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Beijing

After years of percolating interest from the global tourism sector, Beijing sprang into the international spotlight with the 2008 Olympics. The entire world saw it for what it was—a city as modern as it is ancient, brimming with paradox, intrigue and culture. There are few cities in the world where block-style, Communist-era buildings give way to a spectacle as grand as the Forbidden City or the Temple of Heaven, but that's the kind of place Beijing is.

The local travel hub is Beijing's recently expanded Capital International Airport. Flights connect between this three-terminal facility and practically every major city on earth. As the city's successes mount, business travelers come and go in greater numbers and make use of Beijing airport hotels, many of which are brand new. Hotels near Beijing train station are also popular with travelers, especially those taking the trans-Siberian railway across Moscow.

The government has relaxed the regulations on hotels in Beijing, and foreign tourists can stay anywhere they please. Competition keeps prices reasonable and even the most affordable Beijing hotels offer high standards of comfort and service.

Shopping in Beijing is centered on Wang Fu Jing Street, with its extensive range of department stores. A portion of Wang Fu Jing Street is closed to cars and motorbikes, and some visit purely to escape the traffic. But with retail giants like Oriental Plaza and a few of China's best English-language bookstores, there's plenty to do beyond taking a stroll. Some of the finest luxury accommodation in Beijing is also found in this part of town.

East Chaoyang District is Beijing's wealthiest neighborhood, and it also has some of the city's best nightlife. Visitors make the most of the lively bars and clubs in Beijing by booking accommodation in East Chaoyang, especially around Sanlitun and its side streets. This used to be the only place to party in Beijing, though the options are increasingly diverse these days.

For more information on hotels and landmarks in the different areas of Beijing, click on the interactive Beijing map on the left-hand side of the page.