Beijing is too big to try and see everything unless you have a month or so (like me!), so I thought I’d list some of the stuff you really can’t miss. Along with the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, the Great Wall, Beijing’s modern buildings, Donghuamen Night Market and the Silk Market (phew), below are the 3 temples that you won’t want to miss out on. If you plan your day well, you can do all three of them before dinner time:
This place is tailor made for speedtourism. In all probability, you’ll be in and out within an hour. The Lama Temple, or Temple of Peace, is a Tibetan Buddhist temple with Tibetan Buddhist monks still in residency here. It’s claim to fame is the 18m statue of Maitreya Buddha carved from a single piece of sandalwood, although pics throughout the Lama Temple are frowned upon, that being said, they are a few places where it’s acceptable. Subway lines 2 and 5 can take you to Yonghegong Lama Temple subway station. 25RMB ($4) to enter the temple.
Temple of Heaven:
If Beijing’ chaos is weighing you down, or you’re fed up with touts selling you tickets to the Great Wall, then follow my lead and escape from the madness at the Temple of Heaven. The temple itself is an awesome sight, you need to get into the inner compound for the best pics. Around the temple though are loads of parks where older Chinese people are practicing Tai Chi, calligraphy, dancing – especially early in the morning.
Give yourself at least 2 hours to walk around, if it’s warm throw a book in your bag and chill all day, it’s really peaceful. To get here, take the Subway Line 5 to the Tiantandongmen Station. It’s less than 5 minutes from there. Tickets are 30RMB ($5) to enter.
There are some great buildings and pagodas dotted around the grounds, and you’ll never feel like you’re more in China than when wondering around, bear in mind though that this place is huge, so expect to get lost! Buy a map outside to minimise the time you spend going around in circles.
The majority of tourist (me being one of them) spent all my time in the front hill area, if you’re keen to go hiking, or to spend the entire day at the palace, carry on west or beyond the front hill, you’ll have the place to yourself.
There are various places within the palace that you have to continue to pay entrance tickets for if you buy the 30RMB ($5). Pay the 60RMB ($10) and you have access to everything.
To get here, take the bus No. 690 or 808 from Tian’anmen Square to the last stop, Summer Palace. Or if you’re feeling motivated, you can check out the Temple of Heaven in the morning and jump on the 862 direct to the Summer Palace for the afternoon.