Beijing Bleg

I am heading to Beijing today (first time), and will have roughly 36 hours of free time. Eager to hear suggestions of things to see, do, avoid, eat, etc. Thanks in advance.


Mike

See:
The Great Wall at Mutianyu. Much less crowded and more serene in my opinion than at Badaling.
Tiananmen Square & the Forbidden City
What a million bicyclists look like

Eat:
Peking Duck

Colleen

I do not recommend the bowl of FROG OVARIES! ewwwww

Andreas Moser

Why, visit the current Nobel laureate of course: http://andreasmoser.wordpress.com/2010/10/15/liu-xiaobo/

MP

Check out a couple of hutongs in Beijing. Hutongs are neighbourhoods along narrow alleys, away from the modern roads etc. You will find wonderful Chinese tea houses, cafes, shops etc on some of these hutongs. People still live in hutongs. They're one of the best bits of being in Beijing.

Eric M. Jones.

There are many places to get extraordinarily good business suits for cheap. Ask your hotel concierge for a recommendation. They'll even come to your hotel if you want.

Michael Harvey

Go get a suit made from one of the suit makers that set up shop a little south of the forbidden city. If I remember correctly, there are a couple tailors next to the starbucks (Qianmen Street, Dongcheng, Beijing, China (Starbucks Coffee)). For $100-$300 american dollars, you can get a tailored suit that would cost several thousand dollars anywhere America or Europe. If you are traveling with someone who is Chinese, you can get far better prices on EVERYTHING if they do the negotiating. Don't be afraid to bargain when you make purchases. Its pretty reasonable to bargain down to 15-25% of the original "American" asking price on virtually everything for sale on the streets of Beijing.

Go eat Peking duck somewhere too. Its delicious.

mark

i just went there with a buddy a couple weeks ago. jingshan park just to the north of the forbidden city offers great views. for a change of pace check out the 798 art district, good place to wander around with little crowds, have a few brews at an outdoor cafe, see work fro chinese artists, etc.

Flycat

You should slide down the great wall. I went there and there was a toboggan that you could take down. Very exciting.

hsfear

Din Tai Fung - best dumplings on the planet.

Any part of the Great Wall if you haven't done that before. Of the spots I've been, I liked Badaling.

If you like Cirque du Soliel, you might enjoy the Chaouyang Theater/

I have wanted to get to Beijing Opera when I've visited but couldn't get anyone to go with me.

Jaimeap

If you are going to visit the great wall I seem to remember there being 3-4 access points reachable quickly from Beijin.

However, only one of those points has a slide you can use for your way from from the wall.... I STRONGLY recomend you go for that if you are going to visit the great wall anyway.

Pku006200

Welcome, strongly recommend four gougeous places the Peking university,summer palace and the old summer palace which are both very closed to the university. And try eating the famous Beijing duck at quanjude restaurant two blocks away from the university(^_^) have fun!!!

Nick

Mutianyu for sure!

p-a

do:
schedule your tweets in advance
tell your friends that you ll be off social media for a while
try he local food: one new region of china per meal. Hunan, Sichuan are my preferred ones
spend time understanding the local habits. Can t believe that 70% of the internet population accesses it by mobile? observe :)
recognize the great entrepreneuship spirit. People acknowledge success. everybody wants a share of it, and it drives great things at macro level.
Spend time in the historical monuments of the old city

do not: buy anything in the touristy areas, esp the airport or near the historical monuments.. your own risks :)

Anthony

Definitely the hutongs, while there, eat something you don't recognise and haggle with someone who does not understand you. With only 36 hours I would skip the Great Wall but go to Tiananmen Square (look out for tanks) and visit the Forbidden City. Look out for old guys squatting over a game of chess in the park, gambling money exchanging hands and a cigarette hanging out of every mouth.

Mary

Having lived in Beijing for 6 months, I do highly recommend the Great Wall (and riding down it in a toboggan) , but even the closest segments are not particularly close to the city, so you will spend a lot of time getting to and from the Great Wall. A bit of an opportunity cost, depending on if you think you'll make it back to Beijing any time soon.
Hutong tours are very interesting, and I would highly recommend that.
While Tiananmen Square is interesting from a historical perspective, I would not recommend dedicating more than a cursory visit. I was not impressed by the Forbidden City because I had experienced other far more impressive palaces in Istanbul. The Forbidden City gives very little of the historical perspective or insight into the full lives of the emperors. There's a large wall, inside a vast courtyard, with perhaps a building, repeat this a few times, and you have the Forbidden City.

