Visit the Old Summer Palace
While most imperial attractions in central Beijing are jam-packed with hordes of tourists, this one on the north-west fringe of the city is far more tranquil. Yuanmingyuan Park — or ‘Gardens of Perfect Brightness’ — contains the summer home of the Qing Dynasty, dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries. British troops attacked the Old Summer Palace in the Second Opium War in 1860, but the residence was so large they didn’t manage to destroy it all. Fortunately, a fair chunk of the Old Summer Palace remains open for visitors to admire today.