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Delve into Beijing's lesser visited places to gain different perspectives on life here, away from the crowds.

Beyond the headline acts (Forbidden City, Summer Palace, Temple of Heaven) are a host of interesting locations and cultural monuments that are deserving of your attention and which inform about China's past and present life. One such example is the fascinating Panjiayuan Antiques Market, which comes to life at the weekend with stalls packed with a world of relics, artwork and antiques (some genuine, others less so) and where you can learn about Beijinger's curious obsession with walnuts. At the back of the market, large Mao Zedong garden statues stand shoulder-to-shoulder with those of Confucius and the Terracotta Army.

In the north of the city is the now iconic Bird's Nest Stadium, host of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. As well as being one of the most significant and architecturally eye-catching of the world's modern arenas, it is also full of surprising symbolism. There were many an impressive performance here, including Usain Bolt's unforgettable world record 100 metre run, announcing himself to the world in some style.

There is also impressive performances of a very different kind on offer daily at the Drum Tower and the Zhihua Temple. In the former, expert drummers line up behind the immense drums to pound out deafening rhythms in a show of power and precision, lasting around 20 minutes. In the Buddhist temple, a small group of yellow-robed musicians gather to play traditional and sacred songs in a custom unique to the temple and which have been passed down through generations for centuries. It is one of the best ways to truly appreciate some ancient Chinese instruments and compositions.

Other areas which are not on the typical tourist route are the creative 798 Art District and the Liulichang culture & shopping street.

The off the beaten track tour can be tailored to your own interests and fit in around other tours.

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