The Great Wall of China

Hotels in Beijing, China

In the "Peking" order of things, Beijing trumps all other capitals of the world. After all, China is the world's most populous country and is set to drive the global economy of the 21st century. Beijing is at the centre of it all – the historical, political and cultural hub of a geographically vast country – making that ultimate leap to global supremacy while holding on to its millennia-old colourful history represented by the Forbidden City. The emperors that have ruled China for more than 2,000 years would have been pleased to see that their imperial capital remains a dragon of a city to this day.

The Forbidden City from your hotel in Beijing, China

Despite being China's capital, Beijing is not the most populous city; that title goes to Shanghai. But still, 20 million residents going in all directions and a staggering 140 million domestic tourists – to say nothing of the 4 million international visitors a year – scrambling for where to stay in Beijing can be downright overwhelming! You can book online for the best Beijing hotel deals. Thanks to Beijing's broad boulevards, sprawling urban core, and thousands of hotels in Beijing, China, getting around the city and finding a place to stay can be quite a pleasant experience.

Massive flow of tourists aside, the Forbidden City, right at the heart of Dongcheng where the best hotels in Beijing can also be found, is one of those tourist traps you should happily get caught in. Experience the splendor and extravagance of imperial China and get happily lost with eyes wide and mouth open in the sun-drenched courtyards, labyrinthine passages, lush gardens, mini-museums, imposing halls and intimidating gates inside the world’s largest palace complex that, quite fittingly, housed 24 consecutive emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties.

Opposite the Forbidden City is the more contemporary but no less historic Tiananmen Square. If for nothing else, the world’s third largest city square is notorious for the 1989 protests – you do remember that guy in white shirt who stood before the rolling tanks and not budging one bit, don’t you?

The Great Wall of China from accommodation in Beijing

Descend into the commoner side of Beijing defined by its ancient "hutong" or narrow alleyways. Chaoyang not only lets you witness local colour at street level, it also leads you to Beijing downtown backpackers and cheap hostels in Beijing. On the splurge end of the spectrum, Chaoyang has the largest concentration of 5 star hotels in Beijing, China due to its proximity to a satellite of tourist attractions.

If you are staying longer, hop on a pedicab or sidecar motorcycle and explore Dongcheng and Chaoyang to look for suitable apartments in Beijing. Centrally located Beijing apartments for rent gets you into the thick of the sights, sounds and smells that have defined “hutong” for the last 800 years. To the northeast lies Haidian and to its immediate southeast lies Xicheng – districts where you can find cheap hotels in Beijing and still be close to action.

While in Beijing, you wouldn’t want to miss the opportunity of a lifetime to walk through the Great Wall or at least a section of it, which is surprisingly easily accessible from the Chinese capital. The Simatai section of the wall, which plunges from cliffs and jagged ridges, is just two hours north of Beijing. Make sense of it all here where the crowd is thinnest and the scenery grandest.