Where was your vacation/trip and how long did you visit that place? Well, to be fair, it wasn’t exactly a vacation. I am currently studying abroad in Hong Kong until December but have had the opportunity to travel several times. To answer the question, I did some traveling for two weeks. I visited Beijing, Malaysia, and Singapore, respectively. Out of all the locations I visited I loved Beijing the most.
My classmates and I spent six days in Beijing. We visited historical landmarks such as Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, The Great Wall, Confucius’ Temple, Temple of Heaven, famous hutongs (alleyways) like Nanluoguxiang, the Great Wall…Shall I keep going? Haha.
Your favorite thing to do and eat there…I am a big lover of international foods. But I went very traditional in Beijing. Most of my meals were steamed dumplings, baozi, and the famous Peking duck.
Where did you stay? (If a hotel, name, and location) I stayed at the Otani Chang Fu Gong Hotel. It was a beautiful hotel with great breakfast, staff and located around 10 minutes from Tiananmen Square. Although I would recommend walking towards the nearby metro station of Jianguomen because traffic around this area can get hectic.
Would you go back? Why? I did go back! Haha. This was the second time visiting Beijing; the first time was when I studied abroad there for four months. So, you can say I love China.
Any tips for someone planning to visit for the first time? I am sure a lot of people are not very familiar with Beijing or China in general. I wasn’t my first time visiting/living there. What I can recommend is to go with an open mind and no expectations. Stuff there is really cheap if you have US dollar, Euros, or Pounds.
For moving around, I recommend getting a metro card. Trips usually cost around 4 RMB, which is less than 1 US dollar.
What about visas? Well, the visa application is an easy one to fill out. Make sure to follow all the instructions as specified or risk getting rejected. The cost of the visa – if you apply at a Chinese consulate – will set you back around $140 US dollars but the benefit is, you could get multiple entries, meaning you can exit and come back to China how many times you want, and your visa has a lifespan of 10 years. How great is that?!
As for the language barrier, most people speak English, although not perfect, but enough to get your message across. If you are a foreigner, be ready to be stared at by locals, mostly the elderly. This is perfectly normal. Sometimes, you will be asked to get a picture taken with groups and hold babies because apparently it is a sign of good luck. No one gave ME any babies..
Any upcoming trips planned for this year? Where and when? Yes! I have a huge backpacking trip coming up this winter. I am still working the entire logistics of it and can provide more information later on. I want it to keep it a secret for now but all I can say is that it will be somewhere in Asia for a length of 25 days. Did I mention I’m doing it alone? Yeah, it will be a heck of an adventure.