Many tour operators offer Beijing tours. You can also hire your own car and driver to get around.

Overeseas Adventure Travel

Related stories

(

» READ MORE: www.oattravel.com

; 1-800-493-6824) took us on our three-week tour of China and Tibet; Tibet is now closed to tourism. The trip was expertly planned, the guides were superb, and transportation by coach, plane, train and Yangtze River cruise was excellent. Most meals were included, and the hotels were pleasant. However, beds are notoriously hard in China. I brought along a yoga mat for exercise and padded my bed with it.

Getting there

Continental flies nonstop (13 hours, 40 minutes) to Beijing from Newark Liberty International Airport; the lowest recent round-trip fare was about $1,373. Air China and United fly nonstop from JFK Airport; the lowest fare was about $1,497.

Visas

Americans must get visas before arrival. Information is available at

and

. Travel agents can arrange for visas via express mail.

Places to stay

Many hotels are booked for the Olympics. To save money, consider renting an apartment by searching on

» READ MORE: www.craigslist.com

or

.

Three recommended hotels are

Guxiang 20

(20 Nan Luo Gu Alley;

» READ MORE: www.guxiang20.com

), a clean and comfortable boutique hotel in the center of a traditional Chinese neighborhood;

the Emperor Hotel

(33 Qihelou St.; ), a modern hotel with a good rooftop bar across from the Forbidden City; and the

Peninsula Beijing

(8 Goldfish Lane;

), one of Beijing's top hotels, with excellent service, spacious rooms, and a good location near the Forbidden City and shopping areas.

More information

Several travel guides have come out in time for the Summer Games, including

Fodor's Beijing

,

Frommer's Beijing Day by Day

,

Beijing City Notebook

by Moleskine, and Mobil Travel Guide's

Beijing

.

National Tourist Office

» READ MORE: www.cnto.org

1-888-760-8218

- Anne Chalfant

and Cox News Service