Ancient history merges with a twenty-first century cityscape as Beijing remains an ever-evolving capital, embracing waves of futuristic global modernisation whilst honouring age-old Chinese customs and tradition.
Beijing is home to some of the world’s most legendary ancient heritage sites, yet it is only in recent years that the city has risen to prominence on the world stage.
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Legendary Heritage & A Harmony of Nature and Civilisation
Beijing is home to some of the world’s most legendary ancient heritage sites, yet it is only in recent years that the city has risen to prominence on the world stage. As a city which abounds in palaces, temples, mansions, gardens and tombs, it is impossible to explore all of the history that Beijing subsumes. Whilst Beijing’s sections of the Great Wall of China are amongst the best preserved in the whole of China, the starting point for many visitors seeking to discover the historical treasures of Beijing is at the gates of The Forbidden City, a gargantuan palace complex which has been at the city’s imperial and geographical epicentre for five hundred years.
Serving as a secluded palace to a succession of emperors during the Ming and Qing dynasties, the Forbidden City is named as such because it was completely off-limits to citizens and visitors until 1911. Now open to the public, it offers an enlightening glimpse of a wealth of imperial secrets once concealed within the confines of towering ten meter high walls. Beijing wowed the world with the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games which, at the time, were the most expensive and best executed Olympics to date. The Beijing National Stadium, known as the Birdsnest, is now considered a virtual ‘museum piece’; an iconic feat of modern architecture and a symbol of Beijing’s hope of the future.
The horticulture in Beijing is as masterful as the architecture, with plentiful stunning parks and gardens providing tranquil oases. The grounds and gardens of the Summer Palace are a showpiece of Chinese landscape garden design and epitomize the growth of this cultural form throughout the east. The open water surrounded by hills, pavilions, temples and bridges is indicative of refined harmony between nature and civilization, and there is no better reflection of this than the view from the top of Longevity Hill, where the expanse of the lake area can be seen with the shimmering outline of Beijing in the distance.
The imposing Bank of China Tower designed by architect IM Pei can be seen for miles around, with the best way of viewing the incredible cityscape is at night during the spectacular symphony of lights show celebrating the energy, diversity and heritage of this progressive city. As laser lights illuminate twenty of the tallest buildings in Hong Kong, a vantage point on the promenade, mountain top or at the harbour will secure you a magnificent view.
Beijing’s art scene has blossomed in recent years and the prominent 798 Space is at the heart of the growing art and culture community. Located in the creative Dashanzi Art District, the structural exhibition space hosts high-level cultural, artistic and commercial activities which showcase the latest and most exciting pieces of contemporary Chinese art as well as enrapturing film and video viewings. The artistic hub of galleries, cafés, boutiques and restaurants has become a popular haunt for serious art collectors and enthusiasts to buy and browse and is a must-visit destination for anyone with an appreciation of modern art.
An Emerging Nightlife Scene
Beijing has an up-and-coming nightlife scene increasingly offering a throng of stylish bars and clubs. Beijing’s most scenic drinking venue is without doubt the double-storey Happiness Lounge at the Pangu Hotel, which overlooks the Water Cube and Birds Nest Stadium in the Olympic Park. A delicate blend of Chinese and Western accoutrements decorate the stylish interior, however, the focal point is the view outside, guaranteed to hold you transfixed throughout the night.
LAN Club Beijing is the most decadent nightlife spot in the city. Occupying an entire floor of the LG Twin Towers, it is also one of the biggest. Designed by Philippe Starck, opinions on its extravagant decor may vary, but whatever your tastes, you can revel in opulence within your choice of an oyster bar, a cocktail bar, a cigar room and forty-five private VIP rooms with guest DJs and live entertainment hosted most nights. Popular with the movers and shakers of Beijing, LAN bar is the ultimate place to see-and-be-seen.
A New Culinary Realm
Beijing is famed for its traditional Chinese fare, whilst offering new takes on old classics as well as a range of international gastronomy. Brian McKenna @ The Courtyard blends Mediterranean influences with Asian flavours, exciting the senses to push the boundaries of culinary possibilities. Set in a prime location on the moat of the Forbidden City, Chef McKenna’s culinary voyage will provide you with an experimental fine dining experience, perfect for trying new things.
Serving contemporary European cuisine, Temple Restaurant features a creative dining space utilizing the clean, spacious and modern lines of the exterior building which was once a television factory. An excellent place for private dining, Temple Restaurant is committed to providing the highest levels of service for every guest.
For a taste of the delicate ingredients and subtle flavours of traditional Japanese Kyoto cuisine, Kaden Minokichi incorporates the best freshwater dishes in every Kyo-Kaiseki course. As an establishment that once served Japanese emperors, the first international branch of the three-hundred-year-old Kyoto restaurant is now one of the finest places to dine in Beijing.
Equipped with an extensive choice of luxury accommodation, Beijing’s top hotels rank among the finest in the world. Redefining the standards of luxury, the arresting 7 star Pangu Hotel is China’s most recent architectural icon, combining a prestigious location overlooking the 2008 Olympic Park with elegant East-meets-West design and auspicious feng shui detailing. Engineered to accommodate a distinguished clientele of top-ranking international leaders and officials, senior executives and royalty, the outstanding Pangu Hotel compound comprises of office spaces and conference rooms, deluxe restaurants, lavish suites and overwhelmingly opulent Sky Courtyards rivalled nowhere else in the world.