Already the political and cultural hub of China, this capital city is establishing itself as a major international player for business and tourism. Not surprisingly, in 2009 the International Congress and Convention Association ranked Beijing number 10 among the world's meetings and conventions, a jump from number 14 in 2008. The World Women Congress, the World Petroleum Congress and, most notably, the 2008 Summer Olympic Games all selected Beijing as their destination of choice.
Beijing's commitment to fostering its role is evident in the city's incredible development over recent years. Beijing now boasts one of the world's finest airports – Beijing International Capital – that welcomes 65 million passengers every year. This modern and efficient facility was named the world's best airport in 2009 and has direct flights to nearly 80 cities across the globe. Within the city, a vast subway network offers a convenient, affordable option for guests, and tens of thousands of government-registered taxis provide another safe and secure option for foreigners.
Beijing's continuous improvement efforts are especially evident in its growing options for conventions and meetings. Opened in October 2009, the city's newest venue is the China National Convention Center, which served as the main press center and broadcasting location for the 2008 Olympic Games. Now, the center is one of the most versatile venues in the country, open to international conferences, exhibitions, banquets and more.
The China National Convention Center was not the only venue opened in preparation for the 2008 Olympics. At 258,000 square meters, the 91,000-seat Beijing National Stadium hosted both the Opening and Closing Ceremonies along with various athletic events. The Beijing National Aquatics Center, nicknamed the "Water Cube" for its unique square architecture covered in bubbles, hosted the swimming competitions and now has 77,000 square meters of operating areas for sporting, cultural and business events.
Beyond the Olympic Green, events and meetings find a home at the many hotels, restaurants and special venues dotted across Beijing. With its unique architecture, insightful exhibits and state-of-the-art technology, the Capital Museum is an ideal setting for receptions, seminars and conferences. Hip and trendy 798 Space, located in the up-and-coming 798 Art District, offers over 1,000 square meters of space for up to 1,000 guests. Meanwhile, restaurants such as Wu Li Xiang provide a warm, traditional atmosphere for post-conference cocktails and banquet dinners.
One of the most developed cities in China, Beijing's economy is rooted heavily in finance. In fact, the city is home to more than 751 financial organizations as well as more than 20 Fortune Global 500 companies. A number of well-reputed colleges and universities are also in Beijing, including Peking University and Tsinghua University.
As the capital of the People's Republic of China, Beijing is the political, cultural and economical heart of the country. Now with a population of more than 13 million people in the main metropolitan area, Beijing has a history that stretches back more than 3,000 years. In fact, few cities in the world have served as the primary hub for an area as large as China for as long. From its origins as Peking to the rise and fall of many power dynasties to its current role as the capital of the People's Republic of China, modern Beijing has been shaped by ancient traditions mixing with Western influences.
Beijing's long, rich heritage has left a lasting impact on both its citizens and its cityscape. Not surprisingly, the majority of Beijing's buildings carry some sort of historic significance. Visitors can admire the splendor of the Forbidden City, which served as the Chinese imperial palace from the Ming Dynasty to the end of Qing Dynasty. Here, guests can view imperial art at the Palace Museum or wander the gardens of Beihai Park. Elsewhere in the city, explore the Temple of Heaven, where Chinese emperors went to pray for a bountiful harvest, or visit one of the many stone pagodas such as the Pagoda of Tianning Temple or the Pagoda of Cishou Temple.
Especially intriguing about Beijing is how these ancient structures stand side-by-side with the city's more recent construction. It's one of few major cities where guests can see finance technology firm high rises exist alongside a 1,000-year-old silk market still in operation. The recently-opened Capital Museum features permanent exhibitions on the history, architecture and folk customs of Beijing. Or, explore the trendy shops and cafes along Chaowai Dajie, one of the newest shopping areas in Beijing.
China's capital is certainly not all crowded streets and ancient buildings. In fact, there's plenty of green space and recreational options for guests to enjoy. Relax in the Beijing Botanical Gardens, home to fragrant blooms, serene temples and several spots to enjoy a picnic. Beijing also has no fewer than 20 golf courses across the city and surrounding areas, many of which have been designed by the best minds in sports. Or, stop by the Olympic Green to see Beijing's National Stadium, National Aquatics Center, Tennis Center and other venues where athletes made history during the 2008 Summer Olympics.
