Beijing, the capital city of China, has a history that has been traced back to thousands of years. A monument for China’s imperial past, Beijing is today the country’s cultural hub.
If you want to learn Chinese history and culture, you must visit Beijing. From exploring Chinese antiquities to its modern prestige, there are many attractions in Beijing to visit.
Not stuck in the grandeur of its past, Beijing is rapidly modernizing its infrastructure and living. You will find alleyways fencing traditional courtyard homes.
Unraveling the layers of history and walking on the foundations of the future, you will fall in love with Beijing.
There are plenty of things to do in Beijing that would take a lifetime to explore without guilt. We list out here the top things that one shouldn’t miss when in Beijing.
#1. The Great Wall Of China – A Wonder
Like the veil of a bride, the Great Wall stretches across northern China. The most iconic piece of Chinese history stretches from Dandong in the east to Lop Lake in the west, and a small arc in the southern edge of Inner Mongolia in the form of the Great Wall of China.
Some two millennia ago, China built a series of fortifications to expel Mongolian invaders. This historical place coils at twenty-three degrees longitude.
Watching the longest man-made structure in the world, the Great Wall of China is the top thing to do in Beijing. Symbolizing China, the Great Wall has been registered as a unique world heritage site. This gigantic monument spans half the length of the equator.
Plan Your Visit to the Great Wall Of China
Although the Great Wall spans across fifteen regions, climbing it from Beijing is a different experience from the rest. For adventure seekers, the Jinshanling section of the Great Wall is a treat as they hike along the rugged wall.
Badaling is the famous, well-maintained section of the wall and is suited for travelers of varying mobility. If you are overwhelmed by the crowd, then visit the Mutianyu section of the Wall.
Choose the part of the wall you wish to explore, and dedicate a good amount of time for it.
From Beijing, the Wall is seventy miles away. If you are using public transport, you must first get to Dongzhimen Station and then take a bus ride to Huairou Station. Catch a bus to Mutianyu Roundabout.
You can also visit the Great Wall by train; however, it is a bit time-consuming and tiring. We recommend hiring a taxi to make the most of the trip and avoid travel hiccups.
#2. The Forbidden City – Palace Museum
If can’t decide what else to do in Beijing, we suggest taking a walk through the Forbidden City. Perched in the heart of Beijing, the Forbidden City formerly served as the imperial palace for twenty-four emperors.
Also known as the Palace Museum, it is the world’s largest palace complex.
Sprawled over 180 acres, the Palace Museum has 8,728 rooms and more than 90 palace quarters. Over 1 million laborers worked on this Palace Museum to make it the largest ancient palatial structure in the world.
Tour the imperial living and governing quarters. Explore valuable artworks and traditional gardens at the Palace Museum. It takes two to three hours to complete the tour of this royal palace. Plan accordingly.
Address: The center of Beijing, north of Tiananmen Square
Opening Times: The Forbidden City is open every day, except Monday, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
The touring route to the Forbidden City is unidirectional (south to north). You need to enter through the Meridian Gate (Wumen) and exit either at the Gate of Divine Prowess (Shenwumen) or the East Prosperity Gate (Donghuamen).
You can also explore the east and west wings of the palace.
How to Get to the Forbidden City?
Take bus routes 1, 2, 52, 59, 82, 120 to the Tiananmen East Station. You can also take 1, bus 10, 22, 37, 4, 5, 52, 728, 802 Tiananmen West Station.
You can get to the south gate by subway. Get down at metro line 1 at Tiananmen West or Tiananmen East Station and then walk north through the Gate of Heavenly Peace, and you will find the south gate of the Palace Museum.
If you are traveling through metro line 2, you need to drop off at Qianmen Station and walk north through Tiananmen Tower.
Tickets: During the off-season, November to March, tickets cost 40 Yuan ($6); whereas in high seasons, from April to October, tickets cost 60 Yuan ($9).
#3. Jingshan Park—Royal View
The next best thing to do in Beijing after visiting the Forbidden City is to head to Jingshan Park. Situated in the Imperial City area of Beijing to the north of the Forbidden City is this beautiful park.
The twenty-three-hectare park stands at the focal point of the south-north axis of Beijing.
The park served as an imperial garden during the reigns of Yuan, Ming and Qing. From planting trees to making hunting sacrifices to their ancestors, the park has many royal tales to it.
On the eastern side of the park, in front of a locust tree, you will come across two stone slabs.
This is the place where the last of the Ming emperors took his own life as the enemies laid siege to the city walls. Behind the tree, you will find the Jingshan Hill, the highest point of Beijing.
Climb to the top of Jingshan Hill to catch a clear view of the Forbidden City. You can rest at the pavilion of the hill (but climbing the hill isn’t that tiring).
The natural scenery at the park pleases the eyes of the viewers. Stroll through the garden and savor the biggest peony rose garden in Beijing at the park.
How to Get to Jingshan Park?
Jingshan Park has many entrances. To get to the west gate of the park, you need to take bus 5 or 58, get down at Xibanqiao Station. Buses 58, 111, or 124 will take you to the south gate (get off at Jingshan Dongmen).
From the south gate, take buses 58, 101, 103, 109, 124, or 128 and get off at the Forbidden City station.
Take subway Line 8 to Shichahai Station. From there you can take a bus or walk to the north gate of the park.
Entrance Fee: The admission fee to the park is CNY 2 exclusive of the exhibition fee.
