beijing travelling

Traveling to Beijing, China: Your Ultimate Travel Guide [2024]

Beijing is a captivating city that combines the allure of narrow, picturesque alleys, traditional teahouses, vibrant bar streets, bustling commercial districts, contemporary elements, and the authentic charm of old Beijing. This unique blend has contributed to Beijing’s extensive and profound cultural heritage, as well as its orthodox yet elegant lifestyle.

Must-visit attractions in Beijing include iconic landmarks such as Summer Palace, the majestic Forbidden City, and the awe-inspiring Great Wall. Moreover, Beijing offers a diverse range of choices tailored to individual interests, whether it’s a couple seeking romantic experiences or a family in search of cultural wonders. Whether your heart yearns for royal monuments or fashionable neighborhoods, Beijing has the perfect place waiting to be discovered.

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🌟Beijing Travel Planning Guide

Considering a last-minute trip to Beijing?

Check out the finest tours, hotels, and more below! Remember to plan in advance for the top attractions in Beijing!

🇨🇳 Top Activities and Tours in Beijing:

1. Beijing Classic Full-Day Tour: With an informed guide, delve into the enigma of the Forbidden City, a highly popular Chinese landmark, while also appreciating the grand allure of the Summer Palace and Temple of Heaven.
2. Best Beijing Hutong Food and Beer Tour: Immerse yourself in the rich historical ambiance while discovering the local way of life, and indulging in traditional cuisine at hidden gems and authentic family-run eateries.
3. Best Great Wall Tour: Discover the best-guided group tour of the Mutianyu Great Wall, Badaling Great Wall, and Jinshanling Great Wall, renowned for their ancient splendor, including lunch and an uncrowded experience.
4. Universal Beijing Resort Admission: Experience the grandeur of the largest Universal Studios with seven themed areas, 37 exhilarating rides, iconic landmarks, and exclusive early entry benefits.

🏨Top Hotels in Beijing:

Mandarin Oriental Hotel (luxury)
Manxin Courtyard Hotel (affordable luxury)
Crystal Orange Hotel (mid-range)
Atour Light (budegt-friendly)

🌐Make sure to install ExpressVPN in advance for unrestricted internet access during your stay in China!

🔍Where is Beijing China Located?

Beijing, the capital city of China, is located in the northeastern part of the country. It is situated at approximately 39.9 degrees north latitude and 116.4 degrees east longitude.

Beijing is surrounded by the province of Hebei to the north, west, and south, while the municipality of Tianjin lies to its southeast. With its strategic position in northern China, Beijing serves as a cultural, political, and economic center.

🌏Getting to Beijing, China

If you’re a visitor looking for different ways of getting to Vancouver, here’s some practical advice on how to get here.

✈️Getting to Beijing by Plane

Beijing is served by two primary airports: Capital International Airport and Daxing International Airport.

beijing travel guide

Capital International Airport, situated approximately 20 kilometers from the city center, stands as China’s busiest civil airport. It serves as the preferred arrival point for most tourists visiting Beijing. The airport offers comprehensive facilities and transportation options. There are five airport bus lines connecting it to downtown, providing convenient access. Additionally, taking the subway from the airport to the city is also highly convenient. Taxis are readily available at Terminals T2 and T3.

Daxing International Airport, a newly constructed airport completed in 2019, serves as the second-largest international airport in Beijing after Capital International Airport. It is located approximately 47 kilometers from downtown. The airport provides 12 airport bus lines for transportation to the city. Passengers can catch the airport bus at Gate 20 on the east side of the first floor of the terminal. Taxis are available on the first floor of the terminal building, with three designated platforms. For online car bookings, the designated area is the 1M floor of the P1 parking building.

🚆Getting to Beijing by Train

For train and high-speed train travel, Beijing has five main stations. The majority of trains make stops at Beijing South Railway Station, Beijing Railway Station, and Beijing West Railway Station.

