The Tourist's Guide to Beijing

As long-haul travel and round the world flights have become more affordable, holidays to Beijing have increased in popularity, especially amongst those who wish to truly experience another culture.

Many of China's most famous tourist attractions can be found in its capital, including the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square and the Temple of Heaven.

Many more sites of cultural and historical significance are within easy reach, including the Great Wall, the Summer Palace and the Ming Tomb.

Autumn is considered the ideal time for holidays to China as the weather is usually dry and the temperatures are neither too hot nor too cold.

If you plan on visiting the Beijing Palace Museum, September is the month to go. The low humidity and reasonable temperature makes it the only month its ancient paintings can be put on display.

Remember to check up on local customs when planning holidays to the Far East, as things that are commonplace in the West can sometimes be seen as offensive.

Tipping, for example, is not generally expected in China and may be taken as an insinuation that the employee is undervalued by their employer.

Customs will change from country to country, so those who are travelling on round the world flights should be sure to research each stop they plan to make on their journey.

Getting around Beijing is not difficult. If you are comfortable using the underground, the city's subway will be no challenge and most station signs provide English translations.

Cycling is also very popular and streets often have designated cycle lanes, so hiring a bicycle is a great way to explore the city.

For those wishing to go a little further afield, Shanghai is less than a two hour flight away, so return journeys can easily be made in a single day.

Be sure to only use official taxi ranks and not to accept rides from illegal taxi drivers who may approach you in the street. Official taxis will have a clear sign on the roof and the driver's details will be displayed inside.

Holidays are an opportunity to experience new things, so don't be afraid of exploring your surroundings. Visiting China for the first time can be a little daunting, especially for those used to holidays closer to home, but to truly experience Chinese culture, it is a good idea to explore the back streets and local markets.

Holidays to Beijing wouldn't be complete without a visit to the Wangfujing Night Market to taste exotic street foods, including deep fried insects or scorpions!

Finally, bear in mind that you may be required to pay an exit tax on your departure from Beijing at the airport, so make sure you save enough local currency (Chinese Yuan) to cover the fee.

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