After a day of exploration, guests can immerse themselves in one of the most exciting aspects of Beijing's culture: the cuisine. Foodies will not feel left out in China's capital, where restaurants line the streets serving up a blend of regional specialties as well as plentiful international flavors. Peking duck is one of the most popular dishes for both locals and visitors, and restaurants such as Quanjude Roast Duck Restaurant, Da Dong Duck Restaurant are among those reputed to serve the best.
All average costs based on U.S. Government Per Diem rates as published by the U.S. General Services Administration.
Beijing's location near the coast gives the city a temperate climate with definite seasonal changes. Temperatures average 17.9°C annually with summers averaging 30.8°C and winters averaging 1.6°C. Annual average precipitation is 580 millimeters. Most rain falls during the summer months, particularly June and July during the East Asian Monsoon season.
After its selection of the 2008 Summer Olympics, the Chinese government pledged great amounts of resources to improving the air quality in Beijing. The efforts have proved successful and levels of smog in the city are manageable.
Spring is largely considered the best time to visit Beijing. Temperatures usually remain mild and pleasant. Plus, because monsoon season has not yet hit its peak, humidity levels in the spring remain comfortable.
China National Convention Center
As part of the city's massive development prior to the 2008 Olympics, Beijing saw the construction of a new convention center at the heart of the Olympic area. Following its use as the main press center and international broadcasting location for the 2008 Olympic Games, the China National Convention Center opened officially for conventions, international meetings and more in November 2009. Easily adaptable to any purpose, this state-of-the-art facility has hosted the tradeshows, fairs, medical expos and more.
China National Convention Center consists of three main facilities and more than 70 meeting rooms of varying sizes. The 6,400-square-meter Plenary Hall can hold 6,000 guests, while the 4,860-square-meter ballroom has space for 3,000 people. The Exhibition hall boasts over 23,000 square meters and can be configured in an endless array of designs to serve any purpose. Supported by only three pillars, the hall's vast floor space is easily divisible into four self-contained, 5,500-square-meter sections.
The location and design for China National Convention Center was selected with convenience in mind. In addition to being just 30 minutes from Beijing Capital International Airport, the convention center has a Beijing Subway stop in the basement and 20 hotels located within one kilometer. The center even has its own hotel, the 420-room CNCC Grand Hotel, connected via outdoor walkway.
Amenities at the China National Convention Center are equally impressive. The on-site catering division can prepare delectable delights for banquets, formal dinners, theme parties or any other event type. The center also offers high-speed and high-quality connections for data, Internet, networking and video services. Wireless Internet is available in all locations in the venue.
Ahead of the curve in so many ways, the China National Convention Center offers even more value in its green design and operation. Committed to strict ecological standards, the center features green design elements such as the 15.8-kilometer central vacuum cleaning system – the longest in China – and Beijing's first waste kitchen waste vacuum collection system.
China International Exhibition Center
Built in 1985, the China International Exhibition Center is one of China's largest conference venues. As such, the center has played host to more than 1,000 tradeshows and hosts hundreds of international exhibitions every year.
The center encompasses 60,000 square meters of indoor exhibition space and an additional 7,000 square meters of outdoor space, as well as conferences rooms, meeting rooms and a business center. Each exhibition hall is fully wired for telecommunications and audio-visual equipment, which including international phone rental and broadband network. Catering services are available, and guests can also make use of the 1,000-square-meter parking lot.
Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK)
Approximate taxi fare: 82 CNY
Beijing Capital International Airport is the world's 3rd busiest airport and the busiest in Asia. Despite handling over 65 million passengers a year, the airport was also named the world's best in 2009 due to its convenience and ease. Located 32 kilometers from the city center, Beijing Capital International Airport offers direct service to approximately 80 cities around the world.
With completion of the airport's Terminal 3 in 2008, Beijing Capital International settled into its current footprint. Terminal 3 is the 2nd largest airport terminal in the world and the 3rd largest building in the world. It houses unparalleled services and amenities for passengers that make flying to and from Beijing a pleasant experience.
