Beijing is the current capital of China and was one of the sixteen ancient capitals too. In most of the English speaking countries it is also known as Peking. Even if it is not the largest city in China, it is the cultural and educational capital of the country. Shanghai, being the largest city in China, it is focused on economy.
The humid continental climate is characteristic in Beijing, with monsoon influences. The summers and winters are in pageant contrast: while summers are characterized by heavy precipitations, winters are dry. The temperatures also vary widely because of hot summers with average highs over 25 °C, and cold winter, when it is usual to experience temperatures well below freezing point.
The governing families moved the capital several times, this way resulted the large number of capitals in the history of China. However not only the capital was moved, but the same city was renamed several times too. In case of Beijing, four other names were used to refer to the same settlement without counting the name Peking.
Since July 13, 2001, more and more people call Beijing by its official name rather than Peking. This was the date when the IOC announced that the Chinese capital would host the 2008 Summer Olympic Games and the Paralympics. Hosting the Olympic Games is a chance which generally comes only once in a city’s history and is a very important opportunity to make the city attractive for tourists. During this 17-day event, more than 300 events will be held in 28 different sports in 37 venues. Only 25 existing venues meet the expectations of the international committee, so a dozen more were built. Despite the protests, the former president of the IOC believes that this will be “the best in Olympic history”.
The Olympic Park purposely built for the Olympic Games, called Olympic Green, will be the perfect location for numerous sporting, performing art events, and recreational areas in the future.
Just as the seasons are in contrast, the buildings of the city also hold the marks of different architectural styles. You can find here everything from detailed century old traditional Chinese landmarks, through concrete skyscrapers built in 1970s style to modern “monuments” engineered to perfection. The Taimiao is the best evidence of the traditional Chinese buildings. It is located at the edge of the Tiananmen Square, which is the largest square in the world, covering nearly half of a square kilometer. Today it is one of China’s national symbols just like the Forbidden City, which is situated at a short distance from this.
In Beijing you can even find modern skyscrapers with full glass façade and traditional roofs, as an evidence of how the old meets the new in perfect harmony. The Central Business District (known as CBD) looks like Manhattan, with many modern, tall, commercial buildings, such as the Beijing TV Center, China World Trade Center and the Fortune Plaza. There are ongoing constructions such as the China World Trade Center Tower 3 and the CCTV Headquarters. The latter is a uniquely shaped dual tower connected by an L shaped segment on top. Without any doubt, the most recognizable landmark of the city built in the 21st century is the National Center for the Performing Arts. This egg shaped opera house mixes glass and titanium, and it is considered by many to be a music venue as significant as the Sydney Opera House.
The monumental buildings are perfect locations to visit, and the CBD is even more spectacular in the dark because of the skyscrapers parade in different colors, even though during nighttime, the restaurants and the clubs are the most frequented attractions of the city.
While in Beijing, you must enter a traditional Chinese restaurant or eatery and order a local specialty. If the Chinese cuisine is not for you, the numerous restaurants will surely offer the dinner you are looking for. If after eating you want to sit down and have a drink with your friends or to make new ones, the bars in Beijing are the perfect locations to do so. Two areas are packed with numerous bars and pubs. These are the Hou Hai Bar Area and the Sanlitun Entertainment District. The latter one is very popular among both locals and tourists because here you can find bars staying open even until 4 am. Also in the Sanlitun area, you can find the Success, which is a themed club with dance and live music performances. The House is similar to the Success, offering evening shows, but it additionally offers comedy and magic. The Kiss Superclub was built and decorated to resemble a Korean disco. People who want to dance all night long frequent the Gun Shi club. Its name means “rock and roll”, but the DJ only plays techno. The most popular club in the city has to be the Banana-Spicy.
Like many large Far Eastern cities, in Beijing you can experience a unique mixture of the past and present in the same place that no city everywhere else can transmit. Visiting Beijing, you can be sure that it will be one of the greatest vacations of your life, no matter where you were and where you will travel in the future.