About, in and around Beijing
Gonna visit Beijing? There are a lot of obvious must-do things in Beijing that can be found in any guidebook or tourist brochure, i.e. Forbidden City, Great Wall, Temple of Heaven, Summer Palace and innumerable museums.
Most tour guides also take visitors to Wangfujing, a downtown area with a lot of shopping malls, tourist shops, restaurants, bookstores and a great food-stall street. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wangfujing
All these things are "must do" and I've done them all more than once. At Wangfujing I always go to the Foreign Languages Bookstore (北京市外文书店) because it's got a huge collection of English language books about Chinese language, history, culture, philosophy, travel, etc. and novels too. My advice is go to all of the above.
While you're at Foreign Bookstore you might want to pick up one or more of the following books:
* Romance of the Three Kingdoms
* Journey to the West
* Outlaws of the Marsh
* A Dream of Red Mansion
Each of these is really a trilogy, but they are very inexpensive, and the best of classic Chinese literature. (Buying all four series might be a little heavy if you're on vacation and need to carry them in a suitcase - but definately pick up "Three Kingdoms" or "Journey to the West." Journey to the West is my favorite!)
Definately pick up some book(s) to help you with Chinese language!
The Bookworm Cafe is pretty cool too, (http://www.beijingbookworm.com/) day and night.
For nightlife tourists are directed towards the Sanlitun bar street or Houhai. If you like drinking these places are great. There are also a number of famous dancing bars spanning the whole range from rock, to techno and hip hop.
Beijing is easy to get around as there's a beautiful modern clean subway system and high speed railways going in every direction. If you feel lost, don't worry, ask anyone. People here are very friendly and a high percentage speak at least some English.
FOR REAL FUN...
For something off the beaten path try the Beijing Hikers Club. It's extraordinary and will take you to beautiful and exotic places not in the tourist books.
Office (10) 6432-2786
There are also a lot of Spas in Beijing - that's definately fun in the evening to unwind and relax! Changping District (the far north side of Beijing) has real 24 hour hot springs that are excellent.
"The Beijinger" is probably the best resource on the web for English speaking people looking for something to do in Beijing. They definately have the inside scoop and keep a great calendar of upcoming events.
The best advice for visitors is to meet some locals at your martial art club and see what they do. See the REAL Beijing! Get off the beaten path.