The capital city of Beijing is large and busy; it is commonly considered the political and cultural centre of China. While the city is polluted and congested, I love it. They are moments where suddenly the sky is blue, they are places that look and feel like I dream of China, human and romantic.
You can catch a glimpse of that Beijing and a simple way to prioritize what to do in just one day is to remain inside the circle drawn by the metro line number 2. By the way metro or cabs are easy to use.
1. Tian’anmen and the Forbidden City
By metro or cab get the Quinamen door station, a quick loop south on Quianmen street will give you a glimpse of the old refurbished Beijing. Head north and walk through the Tian’anmen square towards the Forbidden City. You will see chairman Mao’s mausoleum, the modern National Theatre for Performing Arts, nicknamed the “Pearl”. Then walk through the south gate and continue to the main entrance. Get yourself an audio guide for the palace and enjoy the visit for a couple of hours (2 to 3 hours depending on the crowd). When you reach the north exit of the palace where you can return your audio guide, walk westerly to the Beihai Park dominated by the white pagoda and have lunch with a beer by the waterside in this quiet and well-kept park.
2. The charm of the Hu tongs and the parks
From the white pagoda, walk north towards Di’anmen street, cross the street and move east until you reach N’Luogu Alley and engage into the charming Hu tong neighbourhood. On Gulou Street turn left to the Bell tower and finally reach the Qian Hai recreational area to have a drink.
3. The modern Olympic park
From Qian Hai Lake grab a cab and drive to the Olympic park to see the bird’s nest and the water Cube. When you are done you are read for a Beijing duck dinner in town.
Note: It is quite difficult to combine a visit to the great wall and a tour of the city centre on the same day. So I recommend taking another day to visit a more remote site of the Great Wall named Simatai, only 2 hours away by car but more picturesque than famous Baoding site.
Enjoy your day…