With a history spanning more than 3,000 years, Beijing has been an integral part of China’s history. As the capital of the People’s Republic of China it is one of the most populous and visited cities in the world and regarded as the political, educational and cultural centre of this great nation. For visitors there is so much to see and do with almost every major building boasting some national historical significance together with a wonderful array of attractions, including the iconic Great Wall of China, and making Beijing a truly world class international destination.
Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK) is situated in the Shunyi District of the city, about 15.5 miles (25km) northeast of Tiananmen Square, and is China’s busiest and most important international airport. From there you can take the Airport Express tube line which brings you into the city centre in around 20 minutes.
Beijing Nanyuan (NAY) Airport is located in the Fengtai district which is nine miles (14km) from Tiananmen Square, south of downtown Beijing. The airport is considerably smaller but closer to the centre. For quick access into the centre, hop on one of the many airport shuttle busses.
By far the best and greenest way to travel is to use the city’s metro system which is well priced and efficient. A ticket costs ¥2 for a ride anywhere with unlimited transfers or you can purchase a metro card known as the Municipal Administration and Communication Card which can be bought for ¥40. Exploring the city by bicycle is another option with cycles available to rent from many different outlets, although it is often just as cheap to buy one!
Where to stay
The most expensive hotels tend to lie in central Beijing such as The China Club or the Beijing Legendale Hotel. The Chaoyang District, to the north east, also boasts some of the city’s best hotels including the Hilton or the Kempinski. In the financial district, which is to the west, you will find many mid-range hotels such as the Grand Mercure or the Holiday Inn which are also eco-friendly. Other green hotels include the Intercontinental Beijing Beichen, the Regent Beijing and the Novotel. Backpackers, meanwhile, should head to Houhai.
What to do
Tours & attractions – To start with visitors should head to the mysterious Forbidden City, before walking through the iconic Tiananmen Square followed by the Temple of Heaven to the south of the city. You can also visit the Ming Tombs site just outside the city centre and of course the Great Wall of China. Beijing’s iconic ‘Bird’s Nest’ Olympic Stadium is another must see together with the Panda House at Beijing Zoo. Art lovers should head to 798 Art Space or for even more culture there’s the historic Lama, Tanzhe and Jie Tai Temples.
Concert & Theatre – Any show at the Beijing Opera is well worth buying a ticket for whether its music, dance or breath-taking acrobatics. There’s also the National Grand Theatre or the Capital Theatre.
Shopping – Beijing has many places to pick up a souvenir or two. The principal markets are Hongqiao Market, the Silk Market in Xui Shui Street and the Chinese Panjiayuan Flea Market. There are also many different districts to explore such as Wangfujing, Dashilan and New Qianmen Street, and for designer labels head to the Sun Dong An Plaza.
Landscape – Even in a densely populated city like Beijing there are still many open places to unwind such as Beihai Park or the Summer Palace located in the largest Royal gardens. If you have time, the Botanic Garden of Beijing is also well worth a visit.
Eating out / Night life
No trip to Beijing is complete without sampling the local cuisine in particular Beijing roast duck. There are many places offering this local dish but two of the best renowned restaurants are Quanjude and Bianyifang. Of course, visitors will also find an array of cuisines on offer from Japanese and Thai to French and American.
When it comes to evening entertainment then look no further than Chang’an Street or Tianqiao Market. A must see for younger revellers is Sanlitun Pub Street and the surrounding area which offers many different bars and types of music. Alternatively, head to one of the main four night markets at Dongdan Street, Xidan Street, Donghuamen Gate and Longfusi Temple.
Beijing has a real continental climate with four discernible seasons: a short, windy spring, long, hot summers, a cool pleasant autumn but long, cold winters. Temperatures can range from -3°C/26°F in January to 26°C/79°F in July so be sure to pack accordingly!
Destination Guide courtesy of FIA Formula E website.