Beijing City Guide
Beijing, which is also known as Peking, is the capital of People’s Republic of China. This vibrant city was the focal point of the world’s eyes in August 2008 when it puts on a spectacular show for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad. The Beijing summer Olympic Games went down in history as not only the most expensive but also the most well-planned and executed games in the history of the Olympics. These games helped created a huge interest in the Chinese capital city, which is home to over 16 million people.
Beijing, whose name translates as ‘northern capital’, is a modern city with a skyline peppered with towering skyscrapers. However, aside from these modern edifices, Beijing encompasses many cultural and historical attractions like the Great Wall, Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, the Summer Palace and the remains of the Peking man at Zhoukoudian. Many of these famed Beijing sites are UNESCO endorsed world heritage sites that are exceedingly popular with the hordes of tourists who nowadays choose to book a vacation in Beijing.
Where to stay in Beijing
Beijing is currently equipped with numerous luxury hotels, many of which were built to provide accommodation for visitors during the Olympic Games. Fare Buzz can secure attractive Beijing luxury hotel deals for you; no matter when you need to visit Beijing. Moreover these luxury hotel rooms are usually equipped with a whole host of amenities like flat screen TVs, iPod Docks and much more. Some of the more popular accommodation choices in Beijing include areas like:-
The Back Lakes(Hou Hai)
The Back Lakes area of Beijing is located around the city’s Hou Hai Lake. This area hosts many hotels that cater to every budget. Hou Hai offers a unique ambience of the co-existence of the old and the new and is popular with families who tend to enjoy the many attractions of the lakeside.
Beijing City Center
This area is located within walking distance to prominent attractions like the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square and Wanfujing Dajie. The city center offers a wide range of hotels that range from ultra-luxury to discount hotels and budget accommodation options. This area of Beijing is perhaps the most popular accommodation option of visitors to the city.
The area of Chaoyang, which is located near the diplomatic enclave in Beijing, plays host to some of the city’s top-end luxury hotels and if you have a penchant for the highest standards of service, then perhaps the Chaoyang area of Beijing should get your vote for you stay in Beijing. More luxury hotels are located within the southern-half of the district, which is home to the Central Business District and many glitzy malls.
Places to see in Beijing
The Forbidden City
The Forbidden City is made up of complex network of buildings and is the premier attraction of Beijing. The Forbidden City, which is known as Gu Gong in Chinese, served as the Imperial Palace during the Ming and Qing dynasties. These buildings were built to shield the Chinese emperors and their entourages from the prying eyes of the common public. The 800 buildings of the Forbidden City, which have 9,999 rooms, are constantly being restored so that they are fit to be visited by the hordes of tourists, who visit Beijing to sight-see. The Forbidden City was declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1987.
The Summer Palace
The Summer Palace, which is located in northwest Beijing at Kunming Lake, is a masterpiece of Chinese garden design. This landmark is a UNESCO world heritage site was built by Emperor Qianlong in 1750. The Palace was destroyed by the war of 1860 and was rebuilt on its original site in 1866. The Summer Palace served as an Imperial residence until the death of Empress Dowager Cixi in 1908. The palace and its gorgeous gardens are open to visitors who generally enter through the East Palace Gate in order to gain access to various attractions like the Hall of Benevolent Longevity, the Hall of Jade Ripples, and the Hall of Joyful Longevity and Empress Cixi’s private theatre in the Garden of Moral Harmony.
The infamous attraction of Tiananmen Square is the largest square of the world. This square is quite pedestrian and has been the epicenter of many historic events over the ages. During the Cultural Revolution, launched by Chairman Mao in the late 1960’s the square was used for the review of military parades. In recent times, however, the square was the site of a pro-democracy rally that was staged by Chinese students in 1989. Tiananmen Square is surrounded by several monuments like the old gates to the Forbidden City, the Gate of Heavenly Peace and the Chinese Revolution Museum.
The Great Wall
The Great Wall of China, China’s most famous attraction is visible from several areas of Beijing. While some sections of the wall can be seen at Yanqing County, which is located in northwest Beijing, other sections can be seen at Jinshanling, Mutianyu and Simatai. The Great Wall of China is included in the list of the Seven Wonders of World and is a UNESCO endorsed World Heritage site.
The Beihei Park
The Beihei Park is an old world park, which consists of a traditionally landscaped Imperial garden built and added to by five Chinese dynasties. This tranquil park is littered with artificial hills, quaint pavilions and carved temples and is well worth a visit on any trip to Beijing.
The Beijing National Stadium
The Beijing National Stadium, which is also referred to as the Bird’s Nest due to its unusual appearance is Beijing’s newest attraction and was constructed for the 2008 Olympic Games. This stadium hosted the jaw dropping opening and closing ceremonies of the games as well as the many track and field events. Today, the stadium is Beijing’s offers public tours of its facilities and hosts a ski resort within its boundaries.
