Beijing is a city of a million moods, a thousand faces. A city as much of laptops and glitzy discos as of sumptuous palaces, serene gardens and bustling bazaars. Politically, spiritually and culturally, Beijing is the heart of China.
Beijing, though the stronghold of the Communists, has seen a capitalist boom in the past few years, and all the trappings of new-found wealth are to be seen here - cell phones, smart shopping malls, expensive cars. It has the bright lights, the wide roads and flyovers, the modern comforts of cities like Hong Kong- but at the same time, Beijing has an underlying tradition to it. Scratch the surface, and you'll see signs of authentic China- tai-chi, quiet gardens, birdsong, flowers, gentle music. For most tourists, Beijing is the perfect place to spend a few days- many of the country's most popular tourist sights (like the Great Wall) are readily accessible from Beijing, and within the city too are attractions by the dozen.
Start with Tienanmen Square, the unforgettable scene of China's biggest mass movements. Next on the agenda is the amazing Forbidden City - the imperial capital, the ultimate in mystery and political intrigue. Outside the Forbidden City there are serene temples and quiet gardens, where people practise tai-chi on misty mornings. Wander through the beautiful Summer Palace, or the 290 hectares of lake, hills, flowers and trees known as the Royal Gardens. Head out of town to Badaling, the section of the Great Wall closest to the capital; or Zhoukoudian Village, where the famed `Peking Man' was discovered.
There's plenty to occupy yourself with in the city of Beijing. Shop for silk and painted ceramics, relax in a tea house with a soothing cup of Chinese tea, or stroll through a busy street, drinking in the sounds, the sights, and the smells of this fascinating city. Get educated in the arts at a performance of elegant Chinese opera, or let your hair down at a sleek disco.
Discover Beijing- the city of a million faces.