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Exploring Beijing in 4 days

By Raymond Zhou ( China Daily ) Updated: 2014-03-19 07:39:47

 Exploring Beijing in 4 days

The Ming Tombs is one of the six world heritage sites in Beijing.YAN XIANGQUN / FOR CHINA DAILY

Stop at the Echo Wall and discover the wonder of voices bouncing back and forth, somewhat like an echoing chamber where opinions with strong similarity form an impression of diversity.

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A short taxi ride north will take you to Qianmen Street. This retail hub, renovated for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, recreates the hustle and bustle of the early 20th century when traditional elements and Western influence converged. Here are some of the oldest businesses of the city, including the famed Peking Duck. (Peking is the old spelling of Beijing and is now preserved for a few brand names only.)

Saunter north and cross the main street - you may have to take the underpass - you'll find yourself inside Tian'anmen Square, the political heart of China. There's the Chairman Mao Memorial Hall at the center, the Great Hall of the People to the west and the Chinese National Museum to the east, but not all of them may be open on any given day. But no matter, the outdoor part is where the awe is, being the largest square in the whole world and carrying all the political and historical gravitas associated with it.

Where the square ends, the Forbidden City begins, at least as it stands now. Pass through the guard-protected Golden Water Bridge and the thick walls of Tian'anmen Rostrum, and - viola - you're inside the palace proper, now officially known as the Palace Museum. You have to plan carefully because you can sprint across it in one hour or take a full day and still won't finish a portion of it. A reasonable plan is to have lunch at Qianmen and spend a whole afternoon in the square and the palace. That involves miles of walking.

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