Beijing is a city that awes and inspires. It was built, after all, to demonstrate the emperor’s power and intimidate the populace. It is also one of the cradles of human civilization, immortalised by Marco Polo in his classic travelogues, and the setting of popular movies such as “The Last Emperor” and “Mulan”. Your Beijing holiday promises to be a true spectacle.
In the past people here frequented teahouses, which were entertainment venues more than anything else. The tea served here was commonplace, but patrons came to enjoy watching the scenery, playing chess, or simply chatting with each other. In 1911 teahouses went out of fashion, and by 1949 only a few were left in operation. Today there is a resurgence of teahouses, especially those that offer entertainment that includes snippets of Beijing opera, stand-up comedy, acrobatics, and contemporary musical performances. Among the currently popular venues are the Lao She, Wufu, and Mingren teahouses.
The Capital Museum on Chang'An Street, open from Tuesday to Sunday between 9am and 5pm, features magnificent architecture and many interesting exhibits. Nearby, Tian’anmen Square, the world’s largest public courtyard, spans an area equivalent to 90 football fields. Lama Temple on Yonghe Gong Street is known for its impressive Buddhist architecture, and is the site where past emperors conducted religious events. What used to be called the Forbidden City is now the Palace Museum, home to the emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties, and housing over 1.5 million historical and cultural pieces.
Witness life on the edge… literally! The Beijing Acrobatics Troupe performs some truly incredible stunts at the Wansheng Juchang, north of Bei Wei Lu. Ticket prices are 180 yuan, around £ 15, for nightly shows.
Try authentic Chinese food at Tianjin Bai Jiao Yuan where they serve generous amounts of very good dumplings, or jiaozi for as little as 24 yuan, or less than £ 2. Or try the incredible roast duck at Li Qun, a bargain-priced feast to be remembered.