Beijing: All Inclusive

The Forbidden City

Backpacking

Backpacking in Beijing

Beijing is an unusual choice for a backpacking holiday, but surprisingly, its quite easy to get by on a low budget. Backpackers in Beijing and budget travelers in Beijing should be able to get by on US$1-2 for meals, and about US$25-35 for accommodation, but to be safe plan on spending about US$50 a day, as although food is generally cheap, train journeys can add up Hostels in Beijing:

Beijing Perfect Inn

Dragon’s House Hostel

Ann Tour International Youth

Bai Ta Yuan Guest House

Beijing Jade Youth Hostel
 

City Breaks

City Breaks in Beijing

If you’re in need of a city break, Beijing is a fantastic destination. With the Forbidden City, the Great Wall, Ming Tombs and host of the 2008 Olympics Beijing is China's political, economic and cultural capital.

Now, as China's political capital and largest city (population: 12 million), Beijing is marching headlong into the future, sprouting skyscrapers, Starbucks outlets and mobile phone devotees at breakneck pace.The capital wave, however, has yet to entirely wash away the communist residue. Yuppies share the streets with Confucius-style old-timers, and ancient quarters are overlooked by monoliths of concrete and steel, all against the distant backdrop of the Great Wall of China. Whatever you've come to see during your city break in Beijing, you'll leave wide-eyed.

Leave plenty of time to tuck into the city's other attractions: shopping galore, a profusion of cuisine from all over China, burgeoning nightlife and jaw-dropping acrobatics shows.
With an abundance of accommodation, from budget hostels to world-class international hotels, fantastic history and sightseeing, lively nightlife, delicious street food and top rated restaurants; a city break in Beijing comes highly recommended.
 

Corporate Weekend

Corporate Weekend in Beijing

At 10 hours from the UK, Beijing is not ideally situated for a weekend away. However, if you are based any closer to China then a corporate weekend in Beijing could be ideal for your needs.

With the Forbidden City, the Great Wall, Ming Tombs and host of the 2008 Olympics Beijing is China's political, economic and cultural capital.
With world-class international hotels, fantastic history and sightseeing, lively nightlife, delicious street food and top rated restaurants; a corporate weekend in Beijing could be just what you’re looking for.
 

Cruises

Cruises in Beijing

Beijing is not located directly on the ocean, so it does not really qualify as a cruise ship port of call. If you look at a map, Beijing is about 2 hours (90 miles) inland from the port at Tianjin, which is actually about 30 miles up the Hai River from the Gulf of Bohai on the China Sea. So, what's a cruise lover to do? How can one combine a love of cruising with a Beijing tour?

Most Yangtze River cruise tours include China's capital city of Beijing on their itinerary. Passengers fly from Beijing to the Yangtze River at Chongqing to join their river cruise ship. Cruise lovers can also tour Beijing as part of a pre- or post-cruise land excursion from an ocean going cruise ship. Some cruise ships also dock overnight in Tianjin and bus the passengers to Beijing for a unique overnight shore excursion.
 

Culture and Arts

Culture and Arts in Beijing

People native to Beijing speak the ‘Beijing dialect’, which belongs to the Mandarin sub-division of spoken Chinese. Beijing dialect is the basis for standard Mandarin, which is spoken in Mainland China. Rural areas of China have their own dialects.

The Beijing Opera is famous throughout the world and is a must see. It is performed in an ancient dialect with song, spoken dialogue and action sequences including fighting and acrobatics.

The Cloisonné or Jingtailan metalworking technique is a specialty of Beijing’s cultural art, and is one of the most respected traditional crafts in China. Cloisonné making requires elaborate and complicated processes, which includes: base hammering, copper-strip inlay, soldering, enamel filling, enamel firing, surface polishing and gilding. Beijing's lacquer ware is also well known for its sophisticated and intrinsic patterns and images carved into its surface, and the various decoration techniques of lacquer includes ‘carved lacquer’ and ‘engraved gold’.

Younger residents of Beijing have become more attracted to the nightlife, which has flourished in recent decade, breaking prior cultural traditions that practically restricted it to the upper class.

The city remains an epicenter of tradition with the treasures of nearly 2,000 years as the imperial capital still on view—in the famed Forbidden City and in the city's lush pavilions and gardens.


 

Family Holiday

Family Holiday in Beijing

There is plenty to see and do for all the family in Beijing. Since the early 90's, Beijing has undergone a total metamorphosis of infrastructure upgrade, visitor comfort and transportation facilities, and with the staging of the Olympics in 2008, many more facilities, hotels, and restaurants were installed.

