Summary: Noted for being the capital city of the most populous country, China, Beijing is indeed a captivating city to explore. Partially encompassed by the Hebei Province and located at a stone’s throw distance from Tianjin, the city also carves a niche for being a viable transportation hub.
Beijing is the capital of the People’s Republic of China. The city was previously known as Peking. The word ‘Beijing’ means ‘Northern Capital’ and the name was given in 1403 with an ancient history of almost 3000 years old. Second largest after Shanghai, Beijing is the most populous city in the world. The long and diverse history of the city has left its mark on the landscape. As a result, you can find beautiful gardens, temples, and palaces scattered throughout the city. Beijing has a vast sprawling feel to it. The city municipality covers an area of 16,801 sq km with an approximate population of 21.3 million people
Located at the head of the North China plains, Beijing has an average elevation of only 43.5m. It occupies a strategic position between the northern plains and the Mongolian plateau. The city has highlands to the north, northwest, and west, while the southern side is lower. The Great Wall of China lies in the northern part of the city.
There are more than 200 rivers and streams flowing through the city. Five major rivers are identified. These are Yongding River, Chaobai River, Beiyun River, Juma River and Ju River.
The city has a humid continental type of climate influenced by the monsoon winds. Summers in the city is hot and humid, while winters are cold and dry.
How to reach?
By Air: Beijing is connected by air to most of the major cities of the world. The international airport was completely remodeled for the 2008 Olympics, and now its three vast terminals are equipped to handle huge traffic. The city is mainly served by Beijing Capital International Airport and is considered to be a convenient option for both domestic and international tours. Another, option that you have is the Beijing Nanyuan Airport this airport is served by a single airline and provides only domestic hauls.
By Train: Apart from a flight, you can also reach the city by train as there are a number of railway stations located in the city including Beijing Railway Station, Beijing South Railway Station, and Beijing West Railway Station.
By Bus: Long-distance buses connect the city to far-lying areas like Shanghai and the Mongolian border. There are 20 long-distance bus stations in the city, including Xizhimen Long Distance Bus station, Deshengmen Long Distance Bus Station, and Lianhuachi Long Distance Bus Station.
By Rented Vehicles: Finally, since the Olympics, the government allows foreigners to rent vehicles to travel by road as well. Eight expressways and 11 National Highways connect the city to various parts of the country.
The climate of Beijing is influenced by the monsoon winds. Hence, summers are too wet and hot, while winters are quite cold. The best time to visit the city is the ‘golden autumn’ that occurs in September and October.
Culture and Traditions
The long history of the city gives the city its colorful culture. The Inner city or the Forbidden City was where the emperors used to stay, and the commoners were not allowed. Countless hutongs, which are traditional Chinese houses with courtyards, are spread throughout the city, giving it an ethnic feel. Side by side, modern skyscrapers have made their appearance due to the subsequent modernization of the city.
The friendly and welcoming nature of the people of Beijing sets them apart. Some of the best Chinese traditions are preserved in Beijing. The tea ceremony is the best example. Tourists are treated with courtesy.
Several fairs/festivals are held in the city at different times. Some of them are as follows:
- The Changdian Temple Fair, during the Spring Festival, is a major event with live shows like the lion dance, local cuisine, and easy shopping.
- The Lantern Festival in Zizhu Park is beautiful, where you can see spectacular Chinese lanterns on display.
- Red Maple Festival in Fragrant Hills Park should not be missed as you can enjoy the most spectacular autumn scenery here.
Points of Interest
Various points of interest are scattered throughout the city. Some of the attractions which are not worth missing are:
- Tiananmen Square is home to several museums and monuments and is the largest public square in the world.
- The Forbidden City is a huge Palace building, where you can see excellent examples of art from the Qing and Ming eras.
- The Great Wall of China, one of the greatest wonders of the world, lies to the north of the city and should not be missed.
- The Summer Palace – a World cultural heritage has the largest imperial gardens in China.
- The Temple of Heaven in the South is one of the most sacred sites in the country.
- The Lama Temple, the Ming tomb, the Winter Palace, and the numerous museums including the Beijing Capital museum are other must-see sites in the city.
Foreigners are restricted to high-priced official hotels and the cheapest accommodations are generally out of bounds. Budget hotels to the South of Qian Men, and Resorts around the Great Wall are other places to stay in Beijing. Some of the other accommodation options that you can resort to include Double Happiness Courtyard Hotel, Red Wall Garden Hotel, and The Opposite House, to name a few.
Reference Links :
- Beijing City (Wikipedia Website)
- Beijing Geography (about.com)
- Beijing Festivals (china odyssey tours Website)
- 10 must-see places in Beijing (Beijing etours Website)