Traveling to Beijing over the Christmas holiday wasn't exactly my wisest decision. Despite ultra-warm layers, thickly-lined boots, and a massive scarf large enough to protect most of my face, the biting cold stymied my ability to hit all the spots on my must-see list. My husband and I took taxis (when we could flag them and communicate with the drivers) between destinations and even then, we couldn't seem to get warm.
Numb extremities and all, I refused to leave the city without visiting the zoo, situated in the Xicheng district, and seeing the bashful pandas I had read so much about. We only lasted an hour, but a good 10 minutes of that time was spent panda-watching. A throng of young children and their cold-inured parents had the same idea.
Unfortunately, the brutal temperatures meant that many of the 7,000 some animals were removed from their public spaces and sheltered elsewhere. Though frost-covered and blanketed in a whitish-gray sky, we were still able to appreciate the grounds, which were designed to resemble traditional Chinese gardens.
Definitely worth a visit in the more comfortable periods of the year, like early spring or autumn.