24 Hour Layover in Beijing

A Note from Sarah: Please join me in welcoming Samuel and Kara again to the Critiquing Chemist! You’ll remember Samuel most recently from our cross country road trip where we managed to hit eight national parks in 4 days! Samuel and Kara’s first post last highlighted their adventure to Olympic National Park. This past February, they treated us to their trip to Australia and the post below is a continuation of that trip as they made the most of their layover in Beijing. Enjoy!

When booking our trip to Australia we took advantage of an opportunity for a layover tour in Beijing, China.  After reading numerous reviews we contacted “Layover China” via the WhatsApp and reserved a tour to see the Great Wall and Forbidden City. We were slightly delayed getting in to Beijing due to a mid flight medical emergency, and had to make an unplanned stop at Saipan.  Despite our late night, we were excited for our early morning as the tour guide, Katrina, picked us up at 6:30am from our hotel, which we had previously arranged during the booking process. The chilly morning started with authentic Chinese breakfast from a street vendor outside our hotel.  With Katrina’s assistance we ordered something like a Chinese version of a pancake sandwich and a drink made entirely of pinto beans and sugar.   

The Great Wall

Our first stop, The Great Wall, was a 1.5 hour drive north of the city.  On our way we learned that Chinese drivers understand how to best utilize their horns when encountering other cars and pedestrians.  Once at the Great Wall we took a lift to the actual wall.

It was greatly beneficial to have a Katrina with us, as she provided many details regarding the history of China and the Great Wall.  The Great Wall is breathtakingly beautiful as it stretches across the mountainside as far as the eye can see. 

The way down the mountain was a bit more exciting than the lift as we tobogganed down 5,184 feet.

On a VERY IMPORTANT side note, the public restrooms that we encountered in China do not provide toilet paper.  So… a word to the wise, you should probably should carry your own toilet paper, a lesson we learned the hard way.  In addition most toilets are squat toilets which can be a bit tricky if you’ve never encountered one previously.

The Forbidden City

Following our experience at the Great Wall, Katrina drove us two hours back into the heart of Beijing to the Forbidden City.  We were overwhelmed by the size and intricacies of the Forbidden City.  Katrina was a plethora of knowledge as she highlighted the history of the sacred city and the many Emperors’ that have called it home.  Unfortunately our time in the Forbidden City was rather rushed, only providing a quick tour of the city as we had to return to the airport for our flight to Sydney, which we chronicled in February’s travel post.

Check back next week for our return to America and our Cross Country Road Trip back to Michigan!



  1. What fun! I can’t believe that it was almost 20 years ago that I hit up these spots. That restroom looks absolutely fantastic in comparison to men’s room at the time! Other memorable moments include the taxi ride through Beijing at rush hour and the spiciest (by quite a lot) hot pot I’ve ever encountered.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Samuel talked about the the traffic and how crazy people weaved in and out! Personally I would have issues with the spice. I love hot pot restaurants, however I’m a bit of a baby with spice. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s