Things to see in Beijing and the North

Beijing, which has dramatically changed following the 2008 Olympic Games, is often the first stage of a trip to the 'Middle Kingdom'. Other than the Forbidden City and the famous Tiananmen Square, a trip to the Hubei Province is a must. Here you'll find a number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the Great Wall of course, but also the imperial palace at Chengde, the one-time summer residence of the Manchu emperors. The city of Beijing and its surrounding areas abound with parks and their temples, pavilions, and monuments built under the different dynasties. Previously places to retreat to and relax in, these imperial gardens continue to provide recreational areas in a unique setting. Keep an eye out for the Beihai (North Sea) Park, Xiangshan (Fragrant Hill) Park and the Dongwuyuan Zoo, where you can meet the giant pandas!

  • China - Beijing and the North
    China - Beijing and the North
    © Sean Pavone / 123RF
Amy Adejokun
Amy Adejokun Expert destination China

Arts and culture

The Cultural Revolution was a black period for Chinese arts. For ten years, its craftsmen, led by Mao and his wife Jiang Qing, carefully annihilated any artistic creation. Intellectuals, painters, poets and filmmakers were sent to work camps and prisons, and were even assassinated. Part of the artistic heritage - pottery, calligraphy and precious embroidery - was destroyed. Since then, China has undertaken restoration work on some of its tourist sites

Sites

The Forbidden City, directly opposite Tiananmen Square, is the highlight of Beijing. We don't recommend trying to visit the two main sites outside of Beijing, the Great Wall and the Ming Tombs, in the same day as tour operators often suggest, since you will be frustrated by the lack of time you have to spend at each. In the Hebei Province, the one visit not to miss is the imperial palace at Chengde, the summer residence of the Manchu emperors.

Parks and reserves

The city of Beijing and its surrounding areas abound with parks and their temples, pavilions, and monuments built under the different dynasties. Previously places to retreat to and relax in, these imperial gardens continue to provide recreational areas in a unique setting. Apart from a traffic jam or two, a change of scenery is guaranteed.

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