China is one of the oldest civilisations in the world and boasts more than 3,600 years of written history. Beijing has been the centre of traditional Chinese culture and learning since the Ming dynasty.

The city has a symphony orchestra as well as opera and ballet companies, and traditional Beijing operas still reflect the opulence and dramatic storytelling from centuries ago with vivid costumes, stylised action, singing and acrobatic fighting.

Notable art collections are housed in the China Art Gallery and The National Museum of China is located on the eastern side of Tiananmen Square and is one of the largest museums in the world.

Visual arts, in particular calligraphy and Chinese-style painting have seen a comeback in recent years and there are many shops and galleries displaying these works.

If you are up early, you will also see rows of local people along roadsides and in parks practice the ancient art of tai chi chuan (Chinese boxing) as their morning exercise. However, Kung Fu is one of the earliest sports in the country and a traditional Chinese martial art. The Red Theatre in Dongcheng district is famous for its Legend of Kung Fu show. Performed by young martial arts practitioners, the story follows a young boy trying to fulfil his dream of becoming a Kung Fu master and demonstrates spectacular Kung Fu disciplines with dance and acrobatics.

Highlights

If its nightlife you want, head towards Houhai, close to Shichahai Lake and the Beijing hutongs. There are many bars and restaurants overlooking the large artificial lake, as well as widescreens showing sports from around the world.

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