Whenever I travel solo I don’t always like to be restricted to having concrete plans. When I arrived in Beijing a week before my marathon, I ventured out of my hotel and fell in love with the beauty of everyday life. I walked along Dongsi W. Street until I arrived at the Forbidden City, which was a madhouse: lots of people, lots of tours. So I ventured across the street to Jingshan Park.
Families, tourists, and locals all congregated at this public park, which was about a 2 – 5 Yuan entry – super cheap! I was fascinated by how many locals arrive each weekend to meet with each other and sing, dance, or play music. No matter where you were in the park, you could hear drums beating in the distance, or the soft echo of a choir. These are locals who meet not for the amusement of tourists, but simply because it’s what they do for pleasure. An added bonus is the ‘Everlasting Spring Tower’ which is the highest point in the park, and will also provide you with a fantastic view of the Forbidden City.
The following week, I visited the Temple of Heaven as part of my tour group. Like Jingshan Park, people here also relaxed and played music:
I came across a few tourists who preferred Shanghai and other, more metropolitan cities, but there’s something special about exploring a new city, simply for discovery and immersing yourself in local culture.
An Art Fan?
Do visit the National Art Museum of China. It’s free entry as long as you show your passport at the ticket kiosk. My favourite exhibit was from Wen Lipeng, whose oil paintings were beautiful to say the least.
Where I Stayed
Tucked away in the Dongsi district is the Beijing Double Happiness Courtyard Hotel. The staff was super friendly and incredibly helpful. When you’re ready to leave, the staff will arrange for a taxi upon request.