I've been to the summer palace twice and I still don't feel like I've covered even half of its grounds. These expansive grounds, filled with winding paths, canals, temples, and boats make for a perfect day. Pack a lunch and plan to spend a few hours wandering around the grounds, really feeling your princess Mulan vibes. When I return to Beijing, I still plan on re-visiting this magical and historical place.
The Lama Temple remains one of my favorite places in the entire world. This Tibetan Buddhist temple, which opened in 1694, is an incredible place for peoples of all faiths to come together and gather. While it can be packed with tourists, you can still find space to let your mind wander and meditate. You will walk through different temples, ranging from small Buddha's to medium, and end at a massive and gorgeous final Buddha that towers over you. While I am not Buddhist, my two experiences at the temple remain the most spiritual experiences of my life.
The Hutongs are a magical part of Beijing. They represent the essence of China, — colors, delicious smells, and friendly people, The Culture Exchange Center is absolutely beautiful and offers incredible classes lead by locals to teach you about authentic Chinese culture. I took two dumpling-making classes there, but they also offer a range of many classes for different interests. The center attracts folks from all over the world. I remember both my classes had students from all over the world, and I truly got to connect with folks in a small amount of time.
Dive into the heart of Beijing's art scene by visiting the 798 Art Zone. This incredible neighborhood is covered in murals and boasts a plethora of sculptures and museums. Spend a day here, grab some bubble tea, and take in one of the most lively parts of the city.
Shop till you drop in Shanghai local market. Get unforgettable shopping experience in most popular local markets: Fabric market, Tea market, off brand market, antique market, etc. Taste 3 different kind of tea and recognize what it is. Seek out a bargain or pick up some unique souvenirs in off brand, antique market.
Save hours researching attractions and navigating public transport by having a driver to take you to Shanghai's best sites. Highlights include The Yuyuan Garden, taking part in a tea ceremony, a dim sum lunch, visiting the French Concession, and The Bund.