Posted January 22, 2010 by Nicki Krawczyk
If you didn't manage to score tickets to witness a moment in history at the big games in Beijing in the summer of '08, take heart: There are still plenty of ways to sample the city's entire chronology, from ancient-dynastic to future-fantastic. Rest your head amid Qing Dynasty relics, sample a few of today's most popular and bizarre delicacies in an open-air market, and then get a glimpse into the future of China—and architecture—at the great big "floating egg."
Sihe Hotel: Who could pass up a chance to stay in the former residence of a bonafide warlord? The Sihe Hotel is the only hotel in Beijing built during the Qing Dynasty and it certainly looks no worse for its age. Featuring a verdant center courtyard around which all of the rooms radiate, this hotel reflects its antique heritage in all of the furnishings but, happily, stops short when it gets to the bathroom—you'll be pleased to find all of the modern conveniences. Standard room rates range from about $74 to $108 per night, depending on the season.
Donghuamen Night Market: Vibrant, frenetic, and, at times, absolutely astonishing, this busy outdoor market and its exuberant clash of old and new is the perfect metaphor for modern-day Beijing. The vendors are uniformly clad in red aprons and visors and most booths feature debatably helpful English signs ("Meat-bunch Items"), but the offerings are strictly traditional and sometimes not for the faint of stomach: Familiar noodles and eggrolls await purchase beside scorpions, fried silkworms, and skewered seahorses (5 Yuan, about $0.73 US; see XE.com for current exchange rates).
National Grand Theatre: Not surprisingly, this colossal titanium and glass orb that seems to float in water has informally been dubbed the "egg." Ultra modern through and through, the National Grand Theatre was constructed as part of Beijing's hyper-powered innovation initiative for the Olympic Games and features a shallow moat that theatergoers must pass beneath to emerge into the egg on the other side. Tickets to shows vary in price, but a view of the theater at night when it's illuminated from within is completely free and thoroughly breathtaking.
To search for flights and compare prices to Beijing, please use our price-comparison tool.(Photo: iStockPhoto/Xin Zhu)
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