Top Things to See in Beijing
Beijing is one the the biggest and busiest cities in the world, the capital China and one of the epicenters Chinese culture. With a history spanning back over 3 millennia, it is known for its ancient historical sites and as well as its modern architecture. It can be intimidating to get acquainted with this cultural and historic super center, but you can start with these 8 attractions.
The Great Wall of China
Although you will have to drive away from the city itself to see this great structure, it is one of the great wonders of the world and a UNESCO world heritage site - you don't want to miss it. The Great Wall is more than just a wall - it is a series of super structures built during the Ming Dynasty (around 2300 years ago!) that snakes almost 9000 kilometers around mountains, deserts, forest and plateaus, between 5 and 10 meters thick and up to 8 meters tall. Pictures do not do the Wall justice - it is something that you have to experience for yourself.
Tiananmen Square
You can't visit China without seeing one of the biggest and most historically significant squares in the world, located in the center of Beijing. Almost one and a half square kilometers in size, Tiananmen Square is a perfect place for people watching, taking pictures, and paying respects to the political history of the space. The nearby attractions include the Gate of Heavenly Peace, the Forbidden City, the Great Hall of the People, the National Museum of China, and Chairman Mao's Mausoleum.
When you tire of the city hustle and bustle, you can visit Yiheyuan or the Summer Palace. During the Qing Dynasty this was an imperial garden, and the maze of palaces, towers, gardens, lakes, halls, and gates there have a special historical charm which nestle perfectly into the natural beauty of the space. If historical gardens, horticulture and landscape design are in your scope of interest, this is the place to be - otherwise, it's just a lovely area to go for a walk and experience the same beautiful scenery as the great emperors that were there before you.
Beihai Gongyuan
Beihai Park is another space where you can enjoy the beauty of nature, landscape design and admire traditional Chinese temples and pavillions. There's park is dominated by a rather large lake where you can rent a boat and explore. The shore is scattered with cafes, bars, and vendors - although it is not a good place to go for quiet solitary tranquility, it is one of the best examples of Chinese garden art and well-worth the modest entrance fee. To get a good view of the city, climb up the majestic White Dagoba on top of Qiong Islet.
Source: Nanluoguxiang, Francisco Anzola - Own Work
If you want to explore off the beaten path of typical sight-seeing attractions, come by Nanluoguxiang. This commercial neighborhood will impress you with a number of souvenir shops, boutiques, bars, restaurants, coffee shops, and live music spots all gathered together on these quaint narrow streets. Take a rickshaw or walk through the Hutongs branching off of the main road to see the real hidden gems and some traditional siheyuan architecture.
Lama Temple
The Lama Temple (or the Yonghe Temple) is a temple and monastery of the school of Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism . The exterior design and gateways, the halls, and all the artwork inside represent the amazing Chinese and Tibetan culture. This is an active temple, so please be respectful and take pictures outside of the building only. If you choose, you can light some incense and listen to the monks chanting. At the very least, step inside to see the majestic Buddha statue, which is 54 feet high.
Olympic Park
Despite the prevalent historical architecture everywhere, never doubt that Beijing is a city of modernity! Come by the Olympic Park built in 2008 for the Summer Olympics. You may not be able to see all of the venues, but the National Aquatic Center - locally known as the Water Cube - now serves now as a large water park with slides, a wave pool, spa areas, and more ! After spending the day poolside, take a walk along the beautiful jogging trails in the Olympic Forest Park .
Beijing marries ancient Chinese culture and heritage with the bustling flow of modern city life. This list is only the tip of the iceberg - Beijing truly is the place to go if you want to experience the best of what China has to offer all in one spot.

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