Editor's note: How do you spend 72 hours in the capital? China Daily reporter Sun Ye offers foreign tourists some ideas.
Trying to do justice to Beijing in less than 72 hours is impossible. The must-see list is long and a three-day sojourn will probably make you book a return trip before long.
You can't go wrong starting in the middle. At the very center of the city lie the Forbidden City, Tian'anmen Square, the National Museum, the Great Hall of the People, with many other architectural gems to be found on Chang'an Avenue.
Early-risers can catch the flag-raising ceremony in Tian'anmen Square. The soldiers are meticulous, watched by crowds from around the country honoring their homeland. They are also there to pay tribute to late Chairman Mao Zedong whose corpse is housed in the nearby memorial hall.
A stroll to one side of Tian'anmen Square takes visitors to the National Museum. Check out the best of the permanent exhibits - one of them being the Tang Dynasty (618-907) silver plate with gold trimming.
The Forbidden City is everyone's favorite, especially on clear, cold winter days when there are fewer tourists.
Take in Qianmen Street for refreshments. The street houses many of China's traditional established firms. Dine on roast duck from Quanjude, Chinese herbal tea from Wuyutai and flavored pastry from passing vendors.
The Tian'anmen area also offers world-class cultural events. In January, the eggshaped National Center for Performing Arts is putting on a star-studded performance of Raise the Red Lantern. The center also stages dramas, symphony concerts and dances throughout the year.
When you have had your fill of the center of the city - which in itself may take more than 72 hours - head for the northern part of town, generally considered to be modern, trendy and highly international.
It boasts the 798 Art District, transformed from a disused factory into China's hippest hub for cultural events and artistic products. Stroll through it and you'll get a taste of the nation's pop culture.
Next up is the Sanlitun area, meeting place for the city's trendiest crowd. If you like shopping, brand names, eating and drinking, then it's a must.
Then, rekindle the Olympic spirit by visiting the National Stadium, or as most newcomers to the capital can't wait to do, prepare to scale the Great Wall.
For dinner, head for Guijie Street, or Ghost Street, the gastronomic center of Beijing. This 1.5-km-long alley houses some 120 restaurants, feeding more than 4,000 patrons every night.
If all this legwork is too tiring, take time out and visit the Houhai area, where many restaurants, bars and cafes sit around a picturesque lake.
Make for the novelty shops nearby, explore the hutongs, or alleyways, and dine as the locals do.
Depending on when you arrive and how you cope with jetlag, try to mix and match your activities.
And don't forget to buy a copy of China Daily, which will give you a taste of the country, the city and a list of interesting events at any time of year.