Beijing is the 3rd largest city in the world and the 2nd biggest in China. The city is 3 thousand years old and is the cultural, political and educational heart of the country. The three major rivers of this vast city of 23 million souls are the Choabai, Yongding and the Juma. The north China plain opens onto the south and east while the mountainous north protects the city from the desert sands although the city is subject to dust storms. January has a low of -4c although very sunny rising to about 27c in August that sees the three quarters of the annual rainfall in the monsoon months. Huge steps at no little cost have been taken to improve the city’s air pollution and it is proving effective. It’s a fantastic holiday destination for anyone who wants to get a real sense of life in China.
HOW TO GET THERE.
Situated 20KM northeast of the city is Beijing Capital International Airport the second busiest airport in the world and is served by numerous transit links to the center. Since fairly recently you can obtain a 72 hour, visa free, stay in Beijing if you are from countries such as The E.U, the U.S.A and Canada among others. The Transit Stay Permits are stamped from the time of issue rather than the flight arrival time however the visitor may not leave the capital for any other Chinese destination during that period. You have to apply to the nearest Chinese or through an agent for all other visas.
WHAT TO EAT.
Chinese and food go hand in glove and there is no shortage of choice. Specialist food streets are abundant and sit together with more formal restaurants. Fangzhuang Street is modern with great facilities and many large restaurants including some western venues. For the hotter dishes go to Guang’anmen Street and for the more eclectic it’s the commercial area’s Xiaoyun road. For the traditional visit Qianmen Street with eateries that have been there for a hundred years.
WHAT TO SEE.
Being such a vast city there is so much to see and do so it is important that after a long day sightseeing your hotel is comfortable. There are a huge choice of 5 star hotels to be had and research is essential as they cater for a multitude of tastes. First on many visitors list is the magnificent Forbidden City. Dating back to the Ming dynasty. It is surrounded by the exceptional Imperial Gardens, which are considered the ultimate examples of the art of Chinese gardening. Lying beside the ancient city is Tiananmen Square, Moa Zedong’s Mausoleum, the Great Hall of the People, the National Museum of China and so much more. The UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Summer Palace and the Old Summer Palace feature a stunning series of Imperial gardens and were holiday homes to the Qing dynasty. Not to be missed are the temples of Heaven, Earth, Sun and Moon among many other examples spread across the city. As well as several pagodas there are parks and historical bridges including the 12th century Lugou Bridge as well as the Beijing Ancient Observatory.
Shopping could not be easier in the city. All the big names are there but try one of the massive Wholesale Stores which sell many of the famous brands at vastly reduced prices. After a hard day of shopping and sightseeing your choice of one of the 5 star Beijing hotels will seem even more important.