I decided to talk about travel tips for Beijing for the obvious reason: I'm from there. Prior to coming to the U.S., I lived in Beijing for four years. I'm not saying that I'm an expert of Beijing, but I do know lots about it from my own experience, which might be very helpful for you!
Most tourists go to Beijing to see the Forbidden City and the Great Wall. But like any other famous cities in the world, there's much more than tourist sites in the city. Beijing is not likely to leave a good first impression to tourists and sojourners, for its poor traffic, crowdedness, air pollution and all. But it takes time to appreciate what the city is really about. The city is a combination of ancient and new. . Wandering in around the city, you can see both elders who are still living the traditional way like a century ago, and stylish youth that are fashionable and international. Also, unlike London, Tokyo and New York, which are all well-developed already, Beijing is still a place that's going through lots of changes.
- Better to plan a long stay in the city, ideally more than a week
- Be prepared for the not-so-good first impression
- Do homework on the tourist sites
- Don't limit yourself to those sites, and try places where the locals usually go
- Don't get tricked by street vendors. They might be selling you things that are really over-priced
- Don't trust your Mandarin even if you've learned, because Beijing accent is hard to understand even for Chinese people from outside the city
- Go chat with the locals. If you can't speak Mandarin, talk to young people who know English
- Go see shows, both traditional and modern ones
- Go to bars and clubs, and be prepared to get wasted
- Last but not least, forget about the Bejing you used to see on Western media, and forget about politics