6 Most Beautiful Churches to Visit in Beijing

Beijing Wangfujing church

Explore The City’s Beautiful Churches, From St. Joseph’s Church To Xishiku Church

Beijing is home to some beautiful churches that you should explore for their architectural beauty! Many churches stay open all day but some close for a few hours in the afternoon. Most churches allow photos inside with some restrictions. Here’s a look at six of the best churches to visit during your trip to Beijing.

6. Xuanwumen Cathedral

Also called the “Cathedral of Immaculate Conception,” Xuanwumen Cathedral was built in 1904, but a church has occupied the site since 1650. Adam Schall, a Jesuit missionary and tutor to Emperor KangXi, directed the construction of the first church, which burned down. The church was rebuilt but was closed in 1827 by Emperor Dao Guang. The church’s darkest period came during the Boxer Rebellion, when hundreds of Chinese Catholics were killed in the church or on its grounds.

Xuanwumen Cathedral

5. St. Joseph’s Church

Located on Wangfujing Dajie, one of Beijing’s most famous streets for shopping, St. Joseph’s Church was built in 1905 by the French. The Romanesque facade overlooks a renowned square where people frequently gather. The current church replaced one constructed in 1655 under the direction of Father Verbiest, a Jesuit who followed Adam Schall. St. Joseph’s Church houses many paintings of Giuseppe Castiglione.

Best churches in Beijing

4. St. Michael’s Church

Initially built in 1902, St. Michael’s Church is located in the old foreign legation quarter, a 19th-century European enclave. The church was closed during the Cultural Revolution in the 1950s but reopened in 1989. Original stained glass draws visitors to the Gothic-style church with statues of angels above its main gate. It’s not always open to visitors, so plan to go during mass times.

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3. Xishiku Church

Known as the “Church of the Saviour,” Xishiku Church was built in 1887 in the neo-gothic style under the guidance of a French priest. The church was severely damaged during the Cultural Revolution and has since been rebuilt. As you approach the church on the eastern side of Xishiku Dajie, sections of a minor, European-style church that was never rebuilt following the Cultural Revolution.

Xishiku Church

2. Zhushikou Church

The first of eight churches planted by the United Methodist Church, this church was built in 1904. It is significant for being one of the first multi-story buildings in South Beijing. The congregation sits on each of its three floors during worship services and watches the service via television monitor.

6 Most Beautiful Churches to Visit in Beijing

1. Xizhimen Church

One of four original Catholic churches built in Beijing, Xizhimen was initially constructed in 1723 by Italian Lazarist missionary Teodorico Pedrin. It was the first non-Jesuit church built in Beijing. The church was destroyed in 1811, rebuilt, and destroyed again during the Boxer Rebellion. The current structure was built in 1912 and featured gothic peaks inside. On the outside, graffiti from the Culture Revolution remains visible on the church walls.

Xizhimen Church

Map of 6 Most Beautiful Churches to Visit in Beijing

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14 Things You Should Know Before Visiting the Great Wall of China

Visiting the Great Wall for the First Time? Here Are Some Tips You Must Know!

Great Wall sunset

What do you need to know before you visit the Great Wall? Well… a lot! Before you set out on your fantasy trip, read this quick and handy guide to ensure you have the best Great Wall trip! And keep these 14 tips in mind to make your Great Wall tour easier when you get there!

1. Visit The Great Wall On A Weekday To Avoid Crowds

On the weekends, tourists and locals alike understandably flood the Great Wall for a retreat so try to go on a weekday to have the Wall as uncrowded as possible. Also, avoid traveling during any Chinese public holidays if at all possible, especially Labor Day (May 1), National Day (October 1), and Chinese New Year (January or February).

2. Your Passport Isn’t Necessary To Enter The Great Wall

It isn’t necessary to show your passport when buying tickets to visit the Great Wall. Generally, as a tourist, you are not checked in the tourist attractions in the city. One of the exceptions to this is that if you’re planning to visit the Forbidden City, it will require you to present a passport before issuing a ticket.

There are other attractions also require visitors to show passports for entry. These include the Military Museum, the Capitol Museum, the National Museum, the Great Hall of the People, and the Mao mausoleum. A word to the wise: it is best to carry your passport with you in the city if you’re asked for it. But it is not necessary for the sole purpose of visiting the Great Wall.

3. Expect Long Travel Times To The Great Wall

Be prepared for lots of long hours spent in transportation, due to possible traffic in the city.

