Beijing (which means North City) is the capital of China and is home to more than 19 million people. Beijing has been a cultural and historical center for thousands of years and is one of the Four Great Ancient Capitals of China, along with Nanjing, Luoyang, and Chang’an.
Today, Beijing serves as the political, educational and administrative centers of the country. This means that it is a great place to study abroad because there are several popular universities in the city, such as the Beijing Language and Culture University and the Peking University. It is also a great place to study the Chinese language, because the city is home to the national standard dialect.
1. See the Forbidden City and the Imperial Palace. Construction of the Forbidden City began in 1406 and contains 980 buildings. Walking around this massive area (7,800,000 square feet) can take an entire day, so bring your walking shoes. Afterwards, you should go to the rooftop bar at the Emperor Hotel, Yin. You will have a great view of the Forbidden City and can enjoy a drink while taking in the sights. If your drink contains baijiu, be careful: it can definitely pack a punch.
2. Grill out at Jin Bai Fa. If you are a big fan of grilling outdoors in the USA, you can get a little taste of home at Jin Bai Fa. At this restaurant, you can grill your food at your table on a small personal table grill. This restaurant is also relatively cheep, which is always a good thing if you are trying to save money and live within your budget.
3. Walk along the Great Wall. You have several touristy places to view the Great Wall in Beijing. Badaling is a very popular area and is closer to the city. You should go here if you don’t mind being around a lot of other people and do not want to travel as far. However, I prefer going to Mutianyu to see the Wall. It is not as crowded here, but it has been restored, which makes it safe and accessible for most people. You can take a day-tour to visit Mutianyu or you can go take a bus (lines 916 and 936) and see the sights at your own pace. No matter where you choose to explore the Great Wall, this is one thing you absolutely must do while you are studying abroad in Beijing.
4. Get electrified at the China Science and Technology Museum. Like most science museums, this one has many exhibits concerning electricity, geology, and Newton’s Laws. Although not everything is written in English, there is enough of the language that you will be able to understand most things. One of the coolest parts of the museum is the gallery that is dedicated to Chinese inventions. Did you know that the Chinese invented gunpowder, single span bridges, and printing? If you want to learn more, spend a day at the China Science and Technology Museum.
5. See some art at the 798 Art Zone. This is a great place to see various works of modern art. Originally, the are was occupied by the Beijing North China Wireless Joint Equipment Factory, but today it serves as a space for various modern artists to show their work. The area also has a very international feel, since there are more than 400 cultural organizations based here. There are also various art festivals here, which are really fun to attend due to the lively atmosphere. It takes a little more than 20 minutes to walk around the 789 Art Zone and afterwards you can grab a snack at a restaurant; I recommend Lord of Salt for authentic Sichuan food or At Café for coffee and sandwiches.
Have you studied abroad in Beijing, China? Do you have any tips for other students who are planning on studying there? Share them with us in the comments section below.