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Beijing Basics

Beijing

Photo: Shutterstock, fotohunter

In Beijing, China’s capital city, the explosive expanse of business and retail has created a completely new sect in China’s major cities: a middle class. And with roughly half of Beijing’s population under age 25, it’s guaranteed this city will only continue along its trendsetting trajectory.

Though Beijing’s has its finger on the pulse of what’s new, the city’s recorded history can be traced back 3,000 years (with evidence of human ancestry dating back nearly 700,000 years). Home to emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties, there is a lot of sightseeing to be done in the center of Beijing with the Forbidden City, Mao’s Mausoleum and Tiananmen Square. Be sure to bring your phrasebook with you because most people in Beijing do not speak English.

With more and more Chinese increasing their earning power, they’re branching out and eating out. What used to be a rather boring food scene has boomed in the past decade (yes, the Olympic games can take a lot of credit). Though Western culture is certainly prevalent, when it comes to food, tradition is king. Peking Duck is a must have when you’re visiting, but for an experience unique to the city, visit the night markets. From familiar roasted meats to scorpions, snakes, insects and seahorses, you’ll find plenty to eat (or maybe just look at).

No trip to Beijing is complete without exploring the architectural landscape. As hosts of the 2008 Summer Olympics, the city overhauled their public transportation system, as well as built the beautiful Olympic Park, home to two of Beijing’s most recognizable landmarks, the Bird’s Nest and the Water Cube.

Let’s not forget Beijing is only a half hour away from one of the world’s most remarkable landmarks, the Great Wall of China.

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