Beijing’s broad-stroke over­view

Global Times – Metro Beijing - - TWO CENTS - By Ed­ward Knight

When I first came to China, I had no idea what to ex­pect. Af­ter hav­ing lived in China for a year I wasn’t en­tirely pre­pared. Also if you’ve trav­eled overseas be­fore but never been to China, it can be a com­pletely dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ence. Even within China, Beijing and Shang­hai are their own types of cities.

Here I’ll go over in some broad strokes what you should know if you’re plan­ning on tak­ing a trip or tak­ing the dive for the long haul, and mov­ing to Beijing.

Be­fore you ar­rive, there are some things I sug­gest you pre­pare. Down­load WeChat! You may or may not have heard of WeChat, but it is most used app in China. You can lit­er­ally use it for ev­ery­thing, and it’s su­per use­ful to have. Un­til you have a Chi­nese bank ac­count, you won’t be able to link a pay­ment method, but once you have it, WeChat is the most used method of pay­ment in China. I can’t stress this enough. You rarely ask for some­one’s num­ber, only their WeChat.

Also, you can alert your bank that you’ll be in China and pre­pare your debit card with funds. Lots of peo­ple think they should bring cash to ex­change, but that is one of the worst things you can do! In­stead, with­draw money from an ATM. This will save you higher ex­change fees and will en­sure you don’t ex­change too much.

Beijing is filled with cul­tural things to see! Un­for­tu­nately, as a for­eigner, you’ll of­ten have to pay the full price, even with a stu­dent ID card. If you have one, it can be worth try­ing, but of­ten they’ll charge you full price re­gard­less. Sights like the Forbidden City and Sum­mer Palace are worth see­ing for sure, as well as a bus ride for a day-trip you to see the Great Wall. There are also ex­cel­lent hik­ing tours to the Great Wall and nearby lo­ca­tions. While these sights are great, Beijing has many smaller places to see and visit that might be off the beaten path. If you have friends in Beijing, for­eign­ers or Chi­nese, you can ask them about the ar­eas they hang out at.

There are many more things I could say about Beijing, and this only serves as a brief over­view of what sig­nif­i­cant things you should know if you’ve never been to the city. Beijing is a city I truly be­lieve ev­ery­one should visit at some point. It is very unique and has a lot to of­fer for those who are cu­ri­ous!

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