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The Perfect Beijing Day

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Beijing - city of emperors and concubines, comrades and capitalists - 20 million of them. The spiritual and cultural capital of the Middle Kingdom, there's a lot to get to grips with here.

Start with an early morning visit to the Temple of Heaven, where, as long as you are early enough, you can see Beijing's older citizens practise Tai-Chi, limbering up for the day ahead.

The Temple of Heaven itself is a fascinating glimpse into China's past - this is where the emperor would make sacrifices to the heavens to ensure good harvests for the coming year.

Move on to the Tiananmen Square and Forbidden City. In the Forbidden City try to resist the temptation to follow everyone, and explore some of the lesser-visited buildings away from the central axis of the complex - many of which you'll find virtually deserted.

Exit and head to the nearby Houhai lake area for a well-deserved drink and maybe dinner - there are plenty of fun eating and drinking places dotted around this pretty but lively part of Beijing. If you've still got any energy left, you could then consider heading to Wangfujing night market - a street market serving up a colourful array of snacks and delicacies from all over China, including such tasty morsels as deep fried crickets, or centipede on a stick!

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