Beijing and the Middle Kingdom

China, or the People's Republic of China, is THE exotic destination for Europeans and today it welcomes many tourists who come to discover its millennial culture. Beijing, the capital, offers a showcase of modern China while maintaining the signs of its imperial past. During a trip to China, it is almost impossible to have an overall view because the country is so vast and diverse. It has an area of nearly 10 million square kilometres. However, there are two main regions: the north and the west on one side and the south and the east on the other. The north and the west have mountains and deserts and a continental climate. This part of China is less populated. The south and the east are wetter territories where most of the farmlands and inhabitants are located. Beijing, in the northeast of the country is the first step in the discovery of China. Discover our offers for flights to Beijing with Air France.

What to see in Beijing?

With over 20 million inhabitants, Beijing is one of the most populated cities in the world and the economic centre of China. Very different from the communist era, the city has become considerably modern and is in constant evolution. Beijing still maintains a strong cultural and architectural heritage which is a must-see.

The Forbidden City
Also called the Purple City, the vast complex was the centre of the Chinese Empire and the former residence of China's different rulers. Construction began in 1407 and the city has nearly 9 000 bedrooms and rooms. The Imperial city is composed of two parts: a public area, called the "Outer Court", where ceremonies and public events were held. The "Inner Court" was the private area reserved to the emperor and included the apartments for the imperial family. It is possible to visit the outside of the buildings as well as the museum.

Tiananmen Square
From the Forbidden City, you arrive at the square from the Gate of Heavenly Peace. It is the world's third largest square with an area of over 40 hectares. It served as a stage for many political events in China, from Mao's proclamation of the People's Republic of China to the demonstrations in 1989. Near the square is Chairman Mao's mausoleum, the monument to the People's Hero and the Beijing Opera.

The Xicheng District
Located to the north of the Forbidden City, it is the typical area of old Beijing. You can visit the Beihai Park, the Qianhai, Houhai and Xihai Lakes. It is also possible to visit old traditional homes of Beijing. Also, don't miss the Drum and Bell Towers as well as the hutongs, traditional alleys in the old city.

There is so much to see in this rich, fascinating city. Plan on at least 3 days to visit the most emblematic sites in Beijing. Also, don't miss: the Temple of Heaven, the Summer Palace of Empress Dowager Cixi as well as the must-see Great Wall.

Chinese culture

Chinese civilisation is one of the oldest and most refined in the world. You can easily have an idea thanks to its cuisine that has an infinite number of dishes and variations. While in Beijing, you can taste the region's traditional dishes, influenced by the north. Obviously, the famous lacquered duck. However, cuisine in Beijing has many other treasures and typical flavours from old Beijing: mutton fondue, shuanyangrou, or chaogeda, small fried raviolis accompanied with vegetables and meat. There are many traditional restaurants just about everywhere in the city.

Practical Beijing

There is a 7-hour time difference between London and Beijing in the summer and 8 hours in the winter. Due to the country's immense size, China's climate varies from one region to another. It is best to travel to Beijing in the spring and fall when temperatures are more pleasant. Note that tap water is not drinkable in China. Prefer tea and beer, the most frequent beverages in China. Before you leave , make sure that your vaccinations are up to date and follow your doctor's recommendations.

For more information about Beijing