The city that surprised me
When we were planning our trip to China a lot of people told us that China would be very crowded and very dirty. Well I have to tell you: those people were wrong when it comes to Beijing! The streets are very clean and it’s true that there live a lot of people in Beijing and the sightseeing places can be very crowded, but in all the other places it’s perfectly fine! In Beijing there live approximately 22 million people! The apartments are very expensive in comparison with the salary. For example. The prices for houses are three times higher than the Netherlands, but the salary is two times lower.
We stayed at Leo Hostel for six nights (I loved how they make it able for you to check in at the middle of the night because of your flight). It’s in an amazing street where you instantly will feel the Chinese vibe and it’s quite close to the Forbidden City. -A funny thing we noticed very quickly was that it’s actually a thing here for guys to put their shirts halfway just so they can show their (beer?) belly.- The hostel offers affordable and good food and drinks too, which is nice if you want to relax for a night. And another big plus: you will have airconditioning in your dorm (China can be very (read VERY) hot)!
The things we did during our trip
Tip: if you have a student card make sure to bring it!
A lot of places and activities offer you half price tickets when you’re a student.
The Hutongs are the old little streets of Beijing. The houses are beautiful and it’s interesting to see how different Beijing used to be back in the days. You will find amazing walls and doors so definitely check some Hutongs out.
Temple of Heaven
I absolutely was blown away by this place! The temple is in a nice park and it’s so incredible. We didn’t really know what we could expect when we went there, but when we go there we were overwhelmed by the temple. So make sure to go! The views from here are also beautiful.
The Great Wall (quiet tour)
We booked our day trip to the Great Wall at Leo’s hostel. The excursion guides took us to a quiet part of the wall and this is really recommended! We were almost completely alone which make you feel the immensity of the Great Wall even more. The tour started with some interesting information about the Great Wall. It’s 21.000 km long, 2.000 years old and more than 300 million(!) people died during the building of the Great Wall. They didn’t bring away the deceased, but they became part of the wall: they are literally inside the brick walls. Scary, but impressive!
The wall was built to protect China from Mongolia. After the introduction we had to hike to the 7th tower which isn’t easy! We walked a lot of stairs up and down (while it was 34 Celsius degrees), but it’s good to experience how hard it must have been working on the Great wall (and we didn’t even have to carry all the big bricks). And it was so worth it because the views were incredible! 9.000 steps later we finished our hike. Proud and satisfied.
This day trip is a bit expensive (we paid 520 yuan), but for us it was absolutely worth it! It’s about a 3 hour drive and it took us to some kind of park. Inside the park we went through a massive dragon through a mountain where we could jump on a boat trip. The scenery is so beautiful! The river finds his way through the impressive Gorges and you won’t know where to look because everything around you is amazing. For the dare devils is an option to go bungee jumping above the river.
One of my friend’s who I was traveling with in China found out that there is a identical cafe as the cafe in the series Friends. So we thought it was quite fun to go there! It’s in a very modern part of Beijing, with huge and beautiful buildings. The cafe is in one of those buildings called SOHO. We had an amazing cappuccino and cheesecake/carrot cake there while enjoying the Friend’s vibe. A fun get a way from the chaos in Beijing.
798 (Art district)
This place is amazing if you love art or love the more alternative vibe! It’s quite a trip to get there (first the subway, then a bus), but the art district is big! The vibe in this area is so different than the rest of Beijing (and China) that it almost feels like walking in Berlin or another Europe city. There are a lot of art exhibitions, shops, street art, restaurant and bars so you can easily spent some hours here.
Another little piece of heaven! This place is so amazing because the palace is at a big lake with a lot of cute boats in it. The views are amazing and there is a lot to see. When we were there there we saw a lot of Chinese Art Students drawing the Summer Palace. The quality of the works were impressive! There are a lot of beautiful buildings around the actual palace which you can check out too. An amazing place to spend your morning or afternoon.
We actually tried to go the Forbidden City twice, but both times it was completely sold out (they let 80.000 people in each day so be prepared for the massive). So I would really recommend to buy your tickets in advance online and go early if you want to face this kind of crowd. We spent some time in a beautiful park next to the Forbidden City.
We love eating vegetarian food and Nina, my friend I travel a lot with is actually a vegetarian so finding a nice vegetarian restaurant was high on our list. We went to the restaurant Veggie Tiger twice (it’s a ten minute walk from Leo hostel) and I only can say it’s amazing! It looks quite fancy, but it’s very cheap (we paid around 6 Euro per person each). And you have a lot (A LOT!) of choice what you wanna eat. The staff won’t understand any English, but the menu is in English accompanied with pictures of the dishes and the staff will try their best to understand. So yum!
Do I need to say more? So yummy and you can find them everywhere in all kinds of styles! From deep fried dumplings to steamed dumplings, a definitely must try when you’re traveling in China.
Grab some ice cream!
Just because the ice cream in China is amazing and there is a lot to try!