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Lots to see and do in Beijing
There are several markets around the city where you can practice your haggling skills for low-priced souvenir items. Department stores and hotel shops sell silk clothing, porcelain, specialty teas and other items. You can get recommendations from your hotel concierge. Try to see if you can find some jewelry items made of jade and other precious stones and metals.
Airlines flying to Beijing from the Philippines
Direct flights to Beijing Capital International Airport from Manila are now served by three airlines. From Ninoy Aquino International Airport, China Airlines offers one daily flight to Beijing, on Flight 180 aboard Boeing 737-800 that leaves at 6:30 AM.
Other direct flights from Manila are served by Philippine Airlines. Its 7:20 AM flight is available on Sundays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Their 8:55 PM flight is available on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
Cebu Pacific offers a 7:35 PM flight on Sundays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Flight duration is more than four and a half hours.
When in Beijing...
The Olympic complex
Beijing has many fantastic attractions, both old and modern. The buildings and stadiums built for the Olympics themselves have become major tourist attractions. There is nothing like seeing the Bird’s Nest stadium close-up and in person. Most of the Olympic venues are open to visitors and well worth visiting.
Tianamen Square and the Forbidden City
This is probably one of the most famous places in Beijing. Although there is really nothing to see here, except a huge square. It is worth soaking in the atmosphere of this square that was home to political protests. It is still used by locals for strolling and exercising. Adjacent to the square is the imposing Forbidden City. It used to the emperor’s palace during the Ming Dynasty and its sheer size is simply breathtaking.
The Great Wall of China
An absolute must and probably on every visitor’s agenda is the Great Wall. Suitable as a day trip from Beijing, the Great Wall was built primarily by Emperor Qin Shi Huang during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and repaired and maintained throughout history. It is apparently one of the few manmade structures that can be seen from outer space. The Great Wall is over 6,000kms in length, so it is only possible to walk along a small portion of it in one visit.
Jewellery lovers should not miss visiting the famous Pearl Market known as Hongqiao Market. There are so many pearl shops here, it boggles the mind. Make sure to look around and bargain heavily! It is best to go for the naturally coloured pearls, rather than the dyed ones. On the spot, they will change the design, length or clasp – whatever you want! Even without a purchase, the ambience at the market is well worth experiencing.
Temple of Heaven & the Summer Palace
Other historic attractions in the city include the Temple of Heaven and Summer Palace. The Temple of Heaven is a Taoist building built in the 15th century and is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is located in the southern part of Beijing. The Summer Palace, is located in the central part of Beijing and is surrounded by Kunming Lake. The original palace dates back to the 1750s and is picturesque.
When to visit...
Beijing has very clear seasons, with a hot and humid summer and very dry and cold winters. Most visitors should plan to visit Beijing in the autumn, especially September and October. The Chinese term this season as the ‘Golden Autumn’ and visitors will find gloriously blue skies and temperatures of around 19-25C. Although the spring can also be nice, the city can be plagued by dust storms, where there may be days when it is not advisable to go outside.
One week for visitors to avoid going to Beijing is during Chinese New Year, which usually falls in late January or February, depending on the lunar calendar. Although it might be fun to experience Chinese New Year’s celebrations, travel can be a nightmare. Domestic flight prices rise significantly and it is difficult to get flight reservations. Many Chinese living in Hong Kong, Singapore and Thailand head back to the motherland, so it can get very crowded all over the city.
Times to avoid Beijing
Another time of year to not travel to Beijing is during the May Day or Labour Day holiday, May 1. This is a peak travel season for Chinese and domestic flights and trains become impossible to book. Hotels and attractions also become extremely over-crowded. More rural people flock to the capital city and most visitors find this difficult to deal with.
Winter is almost unbearable in Beijing. Temperatures can drop well below -10C and central heating is almost unheard of. The air also becomes extremely dry, playing havoc on skin or any exposed parts of the body. Flu and colds also become rampant during this season and being in over-crowded areas is not a good idea. Hospitals in Beijing are extremely unsanitary and lack modern amenities, therefore becoming sick in China should be avoided.
There are many festivals in Beijing throughout the year, such as the Lantern Festival (end of Chinese New Year’s) or Chung Yuan Festival (August). However, one not to be missed is the annual Dragon Boat Festival. Held around June every year, watching the dragon boats race is amazing. There are also many other cultural events and shows during this time.
Top 5 Reasons to Visit Beijing
- The Great Wal
- Tianamen Square & the Forbidden City
- The Temple of Heaven
- The Bird's Nest
- Hogquiao Market
Today's currency rate
PHP 1.00 = CNY 0.132
Temperature average in December
-5.3 - 3.7°C
Rainfall average in December
Cheapest time to fly to Beijing (PEK)
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