Jinshanling Great Wall

4. Three Ways To Travel To The Great Wall: By Train, By Bus, Or Pre-book A Car.

Several trains are available for going to Badaling daily from Beijing Huangtudian Railway Station. It takes approx. 1.5 hours to travel to Badaling by train.

Bus numbers 877 and 978 also go to Badaling, and they’ll get you there in less than 2 hours. Take exit A from Jishuitan subway station; Deshengmen Arrow Tower will be on your left. Both buses (877 or 879 left exactly behind the tower.

To get to Mutianyu, you can take bus line 916 Express from Dongzhimen Bus Station and get off at Huairou North Avenue (Huairou Beidajie) Station. There, transfer to bus lines h23, h24, h35, or h36 to Mutianyu Roundabout. Finally, walk about 500 meters to the ticket office in the scenic area.

It’s very easy to pre-book a car and driver to take you to the Wall. Usually, it takes about 1.5 hours to reach Badaling or Mutianyu from downtown. This is a hassle-free and convenient way to see the Wall without crowds. The one challenge is that drivers speak little English, so make sure that you and the driver both understand the pickup time and the place before you leave.

5. Public Transportation Is More Difficult Than You Might Think

Public transport is an excellent choice for budget travelers. Going this way would add to the sense of adventure (subway plus bus). If it works out for them, it can be, but the reality is that it’s much more difficult than you might think. You need to change stations and find bus stops, go over, read the signs, and take a couple of minutes to digest where you are. Usually, getting a private driver or tour is far easier.

6. It’s Worth Getting There Early – Just Be Prepared To Walk

Leave your hotel at around 7:30 am, and you will get to the Wall by 9 am. This is the prime time to get a serene feel for the site. By 10 am, Badaling will be crowded; you can hardly walk through some places. Getting to Mutianyu early in the morning, you will enjoy the best walk, with the perfect opportunity to ride a cable car or chairlift for the shortest trip up the Wall.

7. Badaling Is Very Crowded

Because this is one of the most popular tourist areas, about 3/4 of all visitors to the Wall are here. You might consider Mutianyu or Jinshanling. Mutianyu is much quieter and easier to walk in than Badaling. You’re likely to find these areas more relaxing and have fewer tourists.

8. Some Parts Of The Wall Are Very Steep

There are parts of the Wall that are nearly vertical. It’s essential to plan your trip to the Wall and to understand how able and willing you are to hike. The easiest area to walk is Mutianyu because it is fully restored. However, the area between towers 19 and 20 of Mutianyu is steep and has approx. 450 steps. If you find climbing steep steps exciting, you will enjoy this part of the Wall.

9. Wear Comfortable Shoes

Most important is a good pair of hiking boots or walking shoes. Tennis shoes are an option and can be worn for hiking the Great Wall; however, they may not be your most effective and safe choice due to the vertical steps, rugged terrain, or broken towers on the Wall.

10. Hiking The Great Wall Is Not Tough

Hiking Jinshanling or Jiankou to Mutianyu is not challenging. The difficulty of the hike is moderate, with some elevation changes. This hike is suitable for all age groups with average fitness. Children under ten to senior citizens have successfully hiked from Jinshanling or Jiankou towards Mutianyu.

Jinshanling remains wild, ruined, and preserved—offering a moderate-challenging hike. Jiankou is much more wild and isolated compared with Jinshanling. Depending on your fitness level, it would help if you were comfortable walking for 3 -5 hours on the Wall.

11. There Are No Restrooms Beyond The Main Entrance

You’ll find restrooms just outside the gate before you get on the Wall. Be sure to use it before you enter or wait until you’re on your way out.

12. Not A Hiker? No Problem, You Can Visit Mutianyu Instead

Mutianyu is good alternative for Badaling. Mutianyu attracts visitors because it has convenient facilities, including cable cars, chairlifts, and toboggan. With the easier walking conditions and fewer crowds, Mutianyu is much more enjoyable to walk in than Badaling.

13. Many Options For Day-Trip

From private car trips to group bus tours, guided hiking tours, and self-guided hikes, there are many day-trip options to choose from, depending on your interests, the amount of time at your disposal, budget, and preferred mode of transport.

Booking a car is easy and convenient but a little bit more expensive than a bus, which is thrifty but more complicated.

14. Simatai Is The Good Option To Enjoy Night View

At night Simatai is well lit, and the view is breathtaking. You can enjoy the walk from tower 1 to tower ten and return. This walk takes approximately 2 to 3 hours. There are lots of photo opportunities along the path.

