Beijing is a wonderful mixture of the ancient and the modern, the past and the present.
If you only have one day, do the essentials. Tiananmen Square dates from 1417 and has witnessed some of the most pivotal moments in China’s history, including the 1989 protests. It’s also the site of Mao’s Mausoleum, a place of pilgrimage for Chinese tourists. The queue for entry looks lengthy, but moves fast and entry is free. Nearby the Forbidden City has over 1,800,000 sq km of gardens, palaces and halls of relics dating back to 1407. Home to 24 emperors over five centuries, the Forbidden City opened to the public in 1924. Then see the other side of Beijing, the hutong, narrow, winding residential streets full of real life and communal-style living. Getting lost in the labyrinth is half the fun.
No visit to Beijing is complete without seeing The Great Wall of China. An impressive 6,300 km of engineering miracle, it was built to protect China from the rampaging Mongols.