When most tourists go to Beijing, they focus on visiting the most popular sights, like Lama Temple, Houhai Hutong, the Forbidden City, and Tiananmen Square. These are wonderful but when you go to Beijing for a second time with your Cathay Pacific deal, you might want to experience some of the destinations few people know about. Several non-mainstream activities are available and the truth is that you can easily spend days in Beijing and not get bored. This is because there are several hidden gems like the ones presented below.
Check Out Miniature Beijing
If you plan to visit Tiananmen Square, you might want to start with a miniature view of Beijing, which basically shows you exactly everything the city has to offer. You can find the Beijing Planning Exhibition Hall right on the east side of Tiananmen Square. It was created to help you get acquainted to the history of the city. There are 16,000 square meters of floor space divided into four-floor levels. And 8,000 of the square meters are exhibits.
When you visit, you can see a very large model of the metropolitan area, multimedia exhibits showcasing the city’s history, present, and even urban plans for the future of Beijing.
Hiking To Mutianyu Great Wall From The Jiankou Great Wall
The Mutianyu Great Wall is pretty popular among international travelers. It is the main attraction in Beijing according to Tripadvisor. You should seriously consider a visit if you did not already and the experience will be even better when you visit the location after a hike from the Jiankou Great Wall.
The great thing is that you do not need to go to Jiankou Great Wall’s treacherous parts. You just need to take the hiking trail and you skip Jiankou’s risky parts. At the same time, you get to experience the original and wild side of the incredible Great Wall of China. It is a unique experience few people have.
Poly Art Museum
The Poly Art Museum appeared to display and develop traditional national art and culture. It also aims to protect and rescue cultural relics from China that were lost abroad. There are two main parts in this exhibition: stone and bronze carvings.
As expected, most exhibits were retrieved from places far away from the country. A huge part has very high artistic and historical value. Many are actually unique and you will not find other versions anywhere in the world. This Beijing hidden gem is incredible and few people actually get to see it. But do not expect souvenirs or a large museum shop. Poly Museum is small and just focuses on what it offers.
The Southern Moat Of The Outer City
When you take the north gate to reach the Forbidden City, there is a moat circling the wall. Beijing had four moat systems. They were those for the palace, for the Imperial City, for the Outer City, and for the Inner City. These date from the main dynasties of China, Qing, Ming, and Yuan.
During the fifties, the moat system of Beijing was 40 kilometers long. Nowadays, only the already-mentioned parts still exist. Even so, we are talking about 31 kilometers of moat. And there are several walking trails by tour operators that take you to see them.
It is worth mentioning that the local government worked hard to preserve and protect the moats that remained. There is a huge preservation project underway right now. Its main focus is to improve the existing walking trails. If you can visit just one rail, make sure to walk along the Beijing Outer City Southern Moat. It is the most impressive and you get to feel the Beijing metropolitan area vibe even away from the metropolitan area.
St. Joseph’s Parish
When you go to Beijing you do not necessarily think about a trip to a church but this is something you might want to take into account as a tourist. Every single Sunday you can enjoy English Catholic mass at 4 PM. The experience is great because of the atmosphere and the music you will experience.
Outside the St. Joseph’s Parish, there is a large square of 1.2 hectares. It is actually a park and a great location for those interested in roller board skating and for people taking wedding photographs. And the location is close to another interesting travel destination, Wangfujing Street.
After the church service, you can go to Wangfujing Street. This allows you to see the locals, dine, and shop around. Ever since 1999 this location became a pedestrian street so you do not even have to worry about cars.
Hutong is a term that represents vernacular buildings and the traditional areas of the city. Since Beijing is going through a very fast urban development process, many Hutong areas are now being torn down. They go through gentrification or they simply get replaced with modern buildings.
In the Hutong areas, we see a constant population decrease. However, there is still enough to see. Several locals still live in courtyard homes and crowded alleys. You can go through the Hutong areas and get to see exactly how old and a part of the current Beijing actually is.
The two best choices if you are interested in experiencing Hutong areas are Houhai and Nanluoguxiang. They allow you to see the actual traditional life of the locals. If you want to take a tour, take the antique streets from Liulichang towards Dazhalan.
Most of the travel guides recommend the beautiful Lama Temple, which is Beijing’s main Lamasery. But, you might want to also consider Fayuan Temple, which is older. It was built in the year 645 AD and s located in Beijing’s southern downtown area, close to Jiaozi Alley.
We are talking about the oldest temple of Buddhist faith in Beijing. At the same time, it is where you can find the Relic Centre, China Buddhism Library, and the China Buddhism Institution, together with other venues that are important for research and the Buddhist monks. The entrance fee is small and access is easy through public transportation.