Beijing, China’s massive capital, has history stretching back 3 millennia. Yet it’s known as muchfor its modern architecture as its ancient sites such as the grand Forbidden City complex, the imperial palace during the Ming and Qing dynasties. Nearby, the massive Tiananmen Square pedestrian plaza is the site of Mao Zedong’s mausoleum and the National Museum of China, displaying a vast collection of cultural relics.
Other major attractions include the Summer Palace, the retreat of emperors with pavilions and gardens along Kunming Lake. Temple of Heaven is a park that’s home to the colorful, circular Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests. Beijing Olympic Park, built for the 2008 games, encompasses a long promenade and Beijing National Stadium, dubbed the “Bird’s Nest” for its interlocking steel grids. The Back Lakes district offers narrow old streets (hutongs) lined with boutiques and cafes. The 798 Art District hosts cutting-edge galleries. A popular side trip is an excursion to a nearby section of the Great Wall of China