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Everything Travelers Need to Know About the History and Culture of Beijing

A Brief History and Overview of Beijing

history culture of Beijing

Beijing is a societal center for China and serves a significant role in preserving Chinese cultural traditions. Start here with a brief history and overview of Beijing from the beginning up until today. Then when you visit the Great Wall of China, you will have some context for understanding the city of Beijing where you will see the wall. This will help you better appreciate the history and culture of this monumental artificial landmark.

The Beginning of Beijing

Beijing City was established over 3,000 years ago and was called Jin City in the Western Zhou Dynasty (11th century BC – 771 BC). The history of Beijing begins in the Ming dynasty, which was from 1368 to 1644. At this time, the city was a welcoming place for traditional Chinese arts, including calligraphy and painting. Emperors, courtiers, and other leaders in the town patronized artwork and imported precious objects from around China and other countries.

The cultural exchange continued to cultivate in Beijing up until the mid-19th century. At this time, all art was taken from Beijing and destroyed or sold abroad.

Rebirth of Beijing

Thankfully, the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s and 1970s transformed Beijing back into a cultural powerhouse. Works of art were returned to owners in the city in the 1980s, and the leadership began to create the most populous capital city on the planet.

Today, Beijing, also known as Peking, is considered a global power city. In addition, the city is now the political, educational, and cultural center of all of China.

Everything Travelers Need to Know About the History and Culture of Beijing

Oldest City in the World

Prepare to experience a unique blend of ancient China and modern-day Beijing when visiting Beijing. Everything from architecture to UNESCO World Heritage Sites is located within proximity. As one of the oldest cities on earth, Beijing is home to seven World Heritage Sites alone:

Along with visiting the Great Wall of China, consider touring at least one other UNESCO site when visiting Beijing. This will increase your cultural understanding of this part of northern China, a bustling city for more than three millennia.

In addition, there are dozens of elaborate temples and lavish palaces surrounded by gardens and parks perfect for spending the afternoon picnicking and people watching.

beijing history culture

Beijing Cultural Experiences to See

During your time in Beijing, seek out traditional Chinese cultural experiences. The Peking opera, or Jingxi, features everything from acrobatics to elaborate costumes and makeup.

Places to see Jingxi include Tianqiao, Capital, and Youth Art theaters. The Palace Museum, the Beijing Library, and the National Museum of China next to Tiananmen Square are great places to learn more about the cultural history and subsequent Cultural Revolution.

Everything Travelers Need to Know About the History and Culture
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7 Reasons Beijing Should Be Next on Your Bucket List

Why You Should Put Beijing On Your Travel Must-See List

why you should visit Beijing

Have you been considering a trip to China? Beijing has so much to offer visitors, whether students, families, or retirees looking for an adventure. Read on to see the top seven things to do while you’re in Beijing or to convince you why you should be going!

Reason #7: The Great Wall

The Great Wall of China is arguably the country’s top attraction. Visitors from around the globe come to take in the majesty of this Wonder of the World. Because of that, you can expect big crowds. Plan to get the most out of your trip to this stunning piece of history. Try to visit early in the day, pack water, sun protection, a good camera, and wear comfortable shoes.

Reason #6: Step Into History

As home to one of the world’s oldest civilizations, China has a rich history dating back thousands of years. Beijing is a beautiful place to experience this heritage, with numerous well-preserved temples, palaces, and other historical complexes. Some of the highlights include the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace, and the Temple of Heaven.

Reason #5: Shop Till You Drop

Beijing is a faithful shopper’s paradise, so you’ll be able to put your money to good use here. Whether you like high-end modern fashion, colorful handicrafts, or stunning artwork and rugs that you can display around the home, you can find a marketplace for this. Try to hit the Silk Market, Pearl Market, and Panjiayuan Flea Market, or track down a small shop along a nearby Hutong.

reasons to visit Beijing

Reason #4: Stroll Down Hutongs

Venture on foot off the beaten path, and you’ll uncover Beijing’s famous narrow and twisting alleys known as Hutongs. You’ll rub elbows with the locals, take in traditional and modern architecture, stumble across small niche stores and flea markets, and taste fantastic street food. Two popular areas include Nanluoguxiang and Wudaoying Hutongs.

Reason #3: Taste Authentic Chinese Food

Traditional Chinese food may be quite different from what you’ve tried in the West, overflowing with exotic ingredients and bright, rich flavors. A culinary trip to Beijing allows you to experience authentic local cuisine and try world-famous dishes like Peking Duck. This exceptionally moist, crispy duck takes a full day to prepare, so make sure you book it in advance.

