Beijing is one of those interesting cities where the glitter and glamour of modernity sits alongside relics of the ancient world. Indeed, in Beijing you will find some of the world’s most innovative modern buildings including the 2008 Olympic Stadium and six UNESCO World Heritage Sites. With a great culinary scene, lively nightlife and a wealth of cultural attractions, it is easy to see why China’s capital is on so many travellers’ bucket lists.
Beijing has a good selection of accommodation options available. At the top end of the spectrum, travellers will find luxury hotels which offer attentive service and stunning views of the cityscape. On the other hand, if you are keen to stay somewhere big on traditional charm, be sure to check out Beijing’s courtyard hotels. These are traditional houses which have been transformed into small, intimate hotels.
For those on a tight budget, there are a range of cheap hostels and basic hotels. While they will not offer all of the facilities travellers may want, they promise a cheap but comfortable stay.
What to Do in Beijing
With so many exciting things to see and do in Beijing, travellers will have to plan their trip carefully. The rest of this guide outlines some of the city’s most popular attractions.
At the top of many travellers’ itineraries is the Forbidden City. The Forbidden City is situated in the heart of Beijing and is the largest palace complex in the world. The palace takes its ominous name form the fact that it was strictly off-limits for half a century. Today, the palace is open up to the public and houses the impressive Palace Museum.
Although the rumour that the Great Wall of China is the only manmade structure to be seen from space is a myth, spanning more than 3,000 miles, the Great Wall of China is still impressive. Many visitors on holiday in Beijing make a trip to the nearby Badáling stretch of the wall. This part of the wall dates back to the 14th Century and features cable cars, a museum and beautiful views of the surround landscape.
The Temple of Heaven is arguably Beijing’s most striking place of worship. The temple (technically an altar) dates back to the 15th Century and was once the prayer space of emperors. The Temple of Heaven is divided into three main sections: The Imperial Vault of Heaven, The Circular Mound Altar and the Hall of Prayer For Good Harvests. In addition, to exploring the buildings, be sure to visit the temple’s manicured parks.
The Beijing Zoo is a popular destination for animal lovers and those on holiday with children. What makes this zoo extra special is that it dedicated to showcasing animals native to China such as giant pandas and snow leopards.