There is so much to see in Beijing that the best thing to do, especially with young children, is to target a couple of places you and your kids won't want to miss, and explore from there.

Hotel prices in the larger cities are not dissimilar to those in Europe and the USA, some with stunning architecture, from luxury to truly family friendly hotels.

Alternatives to hotel stays include escorted family tours, which make it easy to explore your chosen region and its highlights, whilst still enjoying guaranteed good quality accommodation without the stress.

A family holiday in Beijing is certainly possible.
 

Gay and Lesbian

Gay and Lesbian in Beijing

If you’re looking for a gay friendly city in China, then Shanghai is probably further ahead than Beijing, having said that, the capital city's once non-existent gay scene is slowly but surely developing legs. Everyone you meet in Beijing will tell you how much the city has changed in recent years. While not as radical as the space-age transformation of Shanghai, solemn Beijing is slowly re-furbishing its historical and cultural assets as it upgrades its infrastructure.

That said, Beijing is not a place for abundant nightlife or a quickie holiday romance. Educated gays tend to socialize in small circles of friends, visiting bars and saunas only occasionally and in groups.

The current go-to club on the gay Beijing scene is a cushy, dance club and cocktail bar called Destination, which pulls in a mix of trendy young Chinese residents, corporate mavericks from points afar, and hip ex-pats. Weekdays can be a little quiet here, but Destination kicks into high gear Wednesday (for its popular midweek celebration), Friday, and Saturday nights.

You'll find several gay-friendly restaurants within a 15-minute walk of Destination, including romantic Mare (Spanish Tapas) and cosy Alameda (a fashionable bistro serving fusion Asia-meets-Brazil fare).
Just about any of the see-and-be-seen restaurants along the entertainment strips near Worker's Stadium, such as Sanlitun Bar Street, have at least a nominal gay scene - the neighbourhood is known as the Chaoyang District. Of course, Western culture - and franchises - continues to make inroads throughout Beijing, and it's no shock that the Starbucks near Sanlitun Bar Street is also a popular social spot for upwardly mobile types, including plenty of gays and lesbians.

Never-the-less, a number of gay venues have found a steady clientele and signs indicate that the emerging middle class will shortly experience an explosion of lifestyle opportunities that accompanies growing economic power around the country.
Gay culture is still very much on the down low, but you're unlikely to encounter hostility or unfriendliness based on your sexual orientation. Still, it's wise to avoid obvious displays of public affection with your same-gender friends or partners.

If you're planning a trip of around two weeks or more, you might consider tacking on a few days in Hong Kong, which has one of the most vibrant gay scenes in Asia.

Beijing has no gay-specific accommodations; however, the major international chains are all quite gay-friendly, especially the Ritz-Carlton, a sleek and contemporary property in west Beijing's newly developed Financial Street District. This isn't the most charming of neighbourhoods, as it's mostly a haven of banks and office towers, but the staff at the Ritz is top-notch and can help you get anywhere you're going. The facilities - including a spa and two restaurants, Qi (Chinese) and Cepe (mod-Italian) - are simply not to be missed. The Ritz is also developing a second property, in the bustling Chaoyang District, to open in late 2007.

Closer to Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, and the Chaoyang District, the outstanding Grand Hyatt Beijing has sumptuous and contemporary rooms as well as arguably the best restaurant (called Made in China) in the city to sample authentic Peking duck and "beggar's chicken." The gay-friendly Hyatt chain is also busily readying a new Beijing property, the ultra-luxe Park Hyatt, which will open in the Chaoyang District later in 2007. If you're looking to save a little money but still enjoy a comfortable room and a super-central Chaoyang District location, try the Comfort Inn & Suites Beijing, a reliable and well-run option with extremely low rates.
 

Honeymoon

Honeymoon in Beijing

Beijing is an exciting destination for a city honeymoon. While chaotic and energetic, the luxury hotels and tranquil gardens of this ancient city can make you feel miles away from it all.

The city is very tourist-friendly, after massive improvements to its infrastructure after the hosting of the 2008 Olympic games. Major hotel chains in Beijing employ English-speaking staff members. Taxis are astonishingly cheap, the underground metro system bears English translations and, if you do get lost, Beijingers in general are warm, welcoming, and eager to help honeymooners explore their home.

