If I just have two days in Beijing, what itinerary would you suggest?
Beijing 's top sight is undeniably the Forbidden City: you will need at least one morning to cover the palace and some of the nearby sights in Tiannamen Square. Take a subway from Tiananmen Xi to Wangfujing and lunch at Quanjude Roast Duck Restaurant or Wangfujing Snack Street. Jump in a taxi to the Temple of Heaven or spend the afternoon on our bicycle tour/ hutong tour. Rise early the next day for a SIC trip to the Great Wall and the Ming Tombs, and spend the evening enjoying a performance of Chinese acrobatics before rounding off the day dining in Sanlitun, at the Hidden Tree of Lao Hanzi.
What 's the best way to get around Beijing?
Traveling by taxi is the easiest way to get around. They are available in front of hotels, train stations and the airport as well as on most major roads. Always make sure the taxi driver turns the meter on when you get inside; un-metered taxis are illegal and their drivers will generally try to cheat you. Want to save time? Take the subway when possible. Beijing has several subway lines that can take you to key sights around the city. They 're cheap (about 50 cents one way), and it 's not that hard to figure out where you 're going with a map (one of the key subway lines makes a square loop in central Beijing). Yes, the trains are very crowded, but you 'll find that you 'll save a lot of time, and most ways to travel are crowded here. Traveling in Beijing, always carry a map and be sure that you know exactly where you want to go since few people speak or understand English well.
Can I use travelers checks and how can I exchange currency?
Foreign currency and travelers checks can be changed at large branches of the Bank of China, CITIC Industrial Bank, the airport, hotel money-changing counters, and at several department stores (including the Friendship Store), but you will need your passport. Hotels usually give the official rate, but some will add a small commission. Some up-scale hotels will only change money for their own guests. Useful branches of the Bank of China with foreign exchange counters include a branch next to Oriental Plaza on Wangfujing Dajie, in the Lufthansa Center, Youyi Shopping City, and in the China World Trade Center.
What about the accommodation in Beijing?
Beijing has a wide range of accommodation options, from youth hostels to two and three star mid-range options and elite four and five star hotels. Downtown hotels located near Wangfujing Dajie and the Forbidden City and Tiannanmen Square are relatively easy to find in all budget groups.
What kind of local snacks can I taste in Beijing and where?
Off the main roads and in Beijing's alleys you will find the chance to dine as most Beijingers do. Breakfast can be served up in small family owned restaurants or by street vendors and includes: Youtiao (deep-fried dough stick), Douzhi (bean curd drink), or a bowl of Zhou (porridge). Other snacks include the crunchy, pancake-like fried Jianbing. The heavy meat-filled Roubing (cooked bread filled with finely chopped pork) are lifesavers and very cheap. A good option for vegetarians is Jiucaibing (bread stuffed with cabbage, chives, leek or fennel and egg). Also keep your out for Roujiamo, a scrumptious open-your-mouth-wide bun filled with diced lamb, chili and garlic shoots. Another must are lamb kebabs, which make a cheap, delicious snack or meal.
What is the best way to enjoy a hutong tour?
The best way to see the local hutongs is just to wander around the center of Beijing as the alleyways criss-cross seemingly everywhere within the Second Ring Road. Otherwise, limit yourself to historic areas, such as around the Drum Tower or the area located right next to Beihai Park. Alternatively, jump on a bike or pedicab and just cycle through area. No schmaltzy tourist traps here -- this is real Beijing life.
How many sections of the Great Wall can I travel around Beijing?
There are many sections of the Great Wall and the sections closest to Beijing (and thus the most crowded and touristy) are Juyongguan and Badaling. The next further section is Mutianyu. Beyond that (about 2 hours away from Beijing) lie Simatai and Jinshanling. The further sections are more rugged and you get to experience more of the real Great Wall, but their distance tends to discourage a lot of tourists from taking the trip.
Where can I see the best Kung Fu show?
For Kung Fu lovers, we highly recommend that you attend Beijing 's hit show "The legend of Kung Fu" in the Red Theater. This newly-produced live-action drama has collected a group of the best Kung Fu artists in China. In the show, a little monk grows slowly from a childish boy into an expert Kung Fu master, but only after encountering many difficulties and growing pains. Thrilling action and graceful dances will leave you with a deep impression and turn your evening into a lifelong memory.
Will foreign tourists enjoy the Beijing Opera?
The archaic Chinese words and what has been called the "screeching" style of music can be at best confusing and at worst irritating to the foreign visitor. But the costumes and make-up of Bejing opera are magnificent. The action is even better. In swift battle sequences, trained acrobats leap around and contort their bodies into every imaginable position to better attack their opponents. Rather than the more sedate traditional style, you may choose a shorter program with English subtitles. Zhengyici Theatre, Huguang Guild Hall, Chang 'an Grand Theatre, and Liyuan Theatre all offer this option that is popular with many tourists.