at the Great Wall of China

Incontestably, one of the most visited places in the world is Beijing in the Peoples Republic of China.  There are notions that one has to have enough cash to be able to visit the place.  To dispute such belief, the said trip is the cheapest of all my Asian travels to date.

Fortunate for us and thanks to Cebu Pacific Air, we were able to avail of the promo fare, that is, PhP1200.00 only for a round trip ticket from Manila to Beijing, China.   

When asked what to do in Beijing, the common answer is to visit the Great Wall of China, being as they say, the only man-made structure visible even in the moon (not true though).  However, this structure proves to be only one of the many ancient structures that will make you commend how great Chinese ancient civilization was.  

With the short period of stay ahead, we did an extensive research on what to do and where to go, to at least say and be proud that we've been to major Beijing landmarks and to make our ancient history books come alive before our senses.


Our first destination in Beijing was this art zone and gallery, known as the Beijing 798 Art Zone.  For lovers of art installations, paintings, sculptures and its varied forms, this one is highly recommended.

How to get there: enter the Airport Expressway via Sanyuan Bridge or Siyuan Bridge, and leave the expressway at the Jiuxianqiao Road Exit.

As a brief background, the site of this art zone was once the place for Beijing North China Wireless Joint Equipment Factory. Afterwards, the Corporation moved out of the Dashanzi District and leased those plants (798 factory being one of them). The architectural style, featuring simple design and varied composition, follows the Bauhaus way. Attracted by ordered design, convenient traffic, unique style of Bauhaus architecture, many art organizations and artists came to rent the vacant plants and transformed them. Gradually they formed a district gathering galleries, art studios, cultural companies, fashion shops. As the area where the early art organizations and artists moved in was located in the original area of the 798 plant, this place was named Beijing 798 Art Zone. 

Below are some of the art installations captured while wandering in this long alley.  It is also advisable that you wear comfortable shoes when paying a visit to this artistic place, as walking is mandatory.

There are also restaurants and cafes within the zone to make the visit more comfortable after an hour of roaming around. And to give ourselves a chance to plan for the next destinations to visit, we sought comfort on one of the restaurants in the area.  Internet access is also not a problem, making extensive research within every travelers reach.


Visiting Beijing would not be complete without seeing the actual facade of the Tiananmen Square.  This is known to be the largest square in the world of its kind and known to locals as the largest gathering place for massive parades and other special occasions.  A main attraction in front of the square occurs every sunrise and sunset, as the raising and lowering of the Chinese National flag is a must-see event.  To be able to secure a good place, you must be there at least thirty minutes before the young troops perform their exhibitions following the flag ceremony.  We were not able to witness the actual flag ceremony but we were able to witness how significant the said daily event is due to the huge number of crowd within the premises.  The Tiananmen square is open the whole day and is free of charge.

soldier stands still while the weather is freezing

sunset in Beijing


Discovering the rich history of Beijing would not be complete without wandering in this vast land area known as the Forbidden City.  The Imperial Palace is just at the back of the Tiananmen Square and was built between 1406 and 1420.  This was burned down and was rebuilt, sacked and renovated for times, so majority of the architectural designs dates back to the 18th century in the Qing Dynasty. Walking is inevitable, thus, to wear comfortable shoes or slippers is the best way to visit the place.  Tourist guides and trolley bus are everywhere, but for us, we managed to discover the place on our own and armed with the principle that everything can be learned through "google".

For information:

Address: No.4 Jingshan Front Street, Dongcheng District
Opening Hours: 8:30-17:00
Ticket office hours: From 9AM to 3:00 PM
Entrance Fee: RMB 60

front gate of the zoo

Back when I was a child, I have always dreamt of being able to see pandas.  This trip to Beijing made me realize this dream.  I never visited zoos even in the Philippines but this trip seems to be different.

Beijing Zoo covers more than a hundred hectares and is set in a rich landscape alongside a canal that flows to the Summer Palace.  The zoo is accessible through the subway station, it is situated at the west of Beijing City, that is 2km west of Xizhimen subway station, next to the Beijing Exhibition Hall.