Best time to visit Beijing
Beijing’s climate is influenced by the monsoons of East Asia and the city experiences hot, humid summers during the months of July and August. Heavy afternoon downpours are a common occurrence during the Beijing summers.
The Chinese capital actually experiences four distinct seasons and has cold, dry and brisk winters, which are characterized by much snowfall. Average temperatures during the winter months register -3.7 °C (25.3 °F) while mean summer temperatures are approximately 26.2 °C (79.2 °F). The autumn and spring seasons in Beijing are quite brief though they are considered to be the best time to plan a visit to Beijing.
Getting around in Beijing
Beijing is served by its state of the art Beijing Capital International Airport, which is located 28 km north of Beijing. The airport was upgraded for the Olympics and is easily accessible from various parts of the world. Fare Buzz routinely offers flight deals for Beijing and if you are planning to vacation in the Chinese capital city anytime soon, you should explore the various cheap air tickets that we offer for Beijing periodically.
Beijing’s airport is connected to the city center by metered taxis and shuttle buses. The city’s entire public transport system was overhauled for the Olympics and the best way to get around in the Chinese capital is on the subway system which is efficient and extensive.
Beijing’s subway system operates from 5am to midnight though it is quite crowded with office goers during peak commuting hours. The city also has an extensive and inexpensive bus system, which is not very easily navigable by foreigners unless they are proficient in Mandarin. Even when using metered taxis in Beijing, it is always wise to have your destination written in Mandarin as most taxi drivers in Beijing do not speak English.
If you rather not use public transport and are desirous of renting a car for the duration of your stay in Beijing, you are going to be in for a surprise. Most car rentals in Beijing come equipped with a chauffeur who usually knows his way around the city and can deal with Beijing’s traffic situation that can be very daunting for a foreigner.
Fare Buzz can easily arrange an affordable car rental for your visit to Beijing and the reservation for your Beijing car rental can be made at the same time that you make your other travel bookings with Fare Buzz.
Where to shop in Beijing
Beijing offers a fantastic experience for enthusiastic shoppers at its many markets, malls, upscale boutiques and department stores that offer a gamut of products like traditional arts and crafts, antiques and antiquities, cashmere and silk apparel, foods and beverages and much more.
Popular shopping locales in Beijing include spots like the Panjiayuan Antiques Market, a daily market often referred to as a treasure trove of ‘finds’ and Liulichang Street and Yandai Xiejie, both outdoor markets populated with small stores that sell books, curios, antiques and other knick-knacks situated within ancient neighborhoods of the city.
For cheap and cheerful finds in Beijing try areas like Nan Luo Gu Xiang- a backpacker’s enclave filled with budget accommodations, cool stores, hip cafes and restaurants. Also worth visiting is Xuishui (Silk Street Market), a five-storey tall shopping center which is crammed with cheap shopping options.
For more upscale shopping, try the Sanlitun Village Shops enclave which features outlets of leading western fashion and lifestyle brands. Another must-visit shopping area in Beijing is Wangfujing Dajie, Beijing’s very own version of the Champs-Élysées, which lies east of the Forbidden City and hosts many souvenir stores, clothing outlets, fast-food restaurants and the city’s ‘best’ malls and department stores like Beijing APM, Oriental Plaza, Beijing Department Store and the One World Department Store.
Where to eat in Beijing
Beijing’s culinary repertoire features a wide range of local and international fare. The city is home to numerous restaurants that cater to all tastes and budgets. Some of the ‘best’ restaurants in Beijing currently include eateries like Tiandi, Cuisine Cuisine and Da Dong ( all offering Chinese fine dining), Maison Boulud à Pékin and Temple Restaurant Beijing(both French), New Feitengyuxiang (Sichuan), Inagiku and Bei(Japanese), La Pizza and Barolo(Italian), Starfish(seafood), Migas(Spanish), Ssam (Korean) and Susu(Vietnamese).
In addition to the above mentioned eateries, Beijing is also equipped with outlets of most popular US fast-food chains like KFC, Starbucks, Subway, Pizza Hut and T.G.I.F which offer menus that are customized to cater to local tastes.
Nightlife in Beijing
Beijing’s nightlife scene is quite a revelation. The city has a dynamic nightlife scene which offers bars, clubs, live-music spots, karaoke bars, lounges and more. Live-music is immensely popular and Beijing is littered with several venues that periodically host local and international live-music acts. Popular live music venues in Beijing include Mao Live House, Yugong Yishan, 2 Kolegas, Salud and XP. As for bars and clubs, Beijing’s main nightlife areas like Sanlitun Bei Lu situated in the eastern section of the city offers a multitude of bars and clubs. En vogue Beijing nightclub haunts currently include boîtes like Haze, Lantern Box, Le Nest, Babyface and Elements.