Reason #2: Celebrate Nature

Did you know that Beijing is overflowing with green spaces? If you need a break from the crowds, try visiting Shishahai Lake. This park covers 150 hectares and has ten temples and lakes that you can take a boat out on. Meanwhile, if the crowds at the Forbidden City look daunting, go to nearby Jingshan Park. Climb to the top of Prospect Hill and enjoy views inside the complex.

Reason #1: The Festivals

Finally, to look at the most passionate and vibrant part of Beijing’s culture, visit one of their festivals. Some of the most popular include the Chinese New Year’s (1st to 15th of the first lunar month), the Dragon Boat Festival (5th day of the 5th lunar month), and The Mid Autumn ‘moon cake’ Festival (15th day of the 8th lunar month).

top reasons why you should visit Beijing
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Top 8 Halal Restaurants in Beijing

Top 8 Halal Restaurants in Beijing

Beijing caters pretty well to those that want to eat halal meat. There’s a decent choice for anyone who wants to eat out, from chain restaurants to indie venues, fast food, and fine dining affairs.

Here are a few of the best Beijing halal restaurants and the main reasons why you should be giving them a try, including:

  • 1001 Nights Restaurant
  • Kaoru Wan Restaurant
  • Hong Bin Lou Restaurant
  • Dong Lai Shun Restaurant
  • Xi Lai Shun Restaurant
  • Yi Tiao Long Restaurant
  • Wangde Lou Restaurant
  • You Yi Shun Restaurant

8: 1001 Nights Restaurant

Located in Chaoyang district, it is probably the first authentic Arab restaurant in China’s capital. The Arab culture is evident in the décor and the ambiance. This excellent restaurant features an original menu that includes everything from freshly-prepared pita bread and hummus to whole roast lamb.

7: KaoRou Wan Restaurant

Wan house is one of the best places in Beijing for those interested in delicious, halal roasted beef. Kaoru Wan’s history dates back to 1686. Ever since the restaurant has maintained its excellent reputation and authentic recipes. The house of Wan is located in Xicheng District, South Inverness Road.

6: Hong Bin Lou Restaurant

This is another Chinese restaurant that has a long and well-established history. Hong Bin Lou was set up in 1853, and ever since, it has had a reputation as an excellent halal restaurant. Several magazines have labeled it the best Beijing halal restaurant, and you should try the beef and lamb dishes.

5: Dong Lai Shun Restaurant

The popularity of this restaurant was established back in the 1930s, and it’s believed to be one of the most prominent contributors to the development of Jinhua cooking. Today, the restaurant’s most considerable delicacy is instant-boiled mutton. The fried mutton fillet in a sweet sauce, and boiled mutton, also rank among the top halal choices at Dong Lai Shun.

Top 8 Halal Restaurants in Beijing Tips

4: Xi Lai Shun Restaurant

Set up back in the 1930s, Xi Lai Shun gives visitors a chance to try Western Chinese cuisine and traditional dishes. This restaurant is also located in the Xicheng District, and it has two dining halls to give visitors space and privacy. Because it’s incredibly popular among tourists, you may want to book your table in advance. The best halal dishes to try include roast young sheep and a grilled whole lamb.

3: Yi Tiao Long Restaurant

Yi Tiao Long was established during the reign of Emperor Qianlong in 1785. Located in a three-story building in Chongwen District, the restaurant ranks among the favorite spots for tourists worldwide. Each of the floors has a theme. On the first one, you can try instant-boiled mutton. The second floor is the place where chefs prepare stir-fries. A banquet hall is located on the third floor.

2: Wangde Lou Restaurant

Xicheng District is where to head if you’re interested in gourmet halal food. Wangde Lou Restaurant is a two-floor place where you can try quick snacks (on the first floor) and more intricate meals (on the second floor). The restaurant offers authentic Chinese Muslim cuisine like braised mutton, boiled beef tongue, and preserved apricot beef.

1: You Yi Shun Restaurant

The restaurant is known for the beautiful fusion of eastern and western culinary traditions. Today, it’s one of the best places to visit if you want to try authentic halal Muslim cuisine. Islamic ornaments and details will greet you right from the door. The restaurant is spacious and peaceful, capable of seating up to 300 individuals. Some of the best dishes to try include fried sheep fillet, roasted mutton leg, and spicy lamb.

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 Map of Top 8 Halal Restaurants in Beijing

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