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What to do and see in Beijing

Visit to the Forbidden City:

Brief description: the Forbidden City (Gu Gong) was the imperial palace during the Ming and Qing dynasties. Its 720,000 m2 make it the largest complex of palaces in the world. It is divided into 2 parts: the southern section, which contained the governmental buildings of the emperor, and the northern section, where the buildings in which the emperor and his family ...

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Visit to Beihai Park:

Brief description: one of the oldest, largest and best-preserved imperial gardens in all of China. Integrated into the garden are different palaces and religious buildings. Don't miss the White Pagoda in the central island of the lake (it's worth going up for the views). Duration of visit: 2 hrs. Hours: 6:30 to 20:00 / 22.00 (depending on the season) Cost: ...

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Visit to the Great Well of China:

Brief description: ancient Chinese fortification, built and rebuilt between the 5th century B.C. and 16th century. It protected the northern frontier of the empire from attacks by Mongolian and Manchurian nomads. It is said that it extended for more than 20,000 km, from the Korean border to the Gobi Desert. At the peak of the Ming dynasty, one million warriors guarded ...

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Night in Beijing:

Many Beijing guidebooks recommend going to a Chinese opera at the Liyuan Theatre. We don't. The show is a bit childish, and very different from our operas. Both the music and the production are of little interest, beyond the difficulty that must be involved in singing so high. In any event, if you're interested in going, the best thing to do is ask the hotel front desk ...

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Visit to the Summer Palace:

Brief description: spectacular complex filled with gardens, lakes, islets and palaces which once served as the summer residence for Chinese imperial families. The park is enormous, so make sure not to miss the Front-Hill Area, where we recommend visiting: the Hall of Dispelling Clouds, the Hall of Moral Glory, the Tower of Buddhist Incense, the Hall of the Sea of ...

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Visiting the Olympic Park:

Brief description: after the Summer Palace, we recommend visiting the Olympic Park and seeing from the outside its two most popular buildings: the nest-shaped National Stadium and the National Aquatics Centre, with its curious walls. If you have time and are interested, you can visit the interior of both. In the first you can ski and in the second go for a swim. ...

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Visit to Tiananmen Square:

Below is a detailed list of the most interesting things to do in this immense square. It's also very popular to watch the daily raising and lowering of the flag by the honour guard (ask for the exact time at your hotel, as it changes throughout the year). The downside is that both, in the morning and in the afternoon, there is usually a large crowd, so it's a good idea ...

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Visit to the Temple of Heaven:

Brief description: this enormous space contains a series of temples and curiosities worth seeing. The Yuanqiutan (Circular Mound Altar), Qiniandian (Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests) and Echo Wall are noteworthy among them. Duration of visit: 1hr 30min. Hours: 6:00 to 16:30 (you can enter the park until 22.00). Cost: 10-15CNY entrance fee to the park + 20CNY ...

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Visit to Mao's Tomb:

Brief description: in this building you can see the embalmed remains of the top Communist leader, Mao Zedong, president of the People's Republic of China from 1949 until his death in 1976. If you're interested in learning more about this controversial leader, responsible for carrying out, among other things, the Cultural Revolution, we recommend two interesting books ...

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Visit to the Great Hall of the People:

Brief description: Chinese Parliament where the so-called National Congress of the People is celebrated (meeting of leaders from different regions). Guided tours can be taken of the interior when meetings aren't in session. Length of visit: 1 hr. Hours: - Jan. Feb. Mar. Dec.: 9:00 to 14:00 - Apr. May.: Jun: 8:15 to 15:00 - Jul. Aug.: 7:30 to 16:00 -Sep. ...

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Visit to the Temple of Confucius:

Brief description: temple that pays homage to Confucius, the greatest thinker and philosopher of ancient China (the equivalent of a Western temple dedicated to the ancient Greeks). One of his greatest contributions to history was the creation of an examination system for selecting imperial officials. The Jesuits imported this invention of the devil to torture hundreds ...

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Visit to the National Museum of China:

Brief description: it is the largest museum in China and one of the most visited in the world. The museum is really interesting because it reviews the history of China and its artistic expressions, from its inception to the present. The downside, besides the long queues to enter, the museum is huge and it takes a whole day to visit all exhibitions. In any case, if you ...

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Sightseeing in the city centre and on Golden Street:

This first afternoon in the city, we recommend visiting Tiananmen Square. Not only is it the neuralgic centre and symbol of the city, but also the largest square in the world. Around Tiananmen are different government buildings such as the Parliament (Great Hall of the People) (open 9:00 to 14:00, 30CNY), the National Museum of China (open 9:00 to 17:00, free entrance), ...

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Visit to Lama Temple:

Brief description: also called Yonghe Lamasery or Harmony and Peace Palace Lamasery. It is the largest and best-preserved lamersay in China. While originally built as a residence for the prince, it soon became a national centre of lama (Buddhist priest) administration. Duration of visit: 1hr 30min. Hour: 9:00 to 16:00. Cost: 25CNY. How to get there: bike. On ...

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Strolling about a Beijing hutong: Yandai Xiejie

Brief description: hutongs are narrow streets that make up the old part of Beijing. Hundreds of hutongs surround the Forbidden City, most of which were built during the Yuan dynasty. You'll end up on numerous hutongs even if you don't want to, but you definitely shouldn't miss Yandai Xiejie, one of the oldest in Beijing. Its name derives from the many pipe stores that ...

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Renting a bike in Beijing:

Beijing is one of the best cities in the world for getting around by bike, the mode of transport the majority of its citizens use to get from one place to the other. The city is enormous, but very flat. For this reason, even though some of the trips can take up to an hour, we recommend renting a bike nonetheless! It's a genuine experience, a great way to experience ...

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Tai Chi in Beijing:

If you're interested in doing tai chi or seeing how locals do it, it's best to visit any park in the city between 6:30 and 8:30 in the morning. Originally a martial art, today tai chi has become a very popular relaxation technique for millions of Chinese throughout the world. The movements are especially slow and effortless, seeking a body-mind balance to arrive at a ...

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