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Beijing is a modern and sprawling city in north China. Having served as the capital of the country for more than 800 years, Beijing is home to some of the finest remnants of China's imperial past.
The interest of visiting Beijing is on one side to explore its glorious past, and on another side to feel its modernity as well as an odd combination of the two.
Looking to travel more broadly than Beijing? Check out top things to do when traveling in China.
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The Forbidden City, which housed 24 emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties (1368–1911), is the best preserved imperial palace in China and the largest ancient palatial structure in the world. The design and the layout of the 870 buildings in the palace represent the essence of traditional Chinese architecture.
Tian'anmen Square is the largest public square, and can accommodate a million people. It is where the ceremony for the founding of the People’s Republic was held.
The Great Wall of China extends 4,000 miles. Construction of the wall began over 2,000 years ago and lasted for over 1,000 years. There are several Great Wall sections around Beijing, including restored sections and rugged sections. The most famous sections to visit include: Mutianyu, Jinshanling and Jiankou.
The Summer Palace is the best-preserved imperial garden in the world, and the largest of its kind still in existence in modern China. It is a representative of traditional Chinese garden and a charming place to appreciate the artificial landscape first created hundreds of years ago.
The Beijing hutongs are mazes of narrow alleyways linking old single-story traditional courtyard houses. Hutongs give a wonderful glimpse into the world of yesterday in Beijing. Visiting a hutong family living in a traditional quadrangle dwelling is a nice way to discover traditional Beijing life.
The Temple of Heaven, the royal altar where the emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties worshipped heaven, is seen as the most holy of Beijing's imperial temples. It has been described as "a masterpiece of architecture and landscape design".
Beijing roast duck is the epitome of Beijing cuisine and also one of the eight most popular Chinese dishes. The dish is mostly prized for the thin, crispy skin, with authentic versions of the dish serving mostly the skin and little meat.
Beijing Opera is regarded as Chinese cultural treasure. The make up, the face masks, the gorgeous costumes, the unique vocal style, and the demanding actions make Beijing opera a high-class performance entertainment.
Beijing's outdoor markets sell a great variety of souvenirs and old arts and crafts. They are living museums of folk artworks, old articles for daily use, and antiques (though some of them are fake).
Watching kungfu shows is an exciting way to spend a free night. The Legend of Kungfu Show is the best one. It is visually stunning with a fast-paced plot and impressive martial art skills. Children might like it.
The acrobatic show in Chaoyang Theatre is a breathtaking routine of flexibility involving ballet, bikes, human strength, jumping hoops, rotating plates, chairs, and umbrellas. The complicated and exciting performances will give you an exciting free night.