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The Great Wall
Beijing, China


  • Beijing, or as it used to be called: Peking, is an enormous city with a population of over 9.000.000 people! It has only few of the old, Chinese cultural buildings when compared to the new. In fact, all through my wanderings in this town, I have seen mostly huge office buildings, stores, shops, skyscrapers and Mac Donalds (YES!). Sure, there is much left to be seen if you look for it. And there is the Forbidden City of course, with within it the Imperial Palace, where in older days, only the Emperor was allowed to live, with his servants. In fact, he wasn't even allowed to get out! The whole city is build in three rectangles, of which the Forbidden City is the innermost. The second rectangle is the Imperial City and the rest is the outer city. And the huge Tiananmen Square, bordered with the Mao Zedong Mausoleum, the Monument to the Peoples Heroes, the Forbidden City, the Gate of Heavenly Peace, etc. etc. must be seen.

  • Central Beijing

  • Money: Yuang
  • Voltage: 220/240
  • Time compared to GMT:Summer +8. Winter +8. Throughout China there are no different time zones. Beijing time is standard.

  • Calls to Holland: 0031 -
  • Religion: The principal religions and philosophies are Buddhism, Daoism and Confucianism. There are more than 100 million Buddhists in the whole of China, about 20 million Muslims, 5 million Protestants and about 4 million Roman Catholics (the latter independent of Vatican control).

  • Language Officially Mandarin Chinese. However, you will also find Cantonese, Fukienese, Xiamenhua and Hakka.

  • Activities and tips: First of all: It is nearly impossible to tell everything you should do. A valuable tip for you: buy the book "China, A Travel Survival Kit" from Lonely Planet Publications. You really need that book. Visit the Forbidden City and its Imperial Palace. Go to the Ming graves and walk around the Tiananmen Square. Grab a taxi, or better, arrange one through your hotel, agree upon the price (get advice from the reception. It's really cheap, even though the distance is great. Then use that price to start your haggle!!!!), and go to the Great Wall, a MUST, only about 75 kilometers from Beijing. The driver will park his car and you can walk around on the wall as long as you please. He'll wait patiently until you return and drive you back. Don't give him additional tips, unless you specifically want to. Remember: it is a long climb and at times I had to rest a while, being exhausted. Bring your camera. The Chinese love the Wall and are present in great numbers. Go and eat in the Big Duck (Beijing Duck, or in full: Qianmen Quanjude Roast Duck Restaurant), tel. 7011379, address: 32 Qianmen Dajie, on the East Side, near the Qianmen subway. It is one of the oldest restaurants in the capital (1864) Prices are moderate and there is a cheaper section through the right-hand doorway. Same duck, same kitchen, but very crowded. Get there before 18.00 hours! If you want a typical Chinese breakfast, do things differently! Take a rickshaw or taxi and go to the "hutongs". In this area there are many food stalls where you can get din sum (bits of meat or vegetable in a steamed or fried batter skin). If you leave the forbidden city from the rear exit, you are just across the Behai Park. In this park there's the Fangshan Restaurant, where you can get traditional dishes.
    Go shopping in the silk market. You can get an organized tour of the city by rickshaw, a novel way of seeing Beijing. You can't get lost: Beijing is like an enormous checker board. No bends in the roads! And then there's the Summer Palace with its gardens and palaces. At different points you can hire a boat to row around the lakes. One of the nicest ways to spend the evening is to visit some of the many food markets. For just a few coins you can get terrific food. Go from stall to stall and try something at every one! The most popular markets are at Dongdan Toutiao, Donghuamen and Longfusi.
    Do not forget a visit to the Peking Opera. This combination of dance, song, stage and acrobatics is fun to see, even if you don't understand the language. Look for performances at the Chan'an Theater or the Liyuan Theater.
    There is night life in Beijing, but it's very western entertainment. Popular bars are the Hard Rock Cafe in the Landmark Arcade and JJ's, 74-76 Xinjiekou North. Or how about the disco in the Great Wall Sheraton!

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Copyright © 1998-2011 Luuk Francken
Map used with permission from MapQuest. (See link on map)
Created: April 14, 1998. Updated: december 23 2010

Copyright © 1998-2018 Luuk Francken