Among these stations, Beijing Railway Station serves routes to cities such as Jinan, Nanjing, Suzhou, Shanghai, Hangzhou, and others. Beijing South Railway Station primarily handles trains heading to Tianjin, Harbin, and other northeastern regions, as well as Hefei, Shanghai, Nanjing, Jinan, Qingdao, and other eastern areas. Beijing West Railway Station is mainly used for journeys to destinations including Shijiazhuang, Zhengzhou, Wuhan, Changsha, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Taiyuan, Xi’an, and other regions in the northwest and south.

🚗How to Get Around Beijing

Subway: The subway system in Beijing offers the most convenient and efficient mode of transportation. Currently, there are 16 subway lines and 1 dedicated airport line operational, providing coverage to major commercial areas and tourist attractions within and around the city. The subway operates from around 5:00 am to 11:00 pm, with slight variations in the schedule for each line. The fare for subway journeys starts at CNY 3 and is based on the distance traveled, with a maximum fare of CNY 7.

Bus: Beijing’s public bus system is highly developed, encompassing comprehensive routes. Buses generally operate between 5:00 am and 10:00 pm, with some routes extending until 11:00 pm. Additionally, 15 night buses continue to operate during late hours. On urban bus lines, the fare is typically CNY 1, except for buses whose numbers begin with “6” or above, which are charged based on the distance traveled. It’s important to swipe your transportation card when boarding and alighting the bus. Failure to swipe when getting off will result in the full fare being charged.

Taxi/Online Car-hailing: In the absence of subway and bus options, taking a taxi or utilizing online car-hailing services is a convenient choice in Beijing. The initial cost for a taxi ride within a 3-kilometer distance is CNY 14. The regular price per kilometer is CNY 2.3, and during nighttime, an additional 20% of the regular price per kilometer is charged.

🔥Tip: A helpful tip to note is that traffic congestion in Beijing, particularly during rush hour, can be quite severe. Hence, the subway is recommended for travel during these periods. It is important to avoid unlicensed taxis, as they tend to be exorbitantly priced. Official taxis in Beijing have license plates starting with “京 B.”

☀️Weather for Beijing Travel (Best Time to Visit)

Beijing experiences distinct seasons, including hot and rainy summers and cold and dry winters. January is the coldest month, often with temperatures below 0°C, while July is the hottest, occasionally reaching nearly 40°C.

March-May: During the spring months of March to May, Beijing experiences a short and fluctuating season. The temperature alternates between rises and falls, and there are occasional dust storms. Despite these challenges, there are still pleasant and warm days in May to enjoy outdoor activities.

June-August: Beijing has a relatively brief but hot summer, with many days reaching high temperatures, particularly around noon, up to 40°C. However, the suburbs around Beijing offer a refreshing escape from the heat. Additionally, this period coincides with the summer vacation for Chinese students, leading to increased tourist activity.

September-November: Autumn is the most suitable season for traveling to Beijing. The temperature is pleasant, not too cold, and it is considered the most beautiful time of the year. From late October to early November, Fragrance Hill in Beijing is renowned for its red autumn leaves, attracting climbers and photography enthusiasts to flock to witness this breathtaking spectacle. It is also the best time to climb the Great Wall, showcasing the most beautiful scenery of the year.

December-February: Winter in Beijing is characterized by naked trees and very cold weather. However, it is also the liveliest time of the year, featuring bustling temple fairs from early December to mid-February. These fairs attract large crowds and create a vibrant atmosphere. It is the perfect time to enjoy a hot pot of instant-boiled mutton and partake in a festive Chinese New Year celebration, adding to the charm of visiting Beijing during winter.

🌟34 Best Things to Do in Beijing, China

1. Explore the Forbidden City – One of the Best Places to Visit in Beijing

the Forbidden City

The Forbidden City, also called the Palace Museum, is a remarkable complex of ancient wooden structures, renowned as the world’s largest and best-preserved. It is also home to millions of invaluable cultural artifacts, constituting one-sixth of China’s total cultural relics.

