As one of the world’s great ancient capitals
And the capital city of the world’s upcoming second superpower, Beijing is the most important and interesting Chinese city, both for tourism and for appreciating China.
- Ancient: Since Beijing has been the main power center in the region for the last 600 years, it has six UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Three stand out for popularity: the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, and the Temple of Heaven.
- Modern: Beijing has an air of prestige that you have to go there to understand. Great power and wealth is concentrated there, as shown by the monumental modern buildings.
- Cultural: Beijing is one of China’s cultural hubs, with its own duck dish, opera, housing style, dialect…
- Ease of access: Beijing has a huge international airport from which you can tour the area for 6 days visa-free. Though traffic congestion is notorious, good planning and a good subway can avoid it. From Beijing, it is easy to travel by plane or direct bullet train to most major China destinations.
- Walk the Great Wall: On Trip Advisor in 2018, the top #1 and #3 things to do in Beijing are visiting the Mutianyu and Badaling Great Wall sections.
- Explore the Forbidden City: the second most popular attraction in Beijing. It is hard to get an idea of the great size of the imperial palace until you are in it.
- Savor the Summer Palace — where one palace was forbidding, this one is inviting! Wander where the royals relaxed in the warmer months.
- Discover the enchanting hutongs. Sightsee, shop, and dine in ancient residential and shopping streets.
- Enjoy entertainment that’s some of the best in the East — acrobatics and martial arts performances, Beijing opera, …
- Dine on duck, Peking style, and other tasty Beijing cuisine.
When best to go: Summers in Beijing are hot and humid, and winters are cold and dry. Although you could travel Beijing throughout the year, autumn is the most recommended season to visit for the relatively comfortable temperatures and the scenic beauty.
Beijing’s air quality is notorious in the winter, so if you have asthma or other respiratory issues, go at other times of the year. Spring dust storms are also a nuisance.
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