Beijing from Financial Street
Beijing skyline looking east from the Financial Street. Taken by Flickr user ahenobarbus (CC BY 2.0) via Wikimedia Commons.

Beijing (literally meaning Northern Capital) is one of the world’s most magnificent cities, spanning almost 17,000 square km and with a population of 11 million.  Located in the northeast of the Chinese mainland, the city is on the edge of the Inner Mongolian Highlands, lies 70 miles west of the Bohai Sea and has five rivers running through it. The capital of modern China and also five imperial dynasties throughout Chinese history, Beijing is both a relic of China’s fascinating past and an exciting hub of political power, economic development and modern Chinese culture.

The city hosts a collection of amazing cultural sites with the capital itself being an integral part of Chinese history.  Every year sites like The Great Wall, The Forbidden City, Summer Palace, Tiananmen Square, The Temple of Heaven and the Bell Ringing Tower attract countless numbers of visitors and travelers to this incredible metropolis.  For those who wish to glimpse back into Beijing’s past there are also the Hutong (old style Chinese alleys) connecting Shiheyuan (traditional Chinese courtyard houses). This means merely talking a walk through one of Beijing’s beautiful neighborhoods can also be a memorable experience as tourists can soak up the city’s culture in these types of open air museums.  As well as these ancient treasures the city is a gallery of impressive modern architecture such as the Birds Nest Stadium, the Water Cube Building and the imposing Soviet style administrative buildings lining Tiananmen Square.  Beijing is also a hub for creativity and the arts with many of China’s renowned musicians, artists, writers, actors and directors hailing from the city.

One of the charms of Beijing is that there is always something to see and do.  Visitors can experience Chinese acrobatics performances, take part in traditional Chinese tea ceremonies or listen to contemporary music in one of the cities trendy bars or clubs.  The more adventurous traveler can try the national liquor Baijiu which is an acquired taste but an effective way of keeping warm on cold Beijing winter nights none the less.  The capital is also the home to the national treasure Peking Opera with performances being extremely popular and available throughout the city.  For more modern arts the 789 Art Zone is an exhibition center that displays China’s contemporary talent, also hosting an annual festival.  Visitors can also try one of Beijing’s most delicious delicacies – Beijing Roast Duck a wonderful slow roasted duck served with pancakes and sweet dipping sauce.  Some venues such as the Li Qun Roast Duck Restaurant in the city have become institutions with over 100 years of history in Beijing.

Local people in Beijing are warm, friendly and used to receiving and entertaining foreigners from abroad.  Many people who travel to the city for either business or tourism leave having made lasting connections and friendships.  Whatever their reasons to visit this incredible and unique capital, visitors are guaranteed an exceptional and unforgettable stay.  When questioned about his travels in Beijing and China Marco Polo famously said, “I have not told you half of what I saw.”  Truly the only way for travelers to understand this wonderful city and all it has to offer is to come and experience it for themselves.

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