The VOYA guide to Beijing's Great Wall and Imperial Palace. Comfortable shoes are essential.
With over 2,000 years of history covering the original border of China at over 8,850 km, the Great Wall is on the bucket list for many travellers worldwide.
At Voya we have been lucky to visit many sections of this man made, world wonder, but the lesser known section at Simatai is really our favourite. This section of the wall is partly restored, so still has a lot of natural charm, and can be accessed from a cable car or hiking path, so is suitable for most ages and abilities. It is important to note, that this section of the wall has a maximum daily limit of guests, so try to book your journey online on the government websitebefore attending. Tickets must be reserved at least one day in advance. The Simatai section is around a 90 minute drive from downtown Beijing, it is easy to visit as a day trip; but also quite an experience to stay here overnight, in the evening the wall section is lit giving an enchanting atmosphere to the whole village.
The Imperial Palace, Tianmen Square and Chairman Mao’s mausoleum are the must see places for any Beijing visit. All located in the heart of Beijing, and within walking distance to each other, it is easy to combine all three in a one day visit.This central square of Beijing also has an array of wonderful silk shops, traditional handcraft stores and world famous duck restaurants.
Go further a field and visit the art district, 798. The whole area of 148 acres, is comprised of former Mao-era military buildings and factories, which now hold a variety of local and international galleries/shops and creative spaces. This raw industrial location will need a few hours to explore and will take around 40 mins by car, to reach from central Beijing. Uber is no longer used in Beijing, so we recommend downloading Didi, the Chinese version of this ride hailing service.
Beijing has a dramatic seasonal change climate. Summer gets hot, over 40 degrees, and Winter gets very cold, with heavy snow . We suggest the best times to visit, are between March - September. Avoid all Chinese holidays, such as the Chinese New Year, usually at the beginning of Feb, and the Mid Autumn October holiday, first 10 days of October.
Being the capital of China, with so many mainland tourists, everyone speaks Mandarin, but more and more, we do hear English spoken with the younger generations of Beijingers.