The Forbidden City & Temple of Heaven
The Forbidden City
Our last day in China and we still had several must-see items to get to in Beijing. The Forbidden City was up first and it was within walking distance. In true Chinese fashion it was overcrowded with school groups, tour groups and just way too many people. We had no idea what we were getting into with this place, it was huge! You couldn’t get too close to the buildings anyways because of the tour groups so we walked through at a good pace. Even so, it still took us 45-60 minutes to walk through the entire thing. The palaces are pretty similar to others we have seen in Korea and elsewhere. There are multiple buildings all decorated in the same ornate style. This palace did have significantly less garden areas than most others but I think it is just a China thing.
The Temple of Heaven
You can only walk through the Forbidden City in one direction so everyone got spit out the other side. Conveniently there were no subway stops anywhere near this exit so we started walking. A long 45 minutes brought us to a subway station, which we could then take to the Temple Of Heaven. This temple was a little unique because it is perfectly round! It is also a lot larger than it looks in the pictures making it pretty impressive! It was surrounded on all sides by HUGE gardens that took about 10 minutes to walk through.
Beijing Olympic Complex
Lunch and a small break were spent at the hotel since we had already walked so much that day. Once it got dark we took a very packed bus for about 30 minutes to the Beijing Olympic Complex! We got to see the bird’s nest and the water cube all lit up! We pad extra to go inside the water cube but there wasn’t really anything to see. Just a regular swim class taking place where the Olympics used to be haha!
How I Feel About Beijing
Overall China and Beijing was a strange experience. China was never at the top of my list of places to visit. In fact, it was pretty far down on the list. The Great Wall was something we wanted to see and felt like we should see while living so close. The Great Wall of China was absolutely incredible and something that everyone should try to see once in his or her life. It truly is breathtaking to see the wall winding through the steep mountains. You can read more about our day at The Great Wall here. I would say that using the 72-hour Chinese visa to see the wall is absolutely worth it! And if you are able to go further out of Beijing to a less crowded part of the wall you will not regret it!
Unfortunately, the rest of Beijing leaves a lot to be desired in my opinion. The street food was the worst I have ever had. The transportation is nearly impossible unless arranged in advance with a tour group. And frankly, the vibe of the city is a little sad. Maybe it’s the smog in the air but it just seems a little depressing and the people seem unhappy and cranky. Most places we travel I am surprised by how helpful locals are to help us whenever we have questions but in Beijing I felt like no one wanted to talk to us. Since the city doesn’t seem set up for foreign tourism it would have been nice to have friendly locals to ask for directions. I guess the main point is that 72 hours felt like more than enough time to spend in Beijing.
Please note that these opinions are simply based on my own experiences and are not intended to say anything negative about the Chinese culture or people. If you have also been to China please tell me how you felt about it in the comments! I would love to hear other experiences!