I cannot believe I just went on my DREAM trip to Beijing!!! This trip has been a long time in the coming and I am so glad I finally got to experience all this amazing city has to offer! I planned this trip with my little sister and we went out and did the most we could do in the six days we were there! You definitely could stay way longer or shorter just depending on what you want to do and see. I hope you find my Beijing Travel Guide helpful and if you ever go to this amazing city you’ll have to let me know what all you do 🙂
Before You Go
Beijing is actually the first city I have ever visited that requires a visa to enter. You literally cannot even get on the airplane without having your visa in hand. To get your visa you have to physically go to a Chinese Embassy or have someone go on your behalf. There just happens to be an embassy in Houston so I went there to get our three visas. You can find the visa application online and while it is tedious there is no hard information they ask for.
Before you go make sure to download apps as the internet can be spotty sometimes! Google Translate is an awesome app to download. Make sure within the app download the Chinese language. Also, everyone and their mother uses WeChat over there! Make sure to download it now- that’s how I communicated with our driver that took us to the Great Wall. While China does not support Uber or Lyft, they have their own transportation app called Didi. We all downloaded it but found the subway to be so easy that we never had to use the app.
Getting To Beijing
Luckily my mom is a flight attended and I was able to fly standby on her passes direct from DFW to PEK. I know there are several other direct flights from the US so I would suggest trying to find an inexpensive one or even taking a layover or two if it would help the price!
For hotels, I looked around a lot. I work for Marriott and I was able to find a great deal with my discount at The Westin Beijing Financial Street. This hotel was in a great location less than a mile walk from three different subway stations and had (American) food and shopping just steps away! Also nearby was the “Time Square” of Beijing, this street/mall offered many Chinese restaurants and shopping.
Arrival + “Time Square” of Beijing
Our flight landed around 2pm, we grabbed a taxi and headed to our hotel. Taxi’s are monitored in Beijing and very safe to use. The taxi drivers do not speak English so ensure you have your hotel and/ or hotel address written down in Chinese as well. We screenshoted the hotel on Google Maps because it had the Chinese translation displayed.
When we arrived at the hotel, we were a little tired so we decided to stay close to the hotel. We braved the cold weather and walked to the “Time Square” of Beijing to look for dinner! In the mall, on the 7th floor we found a great restaurant that had rice bowls.
Summer Palace + Beijing Zoo + Pearl Market
Our bodies naturally woke us up at 5am LOL so we stayed in bed for a minute. Once we got up, we got ready and headed out to look for some breakfast. We literally looked over and saw a Starbucks a block away! We went there and got muffins and coffee for breakfast. After that we decided to brave the subway only to find out it was the EASIEST thing to navigate. We went about 30 minuets outside of town to the Summer Palace.
The Summer Palace was gorgeous and huge!!! You could honestly spend all day walking around the grounds. I’d reckoned buying the “through” ticket so you can see all the different “main” attractions in the Palace up close and personal.
From the Summer Palace we went to the Beijing Zoo! Both attractions are on the same subway line, that’s why we went to them both on the same day. Online I saw mixed reviews on the zoo, but I honestly loved it! We got to see so many Pandas and that literally made my day! If you have some extra time I would suggest going to the zoo! It was fun and inexpensive.
We still had some time left in the day so we decided to head to the Pearl Market. I wanted to check out the market early so I could come back later to keep shopping LOL #shopoholic. Coming to Beijing I knew I wanted to get a pair of eyeglasses and a “Gucci” card holder. At first, the market can be a little overwhelming with everyone yelling at you to buy things. But, just have a a straight face on and keep walking. Also, make sure you negotiate EVERYTHING! Do not go with their starting price and don’t be afraid to walk away. Everyone has the same stuff anyways.
Forbidden City + Tiananmen Square + Lama Temple
This morning we set out for the Forbidden City. We had asked our hotel about it beforehand and they said we needed to buy the tickets from the concierge. The morning of we walked down with our passports and our concierge bought our tickets online for us and printed out the receipt. We had to take our passports to the Forbidden City and they looked up our tickets by the passport number. PS- our concierge told us in the future we needed to buy our tickets in advance because they do close off ticket sales when they hit capacity.
The Forbidden City is huge and is so full of history and gorgeous structures. We walked around there for a couple hours and took so many pictures. From the Forbidden City, we headed to the Tiananmen Square to look around. To be honest it is just a very open and huge square, biggest one in Asia I believe. You have to have your passport to enter the square, and you can walk for days there.
