The Forbidden City is one of the must-see sites in Beijing.
The world's largest palace complex, the Forbidden City (Gugong or Zijincheng) covers 720,000 square meters (0.3 square miles). The southern Tiananmen Gateone of four gates connecting the palace to the outside worldserves as the main entrance.
Standing in the middle of Tian'anmen Square (Tian'anmen Guangchang), one is confronted with overwhelming representations of China's past and present powers-that-be, cast in an immense space that dramatizes China's modern history in spectacular fashion.
On ground where the Emperor's high officials once did their business in classical courtyards and halls, one now finds the world's largest square, with Mao's Mausoleum, the Great Hall of the People and the Monument to the People's Heroes defining a space both austere and grandand saturated with history and its ironies.,br/>
The Temple of Heaven (Tiantan), completed in 1420 during the reign of the Ming Yongle Emperor, was the most sacred space in which the emperoralso known as the Son of Heavenperformed the most important sacrifices and rites.
The temple's layout reflects the Confucian worldview that anchored the imperial order. The square base represents Earth, the circular temple represents Heaven, and the emperor symbolically serves as intermediary between human beings and the divine order.
This incredibly colorful and vibrant complex features gorgeous frescoes, gardens and sculptures and is a vivid symbol of how China, Tibet and Mongolia have influenced one another over the centuries. Yonghe Gong is the largest and most perfectly preserved Tibetan-style Lama temple in eastern Han China.
Combining Tibetan, Mongolian, Han and Manchurian touches, the complex's dominant aesthetic is Tibetan, fittingly enough for a temple dedicated to Tibetan Gelug (Yellow Hat) Buddhism. If you can't make it to Tibet or Tibetan areas of Yunnan, Sichuan, Qinghai or Gansu, the Lama Temple is a great way to get a taste of Tibetan Buddhism.
Only a 70 km (44 miles) drive from Beijing, Badaling is the most visited section of the Great Wall. Constructed during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), Badaling underwent extensive reconstruction during the 1950s and 1980s and now features amenities that invading barbarians would certainly kill for, from cablecar rides to snack stands, caged bears, souvenir shops and restaurants, not to mention air-conditioned tour bus travel down the Badaling Expressway, which links this length of wall to the capital.
Once you've seen the Forbidden City, where all but two of fifteen Ming emperors lived, take a trip out to their final resting place, the Ming Tombs (Shisan Ling or literally the Thirteen Tombs).
The third Ming emperor, Yongle (1402-1424) chose the site based on its excellent feng shui and the harmonic balance of wooded mountains to the north, rich dark earth and calm waters is as pleasant today as it must have been at the time when it was chosen as the last resting place of emperors.
Today's Summer Palace (Yíhe Yuan or "Garden of Nurtured Harmony") owes a lot to late-imperial historical circumstance: after its predecessors, including the Old Summer Palace, were destroyed by marauding Anglo-French forces, first in 1860 (Second Opium War), and then again in 1900 (Boxer Rebellion). The Emperor Dowager Cixi, while presiding over the downfall of imperial China, made certain that its final years wouldn't go without a Summer Palace and poured resourcesincluding silver earmarked for upgrading the Chinese navyinto rebuilding the ravaged pleasure grounds, completing the restoration in 1902, a scant decade before the ultimate fall of the Qing. Though she failed to keep China together, she did a bang-up job on restoring the imperial getaway.
Bars, restaurants and shops line the streets of the Sanlitun (also often referred to as the Sanlitun Entertainment Area, Sanlitun Embassy Area and, tellingly, the Sanlitun Bar Street).
Long a favorite among expats, travelers and budget tourists, Sanlitun restaurants and bars stay open late, and a number of shops cater to international tastes. It's not the cheapest Beijing neighborhood for a night out or a shopping spree, but there's a little bit of everything on offer within the area on either side of the north-south Sanlitun Lu.
The Olympic Green is an Olympic Park in Beijing, China constructed for the 2008 Summer Olympics. There are many game buildings in it, like Beijing National Stadium (Birds Nest), Beijing National Aquatics Center (Water Cube), Beijing National Indoor Stadium, China National Convention Center (The venue of the TC@BJ), Olympic Green Hockey Field, Olympic Green Archery Field, Olympic Green Tennis center and Promenade.