Itinerary to Spend Weekend at Beijing

This is exactly like one million dollar question, should we need to go to Beijing?

Frequently I heard about scam or how dirty the toilet in Beijing and those over shine the beauty of Beijing. I was hesitant also, even if i want to go China, may be I would go to rural areas than metropolitan Beijing.

But then just exactly at 1st March, Korea has long weekend and I suddenly checked Skyscanner and found cheapest ticket available to Beijing.

Happily, I booked returns tickets slightly above USD200 via Korean Air. The next step was book a hotel, I chose Novotel Xin Qiao, just across Chongwengmen Station Exit A2. I don't usually very picky about international chain hotel, but paranoid me, prefer to go safe this time.  Afterward, I applied China Visa in Seoul Square and pay KRW 55,000 for visit Visa. Four days later, my visa was ready to be collected. 

Then, what would I visit in Beijing? Aside from Great Wall of course. Actually I am really looking forward to do culinary trip in Beijing. I heard there are many halal restaurants in there.

Well spoiler alert, it was short trip but definitely required a lot of energy.

Day 1
1. The Great Wall

I am not fan of booking open trip or purchase tour package, so I went to Great Wall from Beijing by bus and I am not disappointed at all. Actually, there are many packages offered in Klook or other agency and cost not too expensive around USD40. But my advice, you need to take the bus, not only super cheap (around USD 2 ) and the feeling to blend with locals are fenomenal.

There are many sections of Great Wall (may be 6 or mores). Initially, I hesitant to chose between Badaling (the closest, most preserved but crowded) and Mutianyu (beautiful and bit far away but quieter). But I woke up late, and chose the closest section, Badaling.

To go here is very easy, first I went to  Jushuitan Subway and exit A, then walking around 700 meter (there are many signs here to tell you where to go) and found like end of terminal, a quite long queue people to go to Badaling. Took the bus number 877, the bus is yellow colored and tap my IC card and deducted about RMB 12 (eq. USD 2 or less)
The Great Wall
One hour and half later, I arrived at Badaling Section. The wind blows quit strong in the morning during winter. I suggest you to bring scarf or wind-resistance jacket. Just infront of the bus parking area, there are ticket counters for entrance and sliding car.

I decided to purchase sliding car ticket because it would be different experience than cable car.  Walking to the bear park area, there is gate for sliding car. At first, I don't have slightest idea about sliding car. Thought that it will be roller coaster or something, turns out it is like this.
Sliding car, every one
Basically, this sliding car will help you to hike on several height of the Great Wall. About 10 minutes-ish ride, I arrived and show entrance ticket to the officer.

Badaling section is always crowded, even during non peak season. Previously, I've been warned that on March, usually micro dusts cover almost all part of Beijing and neighbourhood, but since cheap ticket is once in a lifetime, I ignore it. But turns out the dusts (read :pollution) is the why we cannot capture even one good picture of Beijing.

Great Wall, Badaling Section

Great Wall is amazing and beautiful. I was awe how can human built such a magnificent walls thru the mountain and stretched many kilometers. Not only that, the scenery is a killer! Very beautiful, the mountains corridor even on Winter (which practically only brown colored)!
Sleeping Bear at Bear Park

I walked the Badaling Section until the peak and end of section. The Wall is fully restored. We must climb several points but won't exhaust your self too much.

Hike Hike and Hike
I spent half day here and descending at 2 pm-ish. By the time I arrived at Beijing, it is already 4 o'clock.

2. Wangfujing Street

Actually, we didn't plan our first day here thoroughly. We thought, by the time we arrived at Beijing from Great Wall was already night. Therefore, in between Great Wall and Wangfujing Street, we wandered around Beijing try to get any electronics mall. But unfortunately, most physical stores of electronic stuffs are closed for business. I guess, online stores nowadays rule the world.

Then, we decided directly went to Wangfujing Street to try one of halal food. The restaurant name is Dong Lai Shun. It was delicious and slightly pricey compare to Beijing standard. I recommend you to bring your own drink here because drinks are unbelievable expensive in this restaurant.

After refill our tank (read: stomach), we went to famous Wangfunjing Street food. Once we entered, we are welcomed by satay of scorpions. Wah, so many curious tourists take pictures of scorpion, but i was not seeing anyone buying.
Scorpion, everyone

Wangfujing Street Food is like shorter street food of Myeongdong. In there, many stalls selling distinguished and original Chinese food from scorpion, the famous Peking Duck, and many other snacks like tempura, takoyaki, ice cream, etc. There are also souvenir shops, I noticed the pricing is almost indifferent with souvenir stores in Great Wall.
Gate of Wangfujing street Market
This street is stretched only 800 meters. Wangfujing Street is also famous shopping complex in Beijing. There are many branded international stores located in the line of malls in the Wangfujing Street. 

