Beijing

CONTRIBUTED BY NATALIA TSOI

My boyfriend and I love to travel. This January, we decided to go to Beijing to celebrate the Dragon Chinese New Year. I flew from Hong Kong to Beijing and my boyfriend flew via Air China’s new direct route from Naha to Beijing. It took about 2.5 hours to arrive from Naha.

We stayed at the Park Plaza Beijing Wangfujing Hotel. To my surprise, the hotel upgraded our room to a bigger room with comfortable sofa and king bed. Good location, good service and free wifi, everything is perfect!

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Wangfujing is a central area in Beijing. Wangfujing Street has many kinds of shops, department stores, restaurants and local snacks. Nearby are Tiananmen and the Forbidden City.

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Tiananmen Square is a world-recognized symbol of China, where Mao Zedong declared the foundation of the People’s Republic of China on October 1, 1949.

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The Forbidden City is where the Chinese Emperor lived with many wives and servants. Its construction began in 1406 and its history spans nearly 600 years. Today it is called the Palace Museum. It was declared a World Heritage Site in 1987. (photo 5-6)

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Beijing is not only government building and palaces. The real old Beijing can be found on the narrow residential alleys, or hutongs. The hutong is an important part of Beijing culture. Every hutong has their own history, formed by the families who lived there for hundreds of years.

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Another one of the symbols of China, the Great Wall is possible to visit in day trip from Beijing. There are many locations on the wall that are accessible to visitors. Badaling is the closest one to Beijing. We took a train to Badaling station from Beijing North Railway Station, and traveled around 1.5 hours. A cable car takes visitors to the wall itself.

Badaling had many people all over the place. However, everyone was happy and friendly. The views were amazing. Sometimes, the climbing was quite hard, because the stone ramps and stairs were steep, but there was hand rail to hold on to. Only when you stand on the wall, you can begin to understand the immense effort it took to build. From Badaling, the wall continues for as far as the eyes can see. In Chinese words, “He who doesn’t reach the Great Wall is not a true man”. Great Wall, Great experience!

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Tips:
1) The admission fee for Badaling is RMB45. You can hike to the entrance to the wall or take cable car from the foot of the mountain to the top. The cable car ticket is RMB80 for a round trip. It saves you time which you can use to enjoy walking on the Great Wall. You will need good walking shoes because the stone walkways can be slippery. If possible, bring hand warmers in winter time, because the wind at the top is freezing cold.
2) Highly recommended to eat are Beijing-style hotpot, roasted duck and steam bun.

18 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks for the post me and my family plan to visit the Great Wall, Beijing, the beginning of the year, how much was your boyfriends plane ticket from Naha?

    • Hi, you are welcome. The price was 58,000 yen in this February. I hope that you and your family will enjoy your trip in Beijing.

      • Yes Natalia, we will enjoy are trip, we are also in Okinawa, who was your boyfriends travel agent at HIS Travel in Chaton? We were planning on leaving in January but I think now we will wait til it is a little warmer. I also after reading this book want to visit the cit of Nanjing (Nanking).

  2. Hi,
    Loved your post.
    I am planning to visit Great wall next month but I will be 6 months pregnant then. Can I take the cable car? Do I still need to walk lots till the cable car?
    Thanks. I highly appreciate if you could reply soon 🙂

    • Hi Hi,
      If walk from Badaling train station to Great wall gate around 15 min, from gate to cable car around 15 min. There have some small shop in the gate, you can take rest. Yes, you can take cable car, but be careful when you walking in the Great Wall, the stone walkways are slip. Also suggest you bring some water and snacks when you waiting the cable car or hiking in the Great Wall.
      I hope that you have happy time in Beijing.

  3. When making arrangements on your own did you find any travel restrictions? For example not being able to travel through particular cities? Any safety concerns when not traveling with a tour group?

    • Hi, I come from Hong Kong and I don’t need a visa to China. But my boyfriend was able to get the visa with the help from the travel agent( HIS Travel in Chaton) from where he bought his flight ticket. HIS Travel applied on his behalf and sent the documents and passport to the China consulate in Tokyo. It takes several weeks to get back the passport, so plan accordingly.

  4. A very well written & informative post. Having visited Beijing and The Great Wall two years ago, highly recommend making this trip while in Okinawa.

  5. Thank you for sharing this post. Can you give us the conversion for the admission fees listed above in USD? Also, what type of budget should we expect to have when visiting Beijing and doing similar activities as you did? Any replies would be much appreciated.

    • Hello,
      The exchange rate for today is RMB 6.4 to USD 1. Our hotel was RMB 595 (USD 93) per night. Keep in mind this is expensive area of Beijing, other areas might be cheaper. The admission fee and cable car for the Great Wall was RMB 125 (USD 20) per person. The admission fee for the Forbidden City was RMB 40 (USD 6) per person.

      Beijing’s subway is very cheap and convenient, just RMB 2 (30 US cents) per trip. The restaurants can be quite cheap, for example, we ordered an steamed bun stuffed with pork and side dishes for RMB 45 (USD 7). Of course it depends on the type of restaurant. I hope this helps.

        • During the Chinese New Year holiday, Beijing empties out, as many people go to their home town, and there are fireworks and festivals, so it is good time to see Beijing. The disadvantage is some restaurants may be closed. I have not been in Beijing during other seasons, so I cannot say when is the best season.

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