With 21 million living in Beijing, this capital city of China is one of the oldest cities in the world and has been home to 24 emperors since the Ming Dynasty. Beijing is one of China’s international hub for commerce, tourism, arts, politics, architecture, cuisine, and tradition.
Beijing’s history traces back some 3,000 years ago and has successfully conserved much of it’s relics, historical site, and culture. In fact, one of the most notable sites is the Great Wall, one of the seven wonders of the world, and is the only human-made structure visible from space.
Living and teaching in this city where the old world coexists with modern technology is an exciting opportunity. With any new reformations, Beijing will likely be the forerunner in the implementation making life full of interesting experiences. For an immersive and rewarding teaching career, teaching jobs in Beijing are high in demand and Beijing is one of the top destinations teachers favour.
If you are considering Beijing as the first pitstop of a teaching adventure of the lifetime, here are 6 experiences you should not miss while in Beijing.
Some interesting facts about Beijing, it was not always known as Beijing or Peking as we know today. In fact, the capital city had its name changed 16 times under the various rules and governments.
01 UNESCO World Heritage Sites
With Beijing as the popular choice the country’s capital, it has enjoyed a tumultuous yet vivid history that is rifed with architectural splendour. The city has seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites:
- The Great Wall
- The Forbidden City
- The Summer Palace
- The Tample of Heaven
- The Ming Tombs
- Peking Man Site at Zhoukoudian
- The Grand Canal.
If you have to only visit 2, the Great Wall and Forbidden City are probably the must-visit destinations. At the Great Wall, there are several sections to explore given that the wall spans more than 21,000km or 4000 miles. The wall was rebuilt three times to keep intruders out, and define territorial borders.
Fast forward to today, the Great Wall is ironically a tourist destination, drawing visitors from all over the world. The Great Wall can be scaled by foot or by cable car. The views during the day and night are equally refreshing, giving us a glimpse into history as guards on sentry duty.
The Forbidden City, also known as the Imperial Palace is a place shrouded in mystery and history. The palace is made up sleeping quarters, temples, squares, halls, pavillions and many more, all intricately designed, each with their own stories and secrets. The Forbidden City is China’s best preserved architecture relics. The palace grounds show how the imperial family lived and soak in history of the world’s largest palace.
02 798 Art District
798 Art District, also known as Dashanzi, birthed from the exodus of socialist soldiers from an industrial military complex. In the 1950s, Russia, Germany, and China came together to build a cluster of electronic factories. In the 1990s, the soldiers exited these state-owned factories and artists took over and called it home. 798 Art District is now a buzzing art zone showcasing globally recognished talents and giving a platform to emerging studios.
It is the landmark of urban culture in Beijing and is popular to both locals and foreigners as a lifestyle destination.
03 Experience Traditional Beijing Life
No Beijing experience is complete with a jog down history through Hutong. Hutong are narrow lanes or alleys between single-storied homes called siheyuan, or courtyard homes. Hutongs are interlacing lanes keeping the courtyard houses connected and eventually developing the outskirts of the imperial palace.
As you stroll down some of the best-preserved hutongs, one can begin to appreciate the Chinese culture and imagine how life was like so closely intertwined among neighbours. Hutongs are now a tourist attraction with lots of shopping options and eateries. It is still worth a visit to admire the architecture and culture.
04 Peking Duck, the epitome of Beijing Cuisine & Street Food
The culinary scene in Beijing is thriving with local and international fares. You can find any chain brand in Beijing, but your Beijing experience only has begun with Peking Duck. Touted as the Beijing dish, Peking duck has a crispy thin skin that is roasted to perfection, while the meat remains tender, succulent and aromatic.
Peking duck originated from China and can also be found served in many other Asian countries. It is usually served in front of diners and the entire dish is served 2 ways. The first dish involves some level of showmanship where the server slices up the crispy duck skin in front of diners. Diners then enjoy the skin wrapped in a homemade crepe-like skin, finished with hoisin sauce and vegetables. The rest of the duck is then chopped up and stir fried with braised noodles.
05 Tai Chi at Temple of Heaven
Tai Chi is an ancient Chinese artform that has its roots in martial arts but widely practised as an exercise. It embraces the mind, body, and spirit in channeling your ‘qi’, energy, in controlled movements and breathing techniques. What better way to experience China through Tai Chi in one of Beijing’s monuments, the Temple of Heaven, revered as one of China’s religious imperial temples. The Temple of Heaven is also a park and garden that offers respite in the hustle and bustle of smoggy Beijing. Experience both one the world’s ancient artform, Tai Chi, in the serendipity of the temple gardens where emperors once walked to worship heaven.
06 Bird’s Nest
While the atmosphere is a tad subdued, the Bird’s Nest is an architectural marvel as the world’s largest non-linear steel structure. It is most complex stadium ever constructed and hopefully will be home to roaring crowds in the 2022 Winter Olympics. The Bird’s Nest is Beijing’s Olympic Park and is best seen at night.
Beijing is city that invigorates the sense and the start of an exciting teaching career could await. For the opportunity to see Asia and the world, consider a job that allows you to teach in Beijing.