Wednesday 13 January 2016

72 hours in Beijing

Most people see Beijing through the windows of the airport during a stop off on the way to another country.  With its free 72 hour visa on arrival I can thoroughly recommend making use of a full 3 days visiting the country.  I live here and so know little about hotels but a lot about what to do in a short space of time.

Day 1 - Arrival

- Arrive. Book to stay around the "Gulou" area.  Anywhere around the "Drum and Bell tower" is ideal.  Whenever you find yourself with spare time it is the perfect place to explore.
- Depending on the time of arrival spend the day and evening walking around that area.  HoHai lake is great to see all year round.
- Have dinner at "No Name Restaurant" for good quality, great value authentic Chinese food.  This place should be walking distance from your hotel.  Many places near the lake are ridiculously over priced so be careful.
Day 2 - Great wall

Great Wall at Mutianyu
Morning- There are many ways to see the great wall.  "Mutianyu" is the most friendly part but also the most touristy.  With your limited time it is the part of the wall I recommend.  I pay a personal driver to take me, wait at the wall and bring me back for £50.  Don't pay much more than that.  Food here is stupidly overpriced so eat before and after.

Afternoon- Forbidden city a short taxi/tuktuk from Gulou.

Night- Eat at QuanJude Roast Duck Restaurant which is a short taxi from your hotel.  It is one of the oldest restaurants for Peking Duck (the national dish!!).

Day 3 - Temple of heaven/Shopping

HaiDiLao Hot Pot
Morning- Take a local taxi to "Hongqiao Pearl Market" to buy "Genuine fakes" of all the top brands.  Everything in there can be bargained down to less than £30 and more often even less.  Pearls are genuine on the middle floor and should cost around £20 for a decent necklace.  Whether you are into shopping or not everybody knows someone at home that would appreciate a new handbag that looks like it is worth £1000 but actually only cost £10.  Have lunch at the food court on the bottom floor.
Lunch- Temple of heaven is just around the corner from the Pearl Market.
Option 1(playing it safe): Take a taxi to HaiDiLao Hot Pot which is a very popular Chinese event meal.
Option 2 (slightly daring): Take a taxi to "Ghost street" to see where Chinese people like to go and eat.  Pick a busy restaurant and you can't go wrong.  Crayfish is popular.
Option 3 (Adventurous): Take a taxi/tuktuk (nearby) to Donghuamen Night Market to see insects and arachnids on the menu.

Day 4 - Departure
If you have a late flight, have a bit of a wander around Gulou and find a nice backstreet (Hutong) lunch.