“Beijing is the capital city of our great motherland.” I believe this is the first knowlege of “Beijing” in many Chinese of my age. I don’t remember since when I was asked to memorize this sentence. What did that imply? I guess I had interpreted it as ”Beijng is a serious, but not a fun city”. But now, with the whole “2008, 08, 08” Beijing Olympic Games being expected, it is becoming more and more exciting place.
I did some research before putting up the tips. Two surprising discoveries:
- Google thinks people are looking for “Beijing travel” when people type in “beijing”: 3 out of 10 results on first page are about “travel” v.s. 1 result for “san francisco“;
- “Hong Kong” is a suggested related word for “beijing”.
Ok, here are my bet on top 5 tips for you (as a non-Chinese speaker) to get around the city:
1. Best Travel Guide Book: DK Eyewitness Travel Shanghai & Beijing. Beijing is a big city with huge history. It is not easy to get around to see everything in a short tip. This guidebook help you to decide where you want to go by showing the vivid pictures from difficult angles. I like the walk-trip plan especially. You don’t get to know the city without walking on the lanes.
2. Best way to know Beijng: Join a tour? No, never ever if you only visit Beijing. A tour package might save you some time in planning the trip, booking hotel, but you have to pay a lot more. Price is one thing. The other thing I don’t like guided tour is that the itineraries are tend to be outdated. Well, you see the history of the city, but you will miss what’s going on the city if you rely on your tour guide. Suggestion? Find a personal travel guide. Advantages include: flexible schedule, more communication about what to see and what to eat, and more updated local news.
3. Best blog about Beijing life: Make sure you check out DanWei at least once when you plan to visit China. I guarantee you some laughter from it.
4. Best worst Beijing food: I own the reputation of being brave enough to eat every cooked food. But, there is one kind of Beijing food I can’t take. It is a drink made from soy bean, white in color, sour taste, a tradition drink for in breakfast Beijing native. I basically run away from the restaurant after I have my first sip of the drink. If you want to test your tolerance of bad food, show these two characters to your guide: 豆汁(literary translated as ‘bean juice’).
5. Best attraction: Temple of Heaven is my favorite. Known as Tian Tan (天坛), it is one of the largest temple complexes in China and a paradigm of Chinese architectural balance and symbolism. The temple is situated in a very large and pleasant park.