6 Tourist Spots to Avoid in Beijing

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6 Tourist Attractions That Are Actually Not Worth the Trip

Beijing boasts a myriad of exciting and awe-inspiring tourist attractions, but not all necessarily warrant a visit. With so much to see and do — and limited time available — it behooves you to avoid the city’s less impressive destinations. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to determine which tourist attractions are most worth avoiding, particularly if you tend to gravitate towards spots off the beaten path. When in doubt, steer clear of the following:

1. Badaling And the Forbidden City on Chinese National Day

Many Beijing attractions need not be avoided outright. Rather, they’re worth bypassing on specific days, when the crowds are even larger than usual. Chinese National Day, in particular, warrants concern, as it typically delivers hordes of locals alongside the usual tourists. While the occasion technically involves a full week (known as the Golden Week) of festivities, the kickoff on October 1st tends to draw the largest crowds.

While the entire city of Beijing will be busier than usual on National Day, top attractions such as Badaling Great Wall and the Forbidden City may feel particularly overwhelming. If you’re willing to put up with crowds, you’re better off hitting up one of the city’s official celebrations, where you can at least take part in a memorable cultural occasion. If possible, plan to visit Badaling and the Forbidden City in late September, when the weather will be beautiful and locals will still be at work.

2. Panjiayuan Antique Market

The vibrant atmosphere of the Panjiayuan Antique Market lures in tourists eager to find unique souvenirs. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with walking around the market, where interesting sights abound. Think twice, however, before buying anything. Unfortunately, several of the market’s vendors are notorious for selling fakes — and passing them off as originals.

These can be visually impressive, but they also tend to be expensive due to their false designation as authentic. If you absolutely insist on purchasing something, resist the urge to buy it at face value. Bargaining is expected and will ensure that you aren’t completely ripped off.

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3. Chairman Mao Memorial Hall

If you love waiting in line, you’ll be in for a real treat at Chairman Mao Memorial Hall, where the entire experience essentially consists of standing around impatiently. Your best bet for getting in and out in a reasonable amount of time involves waking up at the crack of dawn and arriving well before the attraction opens for the day. Otherwise, don’t be surprised if you wait well over an hour in line.

Once you finally make it inside, you’ll be afforded, at best, a quick glance at Chairman Mao’s resting place before you’re forced to move on. Blink, and you might miss it entirely.

4. Lama Temple’s Fortune Teller’s Street

The beautiful Lama Temple is absolutely worth visiting. The fortune-telling stores on nearby Yonghegong Street? Not so much. If you prefer to keep to yourself, you’ll be quickly annoyed by the many fortune-tellers who wander the area. They aren’t shy about getting in your face and talking about your future — and they’ll prove persistent, even if you’re in a hurry.

5. Blue Zoo Beijing

Also known as the Gongti Richina Underwater World, Beijing’s Blue Zoo provides up-close views of coral reefs, fish, stingrays, and more. You might even get to see a mermaid.

Unfortunately, the entire facility has a rundown feel that heavily detracts from the visual spectacle of the aquatic life on display. With a reasonable entrance fee, this might be acceptable. The Blue Zoo’s exorbitant tickets, however, justify higher expectations — which will definitely not be met.

6. Badaling Wildlife Park

The Badaling Wildlife Park may be home to a variety of creatures, but that doesn’t mean it’s an enjoyable place to visit. Unfortunately, the animals here spend their lives in very small — and often, very dirty — cages. Many of the animals appear to suffer from malnutrition and general neglect. Compared to other zoos, this location is downright depressing.

Don’t let this list discourage you. Thankfully, most Beijing attractions live up to the hype. That being said, you’ll find your visit most enjoyable if you dedicate your time exclusively to the city’s most impressive destinations. With a little planning, your trip can be just as wonderful as you’ve envisioned.

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