Beijing (Chinese “北京”, “bei” means north and “jing” means capital), is one of great ancient capitals in the world. It is well known as Peking by westerners in the past. As one of top 4 ancient capitals of China, Beijing has been the ancient capital for over 860 years. With a more than 3000 years history, Beijing has rich well-preserved cultural and imperial relics. It is a must-visit city when travelers first come to China.
As the capital of the Peoples’ Republic of China, it is the Chinese center of politics, science, education, culture, and one of the economic centers. Surrounded by Hebei Province in the North China, Beijing becomes one of the most popular travel destinations in the world.
Beijing’s weather is similar to that of Philadelphia in the U. S. and Madrid in Spain at the same latitude. But Beijing is drier in winters and much wetter in summer than Philadelphia and much colder in winter than Madrid.
Best time to visit Beijing
Spring (March to May) and autumn (September to October) are the best time to visit Beijing. Thousands of colorful flowers in spring and red maples and golden ginkgo leaves in autumn are great natural sights in Beijing.
Great Wall in Autumn
Renowned Beijing Tourist Attractions
The Great Wall of China
As one of Seven Wonders of the World, the Great Wall of China is magnificent and unique ancient relic in the world. Badaling Section is the most well-preserved part of the Ming Dynasty, however, Mutianyu section is as great as Badaling but less touched and crowded.
The Forbidden City
Adjoin to the north of Tian’anmen Square, the Forbidden City is the imperial palace during the Ming and Qing Dynasties. 14 emperors in the Ming Dynasty and 10 emperors in the Qing Dynasty had lived in the palace which is firstly built in 1406. There are numerous well-preserved exquisite and gorgeous art works and decorations in the Forbidden City.
The Forbidden City
Temple of Heaven
Emperors in the Ming and Qing Dynasties set solemn rituals in Temple of Heaven to pray for a harvest. It has been one of the world cultural heritages since 1998, and the largest imperial ritual relics in the world. Located in the southeast of the Forbidden City, it is a great place to see the senior doing morning exercises such as playing tai chi now.
The Temple of Heaven
Summer Palace is the biggest and the most well-preserved imperial garden in China. Together with Chengde Mountain Resort, Humble Administrator’s Garden and Lingering Garden in Suzhou, it is one of top four famous gardens in China. It is composed of Jiangnan style gardens, Kunming Lake and Wanshou Mountain.
Beijing History Facts
Beijing has a long history, tied to the history of its name. Archeological findings show that Peking Man, dated 500,000 years ago, lived for a very long time in Zhoukoudian, a cave system in Beijing Municipality. From the warring states period (473 – 221 BC), Beijing was the capital of Yan State and was called Ji. In the Liao Dynasty (938) it was named Nanjing (Southern Capital). It was changed to Zhongdu (Central Capital) in 1153, when it became the capital of the Jin Dynasty.
In 1283, Beijing became the capital city of the Yuan Dynasty and was called Dadu (Great Capital) by its Mongol rulers. In 1368 the Ming Dynasty overthrew the Mongols and called Beiping (Northern Peace). From 1421 it was known as Jingshi (Model Capital) and when the Qing Dynasty captured Beijing in 1644, it continued with that name.
During the Republican Era the capital was called Beijing in 1911, then Nanjing became the capital of China briefly in 1928, and Beijing reverted to the name Beiping. When Mao began the Era of the People’s Republic in 1949, Beijing was set in its current position (with its current name) as national capital (shoudu).
Beijing Travel Tips
1. 72 hours visa-free travel
Travelers who fly to Beijing and have a flight ticket to a third country can enjoy a 72 hours visa-free travel since Jan. 1st in 2013. During the 72-hour travel, travelers can’t depart Beijing for other cities and have to leave Beijing for the third country.
Visitors from 45 countries can benefit from the policy:
24 countries in the European Union: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland , Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.
Other 7 European Countries: Russia, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Cyprus, Bulgaria, and Romania, Ukraine.
6 countries in the Americas: United States, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, and Chile.
2 countries in Oceania: Australia, and New Zealand.
6 countries in Asia: Korea, Japan, Singapore, Brunei, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar.
2. Hiking and Biking in Beijing
Hiking along the magnificent Great Wall and hiking from Badachu to Fragrant Hill which is famous for its red maple leaves in autumn are the most popular hiking routes in Beijing. In addition, to take a rickshaw or ride a bicycle to wander in Beijing hutongs which are Beijing’s unique local houses is a great way to explore local life and culture.
3. Beijing Food
Beijing Roast Duck is the most famous local food. Beijing Mutton hot pot is also widely loved by people. Besides, there are various local snacks even including some unexpected insects like scorpions.