Beijing, China is best known for the Great Wall, Peking duck, the Forbidden City and Tianamen square but it also has an array of other sightseeing opportunities you definitely want to check out if you plan to visit, such as watching someone eat a live scorpion!

Let’s start with the Great Wall since it’s probably the number one reason people visit Beijing.  There are three different areas of the Great Wall accessible from Beijing. The closest access point is quite touristy and crowded therefore I wouldn’t recommend it, instead I recommend visiting “Mufianyu” which is approximately 1.5 hours from Beijing.  Plan to arrive early (8-9am) or later in the afternoon to avoid the crowds.  You’ll likely spend 2-3 hours exploring the Great Wall.  The cost is 320 yuan and includes a cable car ride and a fantastic toboggan ride on the way down!

Tyler and I decided to fuse our experiences from the day before in the Gangnam district of South Korea with the Great Wall. Enjoy!

Some people say the toboggan ride is the most memorable part of the Great Wall. We took a video of the slower part of the track so you’d know if it’s something you’d find enjoyable.

Michelle Holm Central Perk Beijing, China
Joey's Apartment Beijing, China
Michelle Holm Olympic Birdsnest Beijing, China
Michelle Holm at the Olympics Beijing, China
Michelle Holm Forbidden City Beijing, China

A “must do” while in Beijing is enjoying a meal consisting of Peking duck. We were fortunate enough to try this exquisite dish at the best place in town called Dadong. It costs roughly 270 yuan and feeds 3 people. Delicious!

Are you a “Friends” fan? If so, you’ll love “Central Perk”, in the CBD district. It’s located within a large high-rise building and somewhat challenging to find but worth it if you want to see Joey and Chandler’s room and the coffee house in person, all while enjoying a cup of coffee and watching the “Friends” TV show play in front of the famous orange couch.

The Forbidden City and Tianamen square are incredible, unforgettable experiences you don’t want to miss! It takes (roughly) two hours to walk through the Forbidden City. Our amazing tour guide, Linda, pointed out phenomenal pieces of information about the city I didn’t know before I visited. Speaking of tour guides, I would highly recommend hiring a tour guide while in Beijing. She arranged our driver, toured us around the Wall, all the sites within Beijing, and translated for us so we could better communicate with the locals. Tour guides in Beijing are affordable and well worth the money.

As an avid Olympic fan I couldn’t go to Beijing and not see the bird’s nest and the water cube. They were spectacular and absolutely worth seeing.

For those of you hoping to see some wiggly, live scorpions just before consumption I’ve posted a video near the bottom just for you!

The subway system is easy to navigate and very affordable but is also very crowded. If you’re the type of person who likes to sit down between sightseeing destinations a taxi might be a better option as the subway is typically packed with standing room only.

We stayed with a wonderful couple in an AirBnB while in Beijing. If mixing it up with the locals is how you enjoy traveling as well I would recommend checking out the vast AirBnB options in and around the Beijing area. Of note, it is not necessary to stay in the touristy district since the Forbidden City, Olympic stadium, Great Wall, and of course Central Perk are all located in different “rings” of the city.

After seeing the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, the Olympic stadium, Central Perk, and a big meal of Peking duck in 1.5 days (yes, it’s possible) be sure to unwind with a Chinese massage, a 1 hour massage is roughly 30 yuan ($5) and the perfect way to end to your day. Ahh, heaven!

Ok, you’re almost set to take off for China but there are a couple of other key points to know before embarkation. First, if you don’t want to go through the hassle (and $$) of getting a Visa be sure your visit is less than 72 hours and have your paperwork to prove you have a return flight scheduled within that timeframe. Also, air quality in China can be of concern so buying face masks in advance is always a good idea.

Lastly, if you’re like me when you travel and use your phone constantly for directions be aware Google maps won’t work (or Facebook).