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11 Cool Things You Must Try in Beijing

1. Taste Beijing Roast Duck

A feast of Beijing Roast Duck is just the right thing to round-off a perfect long day of sightseeing.  As a world-famous dish, Beijing Roast Duck attracts millions of people every year. In ancient China, roast duck was an imperial dish. It is said that Zhu Yuanzhang - the first Emperor of the Ming Dynasty loved roast duck. He could have a whole duck every day, which pushed the imperial chefs to innovate and create new cooking skills and recipes. Later on, when Zhu Di - the fourth son of Zhu Yuanzhang usurped the throne and moved the capital city from Nanjing to Beijing, he brought roast duck with him. Since then, Beijing Roast Duck has become a famous dish.

Beijing Roast Duck is made from high-quality meat roasted on a charcoal fire. The meat is delicate, red and juicy and the outside is crispy. People often say that ‘one who fails to climb the Great wall is not a hero’; while ‘one who fails to taste Beijing Roast Duck comes to Beijing for nothing.’ Thus, if you are visiting Beijing, it is imperative that you taste the famous Beijing Roast Duck.

Beijing Roast Duck

2. Watch Beijing Opera

Beijing Opera, also known as Ping Opera, is one of the five opera genres in China (Yu Opera, Yue Opera, Ping Opera and Huangmei Opera). The tune of the opera is divided mainly between the Xipi and Erhuang styles using instruments like the Huqin, gong and drum. It is also regarded as the quintessence of Chinese culture.

Beijing Opera originated from Hui Opera. Since the 55th year of Emperor Qianlong (1790) in the Qing Dynasty, four famous opera groups namely San Qing, Si Xi, Chun Tai and He Chun came to Beijing one after another. They collaborated with opera artists from Hubei Province and absorbed partial plays, tunes and the performing skills of the Kun Opera, the Qin Opera and some local folk tunes. Over time with gradual communication and fusion, the Beijing Opera came into being. It was further developed and performed in the imperial court for royal families. Beijing Opera was still popular right up to the founding of the Republic of China.

Beijing Opera has become a crucial media for introducing and spreading Chinese traditional culture. In 2010, the Beijing Opera was listed on the List of Intangible Heritage of Humanity. With the combination of music, speech, dance and acrobatics, the Beijing Opera is the best way to learn about traditional Chinese myth and legend.

Beijing Opera

3. Learn to Make Traditional Chinese Handiworks

Chinese Paper-Cutting

Also known as paper sculpture, paper-cutting is one of the oldest folk arts of the Han people. It is a hollowness art, giving pleasure to your eyes and heart. The main material is paper, but some people may also use gold or silver foil, bark, leaves, cloth and leather. Paper-cutting has a long history and has been popular ever since ancient times. In Xinjiang Province, some paper-cutting masterpieces more than 1500 years old were excavated. More paper-cuttings were later discovered in other places.

People use paper-cuttings in certain situations to convey good wishes. For instance, people make “囍” for a wedding ceremony to wish newly-weds a happy life together. When the Spring Festival comes along, the paper-cut “福” is always popular, because it means luck and fortune in the next year. In some Hutongs, you will have the chance to learn the culture of paper-cutting and try your hand at it.

Chinsee Paper-cut

Chinese Knots

The Chinese Knot is a symbol of Chinese traditional culture and is a typical weaving art. With only one thread used from beginning to the end, the Chinese Knot represents the intelligence and rich culture. People tie different knots to convey wishes in various situations, like love, acquaintance, peace and reunion. Red thread, representing the boom and prosperity is generally used. However, other materials and colours can be used to make them. If you are interested in learning how to make Chinese Knots, you can make presents or decorations for your house, car and other places.

Chinese Knot

Facial Make-up

If you have seen a Beijing Opera, you may have wondered how the facial make-up was done. You can in fact, learn how to do it right in Beijing.

There are a variety of operas in China, all of which use facial make-up. Once you have learned how to read the facial make-up, you will identify the role instantly and better understand the opera. There are some classic facial make-up colors. A red face indicates the role is loyal and upright, like Guan Yu (a general) in ‘Three Kingdoms Period.’ A black face indicates a stern and serious character like Bao Zheng (a minister) from the Song Dynasty. The white face implies a suspicious and treacherous character, like Cao Cao (leader of the Wei State) in ‘Three Kingdoms Period.’ Lastly, a yellow face indicates the role is brave yet bad-tempered, like Yuwen Chengdu (a general) from the Sui Dynasty. All in all, you will be shown how to apply this facial make-up yourself.

Beijing Opera Mask

4. Have a Cup of Tea at Laoshe Teahouse

When you are worn out after a day’s travel in Beijing, having a cup of tea in the Laoshe Teahouse is a great choice. Built in 1988, the Laoshe Teahouse is named after the people’s artist Laoshe. It covers an area of 2,600 square meters, integrating story-telling rooms, a restaurant and tea culture rooms. Surrounded by the antique teahouse and immersed in a strong Beijing culture, you can appreciate several spectacular, traditional performances, including Beijing Opera, ballad singing, magic, and face changing. Meanwhile, you can savour various kinds of tea which were originally made for imperial families as well as conventional Beijing snacks. The Quadrangle teahouses in the front are another distinguishing character of the Laoshe Teahouse promoting both Beijing’s culture and tea culture. The typical Beijing architectural quadrangle courtyard, integrates the charm of the rich tea culture and graceful capital city, creating a teahouse that could only exist in a dream.

