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Beijing was previously called Peking and has changed its name 15 times. It is also one of the oldest cities in the world. With a history dating back 3,000 years, it still retains many well-preserved historical sites. It boasts an impressive seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
It is crowded with over 20 million residents, but it is not the most populated city in China even though it is the capital. That goes to Shanghai, which leads by around 4 million people. The seasons are extreme, with searing hot summers and freezing cold winters. Spring and fall temperatures are pleasant and a beautiful time to visit.
With so much to discover in the bustling city of Beijing, tours can be a great way to take in a bunch of important sights before venturing out on your own. Private or group tours are easy to book after you arrive, and if you research well, you can find some unique ones, such as the Beijing By Foot, which is a walking tour owned and personally led by historian Jeremiah.
The Forbidden City is the biggest imperial palace in the world. So you will need some time to fully explore this architectural wonder that took over 1,000,000 workers and 14 years to build. Home to 24 emperors during the Ming and Qing dynasties, the Forbidden City, includes Chinese architecture, gardens, museums and statues. Jingshan Park is within walking distance of the Forbidden City and a great place to see the site from the hill’s top.
Tiananmen Square is known for the free speech and democracy protests in 1989 that resulted in military action leaving hundreds of people, many students, dead. The square was also the site of many important events throughout history. You can visit Mao Zedong’s mausoleum and the National Museum of China to see an impressive collection of cultural relics.
Here are some more must-visit places:
With so many malls, markets and shops, you will spend hours shopping to collect unique items you won’t find anywhere else on your travels. You might like to see the pandas at Beijing Zoo and catch a Peking opera performance at the National Centre For Performing Arts. Don’t forget to spend some time wandering random streets to take photos of everyday life in China. Sometimes these unplanned off-the-beaten-track times are highlights of a trip.
The Great Wall of China is one of the seven wonders of the world and is a day trip most travelers make from Beijing. The Mutianyu section is about 1.5 hours from Beijing, with watchtowers and fortresses to admire during your hike of the area. Jinshanling, Jiankou, Simatai, Huanghuacheng, Gubeikou, Juyongguan, Huangyaguan, Shanhai Pass, and Badaling are all near Beijing and your local tour guide will be able to recommend the best area for your group.
The famous Peking duck originated in Beijing, so there is no better place to try the delicacy. Dumplings, beef with Hangzhou peppers, stir-fried kale, Mongolian hot pot, wild rice, Chongqing spicy chicken and braised pork belly are some typical delicious dishes you will find on many restaurant menus.
Black Sesame Restaurant is a great place to take a traditional Chinese cooking class. The popular restaurant closed and rebranded as a cooking school during the pandemic. It may reopen as a restaurant in the future.
King’s Joy near the Yonghe Temple is a popular spot to eat. If you are really hungry, the 14-course organic tasting menu will be sure to satisfy you. The restaurant has a sustainable, eco-friendly stance, so after 9 pm, the lights go out and you can enjoy your meal by candlelight. Often they have live music, such as a harpist playing romantic background music.
Beijing Haidilao Hot Pot (also known as Wangfujing) is the place to try traditional Chinese hot pot with vegetarian and vegan options available. See the chef make long noodles by hand in an impressive show of cooking skills and enjoy more dumplings than you need. Free shoeshine and nail care included – only in China!
With so many restaurants in Beijing, you are spoiled for choice. If you are unsure, just look to see where the locals hang out, and you can’t go wrong.
We know you would never leave home without your camera, travel insurance, money and basic medical supplies. As well as those, make sure you pack the following much-have items for your trip to Beijing in China.
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Be excited as you pack your bags for one of Asia’s most popular tourist destinations! You are destined for amazing adventures in Beijing.