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Beijing Travel Guide

The political and cultural centre of China, Beijing has a rich history that's mirrored in its spectacular palaces, temples and parks. However, this doesn't mean that it's shackled to the past. Quite the contrary, Beijing is a vibrant international capital that's moving toward the future at hyper speed. Thanks to its roaring economy, skyscrapers crowd the skyline, cars jam the roads and residents flock to spend at a frenetic pace.

Beijing is a city of contrasts, vast neon-lit avenues coexist with narrow alleys and futuristic structures of titanium and glass cast their shadow over ancient palaces. Friendly and hardworking, the city's population of about 14 million is also diverse. Wizened men with pet songbirds share the streets with laptop-toting executives and foreign investors with migrants from the countryside. Along with its people, historical sites and vibrancy, Beijing's drawing cards include its mouthwatering cuisine, fabulous shopping and thriving nightlife. In short, a thrilling and unforgettable experience awaits visitors in Beijing.

Beijing Culture
For centuries Beijing has been a magnet for scholars, merchants and artists who have given Beijing a cultural life unrivalled in China. Beijing culture is a fusion of indigenous and imported traditions since the populace has always included provincials and ethnic minorities. Another factor to consider is the impact of the city's intellectuals on local culture. The capital has more colleges and universities than any other city in China, a reflection of its past as a centre of Confucian scholarship in imperial times. This concentration of thinkers has created an enthusiastic audience for literature, painting and the performing arts. As a result, the city has many museums, galleries, theatres and music halls.

Beijing's culture comes in many forms, from food to music, and from architecture to handicrafts. Eat Peking duck, visit the Temple of Heaven, meander in the old hutongs or check out a contemporary art show and you'll discover a unique milieu of new and old that is Beijing culture.

Perhaps the most original expression of local culture is Peking opera. A multidimensional art, Peking opera blends singing, music, dancing and acrobatics. Performers wear elaborate costumes and makeup that identifies their role be it from peasant to emperor, and character traits such as from selfless to selfish. The singers are accompanied by orchestras made up of traditional Chinese instruments, including two-stringed fiddles erhu and jinghu, lutes, drums and gongs. Plot lines are based on famous myths, well-known stories and historical events. Since the action can be hard for foreigners to follow, some theatres now provide English subtitles during the shows and offer abridged versions of operas. Several Beijing teahouses also stage scenes from famous operas interspersed with other traditional acts like magic shows, puppetry, and "cross-talk" (comic dialogues reminiscent of Abbott and Costello). Viewing such performances over tea and snacks is a classic Beijing experience. Likewise many visitors enjoy displays of Chinese martial arts and acrobatics, which are regularly held in local theatres.

If you want to witness local culture on a mass scale, nothing beats Beijing's 61 temple fairs. These are held in temples, parks and streets during the Spring Festival (Chinese New Year). Dating back to the Liao dynasty, the fairs mix the spiritual and the temporal. Families come in droves not only to burn incense and pray for good fortune, but also for the carnival atmosphere and performances. The temple fairs are gathering spots for acrobats, singers and dancers. They also attract artisans and merchants who sell an assortment of handicrafts and goods. Some fairs also offer rides and games of chance for those to try their new year's luck. For some visitors, the best reason to come is for the myriad stalls that serve up savoury snacks from around China. Beijing's most popular temple fairs are held in Temple of Earth, White Cloud Temple, and Changdian in the Liulichang antiques district.

Memorable Experiences from a Beijing Holiday

Taking a shortcut across the frozen Kunming Lake in the Summer Palace and admiring the snow-covered scenery from the top of Longevity Hill.

Spending the day exploring every passageway in the Forbidden City, then climbing to the top of Coal Hill for a panoramic view of the Forbidden City and downtown Beijing.

Renting a tandem bike and getting lost in the maze of around the Houhai and Qianhai areas.

Finally climbing up to what was the distant watch tower on the wild Great Wall on a warm spring day with clear blue skies and absolute silence.

Top Beijing Tours

City Tour in Essence of Beijing

  • Tour Code: BJ102
  • Days: 1
  • Destination: Beijing

From USD

Summary: One day classic Beijing city tour to Forbidden City, Summer Palace, Pandas. Best quality Beijing travel service..

Beijing Weekend Trip to Xian

  • Tour Code: BJ203
  • Days: 3
  • Destination: Beijing-Xian-Beijing

From USD

Summary: Take a Xian weekend trip by train from Beijing. Departing Beijing on Friday evening and back on Monday morning..

3 Days Qingdao Holiday Tour

  • Tour Code: BJ-0314
  • Days: 3
  • Destination: Beijing,Qingdao

From USD

Summary: Take short holiday to Qingdao from Beijing with private tour guide and driver. Tour designed for Ching Ming Festival, May Festival, Mid-autumn Festival..

72-Hour Visa-free Tour in Beijing-B

  • Tour Code: VF-BJ1
  • Days: 4
  • Destination: Beijing

From USD

Summary: Beijing, the most representative city of China, is celebrated for its history and Culture. Great wall, Forbidden City, Summer Palace, Beijing roast duck as well as Pecking opera are the highlights for trips in Beijing..

72-hour Visa-free Coach Tour in Beijing

  • Tour Code: VF-BJ2
  • Days: 4
  • Destination: Beijing

From USD

Summary: Visa-free Coach Tour in Beijing!.