Honeymooners will definitely want to spend a few hours ogling the royal digs in the Forbidden City, which is located just north of Tiananmen Square, another popular destination. Although the architecture is the main attraction, there are some beautiful antique furnishings also on display.

Nuzzle in the back of a rickshaw while the driver tours you through the remaining hutongs (alleyway homes, most of which around the city have been razed by developers) by Houhai Lake. Then grab a drink with a view at one of the lake’s many waterfront bars.

Rise early one morning for a meditative hand-in-hand stroll through the parks surrounding the Temple of Heaven in Beijing and watch the locals wake up with tai chi—either in groups or sequestered away privately among the bushes and numerous improvised paths. The active Temple, which many consider to be the most famous, interesting, and beautiful in Beijing, opens at 8 am for both worship and tours.
Art lovers won’t want to miss the 798 Art District northeast of the city, which is home to a burgeoning contemporary scene rife with top-notch galleries as well as the kind of chic cafés that inevitably follow.

No trip to Beijing is complete without a day trip to the Great Wall, several portions of which are within a couple of hours’ drive from Beijing.

Any hotel can book you on a group hike through the most trafficked portion of the Wall, but a private car or guide can take you off the beaten path. Standing inside a mountaintop tower gazing out at some of the 4,000 meandering miles of wall gives a couple a powerful way to contemplate how to build something strong that lasts forever.
 

Couples Holiday

Couples Holiday in Beijing

Beijing is an exciting destination for a couple’s holiday. While chaotic and energetic, the luxury hotels and tranquil gardens of this ancient city can make you feel miles away from it all.

The city is very tourist-friendly, after massive improvements to its infrastructure after the hosting of the 2008 Olympic games. Major hotel chains in Beijing employ English-speaking staff members. Taxis are astonishingly cheap, the underground metro system bears English translations and, if you do get lost, Beijingers in general are warm, welcoming, and eager to help couples explore their home.

Honeymooners will definitely want to spend a few hours ogling the royal digs in the Forbidden City, which is located just north of Tiananmen Square, another popular destination. Although the architecture is the main attraction, there are some beautiful antique furnishings also on display.

Nuzzle in the back of a rickshaw while the driver tours you through the remaining hutongs (alleyway homes, most of which around the city have been razed by developers) by Houhai Lake. Then grab a drink with a view at one of the lake’s many waterfront bars.
Rise early one morning for a meditative hand-in-hand stroll through the parks surrounding the Temple of Heaven in Beijing and watch the locals wake up with tai chi—either in groups or sequestered
away privately among the bushes and numerous improvised paths. The active Temple, which many consider to be the most famous, interesting, and beautiful in Beijing, opens at 8 am for both worship and tours.

Art lovers won’t want to miss the 798 Art District northeast of the city, which is home to a burgeoning contemporary scene rife with top-notch galleries as well as the kind of chic cafés that inevitably follow.

No trip to Beijing is complete without a day trip to the Great Wall, several portions of which are within a couple of hours’ drive from Beijing.

Any hotel can book you on a group hike through the most trafficked portion of the Wall, but a private car or guide can take you off the beaten path. Standing inside a mountaintop tower gazing out at some of the 4,000 meandering miles of wall gives a couple a powerful way to contemplate how to build something strong that lasts forever.

 

Golf Activity Holiday

Golf Activity Holiday in Beijing

Beijing has some of the finest golf courses in the world. Beijing's executives have truly embraced and enjoyed the sport of golf for years, but the word is out. Visitors from around the world are discovering some of the very best links China has to offer in and around Beijing

Beijing Golf Club is one of the most famous golf clubs in China. It is around 35 kms from downtown Beijing. The challenging 18 holes are laid among the beautiful forest with clean ponds, which reflect surrounding green trees and blue sky.

Beijing CBD International Golf Club boasts an ideal location. It is to the east of the Eastern 4th Ring Road, 8 minutes' drive to the China World Trade Tower, center of the Central Business District and 15 minutes' drive to the Wang Fu Jing Street. It is the only TPC (Tournament Player Course) style course in Asia. TPC style is distinguished by large water hazard and long bunkers. Beijing CBD International Golf Club has signed to host the 2008 Volvo China Open.

Beijing Country Golf Club owns an elegant environment. The forest, lake, fishing island, green hills and fruit gardens add great charm to the course. It is an 18-hole 72 par international standard golf course that measures 20903 yards. The changes between fairways are very profound, fit different level golfers to play. The club has an exercise ground, an indoor swimming pool, a bowling court, a gym, a restaurant, a sauna room; a surfing pool and also foot massage service.

