Visit the hutongs, the original way of urban living before modernisation. You will find peculiar sights, curios people and some sad looking buildings. These days they are endangered for they have been ordered for demolition. Complete districts are being bulldozed to make way for new concrete blocks of flats.
Here at the Summer Palace: A glimpse of the Imperial sleeping quarters of Her Imperial Majesty -- Cixi, the Empress Dowager. In case some of you don't know much about her, she was a real mean person. Her devilish feats included poisoning her son, the weak Emperor to death; forced her son's favourite concubine to commit suicide by jumping into one of the Palace's wells.
Travelling starts at home!
Besides the large bag and the hand bags, keep an empty extra bag in the large bag you will be checking in. In the last day of your trip you will be amazed how much stuff you have bought. Summer: light and comfortable clothes that can be easily washed and dried (cotton T-shirts are best).
Winter: Down garment or winter jacket, hat, ear protectors, scarf, gloves.
Spring and autumn: Sturdy, warm and washable clothes, a comfortable jacket, sweater, casual coat.
Shoes: comfortable and waterproof walking shoes, sandals, running shoes, and for formal occasions some dressy shoes. 1. First-aid (a few plasters and small alcohol tissues will make do)
2. Centrum (vitamins)
3. Dried tissues and wet tissues (small packs)
4. Lotion cream (it is very important, especially in October, November and December, you can expect then very dry weather) 1. Camera, films and batteries, recharger
2. If you have a digital camera bring at least 2 chips of 1GB. 1. Bathing suitsunglasses
2. Sun lotion
3. Hiking-type boots 1. Passport and Visa
2. Air tickets
3. Copies of your most important documents (passport, ID card, visa card, etc.)
4. Travel Insurance papers
5. Emergency Card with your full name, address, phone number
6. A guide book with Chinese translation
7. A Beijing Map
8. A piece of paper with the address of the hotel you will be staying (with Chinese characters, if possible)
9. Money: Credit card and cash (when using the ATM of Bank of China remember you will have to pay the taxes, so, try to withdraw the maximum)
10. A water bottle
12. Small notebook
13. Embassy phone number
Along the Sacred Way there are Stone Military Offices, these include four each of three different types : civil, military and meritorious officials, symbolising those who assist the emperor in the administration of the state, plus four each of six types of animals: lion, griffin, camel, elephant, unicorn and horse.
Location: Ming Tombs, Sacred Way.
Besides visiting TIananmen Square and Forbidden City during the day, you must do a nightime visit as well. A totally different feel.
I suggest starting from Donghuanmen Yeshi and walk towards the Forbidden City. You will come across The Courtyard, a restaurant.
You will walk along the moat of the Forbidden City. I visited in winter and the moat was frozen adding to the peaceful, quiet atmosphere. No crowds, in fact no one except a man walking his dog and some trishaw parked at the roadside, waiting for customers.
The walls of the Forbidden City are so high that i wonder without modern equipment, how would one be able to attack guards at the top.
You will find that there is only 1 road to follow into the FCity, along the moat and you wouldn't go wrong. It's either continue straight ahead or turn back the way you came from. You will eventually arrive at Wumen (where tickets are purchased to enter the Forbidden City). Of course all will be shut and you cannot exit via the passage that leads out to Tiananmen and Chang'an jie. Guards patrol this passage and is sealed off from the public.
The only way is to follow the exit parallel to the door you just came thru. This leads you thru an exact route on the other side of the Forbidden City. Almost all ancient buildings in China seemed to be built symetrical left and right. Arriving at the first street that allows you to choose left or right, turn left and eventually you will end up at Chang'an Jie and Tiananmen Square across.
The Forbidden City is absolutely stunning at nite with the bright lights lit and also not as much people as in the day. The cold and fog/haze adds to its beauty, giving a mystical feel. Well, at least to me it did. No dress code!