Many hotels will overcharge guests unless you talk to them directly rather than reserving rooms indirectly.
Get Your Bearings in Beijing
Many of the standard tour operators will overcharge you, but will include transportation and translation.
Tips are not necessary at restaurants, but a 15% service fee may be charged by hotels or higher-end restaurants.
Several publications, like Time Out and The Beijinger, contain a schedule of events going on in the city.
Things to do in Beijing
Beijing is known for...
1. Heavy Bargaining:
One of the most fun activities for tourists is bargaining and negotiating when shopping in Beijing. This can be an amazing experience. The general rule is to take their initial price at bargain until you've agreed to pay one-third of the original asking price. Keeping the banter positive is easy with Beijing's talented and fun-loving sales folk. At the fakes markets and on busy tourists streets you'll have to pull out your best bargaining skills to score a good deal. There are, however, a few places you don't have to bargain, including cabs, hotels, most restaurants and bars and in department stores.
2. Peking Opera:
Beijing is known nationally as the soul of the opera scene. The city's many cab drivers are often heard wailing along with the opera performances on the local radio, and there are signs throughout the city for different operas on performance. It's a must-see experience for any tourists to Beijing, and a stark contrast to the opera of Europe and the US. The opera can be confusing in China, but many of the theaters offer English-language subtitles to help urge the audience along.
3. Peking Duck:
Beijing is famous for it's Peking Roast Duck. Served in over one hundred slices, the whole duck arrives on a platter served with cucumber slices, duck sauce, onion slivers and little pancakes to roll it all together into a burrito-style dim sum. The duck is fatty, rich and so full of flavor that it packs a punch. One duck can easily feed four hungry people. The most famous peking duck establishments are Da Dong and Qienjuda. Both offer interesting and exotic side dishes like duck-heart dumplings, coagulated blood soup and duck tongue. But if you'd like to avoid the oddities the duck meat is delicious.
4. Ancient History:
Beijing was a planned city, the northern capital to get away from the heat of Nanjing (the southern capital) in summer. As such, the city is steeped in culture. The center of the capital is the Forbidden City, with ring roads emanating out from there. Most of the city's cultural and historical sites are located near the Forbidden city, like Tienanmen Square, Houhai, Nanluoguxiang, the Drum and Bell Towers, and the Temple of Heaven. In fact, if you stay near the Forbidden city you'll have access to most of the city's history in quick succession.
Unlike many of the country's major cities, Beijing has retained it's hutong scene. A hutong is an old-style home usually made of brick and mortar a single level high. Whole communities of hutongs create a vast netowrk of mazes in Beijing ripe for exploring. One of the most famous hutong areas is Nanluoguxiang, located near Lake Houhai and the Drum and Bell Towers. This alleyway boasts some amazing bars and restaurants, like 12sqm Bar & Cafe or Pass by Bar and Drum and Bell Bar, where you can steal a quick pint or snack as you stroll through the old-style communities.