When visiting Beijing, most first-time visitors prioritize a trip to the Forbidden City. The typical tour follows a specific route, starting at the Meridian Gate and progressing through the three main halls of the Outer Court including the Hall of Supreme Harmony, Hall of Central Harmony, and Hall of Preserving Harmony, then proceeding to the three main halls of the Inner Court consists of the Palace of Heavenly Purity, Hall of Union, and Palace of Earthly Tranquility, and finally exploring the Western Six Palaces. The tour concludes by passing through the back of the Imperial Garden, visiting the Palace of Benevolent Peace and the Western Six Palaces, and exiting through the Gate of Divine Prowess.

The tour of the central axis, including the primary three halls, is the busiest but offers the best views along the way. It is recommended to have a guide who can provide detailed historical insights. For those wishing to avoid crowds, an alternative option is to bypass the main three halls and head directly to the east and west six palaces, where visitor numbers are significantly lower.

🎫Admission ticket: Apr to Oct: CNY60 | Nov to Mar: CNY40
⏰Opening hours: Apr to Oct: 8:30-17:00 | Nov to Mar: 8:30-16:30; it is closed on Mondays, except for the Chinese statutory holidays.
🚇By subway: Take subway line 1, get off at Tiananmen East Station (Exit B) or Tiananmen West Station (Exit B), and walk 900 meters to arrive

2. Glimpse the Forbidden City from Jingshan Park

Jingshan Park - beijing travel

Jingshan Park is situated at the central point of Beijing’s north-south axis, adjacent to the Forbidden City to the south and Beihai Park to the west. It was once the tallest point in the city’s center. The park boasts a wide variety of impressive old trees and picturesque peaks with each hosting a lofty pavilion and a stunning array of peonies that bloom in May every year. The Wanchun Pavilion is recognized as the commanding peak on the central axis of Beijing, offering a commanding view of the Forbidden City and providing a panoramic view of the city.

Jingshan sits at a mere 43 meters above sea level, but it claims the title of the highest viewpoint in the vicinity of the Forbidden City. Tourists flock here every day to marvel at the panoramic view of the Forbidden City. However, not everyone is privy to the most stunning view of the palace. Timing is crucial! The optimal time to glimpse the Forbidden City from Jingshan Park is up until noon when the sun rays bathe the red walls and yellow tiles, resulting in a majestic and beautiful rosy red hue that surpasses the first-hand experience.

🎫Admission ticket: CNY2
⏰Opening hours: Apr to Oct: 06:00 – 21:00 | Nov to Mar: 06:30-20:00
🚍By bus: Take bus 5 or 58 and get off at Xibanqiao Station.

3. Explore the Beihai Park

beihai park - beijing travel

Beihai Park, located in the heart of Beijing, is considered China’s most ancient, well-preserved, and historically significant classical royal garden. The park is divided into four distinct areas: the Eastern Shore Area, the Botanical Garden of Qiongdao, the Northern Shore Area, and Round City.

The Eastern Shore Area features courtyard-style gardens like Painted Boat Hall and Hao Pu Creek Garden (Haopujian), surrounded by tall pines and cypress trees, creating a charming naturalistic ambiance reminiscent of traditional southern gardens.

In the Northern Shore Area, from east to west, visitors can explore scenic spots such as Minor Western Heaven, Quieting Heart Room (Jingxin Room), Western Heaven Temple, Nine-Dragon Wall, Chanfu Temple, and the Five-Dragon Pavilions. These structures blend harmoniously with the natural surroundings and offer breathtaking views of the lakeside. A notable landmark in Beihai Park is the White Pagoda, which is a Tibetan lama’s Pagoda.

The north gate of Beihai Park can be reached easily by taking subway Line 6, and both the north and south gates can be accessed by various bus routes. On the opposite side, you can find the iconic Forbidden City and Jingshan Park, while Shichahai is located next to the north gate.

Visitors can also observe local Beijing elders singing, dancing, and engaging in physical exercise, imparting an authentic and rich flavor of life to the park. While there are shops and restaurants within the park, they tend to be more expensive than those outside.

