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Some of Beijing’s high rise buildings

Beijing, the Chinese capital is the second largest city in China, after Shanghai. Although not quite as cosmopolitan as Shanghai, Beijing offers a unique mixture of ancient and modern China. Stranglehold of many dynasties, Beijing has multiple must see attractions as well as some delectable cuisine, the most famous dish being the Peking duck.

 

Getting into Beijing from Shanghai

Taking a Bullet train to Beijing from Shanghai

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A view of a Beijing street

 

If you’ve never traveled on a bullet train then it may be worthwhile to travel to Beijing from Shanghai on one, for the experience. The journey takes about five hours, twice the time a flight would. However, trains are less affected by the weather conditions and can be said to be more reliable. The coaches are fairly comfortable, however the luggage space is limited, so make sure you board early or you’ll be left with your suitcase wedged in front of your feet, not the most comfortable situation on a five hour journey. Snacks and meals are available for purchase on board, a second class train ticket will cost you 553 RMB.

 

Beijing weather in November

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Beijing’s first winter snowfall

In the month of November winter  sets in Beijing, and it gets very cold with temperatures averaging below 0 degree Celsius. You can also expect snowfall and rain. Pack warm clothes including gloves, scarves and caps if you plan to visit during winter.

 

How to get around Beijing

Public transport such as buses, taxis and subways are fairly easy to use, cheap and well connected. Alternatively, you can also rent a bicycle.

 

Attractions

Kungfu Show

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Outside the Kungfu theatre

On our first night in Beijing, we went for one of the must visit Kungfu Shows. It is so for a reason. The show features beautiful sets, song, dance, kungfu and special effects. It is an experience one has to see for oneself. The one and a half hour length of the show can be a bit of a stretch, but it is worth the watch nonetheless.

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Inside the Kungfu theater

 

Tiananmen Square

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Shops lining Tiananmen Square

Marked historically, for a student protest in 1989 that lead to the massacre of many, Tiananmen Square is one of the largest public squares in the world. It sees hundreds of visitors on a daily basis. Surrounding the square are buildings housing the national Chinese museum, Chairman Mao’s memorial to name a few.

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Tiananmen Square
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National Museum of China

 

Forbidden City

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Our guide explains the history of the Forbidden City
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Forbidden City

 

Adjacent to the Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City can be accessed by an underground tunnel connecting the two. Forbidden City is a massive palace complex consisting of hundreds of buildings. Its name is derived from the fact that the general public were forbidden entry to it. Today however, Forbidden City has been converted to a museum and can be accessed by all. Exploring the entire length of the palace complex can take as much as 3-4 hours, however most tourists only opt for a 1 hour tour. Wear comfortable shoes as you’ll be doing plenty of walking.

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One of the shrines inside the Forbidden City

 

Visiting the great wall

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Parking lot of the Juyongguan Great wall section
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Some of the buildings lining the Juyongguan Great wall

 

There are a couple of sections of the great wall you can visit from Beijing. We visited the Juyongguan section. Climbing the Juyongguan section can be quite labour intensive, unlike the Badaling section there are no cable cars to help you get to the top. The wall is also very steep in many sections, with the stairs twice the width of a regular one. Coupled with slippery stairs owing to the frost and snow, and chilly winds, climbing the section can be quite the obstacle course. However the beautiful views from on top are completely worth it.

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The Steep Climb at the Great Wall

 

Beijing Zoo

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Entrance to the Beijing Zoo

 

The only reason you’d want to visit the Beijing Zoo in the winter is for the Pandas. While Zoo is fairly expansive, and features other animals like polar bears and penguins, most of the animal shelters are poorly maintained, with the animals either missing or deep in winter slumber. The Pandas although live up to the expectation. The Zoo has around ten Pandas, and the adorable creatures can be found lazing around or munching on food.

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A Panda munches on some Bamboo
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A Panda rests

 

 

The Silk market

On our final evening in Beijing, we were taken to the silk market to do some shopping. The interiors of the market can have you mistaken, but it is very much a bargain market. The multi storied market sells everything from souvenirs, apparel, bags, shoes and Electronics, and features a food court on the top floor.

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Tunnel to the Forbidden City

 

That marked our week long Trip to China. There were a few spots like the Olympics Birds Nest arena which I’d wanted to visit but couldn’t because of the time crunch. Nevertheless, I enjoyed my time and realised China was very different from what I had perceived it to be.

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