Being the first club opened in downtown Beijing, Beijing Links Golf Club is just 5 minutes' drive away from the Asian Athletic Village, 10 minutes away from one of the business districts and 20 minutes drive to Beijing International Airport. Beijing Links Golf Club includes a first class luxurious clubhouse of 6000 square meters and an 18-hole 72-par international standard golf course of 620,000 square meters.
 

Shopping Holiday

Shopping Holiday in Beijing

Beijing has a variety of shopping opportunities to keep you busy for a few days. Although not anything like New York, Paris or London, Beijing’s shopping is best done in the markets and antique shops that spring up throughout the city.

Throughout nearly all markets in Beijing, haggling is essential. Especially when browsing through large, "touristy" shopping areas for common items, do not put it beneath your dignity to start bargaining at 15% of the vendor's initial asking price. After spending some time haggling, never hesitate to threaten walking away, as this is often the quickest way to see a vendor lower his or her prices to a reasonable level. Buying in bulk or in groups may also lower the price. Beware that if you start your bargaining at too low of a price, such as 5% of the asking price, the vendor may just immediately give up on trying to sell the item to you. How high or low the vendor sets the asking price depend on the customer, the vendor, the product's popularity, and even the time of day. Vendors also tend to target visible minorities more, such as Caucasians or people of African descent.

China's government passed a law in May 2007 banning the export of antiques from before 1911. It is now illegal to purchase antiques from before 1911 and take them out of China. Even antiques bought in proper auctions cannot be taken out of China. As violation of this law could lead to heavy fines and a possible jail term, it would be wise to heed it. However if you let a vendor know you are aware of this law he/she may lower their prices since they know you know their "antiques" really aren't Ming Dynasty originals.
Hotel shops and Department stores do not offer the most characterful shopping in China, but are worth a look. While generally significantly more expensive, they are less likely to sell truly low quality goods. Shops with a better design sense are gradually transforming the old style of Chinese retailing and souvenir items are getting better each year. Silk clothing, and table settings such as those sold by Emperor at Kempinski Hotel and other spots around town, are worth a look, as are porcelain, specialty tea and other traditional items.

The carpet business is strong in Beijing and you will find all manner of stores selling silk carpets and other varieties. For Tibetan carpets, try Torana Gallery at the Kempinski Hotel, one of the few places selling carpets that are actually made in Tibet.

There are also companies that cater to tourists interested in buying antique Chinese furniture during their visit to Beijing.
Chic Antique can organize one-day visits to warehouses located in the outskirts of the city, as well as organizing restoration work, export documents, packing and door-to-door shipping.
 

Well-being and Spa

Well-being and Spa in Beijing

Beijing is a center of relaxation and well being, with many Spa Hotels dedicated to making your stay as tranquil as possible.

Linking two cultures, LeSpa at Sofitel Wanda Beijing blends the ancient traditions of Chinese well-being in rituals handed down through the centuries with the knowledge and expertise of modern French beauty.

Taking a holistic approach to physical and spiritual well being, this palatial retreat provides a sanctuary for the senses. Its innovative East/West fusion treatments and elegant rooms are a hit with guests and their royal jasmine package is well worth the cost.
Zen Spa's architecture is to integrate Chinese traditional courtyard style and western aesthetics. As the name suggests, it promotes the Buddha spirits, where there has the sound of creeks and breeze make you feel comfortable and easeful.

Inevitably, many of the plush new spas here are in five-star hotels, but there are also many excellent independent options that are usually cheaper than their hotel counterparts. The variety in treatments is exceptional, ranging from standard Thai and Chinese aroma massages, to targeted treatments and indulgent all day rituals. These spas are increasingly catering to male patrons, with a number of men only centers opening in recent years (including Spa de Feng, C306 Sunshine 100, 2 Guanghua Lu, Chaoyang, 010 5100 1330). Pattaya is also popular with gents (www.pattaya-spa.com).

Some spas will charge around ¥100 for admission, which includes use of the showers, hot tubs and saunas, and even food. Charges are then added for massages (usually between ¥200 and ¥500 for one hour) or other services. Whatever you go for, membership offers can see you pumiced, polished and pruned for a lot less than you might expect.

Cheaper massage and beauty services are available at bathhouses and salons around the city, but be aware that many of these are fronts for prostitution.