🎫Admission ticket: Apr to Oct: CNY10 | Nov to Mar: CNY5
⏰Opening hours: Apr to Oct: 06:30 – 21:00 | Nov to Mar: 06:30-20:00
🚇By subway: Take Subway Line 6 and get off at Beihai Bei Station, and get out from Exit B.

4. Visit the Temple of Heaven – A Sacred Place with Historical Significance

Temple of Heaven - beijing travel

The Temple of Heaven was a sacred place where emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties held the Heaven Worship Ceremony to pray for abundant rainfall and a plentiful harvest. The complex is comprised of an outer and an inner section, separated by two encircling walls.

The Circular Mound Altar(Huanqiutan), Imperial Vault of Heaven(Huangqiongyu), and Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests(Qiniandian) are the most impressive buildings in the complex, arranged from south to north. Visitors can also appreciate the ingenious design of the Echo Walls and Three Echo Stones.

To make the most of your visit, the typical tour order begins at the South Gate and proceeds to the Circular Mound Altar, Imperial Vault of Heaven, Three Echo Stones, Danbi Bridge, the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, the Palace of Abstinence, the Divine Music Administration, and exits through the North or East Gate.

The Temple of Heaven holds great historical significance and is definitely a must-visit destination. To ensure that you don’t miss out on the core parts of the temple, purchasing a combined ticket is advised. If time permits, it’s recommended to delve deeper into the park to enjoy its relaxing atmosphere and admire the ancient trees. Exiting from the North Gate is suggested, where you can find a Ciqikou bean juice shop across the street, offering authentic Beijing snacks at an affordable price. Taking the subway from the North Gate is also a convenient option.

🎫Admission ticket: Apr to Oct: CNY15 | Nov to Mar: CNY10
⏰Opening hours: 06:00-22:00
🚇By subway: Take Subway Line 5 to Tiantan Dongmen Station, and leave from Exit A

5. Witness the Flag-Raising Ceremony at Tian’anmen Square

Tian'anmen Square - beijing travel

As the largest square in the world, Tian’anmen Square is surrounded by several notable landmarks, including the Great Hall of the People and the National Museum of China on its west and east sides, respectively.

Continuing south of the Chairman Mao Memorial Hall will lead you to ZhengYang Gate (also known as Qianmen). The Monument to the People’s Heroes is located in the center of the square, while Tiananmen Tower can be found on the opposite side of the square, on the north side of Chang’an Street, and nearby the sparkling Jinshui River. Daily, the flag-raising and lowering ceremony is held in a solemn manner at Tian’anmen Square, so it is highly recommended for newcomers to Beijing attend this important event.

The flag-raising ceremony in Tiananmen Square takes place every day at a fixed time, regardless of weather conditions. During early summer, the ceremony takes place at 4 o’clock, while in winter, it is at 7 o’clock. If you miss the flag-raising, you can still witness the lowering ceremony in the afternoon at sunset. The flagbearers team is located inside Tiananmen Square and the training takes place outside the east side of the gate. You can observe the flagbearers practicing their swing posture up close.

🚇By subway: Take Subway Line 2 to Qianmen Subway Station and walk about 333 meters

6. Visit the Chairman Mao Memorial Hall

Chairman Mao Memorial Hall - beijing travel

The Chairman Mao Memorial Hall, situated in Tian’anmen Square south of the Monument to the People’s Heroes, was erected as a tribute to Chairman Mao. Its construction was completed in 1977, and it has a sprawling area of more than 57,000 square meters, out of which the construction area is about 28,000 square meters.

The Chairman Mao Memorial Hall is the main building consisting of two floors. The roof of the hall is a double-eave roof that is supported by forty-four granite pillars on a large Burgundy granite base. The hall also has six memorial rooms and a movie theater. Every year, thousands of visitors come to pay their respects to Chairman Mao.

The Chairman Mao Memorial Hall remains closed every Monday, but it is accessible to the public from Tuesday to Sunday during the morning hours between 8-12 PM. It is free to visit the hall upon presenting a valid ID, but visitors are required to undergo a security check. Kindly note that bags, cameras, water cups, and other items are not allowed inside and must be stored before entering. There is a long queue that typically forms during peak periods.

