Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Budget Travel Days: Beijing

Beijing is a huge city with so much history and plenty of attractions. Some of the most popular attractions such as the Summer Palace, Forbidden City and Temple of Heaven cost as little as $5-$12 each for a ticket. There is so much to see that you could easily spend 2-4 hours wandering around each of them. If you're looking to spend even less than that, check out a few of my trip suggestions below.  

Taking the subway is a cheap and easy way to get around the city. Currently the subway only costs 2 yuan per ride, anywhere in the city. Although that will soon be changing to model Shanghai's price system that charges different rates determined by distance.  

Tian'an Men Square: Free
Visit Mao's Mausoleum, the tower gates and other monuments dedicated to China's history.

National Museum of China: Free
Across from Tian'an Men Square to the east is the National Museum of China. The museum is quite large and supposed to be one of the largest in the world. One of the current exhibits is on the Silk Road, but you will also find other permanent exhibits on ancient China.  

JingShan Park: 2 Yuan
The Forbidden City exits on the north side of the complex. Across the street from the exit is the entrance to JingShan Park. It's a beautiful park to walk around. If you climb up the hill to the top you'll find beautiful views of the Forbidden City, depending on how clear the day is. Be sure to look for the tree that the last Ming emperor used to hang himself when rebel forces invaded. The original tree is gone, but a new one was planted in it's place with a plaque designating the location.  

Beihai Park/Houhai Park: Free
Beihai Park is just west of the Forbidden City. If you continue north you will follow QianHai to Houhai. Or you can take subway line 6 to the BeiHai North station. There are several lakes in a chain with paths to walk around that are beautiful. You'll also find a few shops and restaurants geared towards tourists.    

Panjiayuan Market: Free (to browse)
This is my favorite market in Beijing to shop. To find it just take subway line 10 to the Panjiayuan stop. The English name is the Antique Market. I'm not sure how genuine the products are, but if you're looking for a souvenir to take home you'll find a wide assortment here. In my experience, the prices were low compared to the Pearl Market and other tourist markets around the city. I spent a few hours wandering the stalls and I didn't cross paths with any other foreign tourists. Even if you don't buy anything, there are plenty of fun things to see.  
Suggested Itinerary:
You could easily spend a full day beginning at Tian'an Men Square subway stop. Just south is a market place to browse Chinese souvenirs. Then continue to Tian'an Men Square to visit the Tower Gates and Mao's Mausoleum. When you're finished at the square, head west to the National Museum to explore more of China's history. After, walk north alongside the Forbidden City and you'll find more reasonably priced tourist shops. Once you reach the northern edge of the Forbidden City, head west to find the entrance to JingShan Park. Take your time wandering around the park and enjoying the views from the top of the hill. Then exit the park to the west where you will find BeiHai Park. You can circle BeiHai or walk north along the lake to reach HouHai as well. In the evening there are many bars in the HouHai area to listen to music alongside the lake.   

If you're feeling adventurous, there are so many streets to explore on foot. I encourage you to wander. 

What would you add to this list?

 *Prices were accurate when this posted.


  1. I love following your travel journey. Your posts are so fun to read and your story is inspiring. I visited a friend in China after college. I am directionally challenged and am glad I had friends to help get us around Guangzhou. Our big cities have nothing on China's.

    1. Thank you so much for that! It really means a lot. I love your writing style and enjoy (with envy) all of your mid-western food posts. I've yet to visit Guangzhou, but you're right about the size of Chinese cities. I'm always amazed how big even the smallest cities are.