The interior of the teahouse is decorated in traditional Chinese style and is somewhat dark with ancient palace lanterns, rosewood tables and chairs, and antique stages. You may sip a cup of local tea, enjoy some snacks, or order dishes like Beijing Roast Duck whilst enjoying the performance. A visit here is nothing but leisure and tranquility. Listening to the melodious Chinese zither and watching the exquisite tea art show, you can fully relax with a cup of tea in your hand.

Chinese Teahouse

5. Enjoy the Acrobatics Show

Acrobatics is a traditional Chinese performance and is a huge challenge for acrobats’ bodies. Beginning in the Western Han Dynasty (202 B.C. - 9 A.D.), acrobatics has a history of over 2500 years. It is said that Emperor Wu of the Western Dynasty was particularly fond of watching acrobatics. He entertained his foreign diplomats with  acrobatics shows at his palace. Beijing is one of the places acrobatics originated from, and in old Beijing, Tian Qiao has always been a long-standing location for acrobats to perform. After the establishment of the new China, the team that always performed there began to perform overseas, representing Chinese acrobatics culture.

With such a long history of development, Tianqiao acrobatics evolved to meet modern  aesthetic concepts. Besides the traditional Lion Dance, oral stunts, pagoda of bowls, juggling and wire walking, modern acrobatics shows are more diversified with the incorporation of modern technology.

As the shows require strength, confidence and courage, audiences experience both awe and tension. While after the show, performers are admired and respected. You should really see this for yourself.

Acrobatic Show

6.Slide Down the Mutianyu Great Wall

With tons of people flock to the easy-to-access Badaling Great Wall, we suggest you take a visit to Mutianyu section. Even if you are not that much of a mountaineer, you can still enjoy this trip by taking cable car up and toboggan car down whilst admiring the breathtaking views this grand architecture can offer. The whole slide is about 1,580m and by toboggan it takes about 10 minutes.

Toboggan Slide at Mutianyu Great Wall

7.Have a Cup of Coffee in the Central Perk, Beijing

Anyone who loved to watch the hit sitcom Friends are familiar with the Central Perk where Rachel, Ross, Monica, Joey, Phoebe, and Chandler used to hang out a lot. The typical orange-colored couch, the glass door and the bartender Gunther. It’s a place where friends bond and their relationships are deepened. We all know that there is a Central Perk in New York, but do you know Beijing also has one? Hidden in a office building, a similar Central Perk is created by a loyal fan of Friends named Du Xin. He once told the National Public Radio that he was crazy about the Friends, and for him, it was like a religion. He provided the similar food as mentioned in the TV series and he himself even dressed like Gunther. When you come to Beijing the next time, make sure you hang out in this small Central Perk, you will be amazed.

Beijing Central Perk

8.Cook an Authentic Beijing Meal

Are you curious about how the Beijing food is made? Do you want to make your own Chinese food? You’ve found the right place. We have a team that can guide you through every step of the Chinese meal making process, including the vegetable selection, seasoning discernment, sausage making, ingredients chopping and frying, and then make your own dessert. You will do all these stuff under the guidance of a 5-star hotel chef who specializes in Chinese meal. We usually have fixed menu for you to make, but if you want to try something unusual, we can make it happen as well. Our cooking class has two section per day, you just need to choose based on your own schedule and get to the Siheyuan house on time.

Cooking Class in Beijing

9.Taste the Real Beijing Breakfast

Want to taste the authentic Beijing food? Let’s begin with a real Beijing Breakfast. There are so many breakfast options in Beijing, but you are about to see are 6 of the traditional Beijing food for breakfast.

1.Stewed Pig Liver Soup. It looks very much like the Spicy Soup, but there is pig liver in it. It’s strong-flavored and best accompanied with Baozi or baked wheat cake. Old Beijingers never use spoons when they eat the soup.

2.Baked Wheat Cake and Fermented Soya-bean Milk. Those two food are the standard Beijing breakfast food. However, the Fermented Soya-bean Milk is a bit sour, be prepared before you order it.

3.Miancha. It is a rather specially cooked millet porridge with sesame paste sprinkled on surface. It tastes a bit salty but tasty.

4.Sugar Oiled Cake. It’s like the oiled Cake but with sugar. You can choose plain flavored or extra sugar flavor.

5.Deep-fried Cake. The golden crispy wrapper and the sweet fillings will satisfy your taste bud greatly.

Beijing Traditional Breakfast

10.Hiking on the Wild Great Wall

The Wild Great Wall refers to the sections that haven’t been properly recovered or protected. As we all know that the Great Wall is very long and some of the sections are built in a very long time ago. Some of those sections were greatly damaged. However, if you are a mountaineer and you want to conquer the Great Wall, these wild sections are perfect for you. We suggest you choose the sections from Jiankou to Gubeikou where the ruined and original condition of the wall are best presented. After the trekking, you will immerse yourself in the rural life of China, learn about the locals and get a reward for your effort and courage on the Great Wall of China.

Jiankou Great Wall

11.Admire the Night View of Beijing

The night view of Beijing is very spectacular, here are ten places where you can enjoy the best night of Beijing: Bird’s Nest, Water Cube, Sanlitun, China World Shopping Mall, Solana, Shang’an Street, Central Radio and TV Tower, National Theater, Shichahai area, and Qianmen Street. If you need a guide to navigate your way around Beijing, don’t forget to contact us!

CCTV Tower Night View