors in ancient times. Several sections of the Great Wall of China are easily accessible from the city. The food is good if you know where to go. Once you get the hang of being in Beijing and China in general, it’s a convenient and lively place to live!
3. Let’s suppose a very good friend of yours will come visit this beautiful city. Could you please make a 3-day program to include all the must-see places?
Honestly, Beijing can’t be seen in just three days. But if you decide to take advantage of the 72-hour visa-free transit option that it offers, these are must-see places:
Day 1: Tiananmen Square, Forbidden Palace, Jingshan Park, Prince Kung’s Mansion
Day 2: The Great Wall of China (the most accessible portion is Badaling, which has a black bear mini zoo at one entrance) and the Ming Tombs
Day 3: Temple of Heaven, Lama Temple, Temple of Earth
4. What touristic attractions in Beijing you think are a bit overrated?
Honestly, the thing about Beijing is that the tourist attractions can’t be overrated. They are structures, palaces, and parks that have existed for centuries! Each emperor wanted to leave his mark on the place that so many had lived before him, so he just made it more extravagant. However, while the subway system is relatively convenient, it’s often extremely crowded. Some lines are crowded to the point that it’s uncomfortable – try to avoid the subway from about 8-10am and 4:30-7pm if you can.
5. I think you already had some time to integrate through the locals. Could you give us some advice to be able to know more about their preferences?
Many Beijing residents are very used to clueless foreigners and some can speak basic English. They are willing to help you! If one of them invites you out for dinner, reach for the check. However, if you actually pay, the local will feel a sense of failure as the host. In Chinese culture, the host always pays. Bring a nice bottle of wine, some tea, or something small as a present to repay a Chinese person for their hospitality. Paying for dinner is not the way to do it.
You can read more about Beijing and China on Alice’s blog. Also, be sure to follow her on social media:
Facebook : http://facebook.com/whereveralice