BEIJING, CHINA – Technically a Beijing solo trip but not without some help.
Already in Xingang, Tianjin, I was just two hours away from the capital of China. I stayed in Jinshijie Hotel for a night. Nothing spectacular. You can read my Tripadvisor review here.
Prior to my arrival to Beijing, a colleague from our Shanghai office had already helped me book a hotel. An agent was waiting for me to drive me to Beijing with all the gifts and souvenir boxes given by people from Shanghai, Changshu and Xingang.
I visited a ship (M/V Kite Arrow) in Xingang earlier that day so throughout the travel, I was just sleeping in the car. Before that, I have already sent a message to our Manila office if they can increase my baggage allowance.
Where to stay in Beijing
I cannot recommend a hotel if I was not able to stay there. Even though Ping An Fu Hotel was pre-booked for me, it was an okay hotel for people on a budget. What I really appreciated about this hotel is its location next to the underground train station of Zhangzizhong.
This means that I could roam around Beijing using their train lines. It can be crowded of course but I guess it should be part of the deal. During rush hour, it was just plain madness but quite a surreal experience.
Other accommodations you can check out in Beijing
- Beijing Apricot Courtyard Inn
- Peking Yard Hostel
- King Parkview Hotel
- Days Inn Forbidden City Hotel
- Hutong Boutique Courtyard Hotel
How to tour Beijing Olympic Park
There is a direct station to the Beijing Olympic Park. Going there was exciting for me. To have watched the Beijing 2008 Olympics and a documentary on how the Bird’s Nest was made, I told myself that I needed to see these structures in person!
The first thing I noticed when entering the complex was the Linglong Tower used by the media outlets for their coverage.
What I was really after was to see the Bird’s Nest (Beijing National Stadium). It was a sight to behold. This is illuminated at night which was really awesome. The stadium was already closed for the night hence I was not able to have a peak inside.
The other masterpiece is the Water Cube (Beijing National Aquatics Center) and of course a must-see during the night. There is a souvenir shop near this building but items were a bit pricey.
Visiting Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City and National Museum of China
The hotel’s buffet breakfast was fine with the usual selection of Chinese and Western dishes. I planned to go out early to see Tiananmen Square and environs. Again, I used the train for this purpose.
There is a direct station to this square. People should have no excuse to be lost in this city. Fronting the Tiananmen Square is the Forbidden City. The iconic Tiananmen or Gate of Heavenly Peace divides the Square and the Forbidden City.
The entrance to the Forbidden City is the Meridian Gate where tickets are sold. Up to this point, you can freely roam around without a ticket. Entering the Forbidden City was not a choice for my part since I did not have the time. I still had to check the Great Wall of China later on.
Admission fee is 60 RMB and a Filipino audio guide is available for 40 RMB.
I passed by the National Museum of China. I have read that some works of art from Europe were currently on display.
I did not want to miss the chance to see a Van Gogh, Renoir, Rousseau, Cezanne and Botticelli. The museum had free admission except the Masters’ exhibitions.
Getting lost to Badaling Great Wall of China
I used the Bus 877 to Badaling. First, I took the train to Jishuitan station and walked for about 5 minutes to get to the bus terminal. There are available Beijing train applications on iTunes. These are helpful and includes the platform number, hence you will not be confused on which train direction you have to take.
This Wikitravel entry is very helpful in commuting to Badaling Great Wall of China. Badaling is the nearest to the city proper. I was not able to use the train since I needed to book a ticket in advance.
I was lost going to Badaling. There was a Bus 877 that will not stop by Badaling but will have the last stop to the town next to it. Good thing I was able to use my phone’s GPS and after agreeing to a not-so-bargain rate from a local taxi driver, I was able to reach the Great Wall.
Entrance to the Great Wall is 45 RMB. There are food chains to the entrance of the Great Wall (KFC, Subway, Yonghe King; a Filipino-bought Chinese fastfood). I had my lunch in KFC.
The Great Wall can be windy at times. I have only brought with me a jacket. Gloves could have been perfect at that moment.
The place can be crowded and “touristy.” There can be a horde of local Chinese tourists. I was told that you cannot call yourself a Chinese without stepping on the Great Wall. But the steep climb in some areas can easily thin them out.
Speaking of which, be prepared to do some hike, take deep breaths and enjoy the scenery. I was there just after the winter season. The trees and bushes were just starting to blossom and turn green.
Since this is a Beijing solo trip, I could only savor that moment, that time when I was looking at the horizon where the wall has not stopped and I was there stepping on it without a care in the world.
Getting back to the city proper can take longer due to the heavy traffic during the rush hour.
Going home to Manila
My flight back to Manila was re-scheduled in the early morning of a weekend. My request to increase my baggage allowance was not approved and was told to just pay it at the check-in counter. I had a box, a luggage, a weekend bag, a laptop bag and 2 paper bags.
It was just funny that the check-in counter personnel just told me to hand carry most of the things on my cart. My eticket had “with baggage allowance” on them but did not specify how many kilos. They just let me get away with it this time.