The zoo was originally an imperial manor during the Ming Dynasty. It was part of the estate of Prince Fu Kang'an during the Qing Dynasty. In 1906, the Imperial Ministry for Agricultural, Industry and Commerce established an experimental farm, which held a small menagerie. The Viceroy of Liangjiang, Duanfang, purchased a batch animals from Germany and deposited them there. The animal collection attracted great interest when the farm opened to visitors in 1908. The Empress Dowager and the Emperor Guangxu both visited the zoo twice. The farm was known as the Wanshouyuan or the "Garden of Ten Thousand Beasts".

lake at the zoo


The Summer Palace is located northwest of Beijing's center and is easily accessible from most parts of the city. Head north at Suzhou Bridge on the north-western 3rd Ring Road, north at Sihai Bridge on the north-western 4th Ring Road, or 4th Ring Road, or south at the northern 5th Ring Road at the Zhingguancuan/Beijing Road exit.  Public transportation also serves the Summer Palace.  The North gate is easile accessible from Beigongmen Station on Line 4 of the Beijing Subway.

The said palace is also included as one of the World's Heritage List of UNESCO.  Endurance in walking is a must while wandering inside the premises.  Taking a cab to the Summer Palace is cheap, so it is advisable to take one to avoid the hassle.  Travel time through taxi from the city itself is fast and reliable.  Entrance fees costs CNY20-30 depending on the month of visit.  


Houhai is in the center of the traditional Hutong area of Central Beijing.  We were able to wander the said area by accident and able to discover that this is the place where travelers and young locals stay for relaxation and has been a popular rendezvous for a nightlife in Beijing.  There are a variety of tea houses, bars, restaurants and coffee shops aligned.

It was winter when we visited Beijing and so we were not fully able to discover and enjoy every bars on the area due to weather constraints.  However, we were able to take a long walk in the area, a form of forced exercise for us but the stroll was worth it. 


This area is known as the replica of how people of Beijing lived in the past.  There are tour guides all over the place offering their services but we rejected them and opted to trust our own instincts and wander all by ourselves.  It's either you walk or use bike through out the area but we opted to walk and trust our slippers.  For old narrow alleys and streets, a cycle rickshaw is the traditional means of transportation.

While taking photos, we were able to meet an artist and he invited us to check his works of art in a stall made for exhibition of his paintings.  There are varied souvenir shops as well in the area and this place is just near the Forbidden Palace.

the great wall at different seasons


Unplanned and in a random circumstance, we were able to discover an architectural design that is noticeable and worthy to stop for picture taking purposes, that is, the National Grand Theater of Beijing.  The said structure is made of glass and titanium and is a walking distance from the Tiananmen Square.

facade of the National Grand Theater
water cube at day time on a winter


It was winter season when we visited Beijing, but we never expected it would be so freezing cold.  Then, we were directed to an open area to be precise, which made us feel we're inside a giant refrigerator.  The Water Cube is one of notable structures in the said area. It was constructed for the swimming and diving events during the 2008 Summer Olympics, but now, the same has been a main attraction in the city.

at night
The structure may appear simple during day time but when night time comes everything changes.  The LED lighting system of the structure turns this cube into a giant pool resembling soap of bubbles with a kaleidoscope of colors.  

We came from a tropical country and so winter in Beijing is definitely a new experience for us.

The structure is accessible even by taking a cab and is near the famous Birds Nest- National Stadium.

Since English is not a medium of communication in this country show the taxi driver this:

Address (Chinese):朝阳区奥林匹克公园
Directions:Ao Yun Shui Li Fang (奥运水立方 - literally "Olympic Water Cube")


Beijing's popularity as the best tourist destination has been amplified by this award-winning structure especially built for the 2008 Summer Olympics but now continues to be an icon in Asia.

The National Stadium is envisioned to be futuristic in concept resembling a birds nest and is best when visited at night when the lighting system has been activated.

We were basically in the Olympic Center the whole afternoon until night to witness the changes that may occur in this extraordinary structure.

Address (Chinese):朝阳区奥林匹克公园
Directions:Ao Yun Niao Chao (奥运鸟巢 - literally "Olympic Bird's Nest")

These are just ten of the many sites to visit here in Beijing, to make us realize that the world is full of discovery, and that Beijing is not only scenic but an open-air museum for tourists.

You May Also Like


  1. It’s true that Visiting Beijing would not be complete without seeing the actual facade of the Tiananmen Square. There is also a high level of police presence located in the heart of modern China where I also visited before bus tours to grand canyon from los angeles. It is extremely crowded during summer holiday.