Tiananmen and surroundings 天安门和周围
Photo: adamclyde on Flickr
Iconic political centre steeped in history
Noteworthy for: The infamous 1989 student protests took place here, in and around Tiananmen Square.
Word to the wise: Go to Tiananmen Square at sunrise and watch the Chinese army's honour guards raise the national flag.
From the imperial past of the Forbidden City to the communist party's parades at Tiananmen Square and Mao’s resting place, this area is entrenched in history and any visit to Beijing would be incomplete without a day here.
Those interested in China's development should visit the controversial commercial avenue, just by the Ming dynasty gate south of Tiananmen. Qianmen's historic neighbourhood's buildings were recently razed to the ground to make way for a reconstructed and much more touristy version. Ethics aside, this is still a great spot to check out some traditional Chinese brand items.
The Forbidden City is astounding from the inside but make time for a walk down its west side; the fortified walls, corner towers and the moat are stunning at sunset. End the day in Jingshan Park, climb up to the temple to marvel at the terracotta roofs of the ancient emperor's residence as the sound of the elderly performing Mao-era revolutionary songs lingers in the background.