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forbidden city in beijing,China

Beijing flights

Beijing (sometimes Peking) is the capital of the People's Republic of China and one of the most densely populated cities in the world. It is a mixture of ancient and modern architecture and home to Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, the Great Hall of the People and within reach of The Great Wall of China.

Why go?

With amazing sights, fantastic attractions, great shopping and historical wonders, Beijing is a unique holiday destination.

Beijing was the host of the 2008 Olympics and is famous for the Bird's Nest Stadium, the innovative National Olympics Stadium. The Aquatic Centre, also called the Water Cube, was used for Olympic water events and has since been turned into a water park for public entertainment.

Beijing's nearly 500 hotels are spread all over the city. Those in the city centre are near shopping centres, public transport and business areas. You can go shopping in a wide variety of malls and local markets such as the Xidan Shopping District and the Oriental Plaza for high end brands and cheap copies; Beijing is famous for its copies of designer brands.

All tourists should visit the Forbidden City Complex, the imperial palace for the Ming and Qing emperors. "Forbidden" refers to the fact that nobody was allowed to enter or leave the palace without permission from the emperor. It was built in the fifteenth century and consists of 980 buildings.

Tiananmen Square in the city centre is named after the Tiananmen Gate, the Gate of Heavenly Peace, separating the square from the Forbidden City. The gate is guarded by two lions, believed to ward off evil spirits. The square has always had great cultural significance for the Chinese; the West knows it best as the site for the pro-democracy protest rally in 1989. It hosts the Mao mausoleum and various museums.

The Great Hall of the People is situated on Tiananmen Square and houses the National People's Congress, which is the parliament of China. It consists of a large number of halls, some of which are allotted to the main ruling regions of the country. Badachu Park is a complex of monasteries situated on a group of hills on the outskirts of Beijing famous for its rare beautiful trees and arbour, some over 600 years old.

The Beihai imperial park covers over 69 hectares and contains a large lake with an island in the middle. Many areas were developed as copies of famous scenes in China, showcasing the splendour of traditional Chinese landscaping architecture. The Bell and Drum Towers are structures used in ancient times to tell the time for the capital; it was the centre of a busy shopping district.

The ancient Hutong alleyways running between traditional houses have become fascinating tourist attractions and can be explored by bike or on foot.

Once you have arrived in the city aboard one of the many flights to Beijing, you can rent a car and travel out to the Great Wall of China. If you enjoy the active life, you could even take a run along the wall in certain areas.

How to get there

Getting to Beijing is relatively straightforward, meaning you can enjoy a hassle-free journey. Find out the best way for you to get there...

If you make use of Beijing flights from the UK, you will fly into Beijing Capital Airport (PEK) 20 kilometres south of the city.

Getting to and from the airport

Beijing International Airport is around 32km from the city centre so requires a long journey in once your flight lands. Here are your options.

There is an Express Railway that runs every 12 minutes from the T2 and T3 terminals to Dongzhimen and Sanyuanqiao. A single trip costs RMB 25 per person. There is also a bus service to the Shunyi District, and a regular shuttle bus will take you to various other destinations. 

Taxis are another option.

Where to stay

Bustling Beijing offers holidaymakers history and culture by the bucket-load, but where should you stay?

There is certainly no shortage of places to stay in Beijing, from high-end exclusive hotels to traditional Hutong courtyard accommodation. However, as the main sights of the city are very spread out, it's a good idea to base yourself in the city centre and use the efficient metro to get around. Make sure your hotel is within the central area of the inner ring road. This will ensure you can easily get rickshaw taxis, cabs and the metro.

For big chain hotels and plenty of shopping opportunities, the Wangfujing area is one option. This is close to important historical sites such as Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. Be aware though, there will be a lot of tourists around this area and a number of tourist areas to eat and drink. However, you should still be able to find traditional hutong accommodation in this area too, and if your palate fancies something a little more unusual to eat, you can head to Snack Street which is off to the west side of Wangfujing. Be prepared to taste beetles, seahorses, snakes and crickets!

The Qianmen area is also a good place to base yourself for sightseeing. Malls here offer big international brands and shopaholics will be in their element. Again, you won't be far from Tiananmen Square, and you will also have a number of restaurants on your doorstep.