Tourists are flocking to Beijing this spring! Already we’ve seen the first waves of tourists with their fanny packs, backpacks, bottled water and maps. We see them on city corners looking dazed, amazed and confused, and at major monuments gaping at the ancient works of art and culture that have survived for countless generations. Tourist season is a fun time for locals and expats. It reveals all of the amazing sights and newness of the city once again and makes daily life in the diverse city of Beijing all the more amazing.
The Great Wall is an amazing work of cultural art, historical relevance and of course a prime spot for tourists and hawkers alike. Trying to avoid hawkers is impossible in China and more so at major tourist sites. To deal with them most effectively simply say “bu yao” which means “don’t want.” This is pronounced, “boo yao.” For perfect pronunciation think: what a ghost says and Yao Ming’s first name. Say this firmly but politely. Don’t make eye contact and keep moving as you say it. This usually gets the hint across and hawkers will leave you alone.
The Bird’s Nest, since the 2008 Olympics, has become a site many tourists want to see. Be forewarned that it doesn’t look like the glowing monstrosity of the opening and closing ceremonies on regular weeknights. It looks like an empty stadium. If you want great pictures of the Bird’s Nest you have to go at night with a tripod.
Other sites are full of hawkers, map sellers, trinket dealers and more, but the Bird’s Nest has remained relatively empty of freelance merchants unless a major event is taking place.