Beijing is the political, educational and
cultural centre of China and therefore rich in historical sites
and important government and cultural institutions. In other
words, there is lots of sightseeing to do. The stunning Tempe of
Heaven, the vast Tiananmen Square and of course the very
intriguing Bird’s Nest Stadium just to name a few. Beijing has
opened up quite a bit, especially since the 2008 Olympic Games.
Just know that a trip to Beijing is mainly a cultural
experience. In terms of nightlife or shopping, Beijing does have
a growing number of gay spots that are actually quite fun.
“Destination” is probably the largest gay bar in Asia. However,
don’t expect the gay flag to fly over the Communist Party
Headquarters anytime soon. Many gay sites and apps are blocked
and so is Facebook. But China is a rising power and Beijing will
soon be one of the most influential cities in the world. These
are exiting times to be in Beijing. Be a part of it!
If you are a train geek, there are direct
trains from Moscow to Beijing. And there is also a new
high-speed train line between Shanghai and Beijing. But most
sisters probably want to fly and arrive at the new Beijing
Capital International Airport (BJS). It is located about 26km
outside the city and consists of three different terminals. But
no matter in which terminal you arrive, just grab your Gucci bag
and go to the official taxi queue. A taxi to your hotel will
cost you around ¥80-120. Expect traffic jams during busy hours.
And many taxi drivers don’t speak English so have your
destination written down in Chinese. You can also take the
Airport Express to Sanyuanqiao (connect to subway line 10) or
Dongzhimen (connect to subway lines 2 and 10). A oneway ticket
on the Airport Express will cost you ¥25 and the journey will
take about 20-30min.
Please note that you will probably need a visa to enter China.
Check with your nearest Chinese Embassy. Tourists are generally
quite easy to obtain and are fairly cheap, unless you are an
Beijing’s subway system is safe and
efficient. It consists of about 15 lines and covers most of
Beijing as well as surrounding areas. Line 1 will take you to
Tiananmen Square, line 2 to the Temple of Heaven (Tiantan
station) and the new line 8 stops at the Olympic Park if you
want to see the Bird’s Nest Stadium. Fares are just ¥2 and you
can buy the ticket with cash at any station. Instructions are
available in English. Most subway stations have x-ray machines
and you will be asked to have your bags scanned. So please leave
you gay sex toys in your hotel room. The first trains start to
run around 05:00. However, the system closes quite early at
around 23:00. So if you want to enjoy the nightlife you are
stuck with taxis.
Taxis are usually readily available but depending on the area
and time of day, you may have to wait a while. Fares start at
¥10 and goes up from there. Of course more expensive than the
subway but still quite affordable. Most drivers do not speak
English so write down your destination in Chinese or ask someone
from your hotel to talk to the driver. Some drivers refuse to
turn on the meter, especially if you look like a tourist. And
some drivers refuse to take any foreign passengers at all. But
normally you shouldn’t have any problems.
The subway and taxis will get you almost anywhere. However, if
you want to visit the Great Wall, it’s probably best if you book
a sightseeing tour as it is about 70km away.
When to go
Beijing has a lot of attractions to visit
so you will spend quite a lot of time outdoors. So spend some
time to figure out when you want to go. Winters in Beijing are
long and freezing. Expect temperatures to drop down to -10°C. So
November to February is maybe not ideal if you plan to do a lot
of sightseeing. Summers on the other hand can get very hot and
muggy. June-August is also when it rains a lot. So we recommend
spring (March/April) or autumn (September/October) as it is
generally dry and the temperatures are a comfortable 15-20°C.
You also may want to avoid Chinese New Year which usually takes
place in February. ”National Day Golden Week” kicks off on 1
October. Both these periods means that 1.2 billion Chinese
people are on the move throughout the country. So it’s probably
best to stay away. On the other hand, there are also lots of
festivals and activities happening. Maybe a good chance to meet
some sisters from the country side.
What to see
Vast and impressive square, site of the 1986 bloody massacres
Temple of Heaven
Probably one of the most beautiful temples in the world
The Great Wall
Very impressive, a lot of history but a bit far from town
Bird’s Nest Stadium
Unique and stunning architecture of the 2008 Beijing Olympics
Lively area with international stores and unique bars
The Communist Party still rules in China
and they keep a close eye on internet access. Buying a local SIM
card is not easy. Data roaming usually works fine. However,
expect some sites and apps to be blocked, including Facebook/Twitter/Youtube
as well as gay dating apps Jack’d and Grindr. One way around
this is VPN (virtual private network). There are several
providers but “VPN Fire” usually works fine for iphones. Just
download their free app from
iTunes and purchase a data plan (just about US$ 1 for 1GB).
This doesn’t always work as the Chinese authorities try to fight
it. But generally it does give you access. You can also use this
when you connect to the WiFi network of your hotel. The popular
gay club “Destination” also offers free WiFi.
It was only in 2001 when China removed
homosexuality from its official register of psychiatric
disorders. So China is definitely not the most gay-friendly
nation in the world. Most of the media is being censored and so
far the government does not allow the topic to be discussed
openly. Having said that, sex between two adult men is legal.
And the police has rules not to harass law-abiding gay people.
So in a major city like Beijing, there is no reason to feel
unsafe. The same thing cannot be said for other parts of the
country. And please note that prostitution remains illegal, both
gay and straight. But of course you can find “massage boys”
offering their services online and on mobile.
So while China is opening up, the government still restricts the
people’s freedoms. The (unofficial) government policy towards
homosexuality is “no approval, no disapproval, no promotion”.
However, the population itself is more accepting of the issue.
According to a
survey in 2008, more than 80% of Chinese people agreed that
heterosexuals and homosexuals were "equal individuals". And
according to China Daily there are about 30 million
homosexuals in China (2.3% of the population). However, the same
report also admits that most remain in the closet.