Services and dining at Beijing Capital International Airport appeal to each of the airport's millions of travelers. The endless options present a delightful dilemma for passengers wishing to get a taste of China before they depart for home. Beyond mere convenience stores and newsstands, Beijing Capital offers a number of shopping alternatives where guests can find local craftworks, fashionable clothing, gifts for children and even traditional tea and silks. In keeping with Beijing's appeal to visitors from around the globe, the airport's dining options are equally extensive, ranging from traditional Chinese to Western cuisine.
The airport provides all the traditional amenities required for air travel as well as a number of unique options catering to passengers. It features pay-in lounges, where guests can reserve the use of a hotel-style room to relax, sleep or watch television while awaiting the departure of a connecting flight. The on-site business center offers fax, copy, cell phone recharging and Internet services. The airport even has an electric service vehicle that shortens the walking distance for travelers.
Especially unique is the airport's designated area to pick up large numbers of visitors arriving for a conference. This convenience allows for easy organization and transportation of large and mid-sized groups.
Beijing Capital International has three parking garages offering over 7,000 spaces combined. Travelers can also use the shuttle bus and express rail service to move between the airport and downtown Beijing.
Airline carriers serving Beijing Capital International Airport
Traveling to and from Beijing by train is easy, convenient and fast. China has invested heavily in high-speed rail service, and new trains have been introduced to allow for the fastest and most comfortable ride possible. Trains in China reach top speeds of 200 to 250 kilometers per hour and cover the vast distances of the Chinese countryside in a relatively short period of time. Passengers can also book travel for international routes, including travel to Moscow.
In Beijing, most trains arrive and depart from the centrally located Beijing Railway Station. Built in the 1950s, trains at the Beijing Railway Station depart and arriver from destinations including Changchun, Guangzhou, Shanghai and cities in Mongolia and Russia. The railway station is accessible from the Beijing Subway as well as a number of bus lines and trolleys. Beijing's West, North, East and South Railway stations also serve trains, though service and destination options are more limited.
Beijing is home to over 500 bus routes that span the entire city. Though inexpensive and convenient, the bus system can be difficult for travelers who do not speak Chinese, as most drivers and bus signs are given only in the official language. Additionally, congestion in the city can make bus travel more time-consuming, so travel on the subway is generally preferred.
Numbered one to 999, bus lines under 300 serve downtown and buses 300 and above travel to more distant destinations. Buses numbered under 200 generally run daily from 5 AM to 11 PM while those numbered above 300 generally run from 6 AM to about 8 PM or 10 PM. Buses numbered in the 200s are night buses.
Bus fares vary based on line, starting at CNY 1 per journey. Passengers using a Yikatong card receive a discount, with rates starting at CNY 0.40 per journey. Three-day, seven-day and 15-day passes are available.
Opened in 1971, the Beijing Subway had only two lines until the opening of Line 13 in 2002. Since then, the subway has expanded to nine lines – six underground and three above ground – with plans to have 30 lines by 2020. With over 140 stations, the Beijing Subway transfers five million riders every weekday, so travel in the system during rush hour can be extremely crowded.
Fares are CNY 2 flat with unlimited transfers except for the Airport Express line, which costs CNY 25 per trip. All public transportation can be accessed with the Yikatong card, which uses radio frequencies scanned at subway stations and on public transit buses.
Though cars are available for rent in Beijing, this mode of transportation is not advised for visitors. Beijing streets are very crowded, and informal traffic rules are difficult for visitors to understand. Additionally, insurance and other costs for rental cars make renting a car in Beijing very expensive.
Taxis are plentiful throughout Beijing, although travelers are advised to use only registered cabs in the city. Also, passengers need to be aware that most drivers do not speak English, so it is helpful to have destinations written before beginning travel.
Fares on taxis start at CNY 10 for the first three kilometers and CNY 2 per additional kilometer. After 15 kilometers, the base fare is increased CNY 3 for that portion of the journey. Between 11 PM and 5 AM, the fee is also increased, starting at CNY 11 for the first three kilometers and CNY 2.4 per additional kilometer. Travel from Beijing Capital International Airport to the city center ranges from about CNY 70 to CNY 100.
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