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Beijing, the capital of China, has established its cultural and political center status for its long history and authority. Despite the past tramp revolution and present face-lifting renovation, intricacies of the Chinese traditional original charm still can be felt via a little patient exploration.

Beijing map
Great Wall
Tiananmen Square
Temple of Heaven
Bird's Nest

In the past 3,000 years, this city has served as capital of six imperial dynasties, and houses a huge amount of historical and cultural treasures. Though in the past decades since China's reform and opening up, Beijing has undergone fanatical construction and redevelopment, it remains the heart of tradition with dazzling heritages of ancient Chinese civilization still on the sight. An ancient north-south axis runs down the center of Beijing, and along it you can find the majority of the city's most famous landmarks.

Everyday people come from all over the world to see the symbolic imagery of Beijing: the Forbidden City, the expansive palace complex of former emperors that is claimed to be the biggest current existing palace complex worldwide and now one of the greatest museums in the world; Tiananmen Square, the world's biggest city square surrounded by magnificent buildings such as the Great Hall of the People, Mao's Memorial Hall, etc.; and the Temple of Heaven, a holy place famous for its exquisite design and construction.

But apart from these landmarks, hundreds or even thousands of historic sites, museums, theaters as well as all sorts of restaurants and shopping malls will keep you busy visiting all the time.

The former imperial parks and gardens, for example, are great places for you to have a relaxing stroll and enjoy some peaceful moments. Depicted to be the masterpieces of Chinese gardening art, Beihai, Jingshan, Zhongnanhai, Shichahai and Zhongshan are the parks surrounding the Forbidden City and are all popular tourist destinations.

You can also take a trishaw and visit around hutongs and quadrangles that are the traditional dwelling of Beijing locals. Many of them have been flattened during the modernization process, but there are still some well preserved and restored. Narrow alleys and single storey courtyard houses form the old Beijing neighborhoods, giving people a chance to see how the old communities lived. The Prince Gong Mansion is the most representative quadrangle in Beijing's hutongs.

Tasting the famous Beijing Roast Duck is essential on the trip. The renowned roast duck brand Quanjude attracts diners from everywhere in China, but according to the Beijing locals, Da Dong Roast Duck Restaurant (southwest of Dongsishitiao Bridge) offers the most authentic flavor. Other famous local dishes like Kung Pao Chicken and Mutton Hotpot are definitely worth trying as well.

After a big dinner, you may go to Houhai or Sanlitun, the most bustling places filled with various bars and pubs, where you can experience the colorful nightlife in the city; or you can go to the Olympic Park to appreciate the shining Olympic stadiums such as the Bird's Nest and the Water Cube. Anyways, the city will always have something to delight you eventually.

  • Air quality: ★★★☆☆
  • Foreigner-friendly degree: ★★★★★
  • Public security degree: ★★★★
  • Hygienic degree: ★★★★
  • Traffic jam degree: ★★★★★
  • Internationalization level: ★★★★★
  • Consumption level: ★★★★★
  • Language: Mandarin
  • Best traveling season: Sep. Oct.
  • Tourist resources: historic relics, culture, cityscape
  • Airport to downtown: 30 km
  • Demographics: Han (95.69%), Manchu (1.84%), Hui (1.74%)
  • Key words: imperial, prosperous, capital, Pecking duck, Beijing opera, cold, Hutongs, food.

Local Delicacies: Peking Roast Duck (Beijing Kaoya 北京烤鸭), Instant-Boiled Mutton (Shuan Yang Rou 涮羊肉), Fried Crisp Chicken (Xiang Su Ji 香酥鸡), Baked Sweet Potato (Kao Bai Shu 烤白薯), Twist of Dough (Mahua 麻花), New Year Cake (Nian Gao 年糕), Wonton (Hun Dun 馄饨), Focal Circle Cake (Jiao Quan 焦圈), Soybean Flour Cake (Dou Mian Gao 豆面糕) and other local snacks.

Local Specialities: Beijing Preserved Fruit (Beijing Guo Fu 北京果脯), Beijing Royal Jelly (Feng Wang Jing 北京蜂王精), Beijing Autumn Cream (Qiu Li Gao 北京秋梨膏), Fuling Cake (Fu Ling Jia Bing 茯苓夹饼), Liubiju Pickles (Liubiju Jiangcai 六必居酱菜), Beijing Cloth Shoes (Beijing Bu Xie 北京布鞋), Beijing Lacquer Engraving (Beijing Diaoqi 北京雕漆), Cloisonne (Jing Tai Lan 景泰蓝), Mentougou Walnut Seed (Mentougou Da He Tao 门头沟大核桃), Beijing Roast Duck (Beijing Kaoya 北京烤鸭), Wangzhihe Preserved Bean Curd (Wangzhihe Fu Ru 王致和腐乳).

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