My first trip to China was to Beijing while I was on my way to North Korea. I stopped there to finally see the Great Wall as well as to discover the Forbidden City and other spots of this huge city.
First of all, the city IS huge. You just can’t walk to the places of interest, you need to take the tube. Which is not that easy as only a minimum is written in roman letters. While the sightseeing is really worth it you must be aware that chinese in general are not well educated, do not stand in line anywhere, push and squeeze where ever they can, spit in the streets and you’ll be approached by many scammers (tea house scams) as well as check your bills in restaurants and your change. Occasionally you’ll encounter nice people open to chat but this is not a majority.
The Great Wall was definitely an experience as the site I chose was far away to get off classic tourist tracks. This monument is just unbelievable – like the forbidden city and shows how powerful (and merciless towards its citizens) the empire was.
Given the complexity of the reading & identification of chinese characters I guess it’s easier to get more around by partnering with a local speaker as basically noone speaks english. Not forgetting that the chinese government blocks any Google product on your phone and you’ll get the concept of getting around on your own.
Indeed it’s a great, mesmerizing spot to visit and I definitely enjoyed my stay there.