Thursday 3 Oct, 2013

Off the Beaten Path: Beijing

Beijing, the capital of the People’s Republic of China and one of the most populous cities in the world, is an exotic and remarkably interesting place for travelers to visit. The city is China’s epicenter for education, culture, and politics, making it an ideal destination for Chinese cultural immersion. Beijing’s history dates back thousands of years, yet it is one of the most astounding modern cities. Renowned for its opulence, temples, gardens and treasures, Beijing offers a unique and extraordinary cultural experience.Beijing Acrobatics

Beijing Acrobats: While the city’s opera is celebrated for its intricate and theatrical nature, many also enjoy the artistic brilliance of Beijing’s acrobatic theaters. These astonishing performances include juggling, cycling, contortion and balance acts. Tianqiao Acrobatics Theater, the oldest in the city, is a great place to experience an acrobatics performance while getting up close to the action.

Beijing Duck: This famous, savory dish is definitely at its best in Beijing. Although some locals argue that it is best served by itself, simple condiments such as plum sauce or cucumbers can enhance this dish and make it more suitable to the palette. There are hundreds of duck restaurants throughout Beijing serving this rich dish, including Huajia Yiyuan, a labyrinth of courtyards and dining halls.

Jingshan Park: The Forbidden City is a massive palace, made up of thousands of rooms, and of course it is a must-see for any tourist. But the best vantage point of this magnificent place is from Jingshan Park. A short climb up a hill not only provides relief from the city life and the heat, but also delivers a stunning view of the Forbidden City. The park dates back to the Ming Dynasty and is designed to reflect the values of feng shui.

The Bookworm: One of Beijing’s most unique coffee shops, The Bookworm is a mixture of a coffee shop, library and restaurant. The atmosphere is quaint and relaxing; the walls are lined with books and the menu is extensive. For many Beijing locals, The Bookworm has become more than a coffee shop. It is a favorite place to host author readings and other events.

Mao Live House: If you want to get a sense of what modern Chinese citizens are listening to, Mao Live House is a great venue to check out. It’s a mid-sized venue for Chinese bands, hidden in an old-style Beijing storefront. The venue’s industrial vibe serves as great contrast to other, often flashy entertainment spots.

Panjiayuan Antiques Market: This market is one of Beijing’s best, especially on the weekends. Here you can browse (or buy) unique products from traders across the country selling literally anything you can imagine. Markets like this serve not only as a great shopping experience but also as a history lesson, as you never know what treasures you’ll find. Some of the best things to search for at the market are beads, art, and Buddha statues.

Ready to try it out? We’re giving away a free trip to anywhere EF travels. You could open your students’ eyes, expand their perspectives and help them discover the world around them. Enter to win!

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/yuyshin/