Wonderful Beijing can be a real culture shock

Wonderful Beijing can be a real culture shock

Chances are you will have to adapt to a different language, currency, cuisine and climate when heading to the Far East, but few things can really prepare you for a holiday in Beijing.

The city is just so different to towns in the Western world and unprepared travellers often experience a huge culture shock when they eventually arrive in the metropolis. Luckily, travellers who book a trip with Scott Dunn will be given all the help they need to acclimatise to life in China. Not only is Beijing a complete contrast to Britain, it is also unique when compared to other Chinese conurbations. While regions such as Shanghai are ultra-modern, Beijing has a very different feel to it and has managed to maintain its historical roots, which is perhaps what makes the city so appealing to foreigners.

That's not to say that Beijing hasn't evolved - far from it. The futuristic stadia that were purpose-built for the 2008 Olympic Games are clear examples of an ambitious city that is more than capable of staging world class events. The ultra-impressive Beijing National Stadium was designed in the shape of a bird's nest and is widely regarded as one of the finest arenas in the world.

It is this juxtaposition between old and new that makes the city so appealing to Scott Dunn's Asia specialist Amy Welfare.

"You've got a real East meets West and old meets new [vibe] everywhere you go, so you've got that real combination of forward-thinking and futuristic, [combined] with one of the oldest cultures in the world," she remarked.

According to Ms Welfare, Beijing is China's capital of culture and there is a plethora of important landmarks and historical sites scattered throughout the city. No trip to China is complete unless you have been to see the Great Wall, which is rightly recognised as one of the Seven Wonders of the World. However, this is just one of many fascinating places to take in during your visit.

The Gate of Heavenly Peace has huge historical significance, as it is the spot where Mao declared China as the People's Republic. The Forbidden City - the imperial palace for 24 emperors during the Ming and Qing dynasties - is also an eye-opening experience.

To avoid struggling with the language barrier, or trying to get your head around the Chinese yuan, getting an experienced guide to show you the finer parts of the city is perhaps the best way to go. Ms Welfare believes that a friendly private helper can be a real godsend.

"One hundred per cent of Scott Dunn guests have a private guide and so they can really get under the skin of the country and understand everything. The guide will tailor the trip to suit the guests," she added.

"They will take you to the main sites - like the Forbidden City or the Terracotta Warriors or the Great Wall, but they will have exclusive access. So you may get to a part of the Forbidden City no one else can go to," Ms Welfare added.

Of course, with a population of 12 million people, visitors can expect to find a bustling city when they arrive in Beijing. Coupled with the vast cultural differences, this can be very difficult to get to grips with for people who have never been to this part of the world before. As well as making full use of the superb English-speaking guides that are on offer, Ms Welfare suggested that people break themselves in step by step when heading to Beijing.

"I've never been anywhere with such a culture shock but the way I did it and what I'd recommend is maybe start in Hong Kong," Ms Welfare continued.

"It's a bit more western and a bit more of an easy way of entering the culture. So start there and then move on to mainland China - it's quite a good stepping stone," she concluded.

Although it takes a little bit more time to adapt to the Beijing way of life, the rewards are undoubtedly worth it. As cultural and historical trips go, few destinations around the world can compete with the city and, with the metropolis being so huge, there is every chance that you will want to return again in the near future to explore the bits that you may have missed.

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