I thought going to Beijing in the middle of winter was going to be a bad idea, but it was surprisingly nice with very little tourists and clear, dry weather. The city is extremely diverse with ethnicities from everywhere imaginable. Let yourself get lost for the day, just remember to carry a business card that has the name and address of the hotel/hostel you are staying in, so you will know how to get home that evening.

DO: Take the Airport Express Train from Beijing Capital International Airport (extremely fast and efficient) to the heart of the city where you can connect to anywhere you need to go on the Beijing Subway.

STAY: The Red Lantern House in Beijing is first rate. The staff is so nice,  the rooms are clean, and the community area is very welcoming. Don’t forget to try the ginger tea!

GO: Head out the more remote areas of the great wall. The staff at Red Lantern are pros for setting up trips. You will end up at the much less visited sections, which have far fewer tourists and vendors. Also, go to the Cow Street Mosque in the Muslim section of the city. The food in this precinct is second to none.