No Place Like Home

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By Lingfeng Ge, PhD Chemistry

The Croft Magazine // Lingfeng Ge tells us what makes her home town of Beijing such a honey-pot destination.

Many tourists might avoid travelling to mainland China: you have to apply for a visa, and you can hardly access your favourite social media: no Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. However, all the struggles are worthwhile if you wander around Beijing, capital of China - and my extraordinary home city. So let me - a true Beijinger - show you what aspects of this unique city captivate visitors.

Size

You may already know that Beijing is one of the largest cities in the world - but I’m guessing you may not know how different it is from other urban jungles. In other metropolises you know you are in a large city because of its high population density and skyscrapers - but Beijing shows off its huge-ness in many more ways.

The palace has over 8,000 rooms, and its total interior area is five times that of Buckingham Palace.

The roads in Beijing are wider than those in other large cities. There are definitely many small alleys in residential areas, but the average Beijing road is at least 15 metres wide. The widest street in Beijing is the Chang’an Avenue, which runs through the city centre – the widest part of which measures 120 metres!

early morning stretches | Time Out Beijing

What about tourist attractions? Right in the middle of Beijing is the Palace Museum, or the Forbidden City, which used to be the imperial palace for the last two dynasties in China. This palace has over 8,000 rooms, and its total interior area is five times that of Buckingham Palace.

Beside the Palace Museum sits Beihai Park, which is about the same size as the Palace Museum; but the largest park in Beijing, Olympic Forest Park, lies up in the northern part of the city, and is 6.8 km2 - which means it’s about the same size of Ashton Court, plus the whole of Clifton.

Anything else? Beijing is home to 80 higher education institutions, many of which are universities as big as the University of Bristol! The list goes on and on… you can find so many things in Beijing that scream, ‘You’re in a huge city!’

Food

In China, each province has its own style of cuisine, but you don’t need to travel across the vast country to taste them all – you can find every one of them in Beijing! Most tourists don’t know that each province of China has a bureau in Beijing, and inside each bureau there’s a restaurant serving that province’s cuisine. It may take some time to find the authentic cuisine of each province outside the bureaux, but inside you can trust that you’re having the authentic cuisine from that province!

If you spend too long in Beijing and start to miss your own country’s food, no worries – just go to the Chaoyang District! The eastern part of Beijing gathers lots of embassies, and many of the embassy staff are lucky enough to be able to find their own home country’s food in that district. You can find a British pub near the UK embassy, an American BBQ restaurant near the US embassy, and a French bakery near the French embassy. In Beijing, if you try hard enough, you can find almost any type of food you crave!

Safety

I’ve never met a tourist who complains about safety in Beijing. The reason is simple: under the watchful eye of the central government, the Beijing municipality has to enforce compliance with all laws and regulations. You can see CCTVs at every corner of public areas; everyone needs to go through a security check at every underground station, museum, stadium, concert hall, etc; you don’t need to worry about crime. The only thing you need to be careful of is the street vendors selling you low-quality goods at high prices...!

I hope you are the next one to explore Beijing and to find it exciting!

Featured Image: Unsplash / John Salvino


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