The Summer Palace (Hai Dian district) was rebuilt in 1886 and is one of Beijing's most popular tourist attractions. This architectural masterpiece is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that encompasses pavilions, lakes and gardens adorned with paintings and sculptures. It offers a welcome respite from the urban hustle and bustle of Beijing, though the hordes of visitors may make you feel like you're still stuck in downtown traffic...
The Forbidden City, an imperial palace located north of Tiananmen Square, is an obligatory stop for any Beijing visitor. This complex comprises several exquisitely designed structures and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which has not prevented Starbucks from opening a coffee shop within its walls...
Beijing is home to several temples. Among the most interesting is the Yonghe Temple, which is commonly known as the Lama Temple. Built in 1694, it features huge halls and interior courtyards adorned with some beautiful works of Buddhist art. The Temple of Heaven is also worth a visit.
Tiananmen Square came to Westerners' attention in 1989 when it became the bloody scene of the government's brutal repression of a student movement that requested a more democratic state. Today, everything here aims to underline the importance of the country's communist regime and the cult of personality that surrounds Mao Zedong, including the mausoleum and immense photos of the former leader, the National Museum of China and the Great Hall of the People. Nonetheless, the square remains a pleasant place that attracts hordes of schoolchildren, and visitors will enjoy stopping here to watch the goings-on of daily Beijing life.
A visit to the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong (Tiananmen Square) is an interesting experience, as well as a very serious and solemn one. Like the mortal remains of Lenin and Ho Chi Minh, Chairman Mao's body was embalmed and displayed so that history may forever remember the "Great Helmsman" of the Cultural Revolution and the architect of the country's communist political system. The mausoleum attracts a steady stream of visitors and Chinese citizens who come here to pay their respects to their former leader, under the watchful eye of the numerous guards who are stationed here both day and night.
Beijing's history can also be read on the walls of the city's hutongs, small neighbourhoods crisscrossed with labyrinthine corridors and alleys. They bear witness to a much less hectic former way of life, when the city's residents took the time to sip a cup of tea or play a game of mah-jong while they calmly smoked cigarettes and went over the latest news with their neighbours. In the heart of the hutongs, visitors will find traditional houses whose facades conceal beautiful interior courtyards. They may come upon one of these remnants of old Beijing by chance as they stroll around the city, or they can ask a taxi driver to take them to one.
Three segments of the Great Wall of China (Badaling, Mutianyu and Simatai) can be visited on a day-trip outside Beijing, with manymajor hotels offering excursions to the famous landmark. It goes without saying that this outing will certainly be one of your most cherished memories of your stay in China.