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Beijing is an absolutely awesome yet underrated city! It’s a hub of cultural, technical and social development, and the time to visit is now! Not only are there plenty of fun things to do in Beijing, but you can do so many of them after work too. After a hard day’s work, it’s time to let your hair down and enjoy what this magical city has to offer.
One of the best things to do in Beijing is to explore the local markets and hutongs (little alleyways), where you can buy tasty snacks, handmade souvenirs and cheap beer! Visit Guijie Street, Qian’men and Nanluoguxing for the most authentic treats.
How to Get to Beijing
You’ll most likely fly into Beijing Capita International Airport (PEK), which is around an hour’s drive from the city centre. You can also take a bullet train from other large cities like Shanghai or Xi’an – these are fast, clean and efficient.
There are two smart ways to get around Beijing, and they both have their pros and cons. The subway system in Beijing is excellent. The trains run extremely regularly, most tickets cost less than $0.50 and most importantly they have good air conditioners running! However, sometimes the journey can be tedious if you have to change lines more than once or twice to get to your destination.
The subway stations and trains can also get very busy at peak times – before 9am and between 5 and 6pm are usually the busiest. The next best way to get around is to order a taxi. You can hail an official cab from the street, or ask a local friend to order via the popular app Didi (China’s Uber). Taxis are also cheap – fares start at less than $2 – and they are frequent enough to be able to grab one when you need it.
Where to Eat in Beijing
Da Dong Roast Duck // If you’re coming to Beijing, obviously you have to eat Peking duck! You can find it all over the city, but one of the most famous and well-reviewed restaurants is Da Dong. They have multiple branches in the city so you can pick one that is closest to you. The meal is not only for sustenance, but experience and entertainment too!
Mr Shi’s // Mr Shi’s is well known for its perfectly crispy, well stuffed and delicious dumplings. You can choose from a crazy array of fillings and sometimes they put on all-you-can-eat-and-drink offers too!
Q-MEX // Sometimes you can only eat so much Chinese food, and this is when Q-MEX steps in. Their burritos are beautiful and their beer margaritas are pretty cool too! Again, there are a few branches dotted around the city – the Sanlitun restaurant is probably the most central.
Bleu Marine // If you want steak that is well-priced, cooked outstandingly and is served with a couple of free shots of ‘tea’, then Bleu Marine is the place to be. The owner is super friendly and welcoming, and brews his own special concoction that he’ll insist you try.
Mù Wū Shāo Kǎo // This is a bbq restaurant serving barbecue like you’ve never had before! Mouth-watering lamb skewers (you won’t be able to forget about these!), fresh garlicky vegetables and meaty fried rice, this place has everything you need for a great evening dinner. They also serve decent beer as a great deal – buy one jug, get two free!
You’ll also be able to easily find famous fast food places like McDonald’s, KFC and Burger King everywhere! 7/11 is also popular, and they do decent lunch-time takeaway food if you’re in a rush but want to stay authentic!
If you don’t speak Mandarin, download Google Translate before you go. It works offline and you can type, take a photo and speak into it in order to communicate with people who don’t speak English.
What to Do in Beijing
Ghost Street // This popular street is full of local and foreign cuisine, and is bustling all through the night as many places are open 24/7. Get the famous spicy crayfish here!
Tian’anmen Square // The square is busy during the day, but quietens down at night. You might also be there for the flag-lowering ceremony which is cool to watch! Wander round and take a trip up to the Tian’anmen Tower for a great view.
Water Cube/Bird’s Nest // The 2008 Beijing Olympics drew a lot of attention to the capital, so they stepped up their game with their construction ideas! The Water Cube (The National Aquatic Centre) was built for the competition, and is now used as a waterpark, spa and theatre, with plenty of restaurants on-site.
Houhai Lakes // Wandering around the lakes and the hutongs is a great way to spend an evening in Beijing. There are plenty of bars and restaurants to choose from, you’ll find both western and Chinese food to satisfy any appetite and the area is really pretty! Chill on a rooftop bar and take in the gorgeous scenery.
Watch a Chinese Kung Fu // Show If you’re looking for something a little more cultural, then you can’t miss a Kung Fu show. Kung Fu is famous in China, and you’ll be treated to some fantastic displays of martial arts! Go to the Red Theatre for the best experience.
Beijing is a great place to visit, whether you’re on a transit visa or week-long holiday! Remember that during public holidays, the subway and most attractions will be extremely busy.
To get access to certain sites, such as Facebook and Instagram but also many other sites that may be blocked, you’ll need a VPN. If you’re only visiting for a short while then take advantage of a free trial. Astrill and Express are the most popular and work very well.
You must register with your accommodation when you stay in Beijing. Your hotel will do everything for you but keep any documentation they give to you readily accessible.
Also check out:
- Kathmandu, Nepal After 5:00 pm
- Beijing After 5:00 pm
- Moscow, Russia After 5:00 pm
- Tokyo, Japan After 5:00 pm
- St. Petersburg, Russia After 5:00 pm
- New Delhi After 5:00 pm