Everyone knows Beijing’s bucket-list attractions, from historical sites such as the Great Wall, Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden Palace, to the modern architecture of the Bird’s Nest, CCTV Tower and The Egg. The city is a traditional and futuristic marvel all at once. Yet, while everyone leaves with snapshots of these iconic structures, what’s truly memorable are treks along the old hutong alleys – munching on local snacks from loud street vendors and being swept along by the bustle of 22 million people who call the metropolis home.
When to go
Beijing’s climate is most enjoyable during spring (from end-March to mid-April) and autumn (from mid-September to end-October), though it would be wise to avoid the National Day Golden Week from 1–7 October, as attractions will be packed with domestic tourists. Expect the temperature to fluctuate wildly during these two seasons – it’s often an agreeable 25ºC during the day but turns chilly at 10ºC when the sun sets. Bring along a warm jacket when you venture out at night.
How to get around
Beijing has 22 subway lines, which are among the busiest in the world. However, it is a massive city, so your destinations can still be quite a walk from the subway stations. Be sure to download bike-sharing apps such as Mobike or Ofo – there are always plenty of bikes around – for quick jaunts within the city centre. For taxis, skip queues and language barriers by downloading DiDi – a ride-hailing app. All these apps are easy to use with an English interface.