From the square, we headed to the Lama Temple and let me tell you I loved it! The Lama Temple similar architecture as the other Chinese buildings but I promise you never get tired of it. Here I believe is a very religious sight as they handed out free incense for people to burn. It is really neat to see people of all different cultures praying and bowing at the same time with their incense.
Prince Kung’s Mansion + Beihai Park + Olympic Village
Today, was a little different of a day because I had my friend Miranda joining us so Mackensey and i wanted to ensure we made it back to the hotel to meet her when she arrived.
After breakfast we set out for Prince Kung’s Mansion, I don’t believe this place is well advertised. I hadn’t heard of it before and randomly came across it on Google Maps searching for something else. Let me tell you we LOVED this “Mansion”. It was so fun and different from any other place we had visited. We were told it was a smaller Forbidden City but it was so much more!
After Prince Kung’s Mansion we still had some time before meeting Miranda so we walked to Beihai Park. This park was beyond gorgeous and huge! We walked the entire thing and it did not leave us disappointed. Mackensey and I loved all the buildings and the lake. This park along with Prince Kung’s Mansions are must sees!
We headed back to the hotel but were starving so yet again we ran to the “Time Square” of Beijing to grab some lunch! After eating we met up with Miranda and then took the subway to the Olympic Village.
The Olympic Village was a little underwhelming, but still amazing because we got to see the “Bird’s Nest” and all the the structures from the 2008 Summer Olympics. I am happy we went and saw it, but do not plan to spend much time here. Also, side note the 2022 Winter Olympics will be held there too!
The Great Wall of China + Jingsong Parl + Pearl Market
The day I had been waiting for my whole life, not being dramatic at all LOL. Today, was the day I would finally get to see The Great Wall of China. My mom had a couple friends who had been to The Great Wall of China before and they had used a private driver named Bobby to take them. My mom had his business card so I emailed him and asked if he had availability to take us. He said yes and just asked me to text him when I arrived in China.
Bobby taking us ended up being so cost effective and fun! He picked us up at our hotel at 8am and we started our drive to the wall. When we were almost there he asked if we wanted to go to an original clay pottery making shop and we said yes! He took us there and we were shown how to make gorgeous Chinese clay pots! From there we went onto the Great Wall.
When we got to the wall Bobby bought our tickets and showed us were to meet him when we were finished. We got into a bus that took us to the top of the mountain and then we rode a ski lift the rest of the way. We walked around the Great Wall for two hours or so and then took a toboggan to the bottom, then rode the bus back down and went to find Bobby.
From the Great Wall we headed back into town and I asked Bobby to drop us off at Jingson Park instead of our hotel! He happily did and it was awesome that we were able to use the rest of the afternoon to sight see. Jingson Park is gorgeous and offers 360° views of Beijing. It also overlooks the Forbidden City, so if you don’t have tine to go there at least go to this park and look at it!
Miranda hadn’t been to the Pearl Market yet so we headed there after the park so she could have a look around to see what she wanted! The Pearl Market has an awesome food court in the basement so we ate there for dinner! The food court has a lot to offer and you can buy from different stands and sit together to eat.
*For reference, Bobby charged us 800 CNY for the car ride and the tickets for the Great Wall were 180 CNY per person and that included the ski ride up and the toboggan down. So total 1,340 CNY for three people and that rounds out to be about $190 USD or about $63 USD a person. To contact Bobby his email is firstname.lastname@example.org. Yes, I know that email looks sketchy but he seriously he is the coolest guy and is worth contacting!
Temple of Heaven + Pearl Market
Sadly, our last day happened to be 10° with a wind-chill of like 0° so needless to say we didn’t stay outside too much. We wanted to see The Temple of Heaven and then head to the Pearl Market one last time to finish up our shopping before we headed to the airport. The Temple of Heaven was gorgeous and so pretty to visit. I wish we could have stayed longer and walked around more but it was just too cold. Luckily, the Pearl Market was across the street from The Temple of Heaven so we walked there quickly to finish up our shopping and get warm!
My goal in life is to visit all Seven Wonders of the World… so making it to Beijing to see The Great Wall of China was a literal dream come true. The Great Wall and Beijing in general were amazing! This was one of the best trips I have ever taken. I recommend Beijing to anyone looking for a little adventure and history. I hope you enjoyed my Beijing Travel Guide, if you have any questions feel free to leave them in the comments below or DM me on Instagram!