Opening Hours: The park is open from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. from April to October. From November to March the park is open from 6:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
#4. Temple of Heaven Park
Your trip to Beijing is incomplete without visiting the Temple of Heaven Park. The temple was built during the reign of the Yongle Emperor of the Ming Dynasty. The palatial architecture draws tourists from all parts of the world.
During the Ming and Qing eras, annual prayers for a good harvest during winter were offered to the gods in the temple.
In 1918, the temple was open for the public. The pleasant grasslands give a heavenly feel and make the temple unique. You don’t see many worshippers praying at the temple anymore.
You will find a congregation of visitors perform tai chi or twirl on gymnastics bars. They also sing revolutionary songs en masse.
There are four access points to the park. East and west gates are convenient for visitors. From the south through the Zhaoheng Gate, you can directly get to the Round Altar where ceremonies take place.
The Imperial Vault of Heaven is at the north of the Round Altar.
The structures of the Temple of Heaven are round and their bases square. The temple was built in such a way because the ancient Chinese believed that the earth is round and heaven is square.
Say a word or two at the Echo Wall, and you can hear it from the opposite side of the wall.
Stop by the Red Stairway Bridge leading to the heart of the temple, the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests.
Tickets: A combo ticket where you see everything at the temple costs 34 RMB ($5) during high season (April to October). During low season, a combo ticket costs 28 RMB ($4.15).
Opening Hours: The temple opens from 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
How to Get to Temple of Heaven?
The easiest way to get to the Temple of Heaven is by subway. Take the subway to Tiantan East Gate Station, exit from A1 or A2 of the station, and you will reach the gate to the Temple of Heaven.
#5. Summer Palace—A Natural Tapestry
In northwest Beijing sits the best-preserved imperial garden in the world—Summer Palace. The hillside temples, pagodas, bridges, and Kunming Lake form a natural tapestry. Summer Palace is a top attraction in Beijing.
Browse the incredible paintings in the 728-meter-long Long Corridor. Hall of Benevolence and Longevity delights tourists.
Learn the inspiring story of Cixi, the incredible Chinese women who ruled the Dragon Throne during a male-dominated period.
The ambiance of the place soothes the eyes and is a perfect getaway in summers. Chinese call the “nourishing peace garden.” Listed as a World Heritage, UNESCO dubbed Summer Palace as “a masterpiece of Chinese landscape garden design.”
It takes half a day to explore the Court Area, the Garden of Virtue and Harmony, Kunming Lake, the Long Corridor, Longevity Hill, Marble Boat, and Suzhou Market Street at the Summer Palace.
Go boating on Kunming Lake, watch Chinese theater performances, and walk along the Long Corridor.
Tickets: The entrance fee during April to October costs 30 CNY. From November to March, the entrance ticket costs 20 CNY. A combo ticket costs 60 CNY, where you can visit every place at the Summer Palace.
Opening Times: The palace is open from 6:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. from April to October. From November to March, the palace is open from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
How to Get to the Summer Palace?
Take subway line 4. Get down at the Beigongmen Station. Exit from D, walk toward the west, and you will find the north gate of the Summer Palace.
#6. Eat Beijing’s Signature Dish
One of the best things to do in Beijing is feasting on its signature dish—Peking roast duck. This dish is famous worldwide.
You will taste the best Peking duck in Beijing that you will remember forever. Give yourself a culinary treat. Most of the restaurants in Beijing serve this dish.
Beijing Da Dong restaurant at Dongcheng serves a finger-licking duck dish. You can try out any branch of Da Dong restaurant in your vicinity.
The place is busy. You need to wait to get a table. Watch how chefs at work cook your food. You will be instructed on the proper way to eat the duck.
Address: China, Beijing, Dongcheng, Jinbao St, 88
Phone: +86 10 8522 1234
#7. 798 Art District—A Creative Space
If you love art, 798 Art District is an interesting thing to do in Beijing. The place showcases an interesting contrast between Beijing’s past and present through artworks. 798 Art District is also known as Dashanzi.
Dashanzi was once a cluster of former military factories. Later in the eighties, the factories disappeared. Since then, artists have flocked to this place to open their studios.
798 Art District sequences contemporary galleries and is a hot spot for art. Explore Contemporary Art at Ullens Center.
Street art is sprinkled on the walls of 798 Art District. Stroll along the streets to see mesmerizing street art and click amazing pictures. Don’t miss Sui Jianguo’s caged dinosaurs art.
Besides art, the place also has restaurants, a theater, bookstores, and shops. Savor local food at the local joints and shop till your feet hurt at 798 Art District.
Address: 2 Jiuxianqiao Rd, Chaoyang, Beijing, China
Telephone/Email: +86 10 5978 9798 / [email protected]
How to Get to 798 Art District?
Take Subway Line 14 at Wangjing Nan Station, go through Exit B1, take bus 403 to Dashanzi Lukou Dong Station. The 798 Art District is a 20-minute walk from Dashanzi Lukou Dong Station.
Take buses 401, 402, 405, 418, 445, 973, 988, or 991 to Dashanzi Lukou Nan Station. You can also take buses 403, 593, 851 or 854 to the station.
Entry: Entry to 798 Art District is free. Some art galleries and exhibition halls charge an admission fee.
Opening Hours: 798 Art District is open every day, except on Mondays, from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Explore the historical places to be and the nature-filled, adventurous, and fun things to do in this amazing travel destination.