Beijing (population: 21 million) might get a rap because of its smog, dust, pollution levels and dirty rivers, but that doesn’t stop the city from attracting millions of visitors with its soulful ambition, steeped history and magnificent culture. It is one of the ideal places to see China’s lunge into the future as well as the perfect place to explore its rich and glorious past.
Imperialism Meets Ambition
Few places on earth can offer the kind of history that Beijing boasts of. The city has as many as 6 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and at its very heart lies the fabledForbidden Kingdom, a palace unlike any other. Beautiful temples such as theTemple of Heaven and the Yonghe Temple, the Great Wall, the Summer Palace,Tiananmen Square, Ming Tombs, ancient alleyways, everything finds a place here.And just when you make the mistake of thinking Beijing to be a historic city,it leaves you mesmerized with its futuristic architecture, cosmopolitan delights and modern innovations.
When to Go
Avoid visiting Beijing during the summer months as the temperatures have a tendency to soar to unimaginable heights. The ideal time to visit Beijing is between the months of May to June and September to October.
How to Get Around
Cycling is by far the best way of exploring particular neighborhoods in Beijing. For everything else, use the taxi.
Tours and activities in Beijing
Beijing is the capital city and the political, educational, and cultural center of China. With a rich 3000-year-old history and a rapidly modernizing infrastructure, Beijing is a unique combination of the ancient and the ultra-modern. No other city in the nation attracts more travelers than does Beijing.
Top 3 attractions in Beijing:
- No visit to Northern China is complete without a trip to the Great Wall. At over 21,000 km long, the wall has been described as the "Greatest Human Feat in History”. Built over a period from 206 BCE -1644 AD, the Longest Wall in the World is impressive, unbelievable and overwhelming.
- Enter the Forbidden City - the largest palatial structure in the world. It was built between 1406 AD and 1420 AD and had been home to 24 emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties. You can see the royal courts, gardens and palaces, of which there are more than 90 in this 72-hectare complex.
- Explore Tian'anmen Square – one of the largest public square in the world which can easily fit a million people. The Square is mainly composed of the National Flagpole in the north, the Monument to the People’s Heroes and the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong in the middle, the beautiful Zhengyang Gate in the south and is surrounded by a host of world class sights from the Forbidden City to China's National Museum.
Other things to do and see in Beijing:
The Climate of Beijing:
- China has a rich history and the museums in Beijing inform us about the accomplishments of this ancient civilization and important events in its long history. Popular museums include Beijing Capital Museum, National Museum, Beijing Museum of Natural History, the Chinese Aviation Museum, China National Film Museum, and China Science and Technology Museum.
- A must-see for art buffs is the 798 Art District, also known as Dàshanzi. This vast area of disused factories built by the East Germans is Beijing’s main concentration of contemporary art galleries.
- Satisfy your gastronomic curiosity by sampling some of Beijing’s cuisines like Jiaozi (Chinese Dumplings), Tudou Si (Shredded Potato), Mongolian Hotpot, Donkey Burger and Tuckahoe Pie; not forgetting Beijing’s best-known culinary export, the Peking Duck.
- After a hectic day of sightseeing and tours, it’s a good time for a little spiritualty in one of dozens of Taoist and Buddhist temples in Beijing like the Temple of the Sun, Lama Temple, Jietai Temple, White Cloud Taoist Temple, the Temple of Heaven and Tanzhe Temple.
- Beijing has a dry, monsoon-influenced, humid continental climate
- Summers (June-August) in Beijing are hot and humid. 75% of the annual precipitation is concentrated during this time of the year. The average high temperatures are 30°C and average low temperatures are 20°C.
- Winters (December-February) are cold and dry with occasional snowfall. Average temperatures reach 3°C during the day and falls to -7.7°C overnight.
- During the Spring and Autumn, the highs are 18-19°C in the afternoon with overnight lows of 6-7°C. These are the best times of the year to visit Beijing as the temperatures are mild with very little rain and plenty of sunshine.
- The official currency of China is Renminbi (Yuan) and most businesses will not accept foreign currencies. Those that do might give you a lower exchange-rate than the banks. Hence, it is advisable that you change currency beforehand.
- China is predominantly a cash society so dealing in real money is the easiest and the most efficient way to do business. However, it is smart to carry a credit card (Visa or MasterCard) that can be used in China.
Beijing is and has always been important and highly influential in China's history. Every monument, building or structure has at least some historical significance. Beijing has been the capital of China for over 850 years and is one of the Four Great Ancient Capitals of China. A visit to Beijing is a trip through thousands of years of history, all the way to the present technological age.