北京 Běijīng /bay-jing/), previously known as Peking, is the capital city of the People's Republic of China. We're sure you knew that, but did you know that it is home to the longest wall in the world, as well as the largest palace in the world?
Being China's second largest city after Shanghai, and dominating the north of China, there is a lot going on in Beijing. Here are 10 interesting facts for if you're already planning your trip to Beijing, or if you're just starting to think about it.
Beijing is home to the world's longest wall.
The Great Wall at Badaling
The Great Wall of China is one of the greatest sights in the world — the longest wall in the world, an awe-inspiring feat of ancient defensive architecture. Its winding path over rugged country and steep mountains takes in some great scenery.
The Great Wall has several different locations at which you can climb it, all of which have been built during different periods of time. Some of the most popular ones are Badaling, Mutianyu, and Simatai.
Beijing is, obviously, the best place to try the famous Beijing duck.
Beijing Roast Duck
You really shouldn't be leaving Beijing without trying the most famous dish: Beijing roast duck. The dish is made using white Beijing ducks, who are roasted with compressed air injected between the duck and its skin. Less smoky, hard wood is used, like pear, peach, or date branches, leading to a fruity flavor and a reddish color on the glossy skin of the duck.
There is a lot of other food to try while you're in Beijing too. If you want to know more about local food, check out this piece on how to eat like a local in Beijing.
Beijing Municipality has a population of almost 20 million people.
Tian'anmen Square on a clear day
Beijing Municipality has a population of almost 20 million, covering 16,800 square kilometers (or 6,487 miles). The city proper has a population of almost 12 million people, but it is likely that this data doesn't include many migrant workers coming from all over the country to look for work.
It's important to plan your time in Beijing well, as the distances are far. The city center is located at Tian'anmen (39.9087N, 116.3974E), between
Tian'anmen Square and the Forbidden City, which should be one of your first stops when sightseeing!
While most of the ancient walls are no longer standing (with the inner gates taken away in 1965 to build the second ring road) you can still see one of the gates at Qianmen by Tian'anmen Square, and the watchtower at Deshengmen.
The best time to visit Beijing is May or October.
Autumn in Beijing
Beijing is a city of extremes when it comes to its climate. The highest temperature in Beijing is 42 °C (109 °F) while the lowest temperature is -27 °C (-17 °F).
This means the best time of the year to go is right before summer, or just after. April, May, September and October are the most beautiful and comfortable months. Make sure to avoid national holiday periods though, as tourist sights are
Beijing Capital International Airport is the second busiest airport in the world.
Beijing Capital International Airport is second only in the world following Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, and the busiest in Asia, so you should have no trouble finding a flight!
The city's other public transport infrastructure is also impressive, with 14 lines currently running on the subway (including 21 more lines to be added by 2020).
Beijing's train stations are also built to carry the heavy burden of its huge population: 4 main stations, including one high-speed train station, service 590 trains every day, taking passengers throughout the entire country.