| 5 Ultimate Things To Do In Beijing | 5 Ultimate Things To Do In Beijing | 5 Ultimate Things To Do In Beijing

Northwest of the Forbidden City, Beihai Park is home to Beijing's largest and most beautiful public lake. All you need to do is enjoy the park is stroll around or rent one of the paddle boats that fill the lake on summer weekends. If you wish to see the cultural sights, check out Yongan Temple, from which you can climb to the white stupa perched atop a small island in the lake. Afterward, continue north to explore Qianhai and Houhai, two connected lakes surrounded by shoreside restaurants and bars as well as hutongs.

Built in 1302, the Confucius Temple pays tribute to China's greatest sage and its lasting legacy. The temple is unique in the sense that it is dedicated to a mortal rather than a deity; regardless, worshipers come here to offer gifts and sacrifices much like those seen in Buddhist and Taoist temples. The Hall of Great Accomplishment contains Confucius' funeral tablet, while the Hall of Great Perfection features the central shrine to the scholar and a large collection of ancient musical instruments. In the front and main courtyards of the temple stand rows of stone tablets inscribed with more than 50,000 names of those who passed imperial examinations during the Yuan, Ming, and Qing dynasties. DUMPLINGS AND BAOZI

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Originally built as a temple for Prince Yongzheng, who went on to become the third Qing Dynasty Emperor, Lama Temple is one of the most important Buddhist temples in Beijing. Although it once housed as many as 500 resident monks, today the complex is home to around two dozen, but that does not detract from the splendor of the five main halls and multiple galleries hung with thangkhas (Tibetan scroll paintings). Lama Temple is best visited at a slow pace, but if you're short on time, make sure you do not skip the Pavilion of Ten Thousand Fortunes, inside which stands an awe-inspiring, 85-foot Buddha carved from a single piece of sandalwood.


In the years surrounding the 2008 Summer Olympics, Beijing changed rapidly the entire city blocks were cleared to make way for new hotels, modern buildings, and sports centers. Almost every corner of the city was affected by the games in some regard, but to see two architectural icons from the games that are still standing, head to Beijing Olympic Park. Here you can see the Herzog & amp; of Meuron-designed National Stadium, better known as the Bird's Nest, which features an exterior crafted from 42,000 tons of steel. Nearby, look for the National Aquatics Center, better known as the Water Cube, where Michael Phelps set his world records. During the day you can go inside both venues; you can pay to ride a Segway around the Bird's Nest track for 20 minutes or go to a water park built inside the Water Cube after the games concluded. If you only care about seeing the structures from the outside, it's best to visit the park at night, when both are illuminated.

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