Why stay in Beijing?
Beijing, the capital of the most populous country on earth, is both fascinating and frustrating. It has incredible historical sights which any visitor would enjoy seeing, and it also has high rates of pollution and congestion which make visiting difficult.
Beijing served as the center of China's government at different times and under different dynasties (the earliest dating back to the 13th century), and when China became a Republic it became the new country's capital as well. Many of the city's most famous buildings and monuments were built in the 15th century, including the Forbidden City and the Temple of Heaven. In addition to these attractions, the things a visitor to Beijing should not miss include Tiananmen Square (the largest square in the world), which is home to Mao Zedong's mausoleum directly across from the entrance to the Forbidden City, and the Summer Palace, which has large gardens and ruins of the former retreat of the Qing Dynasty emperors. You can also arrange for a day-trip to see a portion of the Great Wall of China. If you're feeling particularly brave, rent a bicycle and test your mettle against the locals on the crowded streets of Beijing. Then recuperate the next morning with some relaxing tai chi with thousands of the city's residents.
Be advised that as Beijing prepares to host the 2008 Summer Olympic Games, many of its landmarks are getting facelifts, so any visitor prior to the Games will likely find scaffolding on various tourist attractions.
While there used to be a restriction on foreign visitors to stay in high-priced hotels, that is no longer the case. Also, remember that "hostels" aren't just for young backpackers anymore - they're perfect for budget-conscious people who want to meet fellow travelers. A few Beijing hostels worth noting are highlighted here.
Harbour Inn is located near the Bell and Drum Towers and offers single, twin, double, triple, quad and dorm rooms, either en suite or with shared bathrooms. Templeside House Hostel is less than three kilometers to all of Beijing's major attractions and is close to public transit as well.
Red Lantern House is a family-run hostel with a lovely inner courtyard for guests. Sleepy Inn Downtown Lakeside Beijing is in the Shichahai Tourism Area near the subway and the lake.
And if these highlights aren't exactly what you're looking for, there's no need to worry - there are plenty more Beijing hostels listed here. Keep reading descriptions until one of them strikes your fancy.
If you haven't already booked your flight, search for cheap airfare to Beijing and get on your way. And don't forget to read more about the city before you go in the Beijing Travel Guide.