Beijing, one of Asia’s foremost cities and one of the world’s most populous cities, lives up to the image of its country – everything is big there.
It is typical of a fast-growing city in Asia where east really meets west. I was astounded with the development that Beijing is going through. It is a bustling metropolis that caters to the needs of its people as well as the influx of tourists. With the many modern buildings that are being built alongside with the old structures, it is a delight to see how the oriental mixes with the occidental.
Of course, together with development comes the problem of traffic and pollution of which Beijing is fast-becoming known for. But authorities are doing something about these problems. Traffic may be bad but with its many streets, going around the city is now much of a problem.
Not to be overshadowed is the structure that can even be seen from outer space – the Great Wall of China. Going to this China pride is a must. They say that your trip to Beijing will not be complete with a visit to the wall. Oh, so many tourists there are. There is a vast jade factory in a place en route to the Great Wall. Unlike in other Asian cities, the wares in the said factory are very reasonable.
For shopping hounds, there are many places to go to in Beijing. Signature brands have big stores there. If you want to haggle and see good finds, Xiu Shui is one shopping haven. Floors upon floors of stores are for everyone to go around. Of course, there are other districts where stand-alone shopping stores are also available.
Two popular places to visit in Beijing are the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square. Enter the former and go out facing the latter. These two are must-visits when you’re in Beijing. Our tour guide gave us a comprehensive story of each place and I fully understood the rich culture of China.
When the Olympics was held in Beijing in 2008, various venues were constructed for the purpose and they are visual delights. The Bird’s Nest was where the opening of the games and other sports activities were held. The cube was where the water sports were done. Very modern structures in an ancient city which provide a good contrast.
Everything is really big in Beijing. This is evident in the grandiose hotel lobbies they have, the big signature stores that abound in the city and their big international airport.
This city of contrasts should be part of anybody’s bucket list. For me, it is one cultural experience in the midst of modernity.
Travel to Beijing from the Philippines is easy because there are direct flights from Manila. Four hours of plane ride is enough to witness Chinese culture at its best. Visit Beijing and you will be surprised at what the city can offer.