Beijing (Xingang), China
The capital city of The People's Republic of China sprawls over a vast area and sustains a population of more than 11 million. It has been the seat of power in China since the days of Kublai Khan.
At the heart of this immense metropolis lies the Forbidden City, more than five centuries old. Its 9,999 rooms have been meticulously refurbished. Self-guided audio tour tapes are available at the entrance.
Tiananmen Square, the world’s largest central city square and the site of various historical events, is flanked by significant edifices including the Chinese Revolution History Museum, Mao’s Mausoleum, the Great Hall of the People, Tiananmen (Heavenly Peace Gate) Tower and the Qianmen, and Front Gate. The daily sunrise and sunset flag ceremonies are exceptional.
For an interesting stroll, visit Beijing's Beihai Park, reputedly built by the Great Khan. Crossed by architecturally distinctive walkways and dotted with pavilions including the early 17th-century Five Dragon Pavilion, it has a 27-metre-long Nine Dragon Screen to scare off evil spirits. It also showcases a jar said to be the last remnant of Khan's court, and boasts a lake so large it has its own island.