7 Wonderful And Unique Things To Do In Beijing
China’s historical capital of Beijing is an ancient city, which relishes the past, but races towards the future. Home to six UNESCO World Heritage Sites, it prides itself on being a cultural epicenter and a haven for food. With multitudes of must-see places at every corner, the choices can be overwhelming. There are the obvious popular sites such as Tiananmen Square and the Summer Palace. Yet, if you have a bit of extra time on the itinerary, there are other wonderful and unique things to do in Beijing.
The Great Wall Of China Slide
No trip to Beijing is complete without visiting The Great Wall. The Badaling portion is most popular because of accessibility. But, you won’t regret the two hours jaunt north, to the Mutianyu section. Climb to the top of the Great Wall, either on foot, or via cable car or chairlift, and take in the panoramic views. To get back down, your alternate choice is a hurtling along on a zigzagging slide, which runs next to the Wall. Each cart has a handbrake, but with top speeds of 30 km/h, the ride isn’t for the faint of heart. The slide is a wonderful and unique way to experience one of China’s most famous landmarks. Former First Lady, Michelle Obama even took a ride.
The Friends’ Café
On the sixth floor of Beijing’s Chaowai Soho shopping mall, is an exact replica of “Central Perk”. Yes, the coffee shop on ‘Friends’ is alive, and well, and ready for your business. Founded in 2009, it’s the brainchild of owner and Friends super-fan, Du Xin. The interior is identical to the fictional cafe, with the minutest detail included. The brick walls (covered with catchphrases from the show), the tall stools and tables, even that famous orange couch is there. The television even plays Friends episodes on a loop, in the background. Du even recreated a replica of Chandler and Joey’s apartment, adjacent to the café.
The World’s Largest Outdoor Escalator
Situated in the incredible Longqing Gorge 85 km north of Beijing, is the Dragon Escalator. At 258 meters long, the gigantic, yellow creature takes visitors up to China’s largest dam. There’s also a cable-car ride, or bungee jumping into the gorge. The escalator only goes up, so visitors must take the stairs down.
The China Watermelon Museum
Lovers of the delectable treat that is watermelon take note. Located in Panggezhuang township, south of Beijing is the China Watermelon Museum. The area is one of the largest watermelon producers in the world. Founded in 2002, the exhibit space is a staggering 43,056 square feet celebration of the fruit. Visitors learn everything from its origins in southern Africa, to its journey into outer space. The museum explores the melon’s history, cultural significance, and different varieties. Although the exhibit contains no English subtitles, you can still get the gist things.
Beijing Dongyue Temple
No trip to the city would be complete, without a visit to the Temple of the Eastern Peak. This exquisite Taoist temple pays homage to the holy Mount Tai. Founded in 1319, the temple contains 376 rooms, organized around three courtyards. Around its edges, statues represent departments of various gods. Revered as a national cultural monument, it houses the Beijing Folk Customs Museum.
Venturing to the outskirts of Beijing, visitors could behold spectacular sights. For one, you might find Wu Yulu (a farmer by trade) busy constructing robots out of scrap metal. In 1986, Wu invented his first robot, programming it to pull a rickshaw. Since then, the 56-year-old has created almost 50 robots. They perform various functions, including painting, jumping, and even pouring tea. Wu has gained international recognition for his robots. In 2010, he displayed 30 of his creations during the Shanghai World Expo.
An Imperial Banquet Dinner
While in Beijing, why not treat yourself to a meal fit for royalty? At the Chinese Royal Gastronomy Museum, you get a sumptuous meal and much more. Guests learn about Chinese cuisine and its history, coupled with live entertainment. Opened in 2010, the museum’s ground floor has a food court with 3,000 different traditional snacks. Its second floor contains over 1000 antiques exploring Chinese food culture. This extravaganza is a definite must for any foodie.
Relax In A Hot Spring
After all that traveling and exploring, why not pamper yourself? Beijing and the surrounding area have numerous hot springs to choose from. North of the city, Fengshan Hotspring Resort offers indoor and outdoor hot springs. Yuan Hot Spring Resort has a decor of wood and sleek furnishings. Guests can enjoy the hot springs well into the evening, under the stars. Soak in the stunning landscape as you reap the benefits of mineral water.
A thriving, modern capital with a 3000-year history, Beijing has so much to offer. Regardless of your interests, there will be something for everyone. Venturing off-the-beaten-path, it is a city that provides many wonderful and unusual experiences.