Although we do recommend going outside of the major urban population centers to see more of China than just the tourist track, if it’s your first time in China and you like history, it’s imperative that you go to Beijing. China’s capital for over 700 years, Beijing is full of incredible history and beautiful historic buildings. If you’re an appreciator of history, Beijing is the place for you to visit first.
A wealth of wonders
Beijing is home to an amazing number of historical sites, including one of the 7 ancient wonders of the world. That’s right, if you want to visit the legendary, some might even say mythical Great Wall, it runs right through Beijing. Other places to visit include the Forbidden City, an imperial palace that claims the rights to the largest and best-preserve ancient palace in the world; the Temple of Heaven, a series of medieval imperial temples where dynasty leaders came to pray for a good harvesy; the Summer Palace, a beautiful imperial garden covering over 1 square mile, much of which is occupied by a lake; and Tian’anmen Square, where Chariman Mao inaugarated the People’s Republic of China and where, on June 4th, 1989, military forces inflicted casualities on unarmed protestors, most of them students.
The modern as well as the historic
But Beijing is not just limited to relics of the past. You will also find there, next to these historic landmarks, new ones like the Olympic Village, and shopping malls on Wangfujing Street. If you are interested in the history of the great nation of China, Beijing has to be your first stop.
This is the third part of our series on how to prepare yourself to travel to China. We have already discussed how to get yourself a travel agent and a visa in preparation for the trip, and also discussed how to gauge health concerns and to make sure you exchange your currency if necessary and to pay attention to exchange rates so as not to lose the value of your money unnecessarily.
If you have kids, plan ahead
One of the things travelers seem to be blind to the most is problems concerning their children. If you’re planning to travel with young children, you need to think about what your child’s needs are and plan ahead to accommodate them. Being prepared is at least half the battle when you have children. Know what kinds of activities they like and will entertain them for long periods of time – it’s a long flight to China! Once you get there, scout around in the places you will visit for kid-friendly activities as well.
Make an itinerary
The whole reason you’re going to China is to have an amazing time, right? They best way to do that is to make an itinerary. It doesn’t have to be the Bible in terms of things you actually do from day to day, but having a good idea of the things you want to do, where they are, how much they cost, and when you can do them is going to help you have the best possible trip. These are the things I’ve learned traveling there for my Tiffany’s business trips.
As a salesman for Tiffany, I get to travel all over the world to look at the work of designers all over the world, inspect gems being shipped back to the U.S. for quality, and meet lots of distributors in foreign countries. But there’s just one place I’ve traveled that consistently shocks me: China.
Going to China for the first time
I’ll admit that I was terrified of going to China the first time I was told I needed to go there. I tried my hardest to get out of it: I put in requests for different jobs that would go to other countries, protested to my boss that I didn’t speak the language and would never be able to find my way, and generally did everything possible to keep myself from being sent there.
But I had to go. And what I found there shocked me.
A confluence of cultures
Although they call the U.S. the melting pot, that term is equally applicable to China. On my first visit I found people from countries all over the world, including other Americans, Candians, Australians, Indians, Egyptians – everyone was there. That’s because China is a really happening place.
I intend for this blog to be not just about Tiffany, but also a travelogue of my experiences in China and a sort of advice column for anyone who wants to go to that amazing country and find its riches and wonders for themselves. I highly encourage all of you to go at least once for the experience!