Flight and hotel Beijing
Formerly known as Peking, Beijing is the gargantuan capital city of China, situated in the northeast of the country. Beijing has seen mighty empires come and go, and the transition of the nation through many political guises. The sense of history is imposing here, with a mix of magnificent palaces sitting alongside communist architecture of jaw-dropping scale.
Opting for a flight and hotel in Beijing for a holiday isn't all just learning about the past. Beijing has sped towards modernity at a staggering rate, with bars, museums, restaurants and coffee shops turning this Asian mega-metropolis into one of the world's most dynamic destinations.
Explore the grandeur of the Great Wall with a flight to Beijing before spending an afternoon tucked away in the inner city's ancient hutongs (alleys), which have been turned into boutique cafés and restaurants. Eat your way through stalls of street food, shop at markets and high-end stores and discover one of the richest cultures on the planet.
What you need to know before visiting Beijing
When setting off on city breaks in Beijing, international travellers will likely arrive at Beijing Capital International Airport. To reach the downtown area, you can either take a taxi or train. The latter is much easier to navigate, cheaper and you can avoid Beijing's busy traffic.
Visitors from most countries, including the United Kingdom, need a visa to enter China. The process for obtaining a visa is normally quite straightforward. However, you should leave plenty of time in case you encounter any delays in the application. The currency in China is the yuan – check the exchange rate before heading off for your flight and hotel in Beijing.
Whereas standard Mandarin is the primary language spoken in Beijing, there are various dialects from different parts of the country. English isn't widely spoken, but the staff at attractions and restaurants will probably be able to carry out basic transactions. A few Chinese phrases will go a long way upon arrival after your flight from London to Beijing.
When is the best time to visit Beijing?
Spring and autumn are considered the best times to visit Beijing. Rainfall is low at this time, and temperatures are moderate and perfect for exploring the city's many fantastic sights. The trees, flowers and surrounding mountains are in full bloom at this time and add a wonderful splash of colour to the city.
While summers in Beijing are hot, air conditioning is ubiquitous. Winters, which are chilly, are often the quietest time and ideal for exploring the magnificent Chinese capital on package holidays in Beijing.
What to do in Beijing
While Beijing has a reputation for its grand architecture, influenced by ancient Chinese dynasties, it is also a modern metropolis, bursting with modern art, counterculture and a nightlife to rival that of any European city. Beijing also has burgeoning arts and music scene. The Caochangdi district is peppered with small art galleries displaying the works of local artists. Alternatively, head to Beijing's modern art museum for an exclusive screening of an arthouse classic.
The 798 Art Zone is a converted warehouse district occupied by artists displaying their various works and popup shops selling a variety of trinkets. There's plenty of shopping to be done on a weekend in Beijing as well. While there are malls all over the city, its most prominent shopping area is east of Tiananmen, in Sanlitun. The Silk Market is the most popular for picking up clothes, accessories and electronics – get ready to bargain in this maze of shops, and find yourself something special.
What places should you visit in Beijing?
As well as the city's modern tropes, many visitors flying from Manchester to Beijing will be drawn to its historical attractions. The following are itinerary musts:
- The Forbidden City – A gargantuan palace, home to former emperors.
- The Great Wall of China – An ancient fortification built to protect Beijing from invaders.
- Tiananmen Square – The world's largest public square and home to former leader Mao Zedong's mausoleum.
- Beijing National Stadium – The majestic stadium that hosted the Olympic Games in 2008.
- National Museum of China – A huge structure dedicated to Chinese history and culture, housing over one million relics.
What should you eat in Beijing?
No weekend in Beijing is complete without sampling the city's most famous dish, Peking duck. Slowly roasted meat is served with thin, savoury pancakes, shredded cucumber and sauce – you can normally order a whole or half duck for a reasonable price. Beijing boasts an array of food from all over China. Other culinary highlights to sample on city breaks in Beijing include jiaozi, succulent dumplings stuffed with meat or vegetables; and jing jiang rou si, shredded pork in Beijing sauce. Beijing is also home to a wealth of international restaurants, where you can dine on dishes from Paris to Peru.
Things to bring home from Beijing
China's rich cultural heritage and history mean there are plenty of gifts to bring back as a reminder of your holiday. Yixing clay teapots, classic Chinese lanterns, Chinese jewellery and ceramics are just a few of the treasured gems you can buy on package holidays in Beijing.
Tea is also a popular gift, and the range of different varieties available is simply breathtaking. For history buffs, posters and communist iconography are sold everywhere, and it's not frowned upon by locals to purchase this type of memorabilia.