Updated: Jul 10, 2018
We couldn't leave Asia without a trip to China, but were running out of time, so 4 day whirlwind of Beijing's best sites was the compromise and it didn't let us down.
Tips from Mum:
Chose your accommodation carefully. We chose the Regent Beijing for its indoor pool, regardless of heat or haze the kids had guarantee place to run and jump each day. It was also very central and close to the train making getting out and about so easy.
Call Coco: Our guide Coco, was fantastic, she organised an itinery that could be tailored to meet the enthusiasm levels (or lack thereof) of all our little travelers.
Bring everyone's walking shoes: the whole family walked miles, The spaces are huge and everyone did more walking than expected.
Itinery at a glance
DAY 1: Wangfujing Street
DAY 2: Tiannamen Square, Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven
Day 3: Great Wall of China, Acrobatic Show
Day 4: Jingshan Park, Panda House, Dumpling Making, Summer Palace
We were all a bit unsure what to expect when we got on our mid night flight from Changi. We don't usually go on city tours and we aren't that great at looking at historical sites, because usually they are boring. I think Mum was worried we would all grizzle and ruin it for her and Dad. But China was really fun.
On the day we arrived we didn't do much because we had flown overnight, but Mum and Dad kept going on about how easy everything was. 'The airport was efficient, we didn't have to queue for our taxi, everyone spoke English and there was no traffic jam getting into the city'. I think this made them feel brave so after a few hours sleeping in the hotel we went for a walk and stumbled on the coolest street I have ever seen. Wangfujing Street. It is a food market with Scorpion on a stick, Stuffed Octopus, lots of other food we couldn't identify and so many people, we weren't brave enough to eat anything but it was worth the visit and everyone was very friendly
DAY 2: FORBIDDEN CITY AND TEMPLE OF HEAVEN
The next day we began our tour with Coco. We started at the Tianomen square and the Forbidden City. I was pretty sure this was going to be boring as when we got there it was hot and again there were so many people, but Coco our guide knew exactly what to do to dodge the crowds and told us a lot of the interesting bits of the history, she made sure we did important things like stroking the brass knobs on the doors for good luck.
The things I hadn't expected were the size of everything. Tiannamen square is the biggest square in any city anywhere in the world, we really just walked through it but it is huge and it is where Mao mausoleum is so lots of people were going there. The Forbidden City was built over a really long time by lots of emperors so it is also huge
Another tip from Mum:
Treasure Hunts: We try and create treasure hunts for our kids to give them things to look for as we tour sights, this keeps them entertained and gives us a small window to enjoy the extraordinary sites we are visiting
Items to add to a Forbidden City Treasure Hunt:
Dragon head spout
Water Vats with Dragon Handle
Marble Bridges over the Lakes
Concubines House (Western Palaces)
Half Dragon, half turtle statues.
After the Forbidden City Coco took us to lunch and I tried Peking Duck Pancakes, mum had to force me but the plum sauce was sweet and made them yummy!
Our final visit for the day was the Temple of Heaven, the three of us didn't want to go so Coco did the express tour and actually I have to say it was pretty cool. The temple is round and on a hill so there was a breeze and we could run round without it being too hot it was actually really pretty. In the gardens they have trees with colour markers on them, depending on the colour you know the trees are either less than 100 years old, other than 100 years or older than 500 years, we tried to count the trees that were older than 500 years, there were quite a few.
The garden around the temple of heaven is free so lots of people come there in the days and play board games and hang out, it was very relaxed and friendly.
After this mum went off to the Pearl Market, and came back with lots of new handbags.
DAY 3: GREAT WALL OF CHINA
We went to the Great Wall of China but I have already written about that so wont do it again now. It was way more fun than I expected infact I really liked it. I would rank it 8 out of 10 which puts it up there with going to a trampoline park.
Day 4:JINGSHAN PARK, KAMPONG, PANDA HOUSE, SUMMER PALACE
We did lots of different things and it was really fun. We started the day at JingShan Park. It was really pretty and nice and cool and so much going on. We saw some old men writing Mandarin on the pavement and they let us have a go. We saw a view over the Forbidden City which made us proud of how far we had walked on other days. Coco then took us to some special friends in an old part of town called a Kampong, we rode in old bicycle powered tug-tuks and we saw them doing traditional art and craft, we made dumplings, wrote our names in Mandarin, painted on the inside of glass good luck jars,
On our final afternoon we went to see Pandas but they were mostly sleeping and then to the Summer Palace we were all a bit tired so we didn't climb to the top but we did find some pretty cool things here and walked along the enormous corridor, saw where the princess lived, had an ice cream, rode on a dragon boat. We were pretty tired by now and headed home to the hotel, we saw the olympic park on the way and got stuck in really bad traffic. Once were were we we went for dinner and just had pizza, we all ate loads
Beijing was way move fun than I expected and I am pretty sure Mum and Dad want to do more exploring in China now.