Winter has officially set in around the Northern Capital, which means that Beijing’s late-afternoon sunlight is coupled with chilly winds, chuanr (meat skewer) stands now double as outdoor heaters, and hats/mittens/gloves are sold on every street corner. Most importantly though, winter means that there are lots of opportunities to explore Beijing in ways that one might not during other seasons.
Here are three ideas for reveling in Beijing’s splendor this winter:
1) Go to a flag-raising ceremony at Tiananmen Square at dawn, and then eat a baozi (steamed bun) breakfast. While this ceremony is not particularly eventful, it is refreshing to see Beijing at such a (relatively) quiet and early part of the day, and is something you should do once while you are here for the experience. A hearty serving of a Beijinger’s most beloved breakfast item, the baozi, will keep you warm and toasty long after you defrost from your morning excursion.
2) Warm up in an exercise park. Local residents get their daily dose of activity in these public spaces, and you should too. Whether to stave off the cold, get your heart rate up, or just goof around, these spaces provide a respite from the hustle-and-bustle of Beijing life, as well as some incredible people-watching.
3) Explore Subway Line 4. The newly-opened subway line has a lot to offer, as it provides direct stops for a number of interesting neighborhoods. Get off at the Beijing Zoo stop to explore the Zoo Market, a wholesale market full of clothes, accessories, and shoes. A jaunt to the Xisi station and the surrounding area affords an afternoon of exploring new restaurants and boutiques. Feeling intellectual? Head north and get off at Peking University’s East Gate stop.