You know those times when you find a deal too good to pass up? Those opportunities that you just can’t ignore?
That is exactly how our long weekend to Beijing in October 2011 happened.
John found an airfare that was about a third of the regular price and since it is almost impossible to find good Chinese food where we live, we decided to book it.
We arrived late on a Thursday night and left early Tuesday morning.
Ping with Private Taxi Beijing who took us to The Great Wall of China, was also our transportation to and from the airport.
You can read all about our visit to The Wall HERE.
We stayed at the Park Plaza Beijing Wangfujing.
The Dengshikou Station on Line 5 is just a few steps from the hotel which made getting around extremely easy.
I’ve probably said this before but I’ll say it again.
If you travel & own a smartphone, download the MetrO App. It is a free application that offers public transportation info worldwide in 400 cities.
You’ll be able to explore a city like a local, with the locals.
Make sure you download TripIt, too.
Our first stop Friday morning was The Forbidden City, home to 24 emperors during the Ming and Qing dynasties.
It is the world’s largest surviving palace complex and covers 178 acres.
After exploring the Forbidden City we took a walk around the outside wall.
We walked around aimlessly and found several interesting neighborhoods, shops, and parks.
We eventually made our way over to Tiananmen Square.
This giant red lantern in Tiananmen Square was completed just before we arrived in September 2011 to celebrate National Day on October 1st.
We were on the lookout for a lunch spot as we walked towards Jingshan Park.
This little dumpling place caught our eye.
We sat down at one of the 3 tables and managed to point and fumble our way through ordering dumplings and beer.
I have no idea what they were stuffed with but they were delicious!
After lunch we went to Jingshan Park and climbed Jingshan Hill.
You can see The Forbidden City from the top.
The view must be stunning on a clear day.
Friday night’s dinner was at Black Sesame Kitchen.
You can read about our 10-Course gourmet Chinese dinner HERE.
Saturday morning we went to The Temple of Heaven.
The Temple was built in 1420 A.D and was where the Emperor prayed for favorable weather and ample harvest.
My favorite part of the Temple of Heaven was the people watching in the park.
Many retirees gather in the park in the morning to meet friends to sing, play games, exercise, dance, etc.
We spent the whole morning there.
Then we jumped on the metro and went to Din Tai Fung for DimSum.
Their website says, “Creating steamed dumpling is not just a technique, but an art”.
They have several restaurants all over the world and in my opinion, have earned their pristine reputation and Michelin star.
That afternoon we went to The Chaoyang Theatre for an acrobat show.
Photography wasn’t allowed during the performance, but I couldn’t help myself when 5 guys on motorcycles went full speed inside this spherical cage.
The crazy part was how many different directions they were all going at the same time. It was nuts!
After the show we went to Hua’s Courtyard Restaurant for dinner.
We sat in the outdoor courtyard area and enjoyed an incredible fish dish.
On Sunday, we started off our day at the YongHeGong Lama Temple, also known as the Palace of Peace and Harmony.
It is one of the largest and most important Tibetan Buddhist monasteries in the world.
The Pavilion of Ten Thousand Happinesses in YongHeGong contains a 26 meter high statue of the Maitreya Buddha carved from a single piece of White Sandalwood.
The Lama Maitreya Buddha is in the Guinness Book of World Records.
Many believers practiced their faith with prayer and burning incense.
From there we went to the Drum and Bell Towers.
As early as 206 BC they were used for telling time with a morning bell and a dusk drum.
The steps up to the Drum Tower were quite steep.
Drummers perform every half hour and it is definitely worth seeing and hearing.
The Bell Tower is opposite the Drum Tower.
With more steep steps.
The bell is 23 feet high including the pendants and weighs 63 tons.
We found a fantastic hot pot place for lunch near the Nanluoguxiang Hutong.
Thankfully, the staff was extremely helpful when it was time to order.
It was perfect for a cold and rainy day.
And so was the one hour foot massage I got for $10!
I found this charming place just steps from our hotel. I wasn’t sure what to expect but I can tell you this…
I loved every second of it.
After a much
needed wanted nap, we walked to the Dafangjia Hutong for an amazing Yunnan dinner at Dianke Dianlai.
They have 2 set menus to choose from — RMB 98 or RMB 198 per person. We chose the bigger of the two.
Amazing dishes kept arriving and we ate way more than we should have.
But it was impossible to stop.
The highlight of the meal was a spicy barbecued fish skewered on bamboo.
The restaurant is a little hard to find but well worth the effort.
Our last day in Beijing was the only blue-sky day we had.
It was also the day we reserved our driver for The Great Wall of China — we totally lucked out!
Don’t forget to read about our day at The Great Wall of China.
It was an experience I’ll never forget.
After The Wall, we went to the China Aviation Museum.
One of the planes John’s dad flew, a Douglas DC-8, is there.
Unfortunately the museum is closed on Mondays so we didn’t get to see it.
Before going back to our hotel, we made a quick stop at the Summer Palace.
It covers 2.9 square kilometers, three quarters of which is water.
Our final meal in Beijing was Peking Duck at Dadong Roast Duck Restaurant.
I guess you could say that we saved the best for last.
Since we didn’t know what time we would be back from The Wall, we didn’t make a reservation. The wait was only about 30 minutes and the time flew by with the help of our energetic bar staff.
They were so much fun and loved taking pictures with my camera.
Our table had a clear view of the wood fire ovens and the chefs.
I am still thinking about this meal.
I don’t know what the best duck restaurant in Beijing is but I DO know that we picked one of them.
Wow! What a gratifying way to end our time in China.
We left early Tuesday morning as the city was coming alive.
Our long weekend in Beijing was packed full with the perfect amount of culture, sites, and delicious food.