Beijing City, established over 3,000 years ago and renamed thirteen times, is now home to over 21.7 million people. It’s a city with deep history, rich culture, ancient architecture, and delicious cuisines. Beijing glows with beauty and youth, appearing in the world in its grand, lovely, new and modernized form, changing each day.
Tourism in China was off limits for many, many years, and was almost an unknown phenomena for most except government officials. It wasn’t until the late-1970s that tourism to China opened up to foreigners. Now, it’s predicted to become the world’s most visited country by 2020. And it’s no surprise that Beijing is known as one of the most popular tourist destination in the world and in China.
So if Beijing is next on your list of places to visit (or if you’re heading back for round two or three), then take a break from the traditional sites such as Forbidden City, Summer Palace, Tiananmen Square, and Tombs of the Ming Dynasty, and make your way to some amazing hidden gems that are often missed by many who visit. Among these places are Jingshan Park, Simatai Great Wall, Tongli Studios and Dashilar, all of which offer you a bit of everything for an unforgettable experience.
Jingshan (“Prospect Hill”) Park
Jingshan Park’s history dates back almost 1,000 years when the artificial hill upon which it stands was built in the 11th century. In 1179, the imperial garden was built, and was used as a place for officials to gather and relax.
It’s located northward after exiting the city gates of the Forbidden City, and is a great place to go to get a magnificent view of Beijing and of the Old Palace. Jingshan Park also serves as a feng shui shield, protecting the palace from evil spirits.
If you head there in the morning, you can watch as the elderly dance, sing, perform taichi or juggle large shuttlecocks.
Simatai Great Wall
For those who are drawn to the Great Wall, the best place to go is Simatai Great Wall, situated in the northeast of Miyun County. Built under the supervision of Qi Jiguang, a famous general in the Ming Dynasty from 1368 to 1644, Simatai gives access to Gubeikou, a strategic pass in the eastern part of the Wall.
Most tourist head to Badaling and Mutianyu, but Simatai is a great place if you are in for a good hike. Considered the steepest and the most dangerous part of the Great Wall, it’s also one of the best places to see the well-preserved, original Wall. It was recently renovated in 2013, and is the only section opened for a night tour.
If you go during the day, you can see over 24 watchtowers along the Wall from one spot, which you can’t see anywhere else. Not many people go to this section, so you won’t be bothered by large crowds.
TongLi Studios is a four-story building with a hipster-type feel, that looks like a hutong (a traditional Beijing alleyway) the moment you step inside. Located at Sanlitun, Chaoyang District, TongLi Studios is a fun place to visit, full of characteristic shops with interesting gadgets, restaurants serving delicious dishes, and bars that come alive at night. One of the most famous bars in Beijing, Kokomo, is located on the 4th and 5th floor. The 4th floor is a lounge and the 5th floor is a rooftop bar that offers award-winning drinks and a spectacular view of Beijing.
Step off the beaten track and into Dashilar, a creative hub near Qianmen. It’s one of the most ancient, famous and distinctive commercial street that was built by local people in the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368).
Dashilar offers a variety of clothing stores, jewellery shops, bookstores, design studios, trendy cafes and restaurants. The city’s first cinema, Da Guan Lou Cinema, is located here as well.
There are handfuls of shops that date back to the late-1800s, one of which is Ma Ju Yuan, a hat shop that has a history of more than 185 years. In the Qing Dynasty, this shop made hats for government officials from high-quality materials and elegant workmanship. There are other historical shops in Dashilar such as Tongrentang, a Chinese herbal medicine store founded in 1669, and Rui Fu Xiang, a silk store founded in 1893.
If this or any other destinations speak to you, we’d love to help you get there in comfort and put some savings in your pocket. Submit a flight request or contact your agent and we’ll find the best dates to travel there!