See and do
There are three absolute must-dos in Beijing. Start off with a trip out to the Great Wall of China at Badaling (about 70km from town) and take a walk up one of the wonders of the world, some parts of which date back to the 7th Century BCE. There are some steep sections but most abilities should find the walk not overly challenging.
Then head back into town and head to Tiananmen Square, the largest central city square in the world (and the site of mass protests cruelly suppressed in 1989). The square is surrounded by a number of important buildings, including Tiananmen Tower, which was built in 1417 during the Ming Dynasty.
Behind the tower is the Forbidden City, formerly the imperial palace of over 20 emperors during the Ming and Qing dynasties. Here, with a guide, you’ll learn a lot about China’s history and how the country has evolved over centuries.
The best way to see all three is by booking a private tour, which is best arranged through the hotel concierge when you arrive.
Beijing is also a top spot for shopping – both for big brands and bargains at markets. For antiques, head to Beijing Curio City, where around 500 stores sell everything from paintings to carvings, jade and calligraphy. 21 South 3rd East Ring Rd, Chaoyang, Beijing.
Find silk and a large range of other Chinese goodies at Xiu Shui Jie, a market with more than 1,000 retailers – and you better be prepared to bargain. 8 East Xuishui St, Chaoyang, Beijing.
Eat and drink
At Temple Restaurant, it’s about French-Chinese cuisine for brunch, lunch and dinner. The 8-course degustation is the best way to experience this restaurant, which is located in a 600 year old former temple. The pigeon and short rib are menu standouts, which also does an excellent brunch. 23 Shatan N St, Dongcheng, Beijing. +86 10 8400 2232.
Beijing is the home of Peking duck and Duck de Chine, almost exclusively serves up top quack. Go leftfield and also order the duck tacos and pumpkin-infused duck with sour plums. Courtyard 4, 1949 The Hidden City, Gongti Bei Lu, Chaoyang, Beijing. +86 10 6501 8881.
A must-order at Fook Lam Moon is the backed stuffed crab shell and crispy chicken, two of the Cantonese restaurant’s signature dishes. Lvl 4, 1 Jianguomenwai Av, Beijing.
Up on level 80, expect stirred Martinis with a view in Atmosphere, the highest bar in the city. There’s live music most nights and there’s also a more than impressive global wine list. Lvl 80, 1 Jianguomenwai Ave, Beijing.
For more food and drink ideas, visit Time Out Beijing.
High atop the tallest skyscraper in town, the China World Summit Wing hotel by Shangri-La boasts great views of this sprawling city (on a clear day you can see the Olympic Stadium). Rooms are oversized and comfortable with spacious bathrooms (some with a spa by the window), a bar, several restaurants (see above), a swimming pool that overlooks the city and a Chi day spa that's up there with the best in Asia. The hotel offers complimentary Wi-Fi and it's also attached to a shopping centre that features a number of the world’s leading brands. 1 Jianguomenwai Ave, Beijing.
Cathay Pacific flies daily to Beijing via Hong Kong from Melbourne on Airbus A330s. Across Business, Premium and Economy, you'll be more than impressed with the food (at least three main choices, even in economy), service, seats and seat-back on-demand entertainment.