Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK)

Few cities on Earth have seen as much history — and humanity — as Beijing. The capital of the world’s most populous country is home to 20 million residents and it’s one of those places that visitors leave knowing they’ve tapped just a small fraction of its possibilities.

Start with the imposing Forbidden City. For half a millennium, twenty-four emperors ruled China from within its walls. Built during the Ming Dynasty in the fifteenth century, its 980 buildings and 8,000 rooms are brimming with 2,000 years of Chinese art, history and culture. This is the very heart of the Middle Kingdom itself.

Palaces, Gardens and Other Wonders

One of China’s most beautiful destinations is Beijing’s Summer Palace which overlooks sparkling Lake Kunming. This UNESCO World Heritage site is easy to get to from just about everywhere in the city and is the most pristine remaining example of an imperial garden in the country. Particularly noteworthy is a covered walkway, known as the Long Corridor, which is adorned with some 14,000 paintings.

Just outside Beijing lurks the Great Wall, and when you visit you’ll see why it was considered one of the world’s Seven Wonders. The Wall stretches nearly 4,000 miles across China and you can get there easily by train (about an hour ride) or bus (about 90 minutes).

Something wonderful is happening in the Dashanzi Art District, also known as the 798 Art Zone. This former industrial complex is teeming with eye-popping art, trendy shops, lofts and cafés. It's reputation as Asia’s Greenwich Village is well deserved. Beijing isn't just a treasure chest of antiquities — it’s become a hotbed of contemporary art.

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