No trip to China is complete without a stop in the stellar city of Beijing. While there are plenty of activities, restaurants, and museums to visit, it’s important to take a step back and really enjoy the city for it’s rich culture. Make sure you add at least a couple of these cultural attractions to your agenda when you visit.
Located just south of the Beijing West Railway Station lies the Confucian Teahouse. You’ve likely heard of the Japanese tea ceremony but China’s ceremony is just as culturally significant, albeit not nearly as rigid in terms of the rules regarding how it is performed. If you visit during the busier tourist seasons, you’ll want to make an appointment in advance. Once you’re there, though, the owner will explain and take you through what will be an unforgettable ritual. When you’re finished, you can stroll Beijing’s market for some tea to take home.
Rickshaw Tour of Beijing’s Old Hutongs
What are hutongs, you ask? They’re some of Beijing’s oldest and narrowest streets. There are several tour groups in Beijing who will gladly take you on a tour of what is considered “old Beijing” via rickshaw, a tricycle type contraption designed to carry travelers while the driver pedals. While touring the hutongs you’ll see Prince Gong’s Manison and the gardens as well as a local home where you’ll be introduced to modern Chinese lifestyle. Book this trip through a site like Viator and you’ll receive hotel pick-up and drop-off.
The Forbidden City
In the heart of Beijing you’ll find the Forbidden City. You can tour the city on your own or as part of a tour group – it’s included in almost every organized tour. The Forbidden City used to serve as the imperial palace. Located at the end of Tiananmen Square, the city spans over more than 720,000 square meters. You’ll be astounded by the incredible architecture and history of China’s oldest emperors.
The National Ballet of China (NBC)
Considered one of the finest in the world, the National Ballet of China promises a stunning performance. During China’s Cultural Revolution, ballet companies were prohibited from performing anything other than a handful of approved pieces. The NBC made it’s name performing a piece called the Red Detachment of Women. Thankfully the company, under the direction of choreographer Roland Petit, has built a real name for itself. The ballet company can often be seen at either the National Theatre or Tianqiao Theatre.
China has a history that dates back to ancient times. The city of Beijing will give you a glimpse into some of the most important and influential events in terms of both history and culture. Take your time and explore. You’ll be amazed at all that Beijing has to offer.
About the Author: Ruthanne Matalka just came back from a trip to China where she spent a great deal of time working with some of the best travel agents to set an agenda that would allow her to see as much of Beijing and the surrounding area as possible. A trip to Beijing is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!