China highlights – Beijing

Kelly and I were in China for two weeks. Time flew by, as we stayed in four places and were incredibly busy in each city!

We met his parents in Beijing, and although we were flying in from Bangkok and they were coming from Vancouver, we landed only a few minutes apart. It was nice to see familiar faces!

We arrived late in the evening so headed to our hotel, the beautiful Marriott Northeast. (This hotel had an amazing pool and gym, which was very necessary. With the poor air quality and traffic, we couldn’t run outside.)

Our room had the nicest bathroom I’ve ever been in.


Luckily, only our first day there was smoggy. However, the air quality was even worse as there were extreme winds causing a sandstorm. The air quality that day was past the hazardous level.

The next few days were a whirlwind of touring…

Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China is over 8,800 km long (5,500 miles) and took nearly 2,000 years to construct. It was named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in 2007.


We visited the Badaling section, which is the most well-preserved section and the most popular.

I’m not sure what it was about walking on the Wall, but I absolutely loved our day there. It was still freezing (about -15 Celsius with the windchill) despite working hard to climb some of the steep sections.


Kelly and I discussed how fun (and crazy hard) it would be to run the Great Wall Marathon one day.


Forbidden City

The Forbidden City is in the centre of Beijing and was the imperial palace throughout two dynasties. It is the world’s largest palace complex and is surrounded by a moat and 10-metre high wall. Apparently there are about 9,000 rooms. It took us a couple hours just to go from one end to the other!


It was another freezing cold day when we toured, so I didn’t enjoy it as much as I would have if it were warmer! The entire place was incredibly beautiful with such detailed architecture.


My favourite part was the Imperial Gardens. Even in winter, you could see it’s natural beauty.

Tiananmen Square

It’s literally just a large square located across the street from the Forbidden City. It was also the location of deadly protests in the late ‘80’s. It was completely closed to the public when we were there.  The Communist party was voting for a new leader, which only occurs once every decade.


Silk Market

Kelly and I had a lot of laughs at the Silk Market, which turned out to be a large mall with tiny stores selling everything you could think of. Kelly made the mistake of asking the price on jade foodogs. The lady kept pushing and slapping him, not letting him leave her store. I got out and was laughing so hard at the bewildered look on his face. He ended up buying them so he could leave; maybe that’s not such a bad sales tactic after all?!


We went to the hutongs after we walked through the Forbidden City. Hutongs are basically just alleyways and courtyards and are very ‘old Beijing’. There are literally thousands of them throughout the city.


We went to a beautiful Hutong area with a large lake and tons of restaurants and little shops. It would be incredible in summer.


We saw lots of fun things including water painting (the cutest old gentleman wanted me to do it), mahjong gambling, polar bear swimmers, and older people playing ancient instruments and singing.

Best photo ever!

Best photo ever!

Kelly and I had so much fun that we went back the next day.


It was a lot warmer, so we rented bikes and cruised around the hutongs in style!


It was the most fun we had in Beijing.



This is an awesome walking street in the heart of Beijing, full of huge malls and some cute markets on side streets.


The Adidas Boost was released the day we were here, and they had a fun obstacle course you could run to test the new shoes.


Kelly did it, and I laughed so hard as they kept trying to talk to him in Mandarin expecting answers each time.

We also saw some good eats!


Beijing is a great city with a lot of culture and history. You are required to apply for a visa before entering the country. However, I just read about a 72-hour visa waiver that began in January for those who just want a few days in Beijing or Shanghai. Although it would be a whirlwind, I think you could definitely hit Beijing’s hotspots in 72 hours.


From Beijing we travelled to Tianjin for one night. It was a very quick trip and before we knew it we were off to Xiamen in southern China.

Have you ever been to China?

What international marathon is on your bucket list?

27 responses to “China highlights – Beijing

  1. Sounds and looks amazing! So funny about that woman basically forcing Kelly to purchase her products haha! Was it difficult to get the visa? I’ve never been to Asia but could potentially be there soon.. if not, eventually :P.

  2. Looks AMAZING! I’m glad you had a great time there and yes, you SHOULD run the Great Wall Marathon! 🙂

  3. Wow – incredible. I definitely have to go there, although I’m going to pick a warmer time of year!

  4. I have always wanted to see the Great Wall and what better way to do it than run the marathon there. I also would love to run the London and Paris marathons. My marathon bucket list is long…

  5. So funny you mentioned the Great Wall Marathon…because I had a friend do it and said it was awesome!
    Looks awesome!! You would definitely recommended it right??
    Did you see any of the Olympics’ venues?
    I would love to do Great Wall, London, and Gold Coast(in Australia)!!

  6. That’s so great that you had a fun time in China! I grew up in Singapore and Hong Kong and really miss being in Asia. I love the cities and the culture… it doesn’t hurt that Chinese food is DELICIOUS either 😉

  7. The bikes look like so much fun! And the Great Wall is on my list of places I want to see. SO COOL.

  8. I love reading about your adventures. This looks like such a fantastic vacation and that is one impressive bathroom!

  9. Tappan’s been to China before, I read through this post with him and he said he recognized a lot of stuff that you did! He went to the same part of the great wall of china as you.

  10. runnerbydefault

    Ha Ha! Love the polar plunge pic. So awesome!! I have never been to China so I am living vicariously through your pictures!! The Great Wall looks amazing. It is definitely on my “must-see” list.

  11. Hi! I’m new to your page and I love the post I just read. I absolutely love traveling. I’ve never been, but I have family members who visited and they had a blast.
    My mom’s first marathon was the Berlin Marathon. I would love to do that one some day.

  12. Pingback: China highlights – Xiamen | Change of Pace

  13. Pingback: China highlights – Hong Kong | Change of Pace

  14. Pingback: Trainer time | Change of Pace

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