Much to my excitement, a Beijing trip appeared on my roster last month. Realising the trip would fall over mine and my twin sister’s birthday, I thought what better way for us to turn 28 than visit a new city? Not to mention ticking off a bucket list goal with a visit to the Great Wall of China. Check out what we got up to in this post, you can also see our Beijing video on my YouTube channel here.


Straight off the plane and hungry for some local cuisine, we headed to Zhang Mama. The hole in the wall type restaurant in the Fensiting Hutong is famous for its Chinese Sichuan hot pot. You’ll be able to spot the restaurant by the crowds of people waiting outside for a table.

Take your ticket number from the host and wait to be called in. Once seated, begin helping yourself to skewers of vegetables from the communal fridges (and grab a few beers for good measure). Soon after the waiters bring over a steaming bowl of spicy, peppery, DELICIOUS broth. Let the veggie skewers simmer away before devouring the lot!

We also sampled the twice cooked pork and steamed dumplings. There is an abundance of items to order off the main menu, but the winning dish here is the Sichuan hot pot so don’t miss out!

Dinner at Dali Courtyard was a highlight of our trip. Tucked away in a little Hutong, the restaurant is unassuming from its exterior but once in you’ll be greeted by a stunning courtyard of tables under the open sky. Dali Courtyard doesn’t have a menu, instead the cuisine that is served is whatever the chef feels like cooking that evening.

This gamble certainly paid off as the food is exquisite. The restaurant is busy, so be sure to make a reservation before you go. Chinese tapas style dishes were continuously brought to our table. A few highlights were the whole roasted fish, dry fried chilli chicken thigh, steamed garlic mushroom and bamboo parcel and a chilled basil and egg noodle salad. The set fee is 150 yuan per person and drinks are extra.

It would be sinful to visit Beijing and not sample some peking duck. Having already been to the Shanghai one, we knew going to Quandjude was a safe bet. One of the most renowned peking duck restaurants in Beijing and consistently ranking high on best peking duck restaurant lists, it certainly didn’t disappoint. Crispy skin and tender meat sliced and served with hoisin sauce and pancakes is absolute perfection here, and like most restaurants in Beijing it won’t break the bank – so naturally we ordered an unnecessary amount..with dumplings on the side.

The restaurant is close to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City so it would be wise to feast here and burn off your food with a walk through these must see Beijing landmarks.


Enjoy a cold beer in the sunny courtyard of Great Leap Brewing pub. The bar has three venues across Beijing. Check out the one in the Dongcheng district as it’s close to many other great bars and pubs in the surrounding Hutongs. Mixing traditional Chinese flavours I opted for the ginseng and honey beer, a delicious combination that must be sampled.


The Forbidden City is undoubtedly one of the most stunning tourist attractions in Beijing. There is so much history hidden within these walls. For what equates to around £5 for entry there is no time limit on exploring the place. Last entry is at 4pm, which is a perfect time to go.

It’s a little less crowded at this time, and it also means you can time leaving the Forbidden city to coincide with sundown at Jingshan Park.

Hike the 1700 metre hill for a perfect view of Beijing at golden hour. It takes a mere ten minutes and what awaits you at the top certainly is worth the little effort of getting there.



If you only have 48 hours in Beijing then it is absolutely possible to visit the Great Wall Of China. Begrudgingly in our jet lagged state, we set off at 6.30am in order to arrive before the crowds did. It paid off and at points we were the only group as far as we could see on the wall. I would seriously recommend you do this, because in 35 degree weather it isn’t pleasant battling crowds.

We visited the Mutianyu part of the wall. It’s a chairlift up to the Wall and a toboggan ride down; WARNING – it’s a lot of fun!

We arrived back in Beijing by 1pm ready to spend another half day exploring. If you’re in a group the most time efficient way to get to the wall is to hire a driver, it’s not expensive and takes half the amount of time getting public transport. You also have the option to stop off at Summer Palace on the way back to the city.

Famous for their holistic remedies and treatments, indulging in a little pampering is a must when visiting Beijing. We had guasha facials and reflexology in a tiny spa we stumbled upon. It would take you days to find where we went, but the whole city is overflowing with places from the high end luxurious hotel spas right down to the hole in the wall, grandmas living room types.

Spend an evening getting lost in the hutongs in Beijing. These weird and wonderful little alleyways are traditional residential areas that are filled with bars, shops and restaurants. Our favourite Hutong was Fangia Alley. Close to both Zhang Mama and Dali Courtyard it’s the perfect place to enjoy a post dinner drink and wander the streets as the heat of the day begins to cool off.


Hope you enjoyed the post!

Check out the the video of our trip below.





  1. 19th July 2017 / 1:55 pm

    Hi Jess,

    My name is Anuj Agarwal. I’m Founder of Feedspot.

    I would like to personally congratulate you as your blog The Layover Life has been selected by our panelist as one of the Top 50 Cabin Crew Blogs on the web.


    I personally give you a high-five and want to thank you for your contribution to this world. This is the most comprehensive list of Top 50 Cabin Crew Blogs on the internet and I’m honored to have you as part of this!

    Also, you have the honor of displaying the badge on your blog.


    • Jess
      19th July 2017 / 2:53 pm

      Thanks so much Anuj! Really appreciate it! 😀

  2. 22nd September 2017 / 4:42 am

    Jess, I loved your story on China and the video was one of the best I have seen. So happy that I discovered your blog 🙂

    • Jess
      30th October 2017 / 9:48 am

      Thanks so much David!! I love blogging about my layovers and I’ve only recently started making videos so glad you like 😀

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