By Ben Weymiller, Foster Undergraduate who is participating in an exchange with Peking University in Beijing, China
Beijing is the current political and cultural center for China. It boasts amazing tourism locations all within reach of the extensive public transportation system. Throughout my time here I have been lucky to compile a list of my favorite sites I have visited so far.
Tiananmen and The Forbidden City are arguably the most famous sites in Beijing. The size and scope of the architecture here (the Forbidden City has 9,999 rooms), is incredible on its own, not to mention the history that has occurred right beneath your feet. One day isn’t enough to fully explore these two adjacent sites, but make sure that when you go, you are prepared with enough water and sunscreen/layers of clothing as you are directly exposed to the wide range of temperatures of Beijing’s seasons. After visiting these sites, you will understand why they are considered the center of the China.
The 798 Art District might be my favorite place so far in Beijing. You can explore this abandoned industrial park for days and days, and still find new hidden coffee shops and art galleries tucked between warehouses or in semi-truck loading docks. This is a must visit destination and make sure to bring yourself a good camera and a friend or two to enjoy the installations.
Yiheyuan and the Summer Palace are both located right next to Peking University’s campus. Give yourself a full day to explore these imperial playgrounds. Be ready to walk quite a lot to see the entirety of these constructional feats, including a multistoried boat make out of Jade, and the remains of what is considered one of the first artificial fountains in the world.
Longqingxia might be the most beautiful scenic spot I have ever visited. A dammed off late in the mountains to the northwest of the city, Longqingxia is a magnificent and stunning day trip. It is high in the mountains so dress accordingly, and make sure to bring some friends to fully enjoy the magic of this place. Here you can ride a lift up to ancient temples perched in the hills, rent a small boat to explore some caverns, or just hike on your own to visit some of the pagodas teetering on the hillsides.
The Great Wall might be China’s most famous tourist location, and it does not disappoint. Be ready to climb and sweat (in all seasons), but come prepared for the vastly different seasonal weather. Your adventures to the wall will be life-changing, but do yourself a favor and visit a section that has not been made into a tourist trap to get the true Great Wall experience.
Beijing’s other famous sites are everywhere; from the Olympic Park which was host to the 2008 Summer Olympics, to the world-renowned Hutong allies and Houhai in the city center, to the Temple of heaven, and much much more. All of these sites are easily accessible with the incredible subway system here. Take full advantage of your time in one of the greatest cities there is, and give yourself the freedom to wander and explore.
Stay at home and rest! Stay close to home, catch up on sleep or studying. The campus is very large and offers an academic focused southern half and an imperial property northern half. Fully enjoy the beauty and history that sits just a few minutes walk from your classroom. The weekends and nights around campus are also a great time to get involved with local students, especially through sports. So far I have joined the business school’s softball and volleyball teams. Joining in with local students allows you to have fun, exercise-off the amazing food, and begin to fully understand your local peers.