Located in northern China, close to the Gobi desert, Beijing is both a political center and China’s cultural heart. Beijing has six Unesco World Heritage Sites and is home to some of the world’s most innovative modern buildings such as the Olympic Stadium. With many of China’s top artists, film makers, musicians and writers, the city has a vibrant and ever-evolving cultural scene and is also the center for the traditional Chinese performing arts such as dances and acrobatics.
The city has a dry and mostly blustery climate with cold winters. Fall and spring are more pleasant and are considered off-peak seasons. Summer is peak tourist season and the climate is hot and humid with torrential downpours.
What to Do
Aside from the popular attractions such as the Great Wall of China and the Forbidden City, Beijing also a vibrant cultural scene. Check out the 798 Art District, the only Bauhaus factory complex in Asia. Formerly a government military building, it now hosts numerous art galleries, shops and restaurants.
Another place to go is the Temple of Heaven, one of the six Unesco World Heritage sites in Beijing. Once a former scarified altar, the temple was used by emperors in the Ming and Qing dynasties to pray for good harvests and offer sacrifices to heaven. Visit the Echo Wall which wraps around the Imperial Vault of Heaven and allows visitors to hear a whisper from one end of the 65m wall to the other due to its unique acoustic properties.
If you want someplace less crowded, Yuanmingyuan known as the Old Summer Palace was laid out in the 12th century. Designed by Jesuits, the palace was destroyed in 1860 during the Second Opium War. Be sure to check out the Fuhai area which holds the garden ruins and Fuhai Lake from which you can admire the Fragrant Hills.
Eager to go? Plan your visit by first checking out the requirements for China's tourist visa here.