Visit the Great Wall
“He who has never been to the Great Wall is not a true man” says Chairman Mao. A symbol of China recognized the world over, the Great Wall is a must-see on any trip to Beijing, and was listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1987. Spanning roughly 600 kilometers, visitors can hike along sections of the wall, but make sure you equip yourself with durable footwear, sunglasses, sun block, and plenty of water.
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Watch the Peking Opera
China’s national opera, the Peking Opera is a fascinating display of Chinese performing arts, and presents a stylized combination of singing, dancing, dialogue and acrobatic fighting enacted by artists in elaborate costumes who tell a story. It is a unique, typically Chinese form of entertainment, and enjoys a reputation higher than all other operas in the country.
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Eat Peking roast duck
One of the most celebrated dishes in Chinese cuisine, and counted amongst the best dishes in the world, no trip to the Chinese capital would be complete without having Peking duck. This consists of slow roasted duck, characterized by thin, crispy skin, which is sliced up in front of diners, and served with a little bit of meat. Avoid the greasy tourist traps and head straight to Da Dong Roast Duck Restaurant, located southwest of the Dongsi Shitiao Bridge, for the best Peking ducks in town.
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Explore the Forbidden City
Delve into the mysteries of Imperial China by taking a trip to the Forbidden City. This massive sprawling palace complex, which was built in between 1406 and 1420, spans 250 acres, contains over 9,000 rooms, and was the seat from which the 24 emperors of the Ming Dynasty and the Qing Dynasty ruled. Hire a guide to explore this marvel of ancient Chinese architecture, which contains specimens of fine Chinese art and beautiful landscaped gardens.
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Take a trip to the Olympic sites
Visit the Olympic Green to witness the sites where sporting history is made, by the likes of super athletes such as Usain Bolt of Jamaica and Michael Phelps of the USA. Explore the extraordinary Beijing National Stadium, also known as the Bird’s Nest owing to its unique design, the National Aquatics Center, also known as the Water Cube, and the National Indoor Stadium.
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Watch a flag-raising ceremony at the Tian'anmen Square
The largest square of this sort in the world, the Tian'anmen Square is the site where Chairman Mao, in 1949, announced the establishment of the People’s Republic of China. Located at the heart of the city, the square plays host to massive rallies and parades, and at every sunrise and sunset, there is a flag raising and lowering ceremony performed by young troops, when soldiers, tourists, and locals converge at the square to form a colourful crowd.
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Stroll through an imperial garden
The imperial summer retreat of the Chinese emperors, the Summer Palace is the largest and most complete royal garden in the country, and spans over 290 acres. With its impressive design and architecture, the garden is mostly dominated by the vast Kunming Lake, but also contains a variety of artistic ancient pavilions, mansions, bridges, and temples for your viewing pleasure as you stroll through the serene surroundings.
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Search for spirituality at the Temple of Heaven
Considered the holiest spot in the country for over five centuries, the Temple of Heaven is located in the Southern part of the city, and houses altars to Heaven, Earth, the Sun, and the Moon, alongside other deities and forces of nature. Dotted all over with century-old trees, the temple was used for the Ming and Qing emperors as a complex of sacrificial buildings, but in current times, is simply filled with people practicing kung fu and taiji, or entertaining each other with music and cards games.
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Ride a pedicab through Beijing’s Hutongs
Ancient tools of transportation, pedicabs will accentuate your experience of the Hutongs – Beijing’s remarkable old city lanes, comprising narrow twisting streets. These old neighbourhoods and alleyways feature traditional-style houses, as well as small towers, restaurants, inns, and bars.
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See the Ming Tombs
Another UNESCO-listed site in Beijing, the Ming Tombs offer tourists a chance to get out of the city and see the countryside. Located fairly close to the Great Wall, this is the burial site of 13 of the 17 Ming Dynasty emperors, hence it is frequently referred to as the “13 Tombs”. Out of these, only two tombs have been excavated and opened to the public, known as Dingling and Changling.
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