You can say that our trip to Beijing was as untouristy as it can get. We stayed clear of the Great Wall of China (only because it was too far this trip to get to with 2 kids) and we also didn’t check out the Forbidden City nor Tienanmen Square (after seeing how expansive each place is).
I know, you’ll probably say that we didn’t make good use of our time but actually, it was the best decision as we didn’t have to worry about maximising our time in each place. It helps that we know we will be going back to China for even more holidays in the future. I myself am going back next year on a solo trip and am also in the midst of planning another extended family trip for sometime in the future!
Even without seeing those major sights, (hey, does seeing it from the outside count?) we had a great time visiting the places we did visit and I thought they were especially perfect for kids. There was definitely not as many visitors and sometimes we even have certain sections all to ourselves so Baz and Elli could explore to their hearts content and we weren’t as stressed out that they would get lost in the crowd.
We’ve also been very fortunate where we actually had a plethora of people coming up to chat with us. Even with my horrendous grasp of Mandarin, we still managed to have a decent conversation. We had young girls coming up to chat to us at the shopping centre curious about what we were doing in China, a school girl on holidays from Mongolia at a bookshop wanting to practice her English with Baz, a National Flag Guard who was curious about how life overseas, a mum and her son while on our walk through a hutong alley, old people hanging outside their home people watching would also stop us for a chat when we walk past. For me, this experience was amazing as I realised that the more I practice my long forgotten Mandarin, the more I remember and the kids also got an opportunity to be exposed to all the Chinese language around them!
As we were in Beijing for more than 2 weeks, we planned our stay around 3 different areas and thus, decided that it might be a good idea to see what each area is like so that we know where we would like to base ourselves for future stays.
To be honest with you, we like all 3 areas and they are so different from each other! That’s my opinion anyway. I figured during our time there that it doesn’t really matter where you are as long as you’re close to a subway station, preferably one of the major ones so that you don’t have to changeover too many times especially with kids in tow.
We were also really pleased with all 3 selections of our hotels. Shangri-la was the poshest of them all while Pan Pacific had amazing customer service and Park Plaza had a washing machine on site so we didn’t have to worry about laundry. We were very pleased with every one of them and would happily stay with them again if we were in the area!
Park Plaza Beijing Wangfujing
Location: No.97, Jinbao Street, Dongcheng, 100005 Beijing, China
Price: From AUD$210/night. Book Park Plaza Beijing Wangfujing on Booking.com
Shangri-la’s China World Hotel
Location: No.1 Jianguomenwai Avenue, Chaoyang, 100004 Beijing, China
Price: From AUD$225/night. Book Shangri-la’s China World Hotel on Booking.com
Pan Pacific Beijing
Location: No.2 Huayuan Street, Xicheng, 100032 Beijing, China
Price: From AUD$263/night. Book Pan Pacific on Booking.com
Things to Do
Wangfujing Shopping District
The Wangfujing District was a 10 minute walk from our hotel but the main drawcard for the kids is the LEGO store. We stayed in the area for a week and almost everyday, we would walk past that LEGO store and the kids would spend at least 15 minutes in there! They had so much fun!
Workers Cultural Palace
Our guide book said that the Workers Cultural Palace is a mini version of the Forbidden City but more relaxed as it’s not as popular and just as beautiful. Coming from someone who’s not actually visited the Forbidden City yet, I’m already enthralled by this place.