Days after getting my 3-hour China visa, I made my way to Beijing, China. I’d come up with a list of things I wanted to do while there. I’m happy to say that I did most of the things I said I wanted to do, with one notable exception… if you’ve read the previous article, you’ll know exactly which one I passed on.

Here are the 7 awesome things I got to do in Beijing:

Walked on the Great Wall of China

This is probably the one thing I would’ve kicked myself for if I’d missed it. The Great Wall of China is arguably the most important symbol of China. I lucked out on the day I finally went; my first day in Beijing was hazy with pollution, while the second day was cloudy (and eventually, it rained that night). The rain was ultimately a good thing, as my third day in Beijing was bright, sunny, and clear: The perfect day to see the Great Wall. I walked on the Mutianyu section, which was just as restored as Badaling but not as crowded.

Entered the Forbidden City

As a fan of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the Forbidden City was one place I definitely wanted to check out. I was in awe once I entered the place; one could easily spend a whole day inside the Forbidden City. Equally awe-inspiring were the number of tourist groups inside following the exact same path through the place. I’m glad I went on my own.

Ate Authentic Chinese Food

My CouchSurfing host introduced me to some common Chinese breakfast foods during my stay; it was pretty basic stuff, but of course it was nice to have it in China. I also had my fair share of dumplings and hot pot. Still, the highlight for me was my dinner on my last day: Peking Duck. Yes, it was absolutely delicious!

Saw Pandas at the Beijing Zoo

The only reason I wanted to go to the Beijing Zoo was to see the Giant Pandas, and I was not disappointed. Well, it would have been nice if the pandas were a little bit more active, but I guess because I visited at the height of the afternoon heat, they weren’t in the mood to do much. As for the rest of the zoo… well, it was quite a depressing experience, one I’ll probably share in a future post.

Checked Out Beijing’s World Heritage Sites

In addition to the Great Wall of China and the Forbidden City, I only got to see two other World Heritage Sites while in Beijing: Summer Palace and Temple of Heaven. Both were quite impressive in their own way (and the Summer Palace is definitely another place one can spend a whole day at). Meanwhile, I missed out on the Imperial Tombs of the Ming and Qing Dynasties because I didn’t take a tour to the Great Wall.

Visited the Olympic Stadiums

Beijing National Stadium, more popularly known as Bird’s Nest, became the third Olympic stadium I’ve visited after Munich and Berlin. It was every bit as impressive as I thought it would be. I loved that they played clips of highlights from the 2008 Beijing Olympics as it definitely made me feel the grandeur of that event.

Took the High-Speed Train to Shanghai

I ended up taking a 5-hour train from Beijing to Shanghai, partied all night long for roughly 12 hours, then took another 5-hour train back to Beijing over the weekend. It was crazy, but it was worth it. I got to see Nanjing Road, the Bund, and the skyline of the Pudong, including the Oriental Pearl TV Tower.

As I said, I skipped out on one item on my wishlist. Here’s what I didn’t do in Beijing…

Taste Something Exotic

I did end up going to Donghuamen Night Market with two other CouchSurfers (one was my host, the other was someone I hosted in Singapore) and their respective girlfriends, and had sort of planned to try something there. But all I did was take one look at the collection of critters available for consumption there, and I refused to do it. It helped that I wasn’t feeling very well, that nobody was willing to do it with me, and that the local with us said she never tried anything on that menu. So, I had a convenient excuse not to do it.