This meant that instead of the private car I had booked I was taking a bus to another airport. That air bnb I had reserved so I could get some good sleep after all my travel would be left empty as I spent the night in the airport. Fun stuff!
To watch my 10 biggest mistakes click here and inside the Forbidden City here! If you want to see what to do, where to eat, a complete guiding including where to stay, or what I bring on all my trips click those links.
Wednesday, June 26th, 2019
Distance walked - 9.75 miles, 20,348 steps
Once the check in counters opened I made sure to get through and not mess anything else up. I stopped by Hefu Noodles and this was my first introduction to the fact that China may be harder than I thought. I tried to pay with my credit card and they didn’t take any and everyone was using their phone to pay, which I didn’t have. I had some cash that I had to withdraw to pay for my bus from the other airport.
When I finally got to Beijing there were a couple ways to the city, taxi, subway, or private car. I was over all the travel and just wanted to get to my hostel and took a taxi. Not surprisingly the driver knew no English and I had to show him the address to get to where I was going. As we drove around I began to realize that the city is huge!
When I checked in I was downloading apps for the subway and accidentally fell asleep. Hey, I had just flown from the states to China and then spent the night in the airport. I was exhausted!
Someone that I was sharing my room with in the hostel came in and woke me up and I scrambled to grab my things and headed out. I tried to go to the Temple of Heaven. But, apparently I had the wrong ticket and was only able to get up to the gate but not actually go in.. looked cool though..
Since that went so poorly, I figured checking out more things would go better. They did not.. both the Lama temple and Confucius Temple were closed. Mental note - make sure to check the times temples are open.
Since the day went so poorly, I tried to grab some food and my map showed me a place was near by, perfect! I decided to walk. Know how I said the city was huge? Well yeah, it took me like 30 minutes to walk to the restaurant and when I got there was a long line and I didn’t even stop. Just kept it movin’.
There was also a brewery near by so figured beer will make it better. Walked over to it and it was non existent.. I give up. Walking back to the subway I saw a place that looked like a whiskey bar. I was like that place looks cool but just kept walking feeling pretty defeated. I figured what the heck and checked it out. The place was called The Chaplin, and they had good drinks and took card. The ultimate win- win!
Thursday, June 27th, 2019
Distance walked- 19.5 miles, 41,348 steps
I had bought a ticket to the forbidden city in the morning and wanted to get there early to beat the crowd. On the way I saw people getting breakfast and stopped in. I walked in and the menu was only in Chinese, with no pictures, and everyone using there phones to pay again (figured out it was Alipay or wechatpay). I walked up like a goober and pointed to the Bao and signaled two with my fingers and they signaled four for the price as the laughed at me. But hey, I got to eat!
After that I stopped at Tiananmen square and then the Forbidden City. The square was anticlimactic as it was just a large area. On to the forbidden city, this was going to be easy, I had my ticket and all you had to do was show your passport. I go and apparently my ticket didn’t work or it was with a third party company or the wrong day. I never figured it out but it didn’t work so I had to buy a new ticket. That process was a challenge also as the ticket sales person and I had to communicate through a text translator on her phone.
Near by the city are Jingshan park and Beihai park and stopped by both. They both require tickets to get in but I walked around parts of Beihai Park.
I headed back to the hostel to try and get money to exchange. I was having difficulty as a lot of the places require you to have an account with them but eventually was able to find someone on my 6th or 7th try. I used ICBC and all that work kind of paid off as I was supposed to get 413.27 RMB and got 408.63. That is like 60 cents in USD.
I then went to the Summer Palace and honestly that place is huge and you could spend a full day there if you wanted. There are also multiple entries so be aware of that. I'm sure I was only supposed to be allowed in one way but went in the other and they felt bad and just let me in.
During my research I found there was a place that was designed to look like the cafe from the TV show Friends near by. Figured that’d be cool, but somehow I messed up my map and wasn’t able to log in or find wifi to load it. So wandered and tried and I later looked it up and it was in a building so I didn’t really stand much of a chance.
I had also seen roasted duck was a thing in Beijing and Quanjude was a place close that was good so I headed there for roasted duck and a Tsingtao beer. The staff was really helpful in showing me how to eat it properly!
Friday, June 28th, 2019
Distance walked- 19.5 miles, 41,348 steps
The plan was to go to the Great Wall and the Ming tombs. They said to go to the meeting spot at 6:45 am. There I was and by 7:30 I figured everything else had gone wrong so this did also. I ran back to the hostel to call the guide and turns out they were still on their way and only a couple minutes away. Perfect!
On the way up they stop at a Jade place which I could have done without and the Ming tombs were alright. We the got lunch (Mr Yang) that was decent. Now the main attraction, the Great Wall. You have two ways to get up, to hike up 863 steps or take the cable car. I took the car and didn’t regret it one bit. The wall is pretty impressive, semi steep, and quite warm. I walked a bit of it until I got the gist. On the way back we stopped by a tea tasting that was pretty cool!
When I was back in the city traffic was so bad that the bus driver wanted to split up the group and send some of us in a cab. I didn’t want to sit in traffic and just left to take the subway. I needed food and was feeling pretty defeated when it came to ordering food, I also could use a beer and went to Nbeerpub. They had some pretty unique craft beers which I recommend like matcha green milkshake sour and blueberry cheesecake stout.
After that I headed back to my place since I had a 8:25 am flight out.
Getting Around: 5/10
The city is huge with crazy traffic, there are long distances if you want to walk so I found the subway the easiest way to get around.
Things to do: 7/10
The main reason I went to Beijing was to see the Great Wall. Other than that I found things to do that were cool like the Summer Palace and the Forbidden City. There were parks and stuff around but just make sure you have the right ticket to get in where you want and you check the times they are open.
This is probably lower than it could but I just had a hard time ordering anything. The things I did I wasn't blown away by any of it. I did think the roasted duck was good though!
I definitely had a like/hate relationship with Beijing. Some parts were really cool and others were for sure a challenge. It didn't help that I strolled in knowing only English and thought I'd be fine. The people were really helpful and definitely tried to communicate and I always appreciate that - I only got laughed at once!
I found the city to be very big which made it hard to walk but also difficult to use a taxi because the traffic was crazy. I found it was best to navigate using the subway. But even using subway I would still have a long walk. My main reason for going was to check out the Great Wall of China but found a bunch of other things to do like the Forbidden City or Summer Palace. I had a lot of things I tried to do that I wasn't able to fully do because I either didn't have the right ticket or they were closed already. With the language barrier I had a difficult time ordering food and when I was successful I wasn't ever blown away. When it comes to Beijing, I'm glad I went but am not in a rush to go back. You can see where that ranks against the other places I've gone here.
See what to do in Beijing click here, where to eat, or my overall complete guide including where to stay or a minute video of my trip to Beijing click here!
If you want to see what I bring on my backpacking trips you can see that here.
My Non-Obvious Beijing Recommendations:
What To Bring
If you wanted to know what I bring on my backpacking trips you can find that here.
If you are interested in getting travel insurance I recommend TravelInsurance.com. They are considered one of best in the industry, you can easily compare coverages and get the right one for you.
HELLO AND WELCOME!
I'm Jake, a dude interested in personal finance and travel creating the life I choose.
In 5 years I went from living in a basement with Craigslist roommates to paying off 90k of debt, backpacking 3 continents, getting a house for myself and 5 rental units.
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All photos on the blog are from my travels
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