When you visit Beijing as a tourist, the capital city of China, you will inevitably be taken sightseeing by your tour guides to view monumental and historical attractions like The Great Wall of China, The Forbidden City and The Ming Tombs amongst many others.
However, more and more of the residents of Beijing are saying that there are many less well known tourist attractions that you must visit and these lesser known places, on their own accord also have many charms and delights for tourists.
For example, Cui Jian, a famous Chinese rock star who performed on a Rolling Stones act in Shanghai in 2006 was known to have said, “I am not at all interested in all that historical kingdom culture, stuff that shows this was once the greatest kingdom or something like that”.
Cui recommends that tourists when visiting Beijing should also soak up the atmosphere in the 798 art district in Beijing’s eastern Dashanzi instead. This1950s period factory zone has been transformed into a bohemian community of art galleries, cafes and bistros, outdoor sculptures, colorful graffiti painted on factory walls among many other interesting features.
Another Beijing resident, Wu Jianxin, who is an owner of a private wine club, grew up near Houhai, which was once a quiet lakeside village, which is now being overrun by noisy bars and boat rentals for tourists. Wu likes to take leisurely strolls in Baiyun Guan or White Cloud Temple.
This Taoist temple ground has a certain mystical charm about it and without the tourist crush like those in the major attractions,is a wonderful place to just enjoy a leisurely paced sightseeing. A sight to behold when you are in the 800 year old Baiyun Guan are regular traditional ceremonies and rites being performed by Taoist monks. This ancient temple is also the headquarters of the Chinese Taoist Association.
Li Jing, who is a designer by profession, prefers to take his walks in the Nanluoguxiang area. This area has well preserved stretch of backstreets although situated in downtown Beijing, is almost unknown to many tourists. These backstreets are home to many local bars, hostels and boutiques. The area exudes the ambience of old Beijing when contrasted against the city’s modern superstructures.
For tourists who like to bring home unconventional souvenirs should visit Jindian Consignment Shop. Here, you will not find the usual replica dragons or jade chopsticks which you can find in souvenir shops all over Beijing. Instead, you will discover unusual and remarkably quaint souvenirs to bring home, such as old bus passes, Chinese antique clocks and flying pigeon bicycles (whatever that is).
Having visited Beijing on a number of occasions myself, I have to disagree with the locals who only recommend the less well known tourist attractions. My recommendation is to see everything Beijing has to offer including the major tourist attractions many of which will leave you awestricken.