The second-largest city in China after Shanghai, Beijing has a budding population of over 12 million permanent residents. It is the political, educational and cultural centre of China and is world-famous for its historical significance.
With a surface distance of almost 17,000 sqkm Beijing is one of the great cities of the world.
No longer the 'Hidden Dragon', Beijing is the archetypical modern day city, complete with high rises, snazzy malls, luxury hotels and the latest cars plying the streets and for Beijing watchers the changes in the last few years have been staggering.
Getting Around Beijing
Beijing's urban transport system is based around five concentric ring roads. Ostensibly, the Forbidden City is the geographical centre for the ring roads but the first is not officially defined while the second is located in Beijing's inner city areas. The ring road system starts to resemble expressways the further out of the city they are with the outer roads full-size motorways.
The Beijing Subway system opened in 1971, and had just two lines until the opening of the northern arc Line 13 in 2002. Nowadays, the system has nine lines, four of which are underground, and five are above ground.
Beijing has nearly 700 bus and trolleybus routes and all public transport can be accessed with a scanning card called a Yikatong. There are many inexpensive taxis, both registered and unregistered that operate on a sliding charge scale.
Beijing Capital International Airport boasts the biggest terminal in the world and is situated 20km northeast of the city centre.
Travelling clothes Jeans and a sweater are generally all you need in autumn. In the warmer months of summer, T-shirts and light pants or shorts are your best bet. In winter, it is a good idea to dress in layers: jeans, shirt, sweater and lined or down jacket. Raingear is necessary if you travel during the summer months.
Good to Know
Watch out for Peak Holidays
It is wise to avoid travel in China during Chinese holidays. The most chaotic and crowded seasons are Chinese New Year (falling on the full moon in late January or early February), International Labour Day (May 1 to May 7) and National Day (October 1-7).
Beijing Fast Facts
|Country||People`s Republic of China|
|People||95% Han Chinese|
|Main language||Mandarin (Putonghua)|
|Time zone||GMT/UTC + 8 hours|
|Telephone area code||010|