Useful Facts and Tips to Help You Plan Your Trip to Beijing
Beijing is a booming city, with more than 15 million residents living in an area the size of Belgium. It’s also a hot tourist destination that offers rich history and culture, world-class cuisine, and amazing activities for people of every interest. If you’re planning to visit, here are the facts at a glance:
Beijing’s history stretches for thousands of years, with the first uncovered settlements dating back to 1000 BC. In 1215 BC, Genghis Khan razed the city. It rebuilt itself into a capitol. A series of empires sprang up in China, with dynasties ruling until relatively modern times. In 1949, Mao Zedong formed the People’s Republic of China, creating the nation as it is known today. More recently, Beijing hosted the 2008 Summer Olympics, drawing visitors from around the world.
The city is located on the North China Plain near the Jundu Mountains and Western Hills. Several major rivers flow through the area, contributing to the Hai River system. The city itself is at 40 to 60 meters above sea level.
Weather and Climate
Beijing is characterized by cold winters and hot summers (from -20 to 40 degrees Celsius).
The city can be enjoyed year round, but the best seasons to visit are generally September through November and March to April. Late summers can have heavy rainstorms. Click here for more info about Beijing weather.
Beijing, like the rest of the country, is in China Standard Time. This is 7 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time.
Beijing, like the rest of the People’s Republic of China, uses the Renminbi. The Yuan is the basic unit of currency. You can use credit cards in major shops, hotel chains, etc. However, carry some cash on you for street food, smaller shops, and souvenir purchases. Consider changing a small amount into Renminbi at home so you’ll have something on hand for taxi fare when you arrive.
Beijing offers a number of ways to get around including taxis, public transportation, and by foot. A good map of the city is a must if you intend to find your own way around. Otherwise, you can hire a taxi or private car to drive you. Finally, you can take Beijing’s network of city buses, trains, and so forth. Just allot plenty of time to travel during rush hour as they can get quite crowded.
Beijing is overall a very safe city. However, there are a few things to be cautious of. First, pickpockets have been known to work in major tourist sites so keep your money close at all times. Next, you may encounter scams such as the Tea House Scam or a suspiciously cheap tour to a famous site. Use only licensed taxis with their meters on to avoid potential problems. Finally, be cautious when crossing busy streets as some drivers can be reckless.
It’s impossible to list all of Beijing’s attractions in a short article like this one, but here are some highlights that most visitors will want to see: The Great Wall, The Forbidden City, Jingshan Park, Temple of Heaven Park, Summer Palace, Tian’anmen Square, Beihai Park, Lama Temple, Beijing Zoo.