48 Hrs in Beijing: What to see and do as a backpacker!
The capital city of China, Beijing (called Jing in short), is one of the most visited tourist destinations in the world. It’s not just because Beijing holds some of the best relics of The Great Wall, but mainly because the city holds an interesting amalgamation of ancient architecture and modern facades. It gives you glimpses of the progressive lifestyle of modern day, without losing out on the grandeur of its’ rich heritage.
I got an opportunity to explore this magnum opus during the end of 2015 on a volunteer trip. Oh, YES! I have a slightly different style of travelling to places. I like to take up volunteer work at the destination I am travelling to, as it provides me with the opportunity to get close with the natives, and understand their lifestyle better. You can consider it as my way of travelling! Nevertheless, while on my trip (I was there for 3 weeks), I managed to exploit my weekends (as weekdays were volunteering work days), to visit some of the best places and indulge in some extraordinary activities. So, if you are in Beijing and only have 48 hours to explore (or even if more), here is how you can make the best of your time.
Temple of Heaven.
Take a Walk on the Historical Wall.
A quick question? What would you expect your friends or peers to ask you when you return from a trip to China (no matter what city you visited)? Yes, indeed! Did you see The Great Wall? When in China, one cannot just miss out on visiting this world heritage site. It will be like watching a Rocky movie without Sylvester Stallone starring in it. One of the seven wonders of the world, the Great Wall of China, has eight of its sections passing through the northern border of Beijing, covering around 600 kms; the nearest and the most famous section to the city is the Badaling Wall.
Admire The Millennial Old Architectural Brilliance.
China’s is one of the earliest civilizations in the world and it is imperative to understand the history of a country you are traveling in, to understand its roots and culture. Beijing, being the capital, holds many such relics from the past era. From the huge Forbidden City, the pious Temple of Heaven and Lama Temple, to the colourful Summer Palace and Fragrant Hill Park; Beijing has it all covered for you. Give out an entire day just to explore these places to realize their worth.
Experience the ‘Time Square of China’ – Tiananmen Square.
The New York’s Times Square may be the most famous city square in the world, but when considering the fame along with the size of the area covered, it’s the Chinese Tiananmen Square that tops the charts. It is one of the biggest city squares in the world, located in the heart of Beijing city, where you can find the heroics of Chinese war history celebrated.
Tiananman Square, Beijing, China.
Witness the Ancient Living Style of China in Hutong.
For those who are still confused, wondering that this place has anything to do with hot dogs; well it is much better. Hutongs are the face of the yesteryear Chinese colonies. The name is given to the old city lanes that are narrow and showcase the earlier architecture of Chinese societies. Undoubtedly the most interesting parts of the city to explore.
Shop in Hutong Area.
Move Over Noodles and Take a Typical Chinese Palate Trip.
I have to admit that like millions of others in the world, Chinese food for me has always meant noodles (I love hakka). But it was only when I visited Beijing, that I realized the array of delicacies that the Chinese cuisine has to offer. There is Ma Po Tofu, Sweet and Sour Pork, Gong Bao Chicken, Wontons, and adding to one of my all-time favorites now, the Peking Roasted Duck. In your cuisine adventure you will have your mouth full of interesting flavours, and you need to try some of these dishes to get the real authentic taste of China.
Roasted Peking Duck.
Since I was there to volunteer in Beijing, most of the things were organised for me as I had a local coordinator, appointed by the placement firm I was traveling through. So, if you are planning to visit Beijing soon, I hope these tips will help you design an itinerary to experience the best that Beijing can offer.