While some people think autumn is the best time to visit Beijing, it turns out that it’s also really fun to explore Beijing during the winter. Nothing can beat the beauty of the Great Wall and the Summer Palace covered with snow and the excitement to shop at Qianmen Street and the Wangfujing Night Market. Yes, it’s going to be really cold, but even if you only have 48 hours in the city, you can always make the most of it by visiting the places below.
Wangfujing Night Market
“Scorpion! Scorpion! Very good for you!”
The Chinese stall owner wearing a white uniform and red cap yells after the people passing his stand at Wangfujing Street in Beijing. Open everyday from 6pm to 9:30pm, the Wangfujing Night Market has so many stalls selling more than 50 kinds of food, not only Chinese food like Beijing roast duck, noodle soup, and pork dumplings, but also seafood, meat kebabs, and desserts like fruit on sticks.
There is also a wide selections of extreme snacks that you may find a little bit unusual like scorpions, silk-worms, starfish, snake, even fried spiders on sticks. To make it easier to recognize the food’s name, each stall has signs with both the English and Chinese name and price.
The market is very well organized and it’s pretty safe and convenient to eat there since they’ve put a protective line that separates the main road from the food stalls. Remember to always bargain before you decide to buy and always watch your belongings.
Shop and explore Beijing
To continue your evening walk right after the night market, the next thing you’ll see is the big pedestrian street of Qianmen, which is well known as one the famous shopping streets in Beijing. It is always fully-packed of tourists and local people – this ambiance gives it a totally interesting feel that only begins all of the fun of your adventure in Beijing.
If you haven’t been to Beijing before, staying in the Dongcheng district is highly recommended. Many selections of accommodations, from hostels like Sunrise Hostel at the Ciqiku Hutong to the top 5 Star hotels can be found here. Additionally, this area is strategically located in the center of Beijing, only a couple of minutes walking distance to the National Museum, Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, Zhongshan Park, and old hutongs if you’re keen to see what Beijing was like in the past.
Speaking of transportation in Beijing, taking the subway costs 2 RMB (about 0.30 USD) for a ticket each way and it is very fast and convenient. The public buses are your alternative option. Also, do visit Qianmen Street for a shopping and culinary experience. From Qianmen Street, take a subway to Tiantan Dongmen Station and leave via Exit A. This will bring you to Temple of Heaven. The entrance fee is only 35 RMB (about 5.40 USD) and you’ll be able to explore the Circular Mound Altar, the Imperial Vault of Heaven, the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, and beautiful parks where you can see the local people playing mahjong, doing tai chi, and dancing.
The Great Wall at Mutianyu
As you may know, the Great Wall of China has many sections to visit. You can take a train from Beijing North Station to the Great Wall at Badaling, with train tickets costing 6 RMB (about 0.90 USD) each way. While Badaling is very popular and crowded, the Great Wall at Mutianyu seems to be a perfect destination if you want to avoid too many tourists while still enjoying the gorgeous view from the top of the wall.
Get up early to catch bus number 867 that leaves daily at 7am and 8:40am from Dongzhimen bus station to the Great Wall at Mutianyu. You can see the bus station on your left side when you exit the Dongzhimen subway station exit ‘H’; however, the bus station is huge, so it’s hard to see any sign. To find number 867, just turn left and walk straight - do not cross the street, until you find a separate bus station. The bus ticket costs 11 RMB (about 1.70 USD) each way, and takes about 2 hours. You will need to get off of the bus at Huairou City and take a cab for another 15 minutes to the Great Wall at Mutianyu.
The entrance fee to the Great Wall is 45 RMB (about 6.94 USD), but if you bring your student ID with you, you will only have to pay 25 RMB (3.86 USD). You can either walk up the steps to get to the Great Wall or take a cable car for 80 RMB round trip (about 12.34 USD). Spend the whole afternoon at the Great Wall. When it is covered with snow it is very quiet and peaceful. Don’t you wish to wake up to those views every morning?
When you have seen the Great Wall, get ready to fall in love with how gorgeous the Summer Palace is in winter. The entrance fee costs 40 RMB (about 6.17 USD). Enjoy ice-skating and walk on the frozen Kunming Lake, explore some old buildings and a temple, see the Seventeen-Arch bridge and Longevity Hill. It’s a long walk.
You may find it a little bit frustrating if you don’t speak Mandarin, so keep a small pocket dictionary with you and learn some basic words to help you to survive. The excitement to see new places, meet new people, try different food you’ve never eaten before, including fried scorpions, is incredible. In overall, experience something new and let yourself grow and fall in love with life even more.
What To Do in Beijing for 48 Hours
Even if you only have 48 hours to explore Beijing this winter, you can still visit most of the best tourist destinations. From shopping on Qianmen Street, to exploring the Great Wall at Mutianyu, a quick visit to the National Museum, walking Tiananmen Square, seeing the Forbidden City, strolling Zhongshan park, and eating dinner at Wangfujing night market – your trip will be amazing. Just make sure to wear enough warm clothes and have loads of fun.
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