We’re all aware that Beijing itself has more than enough sights to keep the typical tourist busy for some weeks on end. Tiananmen Square which is the spiritual, political and historical heartbeat of this ancient capital, or the endless pavilions and courts of the Forbidden City where China’s great emperors once dwelled.
Yet, rather than simply being restricted to the dizzying array of skyscrapers that has come to dominate the Beijing skyline, it would be a shame not to venture out and see what else can be discovered not far from the main city.
Shidu Nature Park – A gift of an escape away from the highly animated city, this is a great way to enjoy some natural setting that is becoming rather rare in a hastily industrialising nation.
Travellers had once journeyed the Juma River to the nearby village of Zhangfang, hence the name Shidu, meaning ‘ten crossings’. Simply just strolling across the riverbank and revering the amazing limestone rock formation is really nothing short of a delight!
Tanzhe Temple – This is a grand temple that is exceptionally famous for possessing towering old trees, pagodas and gardens. But not just that, it is a really old temple as well dating back to the 4rd century. It’s so old in fact, the locals say, “Tanzhe Temple came first, Beijing city came later!”
You can also enjoy an impressive mountainside setting, which boasts high peaks that block the cold winds making it a rather warm and wet environment when visiting.
Cuandixia – If you’ve ever wanted to experience typical Chinese rural hospitality, visiting Cuandixia will open doors allowing you immerse right into it. Consisting of around 500 Ming and Qing era homes, many of which have been converted to inns offering food and lodging to travellers. it is also popular with hikers, painters and photographers wanting to craft the same picturesque setting in their own works which you came all the way to also see,
Okay, you’re probably thinking this sounds really touristy, but don’t let that put you off! Stone paved lanes and steep staircases undoubtedly helps the village highlight its architectural identity, so you can perhaps see why it’s on the beaten list.
Ming Tombs – The final resting place of 13 Ming Emperors, this necropolis comprises of Confucian shrines with a red ‘spirit tower’ at the entrance. Though it may not be the most elaborate of tombs (surprisingly), it is nevertheless, a worthwhile trip on your way to the Great Wall, which leads you onto the final destination...
The Great Wall – You can’t visit China and not pace the Great Wall, it’s an absolute must! The long wall, as they call it, was initially built in the 3rd century and then later expanded as a fortification in the 14th century to keep out those Eurasian steppes invaders you may have learnt about in history class. But since then, its been battered, rebuilt and enhanced numerous times.
You can visit this unmatched work of construction through Badaling from Beijing in half a day, but if you prefer to admire the wall without the horde of tourists groups, then consider making the trip further east at Mutiianyu, Huanghua Cheng or even as far down as Simatai. Regardless of which end you decide to appreciate the wall, you can tick it off the Seven Wonders of the World to visit list.