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With its off the charts size and verging on ridiculous population – it’s two and a half that of London’s – Beijing may not be astounding beautiful, but it’s bold, it’s brash and it’s irrefutably big. Everything just seems supersized here. The world renowned Great Wall of China, that lies just north of the capital, is a whopping 21,196 km long, the formidably named Forbidden City consists of a an incredible 980 buildings and the city’s sleek, modern edifices have their heads stuck in the clouds. Or maybe it’s the smog, in this city they’re pretty much one and the same thing.
But as overwhelming as it may be, Beijing sure does know how to enthrall. Here, more icons will vie for your attention than anywhere else in China – it’s a place where the old is ancient and the new is science fiction new. Home to six UNESCO World Heritage Sites, you’ll truly be spoilt for choice when it comes to stepping back in time, whilst modern skyscrapers and a cutting edge contemporary art scene make this very much a city of contrasts. Which pretty much encapsulates the spirit of the China as a whole. Contradictions are rife in this forward-thinking, yet traditional country.
To get to grips with this city, you’re going to have to get a hold of yourself first. Queuing may be in your blood, but in Beijing you’ll need to sharpen those elbows and up your game – this is one of the busiest cities in the world and a lack of personal space will soon confirm that. Think Oxford Street on Christmas Eve. Yep, really. Prepare for queue jumpers, endless security checks and a whole lot of frazzling furore. But it is worth it, promise.
When it comes to dining options, you’re of course looking at traditional Chinese fare here. Often flavoursome and always chaotic, the key is to get stuck in – which means slurping your noodles and shovelling your rice. And if duck pancakes are the staple of your Friday night takeaway, you’re in luck. Oh so much better than the plastic-tupperware-parcelled version from your local, this Peking duck is the real deal. Think wafer thin pancakes, rich plum sauce and thinly sliced cucumber all paired with the headline-stealing meat. Only really serious veggies have an excuse not to tuck into this delight in its home city.
Home to some of the country’s biggest names, Beijing is the king – or emperor as it were – of China’s attractions. From marvelling at the enormity of the Great Wall to navigating the city’s labyrinth of traditional hutongs, this city is the real deal.
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With a history dating back nearly 2,700 years and still standing today at a staggering 21,196 km long, the Great Wall of China really is one of the world’s most mind-boggling attractions. Originally built to keep invaders out, ironically now it’s continually repaired in order to draw visitors in.Discover more
Dating back nearly 600 years, this walled city-within-a-city is one of the most important imperial palaces in China. Housing a whole host of Emperors from both the Ming and Qing dynasties and standing as everything that the founder of modern China, Chairman Mao, was against, the Forbidden City is the ultimate symbol of traditional power.Discover more
Pretty as a picture and a mandatory stop during any visit to Beijing, the Summer Palace – where emperors once came to play – is a serene spot, perfectly showcasing all things quintessentially Chinese. Think intricately designed ancient architecture backdropped by the lush verdure of picturesque gardens, all looking out over a charming lake.Discover more
Strikingly beautiful and drenched in rich imperial history, the Temple of Heaven is an integral legacy of traditional China. Built during the Ming Dynasty in 1420, the same year as the Forbidden City, you can expect plenty of old-school Chinese architecture sat within the tranquil grounds of its very own 267-hectare park.Discover more
Beijing is one of those cities that makes the mind boggle. It may be overwhelming as a whole, but get up close and personal with its detail and you’ll uncover its beauty. Raring to learn more? Have a read of our blogs to discover why Beijing will bowl you over.
Chinese food may be different, but it’s also very, very good.
From cocktails to mocktails, beer and wine, we’ve done the research for you and put together a list of the top 5 bars in Beijing we think are worth going out of your way for.
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