Beijing is the capital of China, the most populous country in the world. Up until its formation as a republic in 1911, it was the seat of the emperors from the great Ming and Qing dynasties which date back over 600 years ago. During this time some of the most majestic buildings in the city were built including the famous Forbidden City and the Temple of Heaven.
THINGS TO DO AND SEE IN BEIJING
- There are a huge number of fantastic palaces, temples and museums in Beijing, and if you only visit one of them, then make it the Forbidden City in the Dongcheng district. During both the Ming (1403-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties, it was the location of the imperial court and the most important building in the city. It now serves as one of Beijing’s most popular and visited palaces.
- Also found in Dongcheng district is the largest square in the world - Tiananmen Square. The square is a huge expanse surrounded by governmental buildings including the Chairman Mao Memorial Hall, Museum of the Chinese Revolution and the Great Hall of the People.
- The Temple of Heaven is the symbol of Beijing and can be found in the Chongwen District. During the dynasties, the emperor prayed here each year for a good harvest and favourable weather. Surrounding the temple is a huge public park offering a great place to relax amongst the ancient trees and local residents practising tai chi.
- For those wanting to travel outside of Beijing, the Great Wall of China can be reached at Badaling within a 1 hour train journey. It gets very busy here with tourists so it is worth allowing plenty of time and refreshments to give yourself every opportunity to see the Great Wall itself. The wall is actually a series of 4 walls build at different periods throughout Chinas turbulent history starting from the Qin dynasty 221 BC and ending with the Ming dynasty in 1644.
EATING OUT & NIGHTLIFE IN BEIJING
Beijing offers good opportunities to eat well and also cheaply from street stalls to bars and restaurants where the locals eat. Some local dishes to try include savoury pancakes make from eggs sold from carts on the street; Beijing roast duck traditionally served with pancakes, plum sauce and slithers of cucumber and scallions; and mutton hotpot including spicy version and vegetarian options.
GETTING AROUND IN BEIJING
When travelling in Beijing, it is a good idea to have with you the names of the places you want to visit in Chinese characters as it may not be easy finding someone who speaks your language fluently on your travels. The Beijing subway is a good way to discover the city serving the 4 districts within the inner city ring-road. Just try to avoid rush hour times which are likely to be extremely crowded – more than you can imagine. If you’re relying on a map of the city, don’t take it entirely for granted as it is not uncommon for maps to be slightly out of date even before they are printed with the city changing as such an incredible pace.
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