I have lived in Beijing for almost two years and many people have asked me the question: Why? What about the pollution (污染)? Aren't there a lot of people?

Although your goal may be to master the Chinese language (and reading a lot of Chinese language material will definitely help in your endeavor) you will inevitably have the crave for some reading materials in your own language. And despite the rise of the internet and ebooks there are some who simply like the feel of a bound book in their hands. Now, be it in English, French, German or Korean, there are some well stacked book stores in Beijing that cater to just these needs.

Food is an important part of Chinese culture and the act of eating is tied to many different types of emotions in the Chinese language.

Beijing is hot. Great people, great food and a cultural mix that has long been underestimated. No matter if you are just visiting short term or in it for the long run. I guarantee you will fall in love with the city and the people.

The area east of Tian’anmen has been known as the Legation Quarter for housing the diplomatic representations of many a nation from the mid 19th to the mid 20th century. It was a tumultuous time for China as it was engaged in the Opium Wars, the Boxer Rebellion and the Japanese Invasion and went from monarchy to a republic and finally to the PR China we know today.

This book by British writer Paul French tells the story of the mysterious murder of young English woman Pamela Werner in Beijing of the 1930s. It draws most of its dynamics from its historical circumstances; a time when Westerners in Beijing still led privileged albeit doomed lives with the Japanese invasion armies knocking on the door of the city.

A must see for any Beijing visitor is the Great Wall of China. World famous and an incredible sight (at least the first time around) it will blow you away twice: Once for the sight itself and once for the teeming businesses that have been built around it.

To be found nowhere else in the world, the narrow alleyways called hutong are a true Beijing sight to be seen, on a par with the Forbidden City, the Great Wall and the Temple of Heaven. It probably does not inspire the fantasy of travel guide writers as much because you can find them all over the city center and not as a single site in a certain spot. Also, they are free to enjoy, so tourists and locals may not hold them as dear as they deserve to be held.

An insider’s favorite, the Coal Hill is the elevated feature right north of the Forbidden City. As a matter of fact, when leaving the Forbidden City via the north gate you just have to cross the street (by underpass) and you are there. Its opening times are changing constantly but if you go during the morning or early afternoon you will be sure to gain admission.

A must see for any Beijing traveller, the Forbidden City features what used to be the Emperor’s main dwelling back in the days. While it is without doubt that its architecture is very impressive it also tells you a little bit about Chinese culture. The grandeur of the facility namely stands in stark contrast to the humble lives many of the common people have been leading for many, many years.