Beijing, China

Loud, crowded, polluted, with continuous action - Beijing does 'big city' in a way that few others places do. Home to almost 12 million people, the city has quadrupled in size in the past decade. The evidence of this explosive growth is everywhere. Half-finished construction projects consume practically every street, and there are people crammed in every livable spot. The city comes alive on smog-free days, with tourists from all over China swarming the most popular locations. Beijing has it's charisma, overwhelming as it can be. Street food impresses at every turn and the adventurous eater has no lack of unusual fare from which to sample. The hutongs feel alive in a way that few neighborhoods do, oozing charm and history at every narrow-alley turn. The residents here have experienced social change and growth at a rate that most of the world has never known; the wondrous blend of ancient tradition with new technologies leaves even the most well-traveled person fascinated. Beijing has much growth and innovation still yet to do if it wants to compete for foreign tourism, especially as the world yearns for eco-friendly and sustainable exploration. But if history proves correct, Beijing-ers are capable of exactly such change quicker than most places would ever dream of.