While custom suits are very cheap, 36 hours would be considered a rush job (which = More expensive for several reasons). If you do decide to buy ANYTHING, start by offering less than 40% of the price they told you (this can be adjusted if the price was written down before you got there, then it's slightly different, but if the price is only offered verbally, be very aggressive in your bargaining). You may offend the first person who knows you to be a rich American, but believe me, these people are VERY price aware and adjust their prices for you accordingly.

Me personally, the best thing I bought while there was a pair of sunglasses. I wear glasses daily, but I was able to get a high-quality pair of sunglasses in my prescription, polarized, for under $25. Because I wear these everyday now when I am commuting, they were, hands down, my best purchase.

As for places to visit the Summer Palace is interesting, take hiking boots.
The Temple of Heaven is very pretty, and has pretty gardens (and right next to the Pearl Market, but if you choose to go to the Pearl Market, skip the building closest to the main road, and walk into the next building over. The Pearl Market is a bit of a misnomer, while there are many pearls to be had, there is everything to be had there. I don't recommend the clothes or the electronics, but for souvenirs and mid-range jewelry, it can do a good job.)
If you have a few hours to kill, don't want to spend money, and don't want to leave the city, ride the subway line 13. it's above ground, and takes you through the outskirts. It's kind of fun to watch the city grow.
My MIL's favorite place was the Buddist Yonghegong Lama Temple.
If you make it to Peking University, there are lots of very good street food vendors around the outside. While I had several favorites, I did enjoy the large steamed dumplings. Peking University is also just interesting to wander. If you are any good at Ping Pong, it is a favorite sport, and it is very easy to find people to play (helps if you have your own paddle though).

DON'T DRIVE. Those people are NUTS. Not as bad as India drivers, but still crazy in their own right.

Have a great Trip!

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Fiza

798 art district is definitely a must-visit. From the traditional to contemporary and post-modern, it has galleries for everyone. I spent 2 whole days just getting lost, exploring that area and finding odd art installation in the most unexpected places. Check out the half-demolished building beside the impressive CCTV tower as well. Quite an odd sight. Apparently, new year fireworks were responsible for the fire which destroyed the building in 2009 I think. They have yet to fix that. And Da Dong is the place to go to for Peking Duck. Some might say touristy but seriously, it's good duck.

Charles Kraver

1) Great Wall is a must as other have said.
2) The subway. 2 Yuan to anywhere, that's about $0.30.
3) Tiananmen Square to see where things happened back in 1989.
4) Forbidden City, Summer Palace, Hutongs.

One problem I had with Beijing was the pollution. I woke up each day with a soar throat. That cleared up when I returned to Shanghai. Does anyone know a time of year that Beijing has less pollution?

Andy

I lived in Beijing for a year, from summer 2007-2008.

I agree, Great Wall at Mutianyu is better than at Badaling.

You pretty much have to try Peking Duck. Quan Ju De is the more famous place for it, where all the presidents have been. Da Dong is more of a modern take. Both are good.

For a lunch option, you might want to try a Yunnan place such as In & Out (in north Sanlitun) or Middle 8. The first is a little more unique but both are good. For good Sichuan, try baguobuyi in the CBD.

For drinks, there are some nice rooftop bars in Sanlitun, but you are better off trying to find a non-touristy place that over looks the lakes in Houhai. There is a bar called 30 Bar that you enter from a Hutong (Yandaixie Street) that has a great view and is usually not crowded.

For a good walk, wander around Houhai and the Drum and Bell Tower area. That's all Hutongs (or used to be), with Nanluoguxiang being the most famous.

If you have time, 798 art district is a lot of fun. I've heard it's gotten a lot more commercial since I left though, so I'm not sure how high I'd rank it on the list of things to do.

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Jen

Food:
-Peking duck at Da Dong - much better than Quanjude
-if you like spicy food, definitely try a Sichuan place (one option is the Sichuan office in Beijing - though prepare to wait)
-try Uighur/Xinjiang food for something totally different (one option is the Xinjiang autonomous region office in Beijing)
-if you have a local guide, ask where to find the best Beijing snacks (and let me know!) - a lot of the places I liked near houhai are not there anymore

Sights:
-even after being there 3+ times, the Summer Palace is still my favorite tourist attraction
-that being said, going to Peking University gives you a free look at similar architecture
-wander around one of the remaining hutongs - I would recommend Nanluoguxiang, but it's getting a bit crowded

Jen

Oh, to answer Charles' question about pollution - the best time is after a rain storm - so summer, the only time it consistently rains. However, summer is also incredibly hot and muggy, so if you're not a fan of the heat, the best time to visit Beijing is the fall (mild weather and no dust storms)