Beijing is the capital of China and a great holiday destination to get a flavor of Asian culture. This city has the highest population in the world but that doesn't stop people from flocking to see its many attractions each year. For a history tour, visit the ancient Forbidden City complex which was home to the past Ming and Qing emperors of China. No trip to Beijing is complete without seeing the Great Wall of China on the outskirts of the city.
The locals in Beijing speak English but prefer not to; if you know some basic Chinese, you can understand the public signs and appreciate the culture of the city more. The best way to explore Beijing is to set up base in either Chaoyang or Haidian; both areas have interesting sights and activities for tourists, plenty of hotels and rental apartments and a network of subways, buses and taxis connecting them to other parts of the city.
Chaoyang, a large distric in Beijing
Chaoyang is a large north-eastern district in Beijing containing the Central Business District (CBD). The Olympic Green was built here to host the 2008 Olympics in Beijing; the National Stadium and the National Aquatics Center, more popularly called the Bird's Nest and Water Cube
respectively, are must-see venues although there are others spread across Chaoyang. This area does not have many cultural attractions or heritage monuments but it is a happening place filled with art galleries, shopping malls and nightclubs and restaurants; speaking of which, you must try the world-famous Beijing roast duck here.
Haidian, home of the worlds most beautiful imperial garden
Haidian is a lesser-visited area to the north-west of Beijing where you can escape from the crowds and pollution. The most important attraction here is the Summer Palace
, which is the world's most beautiful imperial garden. It was built beside the serene Kunming Lake by the ancient Qing emperors as a summer retreat from the Forbidden City's unbearable heat. Follow the walking trails amidst lush greenery to see the ruins of the palace and its temples and pavilions. The Beijing Botanical Gardens in Hiadian are a vast expanse filled with greenery and flowers; it is most beautiful in the spring with tulips, peonies, and peach and plum blossoms everywhere. For relaxation, you can have a picnic at the Fragrant Hills nearby or attend a cultural performance at the Haidian Theater. Here, the main hall has a 1000-seat capacity and state-of-the-art modern equipment. The combination of the talented artistes, their myriad expressions and colorful costumes makes for some vivid entertainment.
Once you settle into your comfortable Beijing apartment
in Chaoyang or Haidian, you can venture out to get a taste of Beijing and come home enriched with new experiences.