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Last updated : Nov 2009
Beijing Travel Guide
Beijing Travel Guide and Beijing Travel Information - TravelPuppy.com
'Cultural treasure-house of East Asia'

The capital city of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), Beijing (Peking) is a rapidly-growing, dynamic metropolis that, while welcoming foreign businesses and visitors, retains a strong grip on its rich cultural heritage and a tightly controlled Communist social order. It is a monolithic showcase that may give a distorted impression of China to foreign visitors. Beijing is a cosmopolitan city with high-rise buildings, shopping malls and huge international hotels linked by an elaborate freeway system crisscrossing the city. During rush hour, traffic jams can rival those of any major city around the world and the ringing of cell phones is incessant. However, the modern buildings hide traditional hutongs, parks, numerous architectural treasure and beautiful yellow-tiled temples whose prayer flags and wind chimes flap in the breeze created by the passing traffic.

Beijing became China’s capital in 1421 and remained so until the fall of the imperial regime in 1911. It wasn't until late in 19th century that Westerners were permitted to reside there and all trading links had formerly been restricted to Canton. From 1911 to 1949 Beijing endured, as did the rest of China, from the battles fought between various factions trying to take over the whole country. The Japanese invasion in 1931 was followed by a nasty civil war, which ultimately led to Communist supremacy under Mao Tse Tung and the founding of the People’s Republic of China with Beijing as the capital.

The first ten years of his power were victorious in many ways. Stability prevailed all over the whole country and great progress was achieved in agriculture, industry, education and health care. However, in 1966, Mao initiated the Cultural Revolution, an attack on his more liberal political colleagues, which resulted in several years of anarchy all through the country. After Mao’s death in 1976, China slowly began to open up, welcoming foreigners as investors and as tourists and local Chinese were allowed to set up businesses. Beijing is now keen to show what a thriving commercial capital it has become.

A great place to begin exploring the city is Tiananmen Square, the location where Mao Tse Tung declared the foundation of the People’s Republic. Today, the Square is well known as a result of the suppression of the 1989 student-led pro-democracy protests. To stand – alongside thousands of visitors – and witness the imposing majesty of the Forbidden City to the north and the giant portrait of Mao Tse Tung on the Tiananmen Gate itself is to understand the awesome control that China’s leaders have always had on the people.

Not to be missed is a morning visit to one of Beijing’s public parks. This is when residents let their hair down and relax by indulging in their particular favourite physical activity, whether it's tai’chi, jogging, singing or even ballroom dancing.

Beijing is at its finest in late spring and autumn. Autumn is an especially pleasant time to visit as the weather is warm and the leaves of the many trees in the city turn amazing shades of red and gold. The heat and humidity of the summers and the chilling wind in winter can at times be extreme.
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