Mall at Wangfujing Street
If you like badminton, then you will notice one of Chinese brand Li-ning. Not until i arrived at Beijing, I finally know that Li-ning also have many sports apparels, not limited to Badminton.

Day 2
1. Temple of Heaven

Learning from yesterday, we plan our second day ahead to get to know the best of Beijing. Our first destination is Temple of Heaven. The Temple was very famous for its beauty.

Gate of Temple of Heaven

Dome of Temple of heaven

outside the wall of Temple of Heaven

The serene park outside Temple of Heaven
I don't know why but my history curiosity was suddenly off in the Beijing. We only pass thru the park and gate but didn't buy the ticket entrance to the temple.

The Park itself is big, serene and breathable. I bet the pollution is filtered by the alleys of trees in here. Locals spent their morning doing many activities in the park. Playing bridge, badminton, taichi, and other sports with bigger shuttlecock that kicked between 4-5 people (idk the sports name).

Spending the morning here and enjoying your breakfast or coffee is like a little piece of heaven!

2. Tianemen Square and Forbidden City

After having lunch back to Wangfujing, we decided to walk from Wangfujing to Tianemen Square which approx. 1km long. Along the main road, there are many of historical or governmental buildings that built i think at the early '19.

I know, it is huge inner battle weather we really need to go to tianemen Square or not because the queue is unbelievable long.

Right before we enter the Tianemen Square areas, we should show our ID and queue for security body search. The queue is crazy, you can spend an hour or mores just to enter the area.

During the queue, I noticed that most peoples in there are local! I am amazed! because in my experience, especially in Seoul, locals prefer to avoid tourist areas and historical buffs. I mean, the queue is super loooooooong and didnot make sense at all.

Tianemen Square is adjacent to the famous Forbidden City. To enter Forbidden City, we must register our passport at the counter and pay RMB 40. In here, no queuing, thanks God!
Hall of Supreme Harmony

Overlook from the Gate

One of Collection

Forbidden City itself is huge palace complex that frequently used to emphasis Chinese Rich Heritage in the movies. This palace was built on 1400'ish and erect beautifully until now.

The Forbidden City now called as Palace Museum also have wonderful collections that shown at the palace.

I am not detail or palace lover, but i assure you this place is huge and beautiful. From the south gate to north gate can be 1 kilometer long. And it well preserved. The palace is clean, equipped with many rest rooms, and lot of seating areas in case you are tired.

3. Jingshan Park

Many people suggest if you hate to queue, then you really can skip Forbidden City and Tianemen Square and directly go to Jingshan Park.

Jingshan Park located just accros the north gate of Forbidden City. The interesting thing, Jingshan Park is one of highest point in Beijing where you can overlook the city bird view for  360 degrees. There is one pavilion at the top where you can enjoy sunset with the background of Forbidden City.

View from Jingshan Park (north side)

View from Jingshan Park (south side)
Since the weather is so bad, i skipped watching the sunset in here and decide descending and stroll around hutongs

4. Hutongs near to Shinchahaihai Station and Nanluoguxiang

The Bridge

Frozen Houhai Lake

Crossed the main gate of Jingshan Park, I patiently wait bus 124 to take me to hutongs near Shinchahaihai station. Actually, I wanted to go Nanluoguxiang initially, but during the journey, I saw a beautiful bridge over Houhai lake .

I decided to stop the bus and walking along the lake and found hutong with local bustling everywhere. Hutong is a narrow street or alley in local residential areas. Some hutong consist of restaurants, cafes or boutiques.

Typical Hutong

After wandered around, I decided to walk to Nanluoguxiang Hutong. This Hutong is famous among the tourists and locals because there many cafes, snacks shop, and others along almost 1 km long.

Nanluoguxiang hutong

many local cuisines here!

Well, you could take may be 3 hours in here to try one by one famous snacks in Beijing. We stayed until 9 pm and decide to go back to the hotel because exhausted.

So far, Beijing is okay! Everything is cheaper here compare to neighbor countries like Japan or South Korea from food, transportation and lodging. Great Wall is a must, meanwhile Forbidden City is totally a must if you are a history buff.

The most frightening thing about Beijing is toilet. Most of toilet is squatting closet, even though there are sitting closet in some modern places like Mall or Airport. What i cannot phantom is no matter how modern or luxurious the place, I can still notice poo spread out at the hidden place of the closet. In some public areas like Great Wall, the toilet smells of piss and aweful. But hey may be i am being unfortunate, i don't say all toilet would be like that.

One thing also that you should be notice is the security in Beijing is very strict. Whenever we want to enter the subway station, they will do body searching and scan your belonging. Also there are many polices everywhere especially in public areas. Some buildings have a very tall fences and guarded by polices. Not that it is frightening, just reduce the beauty of the buildings.

Apart from the toilet and people smoking and spatting everywhere, Beijing is nice city to wander especially if you love culinary.


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