Escape to Beinjing
The capital of the People's Republic of China, Beijing (formerly Peking) is a very modern and exceedingly busy city (nearly 14 million people call it home) with high-rise buildings, international hotels and sprawling suburbs. Great Wall of China, the former Imperial Palace (known as the Forbidden City), the Temple of Heaven, the Summer Palace and the remains of Peking Man at Zhoukoudian, are UNESCO-endorsed World Cultural Heritage Sites. It also has roughly 120 museums and more than 100 public gardens.
The subway is a great way to get around in Beijing. There are many taxis available, both official and unofficial. All official taxis have license plates that begin with the letter B. It is a good idea to have your destination written in Mandarin to show the driver, as most do not speak English. Cycling is also a good alternative with numerous bicycle rentals around the city, and well-defined bike lanes, bike parks and the company of millions of other cyclists, especially at rush hour.
Shopping in Beijing to find bargains and haggle for the best prices is an essential part of the experience of visiting the city.The main shopping area is around Wangfujing Dajie. Panjiayuan Collectors Market is an outdoor market with a good array of arts and crafts from all over China. Beijing Tea Street is the best place to find anything associated with tea, including tables, tea sets, and a wide variety of teas.
Liulichang in the south of Beijing is a great place for Chinese antiques. Avoid shopping trips on evenings and weekends, as the crowds can be overwhelming.
Neon lights are a staple of Beijing nightlife, with a predictable swarm of DJ dance clubs and karaoke bars lighting up most corners of the downtown districts. This is encouraging as not too long ago there wasn''t much nightlife in Beijing at all. Most venues stay open until the early morning, although most people in Beijing go to sleep before many of them open.
There are a host of Chinese art shows to enjoy if late night booze joints don''t sound enticing. These include Chinese opera, dancing and theatre most nights of the week. A note of caution: it is advisable to research and plan your night out rather than leave matters to spontaneous choice as one might do in other cities.
Grab a copy of Timeout Beijing for updated event listings and gig guides.