Beijing is the cultural, artistic, and political heart of China. It proudly combines centuries of history with a modern-day hustle and ingenuity. Clocking in at about 22 million inhabitants, it is home to more people than you could meet in a lifetime, as well as more sites of interest than you could check out in just one trip. 

Beijing is a place that can put you in a fog in more ways than one. Beyond the infamously paltry air, the local language poses a challenge, and the geographic parameters of the place can only be described as epic. Then, there is the casual disregard for order, although everything keeps moving in its own way. 

But Beijing will also beguile you with a local culture that emphasizes hospitality, a culinary culture second to none, and streets that are safe to walk any time of day or night.

 The city’s well-known draws are Peking duck, acrobatic shows, and the Forbidden City, but there’s plenty to experience beyond these first-timer treats: arthouse films at a retro-inspired bar, cozy farm-to-table breakfast joints, and designer shops that proclaim their wares are both “made in China” and “designed in China.” Here’s everything you need to know about making the most of your stay in Beijing.