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Beijing – Steeped in History, Ready for the Future

Beijing has something for every type of traveler; whether your ambitions include hiking the Great Wall of China, taste-testing a bizarre array of foods in the numerous street markets, visiting one of the many temples, lakes, and parks, or shopping in the famed pearl and silk markets, Beijing’s eclectic offerings will meet your desires. A city of nearly 13 million inhabitants, Beijing is situated in the northern region of China. The ancient city is considered China’s center for cultural, educational, and political growth. It is also the country’s main transportation hub, containing highways, railways, and a massive international airport. Beijing’s modern subway and intercity transport system, renovated for the 2008 Olympics, makes it easy for visitors to get around the city. Taxi drivers are also generally trained to speak some English. Beijing is most famed for treasures such as its royal palaces, ancient temples, magnificent gates, and massive stone walls. Tiananmen Square, a large public meeting place and famed site of historical demonstrations for democratic reform, should not be missed. Opposite the square sits the elaborate quarters of the Forbidden City, the world's largest palace complex, which housed royalty for over 500 years. Local parks are full of activity and are ideal venues to observe how the citizens of Beijing spend their free time. You could start your day observing the early morning groups practicing Tai Chi and then drop into one of the many tea houses, where locals go to catch up with their friends over a hot cup of delicious tea. Just outside the city lies the Great Wall of China, an impressive display of architectural accomplishment and beauty that is sure to impress every traveler. Dining out in Beijing is always a treat, with authentic Chinese food available for very reasonable prices. If nightlife is what what you are looking for, head to the area east of the Forbidden City for streets of pubs and clubs and always a very positive atmosphere. Beijing flights are best purchased either during the autumn or spring months when the weather is mild and more suitable for travel. However, during the colder winter months, tourism drops, resulting in cheap flights to Beijing and discounted tour packages. Hotels in Beijing are easiest to find during these off-season months and tend to have reduced prices. A good area to find cheap hotels in Beijing is the Wangfujing Dajie area, near the city center. It is within walking distance of Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City and has a wide range of accommodations, from luxury hotels to budget lodging. Beijing is, without a doubt, one of the most authentic and exciting Asian cities to visit. Once you have tasted the culture and observed the people of this Far East metropolis you will surely be planning your return visit before you have even boarded your flight home!

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