Things you have to see when teaching English in Beijing
Posted on 26-03-2020 by Joseph Francis
So, you’re teaching English in Beijing? Congrats. You’re living and working in one of the world’s most buzzing metropolises. There are neon-lit shopping malls the size of football fields. There are atmospheric streets laden with teashops and sizzling noodle stalls. You’ll find colossal monuments cast in concrete, and others gilded with dynastic dragons. Oh, and it’s even possible to glimpse that world-famous Great Wall. Let’s get started…
It would be pretty hard for anyone teaching English in Beijing to miss Tiananmen Square. This is the beating heart of the capital. A colossal plaza that measures 440,000 square meters, it’s laden with some of China’s most iconic structures. Look north to see the symbolic Tiananmen Gate – that dates back to the era of the Ming in 1420. The Great Hall of the People adorns the western edge, where it hosts Communist galas and events. Going south is the Zhengyangmen Gate, a beautiful tiered structure that was once a part of the city’s encircling walls.
The Forbidden City
Even the name of the Forbidden City can raise the goose bumps. But pass through that grand gateway on the edge of Tiananmen Square and the amazements simply won’t stop. A city within a city, it’s a vast complex of palaces and court rooms that reigned as the epicentre of imperial China since as far back as the Ming dynasty in the 1300s. Today it’s a UNESCO site, and spreads through the middle of Beijing with its gold-rimmed Gate of Supreme Harmony, the exquisite Hall of Union, and gardens filled with murals of warring dragons and mystical shrines.
798 Art Zone
Calling all culture buffs teaching English in Beijing – the Dashanzi district (or the 798 Art Zone) beckons with more creative spaces and galleries than you can shake a Peking duck at. Find it spreading through the blocks on the eastern edge of the metropolis, encompassing squares and repurposed military-industrial factories. Highlights are the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, where some of the richest collections of avant-garde painting in China await, and the array of thought-provoking street art that dots the lanes and alleys outside.
The Great Wall of China – obviously!
One of the top things about teaching English in Beijing is that you’ll be close to what’s arguably the most standout attraction in China, or even Asia. Cue the Great Wall, which peaks and troughs over the wild mountains just to the north of the capital. Jinshanling is one of the finest places to see it, still half-ruined and with an ancient feel. For quick in-and-out visits, the Juyongguan Great Wall is probably the best choice. Meanwhile, Badaling has a really well-preserved section, but is usually busy!
No trip to Beijing could possibly be complete without exploring the amazing hutong blocks. These are ancient merchant areas of narrow alleys and shopping streets that grew up in the vicinity of the Forbidden City centuries ago. Some are still going, like the bustling strip of Nanluoguxiang. Delve down that to discover cobbled courtyards lit by swinging paper lanterns, teahouses steaming with fresh brews, and – of course – the inevitable souvenir stalls. Just be sure to have the camera at the ready – this is Beijing at its Instagrammable peak!
Are you currently teaching English in Beijing? We’d love to get any insider tips you’ve got on places to go and things to see. Just drop them in the comments below. Alternatively, check out our online courses to get TEFL qualified for jobs in China, or look to our teach in China program to get started right away.