Know as the capital of China, Beijing has been home to Mongol, Ming and Qing emperors. There are few cities in China that can boast a history as dramatic or turbulent as Beijing does. In recent history, Beijing has been razed to the ground many times yet has always risen from the ashes, shaken off the dust and reasserted its authority as the capital of a far-flung country that’s now home to 1.4 billion people.
Despite all that history, Beijing is now in the spotlight as never before. With China’s rapid growing economy and the successful staging of Olympics in 2008, Beijing has won the world’s attention. Nowadays Beijingers are growing accustomed to the ever-increasing number of foreigners who are coming to see what all the fuss is about.
First-time visitors will be dazzled by the contrasts available in Beijing. New buildings appear almost overnight, the roads are jammed with the latest cars and the streets are full of fashionably dressed men and women with mobile phones clamped to their ears. Vast shopping malls are home to exclusive foreign brands and the city’s clubs jump to the latest Western sounds.
But turn off the main roads into the hutong, it is as if you’ve stepped back in time. Hawkers ride through the alleys on bicycle carts shouting their wares, old men and women step out in their Mao suits and people squat the roadside to eat bowls of steaming noodles, to get their hair cut, to socialize or just watch the endless parade of humanity going by.
Must-Visit places of Beijing
The mix of past and present is visible everywhere in Beijing. It’s home to some of china’s most stunning and essential sights. Now here are some of the Must-See places in Beijing:
1.Tiananmen Square-The largest city-centre square in the world which witnessed some of the most dramatic chapters of China history.
2.Forbidden CityThe place where the Emperors of China resided for close to 500 years.
3.Temple of Heaven-The symbol of China Tourism, where the Emperor performed the most important rituals.
4.Great Wall-A series of stone and earthen fortifications in northern China which stretches over 6000 km.
5.Summer Palace-The largest and best-preserved imperial garden in China where Qing Emperors spent their summer time.
6.Ming Tombs-The burial ground of the 13 Ming Emperors,which cover an area of 40 square kilometer.
Visitors’ comments–To Hear What They Say
You can see some comments from other foreigners that have visited Beijing.
— For anyone traveling to Beijing, there are a few things you should know before you go. Beijing is beautiful and huge! You will be much better off stayiing at a Western chain hotel as they are more likely to speak some English, although this may have its limits. You must have a travel book with addresses of attractions you want to see written in Chinese characters. Taxi drivers that speak English are few and far between. Restaurants that are not associated with tourist will only have menus in Chinese so take a phrase book with you at all times.
— I have spent 7 days in Beijing, in Summer, 2007. Things I liked:Cheap cabs Fantastic value for price with hotels;Forbidden City;798 Arts District (allow a full day – they close on Mondays);The Sunday flea market ;Peking Duck Restaurants. Best thing is just looking at the Chinese people – the unsophisticated ones from the country.The Great Wall – very moving. This is worth the trip, even if everything else sucks. Things I didn’t like:Terrible smogVastness of the city -numerous times by prostitutes at night.
–The underground mall called Oriental Plaza is great – ultra high end – but why come all the way to China to shop as if you are in New York. Eating out is difficult – no English menus around and you never really know what it is you are eating. Not a user friendly city – it is very institutionalized in its look and feel – very hard edged – seeing hundreds of glass walled– Arrive at Hutongs for tour (took 5 mins) but end up in home of a hutong family. Since I was last here. Hutongs are now virtually unrecognizable. They’ve been cleaned up, widened, and generally made acceptable for foreigners. Family are wonderful. We are served tea and somehow or other chat. Mum does tapestries and the work is incredibly fine. A highlight.
— Temple of Heaven is a large complex that the Emperor came to once a year to pray for good harvests. There are several walkways and for once the Emperor didn’t take the middle one, that was for God – Marg and I did though, very godlike. It is a beautiful place and would be very peaceful if not for the tourists. What is striking here is that the tourists are 90% Chinese, most local, some overseas Chinese, they are visiting we are told, often in workgroups, to enjoy their heritage. Perhaps this is something we could encourage in our workgroups.
Find More Tips on Chinese Travel by Clicking the link.