Beijing needs little or no introduction. As the capital of China, Beijing, or Peking as it was known until recently, is a city that has enthralled travellers, armchair or otherwise, for centuries.
Beijing means 'Northern Capital' and the characters have remained consistent. We in the West only noticed a change because of a different method of transliteration.is the corresponding 'Southern Capital'.
Beijing is most famous for its sites dating back to Imperial times. The, and all rate as world class attractions, as does the , sections of which are easily accessible from Beijing.
There are also many more modern sites such as theand , the Bird's Nest and Watercube on the Beijing Olympic site and the revamped Qianmen Street.
With so many famous attractions in Beijing it is hard to find time to go to lesser ones. There are many that are worthwhile if you have a particular interest or just like to be different. Ouritinerary includes a range of these.
Whatever else you decide to do in Beijing, don't forget to sample a wide range of the foods. There are many great restaurants and lots of delicious street foods that are far safer than guidebooks would have you believe.
Most visitors are amazed by the sheer scale of Beijing. A glance at a map does not prepare you for the actual size of the blocks and therefore it is easy to underestimate the distances involved in travelling between sites. Add to that the ever increasing traffic congestion and you will find that your plans for a quick visit leave you short-changed.
Most people make for thearea first. You can easily get there by taxi or metro. (We suggest the latter as the sooner you become acquainted with this system the better. It is cheaper and often faster than travel above ground; just try to avoid peak times.)
Tiananmen Square offers a good example of the scale we talked about above. It also offers a good chance of the types of encounter that are so typical in China:
Whilst in Beijing make sure that you try some of the tasty street food. If you feel adventurous you can always head off to the night markets at the north end of Wanfujing Dajie for exotica (mostly sea-creatures and insects on-a-stick) but there is no need to put yourself to such extremes. The dumplings and pancakes available in small shops and off street stalls are definitely palatable and make for a good breakfast if one was not included at your hotel.