Beijing is filled with internationally famous sites like The Forbidden City, The Great Wall, Summer Palace and Tiananmen Square, and seeing all of them can be a challenge unto itself. In addition, the city contains numerous museums, monuments, gardens and religious sites. Traffic, distance and the sheer scope of the city make seeing the numerous sites a challenge, so be sure to plan in advance.
Many of the standard tour operators will overcharge you, but will include transportation and translation.
Beijing offers accommodations of all types. The city center contains everything from high-end luxury hotels to budget hostels, and is located close to many of the city's attractions. Perhaps the best hotels are in Chaoyang, a center frequented by diplomats in an area close to the Central Business District and Sanlitun, the main nightlife center of Beijing. Many luxury hotels are also spas with traditional Chinese medicine treatments and masseuses and additional accommodations like pools and gyms.
Many hotels will overcharge guests unless you talk to them directly rather than reserving rooms indirectly.
Western-style restaurants of all types are available in several of the city's international districts like Sanlitun and Chaoyang. But Chinese, from meat-heavy Muslim cuisine (from far-off Xinjiang Province) to spicy Sichuan, is in evidence in formal restaurants and humble corner establishments. A more picturesque area to dine is around the Black Lakes, where a spot of preserved traditional buildings is home to eateries amid the narrow lanes and lakes.
Tips are not necessary at restaurants, but a 15% service fee may be charged by hotels or higher-end restaurants.
Most of the nightlife is centered around the bars in Sanlitun, many of which offer live music of all types throughout the week. Several venues and theaters offer Chinese opera, acrobatics and puppet shows. The Beijing Symphony Orchestra performs throughout the year, and the city hosts a number of international ballets and international music events.
Several publications, like Time Out and The Beijinger, contain a schedule of events going on in the city.
Beijing's largest shopping area is Wangfujing Dajie, a long, closed-off walking street filled with large international chains, restaurants and smaller shops selling everything from high-end luxury goods like electronics, fashion and fashion accessories to souvenirs. The Village in Sanlitun's bar district has a more relaxed selection of clothing stores, electronic shops and cafes. Liulichang is another shopping district specializing in handicrafts. with antique shops and other stores selling art, books and tea.
Beijing is famous for its fakes, so be especially careful while shopping for items like pearls and jade.