If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I just spent a week in Asia, specifically Beijing and Hong Kong. I’ve put together some highlight photos as well as my recommendations in case you make it to that part of the world. Enjoy
Top 5 Sights to See in Beijing
Great Wall-I suggest driving the extra half hour to the Mutianyu Section for no other reason than you take a chair lift up and toboaggan down (SO.MUCH. FUN.-see outtakes!)
Tiananmen Square-Not a whole lot to see, but a historical site, nonetheless. It was built to hold a million people and it feels it-so vast and wide. It was fun to see the Chinese Soldiers march and change guard.
Forbidden City-We got there late and it was freezing, but the palace is beautiful. My favorite part was the garden of cypress trees and the stunning mix of Imperial colors-all of which signify wealth and power and could only be used by the Emperor.
A good example of the mustard yellow, Chinese red, and green at the palace.
Hutong-Hutongs are the narrow streets of old Beijing-only a few are left (they widened all the streets in preparation for the Olympics). We visited the Nanluoguxiang Hutong that was lined with cute little stores, cafes, and tchotchkes.
Dashanzi798 Art District-This art colony/district is about 20 minutes outside Beijing proper, but well worth the visit. There are the most interesting galleries and stores. It is the pulse of what is current in the city. Unfortunately many stores would not allow photos, but I snapped a few-see below. It was a nice modern balance to all the tradition and history of old Beijing.
Ok-so my favorite part of any trip-the food and the shops!
Dining is very hit or miss in Beijing. I would say that from all our meals-half were good to excellent. The rest-not so much.
Duck de Chine-WOW! What a restaurant. The space alone is awesome-rustic wood beamed ceilings, brick walls, low light, floor to ceiling windows. But the true star here is the Peking Duck-Beijing’s specialty and perfectly served here. The restaurant is tucked in 1949-The Hidden City-it seemed to be THE hot spot in Beijing-cool galleries, restaurants and a bar. WEBSITE
China Club-We got very lucky to be able to eat here. China Club is a members-only club owned by David Tang (we actually ate at the outpost in Hong Kong as well) The food was traditional Cantonese cuisine and it was pretty good. The setting was pretty spectacular also-it felt as if you were eating at the Imperial Palace. WEBSITE
The Source-It is a small restaurant attached to a family home-very typical in Beijing. Many people convert one room to a business or restaurant to make extra income and they live in the back . Eat here when you visit the Hutong. It is a set menu but they take into consideration likes or dislikes. The shredded fried duck was out of this world-I’ve never had anything quite like it and it will be one of those dishes I’ll search for over and over. WEBSITE
I stayed away from the markets and antique shops on this trip. Time was short and if you do not plan out your day-you will never get from point A to B in Beijing. What I did see where all the shops along the Hutong and the galleries in 798.
Woo-delicious cashmere scarves and blankets
FengNian Earthenware- a cheap little ceramic store with good finds. I bought a small celadon bowl for around 3 bucks.
Kodo: an interesting shop filled with French inspired housewares and supplies. No pictures allowed.
Dashanzi 798 Art District:
Soul Collective Art: Fun and interesting ceramics
Artbridge Gallery-there was a fabulous exhibition of the work of Wu Guanzhong. I can’t wait to dedicate an entire post to this artist-amazing!
This was one of my favorite prints:
Ullens Center for Contemporary Arts-perhaps my absolute favorite store in Beijing and it was basically a museum gift shop!
Ahh-the wacky and the weird, and the just plain dorky!
Street Food-Umm-maybe some of the most disgusting “food” items I’ve ever seen-it varied from scorpions and bugs to sheep’s penis….and I was nervous about the chicken.
The Tobaggan down the Great Wall-a little bit random and a whole lot of fun! I highly recommend this side adventure.
Statues-we came across a lot of statues-and we decided to take pictures of each other imitating them-we have definintely crossed to the dorkside!
Where I get my information…
Luxe City Guides-informative, current, portable. I’ve used Luxe guides for many trips-haven’t been disappointed yet.
For this particular trip, I trusted a new blogging friend-Hong Kong Housewife. Natasha gave me great recommendations including Duck de Chine and the Mutianyu section of the wall.
I always use the concierge desk-they are informative and in this case-necessary! We stayed at The Peninsula-the spa was fantastic!
I wish I had known…..
Facebook and Twitter are banned in Beijing. I was able to access my accounts from my blackberry but was unable to log on via my ipad or computer.
How incredibly difficult Beijing is to navigate! A taxi is the only way to get around-we got denied a ride 3 times in row, got lost, and had to wait in the cold on different occasions. Taxi drivers do not speak English-it is imperative that your concierge writes your destination in Chinese and that you hold on to the card that has your hotel written in Chinese. I suggest having your taxi wait for you during dinner, etc or hire a car.
Plan ahead-the only way to tour the city and not get completely frustrated is to have a true plan! Otherwise the city is too big and the language barrier too high to get around last minute. This is the main reason I never made it to any of the markets.
If I had more time….
Spin Ceramics-somwhere I read about and wanted to try but never made it
Family Li Kitchen-highly recommended set menu restaurant
Dali Courtyard-another highly recommended restaurant
The Orchard-a lifestyle boutique
and of course…all the fantastic markets full of reproduction Chinese pottery, porcelain, etc..
OH NEXT TIME!
stay tuned for my next post that will cover the Hong Kong portion of my trip.