One of the oldest yet still thriving cities in the world, Beijing has witnessed periods of historical greatness and cultural upheavals. Closed to the foreigners for many years, Beijing has finally opened up and has undergone a very impressive architectural and cultural transformation. The city welcomes visitors from all over the world and allow them to experience some elements of true Chinese culture for the first time. And this is why, we place Beijing as one of the highly recommended honeymoon destinations for couples who are curious about Asian history, both ancient and modern, in all its forms, shapes and …smells – without any doubt, Beijing is one of the greatest culinary capitals of the world!
In many ways, Beijing defies one’s expectations: similar to many other Asian metropolises, it is more urbanized than its European counterparts, such as London or Prague. Sadly, not too many historic properties and architectural styles have been preserved. As a result of swift modernization, the number of traditional streets (hutong) and courtyard residences (siheyuan) significantly declined. Luckily for visitors, there are still around 500 historic courtyards left in the city that are definitely worth of exploring. Built according to the principles of Feng Shui, an ancient aesthetic and practical approach to balancing life’s energy, a typical siheyuan had four buildings. The northernmost one receives the most sunlight, hence it was always reserved for the most important family members; the eastern and western buildings got less direct sunshine and were reserved for either less important relatives or children. The easternmost part received the least daylight and usually housed servants. Interestingly, unmarried daughters or female relatives were hidden in the deepest sections of the residence since it was considered that they should not be exposed to either the public or sunlight. The gates usually had a pair of guardian lions carved out of stone. It was believed that they protected a household from evil spirits and spells. There are a lot of minutiae details that need to be interpreted in order to gain a true understanding and appreciation for amazing cultural aspects. And this is why it is important to have a good local guide. According to the TripAdvisor ranking, Catherine Lu Tours, Beijing Sideways and Private Tour Guide Daphne are the best!
There are a few must-see attractions, such as the Forbidden City, the Great Wall, and Summer Palace. Former imperial seat, The Forbidden City is a huge complex of palaces, temples, and stone gardens that was originally built in the beginning of the 15th century. It was burnt, rebuilt, sacked, destroyed and reconstructed several times! For most of its existence, no Chinese commoners, let alone foreigners were allowed to step into its territory. Declared a World Heritage Site in 1987 by the UNESCO, The Palace Museum as it is known these days, sheds light into old Chinese customs, beliefs, rituals and court culture. For example, colours and numbers play are very important symbols that conveyed the power of the imperial family. It is said that there are nearly 9000 rooms in the palace – nine was considered to be the highest value ordinal. Only the Heavenly Palace could have more rooms because 10000 symbolizes infinity in the Chinese culture. Golden yellow, purple and red were associated with royalty; hence, there are many elements painted these colours.
Stretching for nearly 4,000 miles across the country, the Great Wall lies just outside of the city. Visiting the site will actually allow you to see some countryside. Be ready to spend almost the whole day during your Great Wall sojourn – the popularity of this seventh wonder of the world means long line-up; to avoid them, consider traveling to a nearby town of Mutianyu.
All the foodies should visit the city at least once in their lifetime! there is a reason why Beijing (or Pekin) duck acquired its name – this world-famous dish was popularized over 600 years ago. Not surprisingly, Beijing boasts to have one of the oldest Pekin duck serving restaurants called Bianyifang. Originally opened in 1416, it eventually evolved in haute cuisine eatery, one of the many the city has to offer. If you are tea lovers , should definitely visit one of the numerous Beijing tea houses and indulge yourselves in an exquisite tea ceremony during which a tea vendor gracefully brews varieties of tea and explains their subtle differences. Many of such places are designed in a traditional Chinese style, and create a unique, very relaxing and peaceful atmosphere.
Beijing is a great place to spend your honeymoon during any season; however, the best time to travel to Beijing is late spring and early fall when it is warm, dry and sunny. Enjoy discovering its culture and history!