Beijing holiday highlights

Bustling Beijing boasts 3,000 years of tumultuous history which has left an indelible mark. The city modernised in the build up to the 2008 Olympic Games however grandiose palaces, ornate temples, lush gardens and quaint Hutongs remain, each beguiling visitors with their individual breathtaking beauty.

‘He who has not climbed the Great Wall is not a true man’ proclaimed Chairman Mao and a walk along this magnificent feat of human endeavour is a must on any visit to China. The fortified sections at Badaling and Mutianyu are within easy reach of Beijing and make for an unforgettable day out.

Beijing’s major shopping street, Wangfujiung, is an essential stop on any visit. By day it is averitable treasure trove of shops and malls, by night framed by a maze of side streets filled with tempting traditional food stalls.

Beijing plays host to a breathtaking selection of restaurants serving delicious banquets from all corners of the world. Traditional Beijing cuisine lends itself more to noodles than rice and is typified by the signature Peking Duck dish, a warming ‘hot pot’ finding favour during chilly winter nights.

Reached via a four hour train or a shorte road journey, the compact city of Chengde’s principle attraction is the vast Imperial Summer Resort, a huge 590 hectare palatial garden bound by an imposing miniature ‘Great Wall’.

The intrepid 14th Century explorer Marco Polo once described Beijing as a ‘vast ancient city of great splendour, magnificent palaces, stately gardens and broad avenues.’ Whilst this still remains true today, the dramatic recent change of pace has brought a modernity and cosmopolitan feel to Beijing. Experience this Beijing of old through its collection of 2,600 carefully preserved temples and cultural sights, a traditional Hutong district and the many enchanting teahouses.

Beijing key facts

Time difference

GMT +8 hours

Currency

Renminbi

Flying time to destination

10 hours

Language

Mandarin

Passport & visas

• UK and Irish passport holders need a visa to travel to China.
• You can get your visa from Kuoni’s Visa Travel Service – make sure you apply for it at least six weeks before you’re travelling - or direct from the Chinese Embassy (call 0891 880 808).

Beijing good to know

Etiquette

Dialling code
+86 10

Religion
Buddhism, Taoism, Islam and Christianity

Tipping

Tipping is officially discouraged – even frowned upon. However, it’s becoming more readily accepted in top hotels and restaurants, and is even expected by Chinese guides and bus drivers on tours.

Religion

Buddhism, Taoism, Islam and Christianity

Shopping in Beijing

• Browse department stores and small shops selling souvenirs and clothes.
• Friendship shops sell goods including silk fabric, handicrafts, clothing and electrical goods.
• Barter for handicrafts and wicker goods at the free markets, and clothes from street traders.
• When buying antiques, make sure they sport the shop’s official red seal or you may run into problems when leaving the country.

Food & drink

Food
• Hotels usually serve western-style breakfast, a Chinese table d’hôte lunch and dinner.
• Western-style food is rarely available in local restaurants. You’ll usually be seated at a large, round table seating up to 10 people, and knives and forks are rarely provided.
• Vegetarians beware - ‘vegetarian’ dishes can be cooked in meat juices.

Drink
• Avoid tap water and ice – stick to bottled water.