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  Exploring Beijing in 4 days  
2014-04-21 16:29:19
China Daily

Best of Beijing

The Summer Palace in a northwestern suburb of Beijing is one of the largest and best-preserved royal parks in China. Bao Xinguo / for China Daily

There are many ways to tour the Chinese capital. A better approach is to savor it like a stick of candied haws, one haw at a time and with long intervals to relish the flavor, rather than like a big apple that you bite off simply because it's good for you and will keep the doctor away.

Like any great city in the world, a four-day tour is possible to cover the greatest sites, enough to make you fall in love with it, but not enough to turn you into an expert. You can adjust your pace by having meal or coffee breaks of variable lengths so that you don't feel rushed and will enjoy the moments at a tempo you find comfortable.

Day 1

Given the unpredictability of the weather, you should be ready to swap the days on this calendar. Unless visibility is very low, this detour out of town should be placed early in the schedule because there's a lot of climbing to do.

Any visit to Beijing is incomplete without a hike on the Great Wall. However, the Wall is thousands of miles long and the Beijing section constitutes only a small part, albeit the most touristy part. The default choice is Badaling, but I recommend Juyong Pass, which is less crowded but no less spectacular. Depending on your health and preference, you can climb very steep steps or have a ramble on the relatively flat areas. There are numerous locations for great photo opportunities. (Did I say you should pick a clear day to go when your eyes can reach the most remote beacon tower?)

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