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Summer Palace

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The Bird's Nest

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Water Cube

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Night view

The ancient heart of the People's Republic of China, Beijing literally means the northern capital. All aspects of Chinese life from commerce to culture, and of course politics, at some time or another converge in this now-modern metropolis. The Olympic Games of 2008 revealed the magnificent city as one of the world’s most exciting destinations—brimming with culture and architectural wonders, both ancient and avant garde.

The Westin Beijing Chaoyang is located in the Sanlitun area, home to embassies and corporate headquarters as well as a hip outdoor mall-type shopping experience for shoppers who enjoy international brand-name stores such as American Apparel and Apple Inc. It is also noted for being home to the largest Adidas store in the world. Day and night, Sanlitun bustles with restaurants and bars and a diverse population of locals, expatriates and visitors from all over the world.

A tour of ancient Beijing begins with the grandeur of the 500-year-old Forbidden City, the magnificent residence of Ming and Qing emperors and their courts. The imperial compound is home to 980 red-walled buildings with orange tiled roofs. The Forbidden City is about 10 kilometers from the hotel and easily accessible by subway. Nearby Beihai Park and its centuries-old white pagoda is China’s best-preserved imperial garden. The geometrically balanced Temple of Heaven is a classic study in Taoist architecture. China’s most iconic edifice, the Great Wall, is an unforgettable day trip.

Ancient Beijing is balanced by a modern, dynamic metropolis. The 798 Art District is a factory compound that is now the centre of modern Chinese art.

Several of Beijing’s most striking avant-garde buildings have Olympic roots, like the Bird’s Nest, where world-class athletic competitions are held. The Water Cube, where Michael Phelps swam into the record books, is an illuminated beacon of China’s entry into modernity. The Houhai area has emerged as the city’s newest nightlife district.

The National Centre for the Performing Arts, also known as The Egg, is a massive orb featuring top music, dance and dramatic performances. For those who measure culture with their taste buds, Quanjude is renowned for its Peking duck. Antique shoppers will spend hours looking for bargains at Liulichang.