The Afar Guide to

Throughout its long history, Beijing has oscillated between positions of imperial grandeur and subjugation to foreign powers. In the 21st century, the city has again emerged as a seat of global power and influence, modernizing at a breakneck pace. Yet amid the new skyscrapers and crowded roadways, Beijing retains much of the sleepy charm it had a century ago. While the convenience and comforts brought by China’s rise make a trip to the capital pleasant enough, the real reward for travelers is a discovery of how, at its cultural foundation, so little of the city has really changed.

Essential Beijing Facts to

know before you go

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Matthew DurninBeijing Local Expert

Matt Durnin is a research consultant specializing in China's economics and politics. He has lived in Beijing for eight years despite frequent, half-hearted attempts to escape its gravitational pull. When he's not working, Matt is usually sweating out his vacation days seeking adventure in remote corners of the globe.