Content and photos courtesy of Beijing Tourism
- Area: 16,410.54 km2 (6,336.14 sq mi)
- Calling Code: 10
- Currency: Renminbi (yuan)(¥)[g] (CNY)
- Population (EST): 21,150,000
- Official language: Standard Chinese
- Time Zone: China Standard
10 Reasons to Visit Beijing
1. Palaces of the Emperors
Beijing has been a city for nearly 3,000 years, and has seen 3 different opulent dynasties that have ruled over China. Thanks to the thirty-four emperors that have lived here, the city is brimming with rich cultural sites that tell the tale of Beijing's status as the capital of one of the most populated countries in the world. From the Summer Palace to the Ming Tombs, the traveler gets a taste of old China, and a glimpse into the lives of those who ruled it.
2. Old Beijing
Modern Beijing is bursting at the seams with contemporary energy and culture, but there's still a chance to delight in Old Beijing by visiting its temples, teahouses, the Hutong and Quadrangle, as well as paying a visit to the famous Peking Opera. Paying homage to these remnants of the old world will give the traveler an unparalleled appreciation for the ancient city; a world that has incredible stories to tell. The charm, grace, and charged energy of this Old Beijing is something that must be experienced.
3. Magniﬁcent Sites
There are so many sites in Beijing that are on various "World's Best" lists that one can feel quite overwhelmed trying to see every popular landmark in one trip. Take for instance the Forbidden City. This destination is incredibly popular, and it's here that you get to experience the Imperial Palace complex. Note that this Palace is one of the largest and best preserved in the entire world. Also, no trip is complete without heading to Tiananmen Square, which stands as a symbol for Beijing and all of China. It's also the largest city square in the entire world. And of course, what trip could be complete without seeing the famous Great Wall; considered one of the "Eight Wonders of the World", as well as a World Heritage site.
4. Religious Life
Religion has played a strong role in Beijing's past, and because of this, the modern traveler has the opportunity to see the stunning temples and places of worship that remain. The Temple of Heaven is a great place to start, and is the largest conﬂuence of buildings dedicated to worship in the country. Also, not to be missed, is the White Cloud Taoist Temple; one of the oldest, and yet still active, Taoist temples to be found in China. Then there's the Temple of Confucius, which is just another stunning example of ancient religion and ritual.
5. Traditional Cuisine
Food in Beijing is not like the "Chinese food" that is to be found in your home country. Traditional Beijing fare, like roast duck and other succulent meats, was once considered imperial cuisine. Today, because so many Chinese people from the provinces have come to the city and brought their native foods, you get a nice blend of ancient Beijing mixed with rural Chinese ﬂavors. Also, because Beijing is the hub of China, there's a stunning array of foreign cuisines and exotic ﬂavors from all over the world.
6. Deluxe Hotels
Beijing is a serious business destination, and there's a lot of money and power that comes traveling through its borders. Because of this, there are numerous luxury hotels that must be seen to be believed. Whether for the upper crust businessman or leisurely traveler, these hotels come equipped with everything that is needed to have a pleasant stay in the city. With over 5,000 hotels to choose from, you're sure to ﬁnd something that suits your budget and tastes. Many of these hotels also come equipped with conference facilities.
7. Marvelous Transportation
Beijing is one of the largest transportation hubs in China, and has built a great network for creating links in all directions. You can be assured when paying a visit to the city that moving from the airport to the city, and then once within the city, you can use the subways, taxis and trains with incredible ease. There's also the option of using buses, but these aren't quite as convenient as the well-planned subway system.
8. Performance and Nightlife
There's something for everyone in Beijing. If you're looking to see a live performance, there's always the famous Beijing Opera, as well as dramatic performances in teahouses, and acrobatics. Chinese performers really do excel in the performing arts, such as classical ballet and traditional Chinese dancing. There's also an exciting nightlife where you can see live musical performances in the many clubs and cafes. The city doesn't sleep, in it's nice to visit the various pubs in Tianqiao. The Sanlitun Pub street is a nice choice if you're looking for more of a Westernized feel.
Qianmen Street used to be a thriving business centre in Beijing about 500 years ago, but today you'll ﬁnd some brand name shops. If you're particularly interested in gorgeous Chinese antiques, then a stroll down Liulichang Culture Street is going to be like paradise for you. Also notable is Silk Alley, where you'll ﬁnd souvenirs to take home to the family, as well as traditional Chinese dress and accessories. Keep in mind that it's important to haggle when buying bags, jewelry, scarves, and the like. It's a big part of this market culture, so don't be affraid to try. Lastly, don't forget about Women Street and Pearl Market.
10. Olympic Sites
Beijing was home to the 2008 games, and today, the unbelievable Olympic structures are still there as symbols of Chinese greatness, and the competitive spirit and national pride that the games inspired across the globe. Come celebrate the history of the games in Beijing's Olympic Village, and marvel at the grand buildings that speak of China's national pride.