Your First Trip to China

If you are a first time tourist to China, the choice of where to go, what to do and see will seem amazing. The country is so vast, diverse, and full of history and culture. It is surely a traveller’s fantasy come true and on the top of the bucket list for many people.

This is the first in a series of articles about places to visit in China and we start with Beijing. Whilst you could spend many months exploring different parts of the country, the capital, Beijing, is a great place to start.

Here are three classic places to visit and things to do, which are easily accessible from Beijing.

The Forbidden City

The Forbidden City, or Palace Museum as it is also known, is in the centre of Beijing. It was the official palace for 24 emperors from the Ming and Qing dynasties from 1420 until the last emperor of China Pu Yi abdicated in 1912. It was forbidden to enter the palace without the emperor’s permission, hence the name “Forbidden City”. This is the world’s largest palace complex of 74 hectares. There are over 900 buildings and over 8,700 rooms in the complex. In 1987, it was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Great Wall

The Great Wall is 8,850 km long and winds its way across China. The construction of the wall was over an incredible period of 2000 years. Different interconnecting parts were made by different dynasties, as a defensive wall, the most recent construction being during the Ming dynasty in the 14th century. Several segments of the Wall are accessible from Beijing. Mutianyu Great Wall is about 1 to 1.5 hours drive from Beijing Airport, as are Juyongguan and Badaling Walls. Other sections are further away. Mutianyu has fewer crowds than Badaling and is also the longest fully restored section of the Great Wall.

The Terracotta Warriors

The home of the Terracotta warriors is a train or flight from Beijing. In spite of the additional journey, no visit to China is complete without a visit to the most important archaeological find of the 20th century – the Terracotta warriors and horses. The site was discovered by local peasants digging a well in 1974. It is believed that the army, was buried around 210 BC along with emperor Qin Shi Huang of the Qin dynasty. There are thousands of life-size figures but each has its own unique features and the correct armour style according to rank.

Local Food and Endless Shopping

Whilst these are must-do sights to see during your visit to Beijing, there are also two must-do activities – eating and shopping. Walking around, you might think that Beijing is the world capital of malls and
department stores.

But make your way to Wangfujing – this has got to be China’s busiest street – reportedly over 600,000 people a day visit it. Popular both amongst the locals and tourists, it is a shopper’s paradise and you will find whatever you are looking for, both branded and unbranded, but be prepared to bargain hard! After all that bargaining, there is plenty of delicious food in the night food market. Enjoy!

Australian Over 50s Living & Lifestyle Guide

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