Beijing was my first stop in China, and it was a great introduction to the country. It was a really interesting mix of both really modern city and older Chinese culture. Beijing is famous for its Hutongs which are tiny alleyways. When you get off the main streets, itâ€™s like a huge maze of narrow alleys filled with tiny shops, little cafes, etc. There are lots of interesting buildings with the traditional sloped Chinese roofs, ornate doors, and lanterns hanging outside. You could easily spend hours just kind of wandering around and taking it in.
On the other hand, there are parts of town that are so insanely different and modern. Huge gleaming skyscrapers, gigantic malls, Tiffany’s diamond stores, etc. Its hard to believe that these areas are even in the same city as the hutongs.
Connecting everything are roads that are filled with insane traffic. Beijing is a city big on bikes, and there are lots of bike share stations. So, on any street you have like hundreds of bikes, a ton of mopeds, and then hella cars and these tiny baby sized three wheel delivery trucks, all going in all different directions. Traffic â€œlawsâ€ here are more like a suggestion, and everyone just drives in every which way, making u-turns out of the blue, crossing lanes, stopping in the middle of traffic, etc. In the short time that i was in town, i saw *so* many near accidents.
Beijing is also a city under construction.. there is construction *everywhere*. Every street has new buildings coming up and there are construction crews *literally* on every block (and often times several per block). even in the hutongs you hear hammering and see welding all over the place. It’s crazy to imagine the frantic pace of change here.
Beijing can be relatively cheap compared to back home, but compared to other parts of China, itâ€™s pretty expensive. My hotel room cost almost 50$ a night, which feels like a lot here, especially given that it is a super tiny room with a â€œbedâ€ sitting on a platform. Of course, part of it is paying for location as i was in the awesome hutong part of town.
All in all, itâ€™s a really awesome city. You have all the modern frills you need, like fancy pour over coffee, cocktail bars, nice restaurants, and entertainment while still getting to see that more traditional feel in other parts of town.