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China's capital is one of the world's truly great cities, with a vast central square (Tiananmen) capable of holding one million people. The city has an amazing blend of old, very old, ancient and brand new, with vast towering skyscrapers and futuristic sporting stadia built only yards from ancient wonders like the Forbidden City.

The city underwent some extensive, significant and hurried changes in the build-up to the 2008 Olympics, with new skyscrapers erected and fabulous sporting arena, including the magnificent Bird's Nest Stadium, built in the years and months before the Games. It has become a modern city with vibrant bars and restaurants and busy shopping districts, yet it has managed to retain its traditional charm. As well as more ancient sites than any other world capital city (with the possible exception of Rome), a walk through some of the old streets will reveal a unique insight into Chinese culture from years gone by - silk and tea shops, ancient antique dealers and herbalist medical practitioners.

There is also a wonderful culinary experience to be had, with the smaller backstreets offering an incredible assault on the senses, as the smells of traditional Chinese cooking fill the air and golden crispy Beijing ducks glow in restaurant windows.

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