🚇By subway: Take subway line 1 to Tian’anmen East or Tian’anmen West Station, and Chairman Mao Memorial Hall is to the south.

7. Pay A Visit to the National Museum of China

National Museum of China - beijing travel

The National Museum of China is the largest contemporary museum in the world, covering almost 200,000 square meters and boasting an extensive collection of over one million artifacts. The museum comprises five floors and 48 exhibition halls, making it one of the Chinese museums with the most extensive and diverse collections of cultural relics.

Its collection is comprehensive and spans a vast historical period, featuring a wide array of materials and forms such as tortoise shells, bronze ware, porcelain, jade, gold and silverware, coins, Buddhist sculptures, ancient books, calligraphy, imperial seals, paintings, Ming & Qing furniture, enamelware, glassware, silk goods, handicrafts, ethnic relics, folk relics, and revolutionary relics. The museum offers an exhaustive showcase of the country’s traditional and exquisite cultural heritage.

There are numerous galleries within the museum, but the Ancient China Gallery and the Ancient Chinese Bronze Art Gallery are both unmissable for those with a bit of background knowledge. While the staff are well-groomed and provide good service, it’s unfortunate that no tour brochures are available and the electronic interpreter only covers a portion of the cultural artifacts. However, visitors can take advantage of the professional free and volunteer interpreters present in the museum to gain significant knowledge and learn about a plethora of amazing treasures. Furthermore, to save time amongst the crowds, online appointments can be made before visiting the museum.

🎫Admission ticket: most galleries are free
⏰Opening hours: 09:00-17:00; closed on Mondays
🚇By subway: Take Subway Line 5 to Tiantan Dongmen Station, and leave from Exit A

8. Military Museum of the Chinese People’s Revolution – Fans of Weapon Must See

Military Museum of the Chinese People's Revolution - beijing travel

Established in 1959, the Military Museum of the Chinese People’s Revolution is situated on the extension of Chang’an Street, which is located west of Tiananmen Square. It is the only all-encompassing military history museum in China, boasting an exhibition area of almost 60,000 square meters and a construction area of around 159,000 square meters, showcasing an array of historical weapons, cultural relics, artworks, and gifts exchanged during foreign military alliances.

The grand building features an impressive 7 floors, including two wings of four stories each and a large military emblem at the top. The venue consists of 10 exhibition halls, which include the Ancient Wars Hall, and Weapons Hall, as well as two halls dedicated to the War of Liberation and Anti-Japanese War, among others.

If weaponry intrigues you, the Military Museum of the Chinese People’s Revolution in Beijing is a must-see. This museum provides a miniature portrayal of China’s entire war history, from ancient to modern times, with detailed and well-crafted exhibits. The Anti-Japanese War display showcases a complete collection of weaponry, including a vast array of Chinese, American, and Japanese weapons.

The exhibit halls are arranged chronologically, from the shallow to the deep, making it easy to understand each weapon in a particular historical period. Additionally, there are many unique models and souvenirs available for purchase, making this a perfect destination for model enthusiasts. A single day may not be enough to fully explore everything the museum has to offer.

🎫Admission ticket: free
⏰Opening hours: 09:00-17:00; closed on Mondays
🚇By subway: Take Subway Line 1 or Line 9 and get off at Junshi Bowuguan (Military Museum) Station and get out from Exit A

9. Explore Another Museum at Capital Museum

The Capital Museum is a large and comprehensive museum in Beijing spanning over an area of 24,832 square meters with five floors above ground and two floors underground. The exhibition of the museum consists of three main components: Main Display, Fine Collection Display, and Temporary Exhibition. With 5622 cultural relics on display, visitors can see a range of items such as bronze ware, ceramic ware, Buddha statues, jade, gold and silver, coins, calligraphy, painting, embroidery, and more.

🎫Admission ticket: free
⏰Opening hours: 09:00-17:00; closed on Mondays
🚇By subway: Take Subway Line 1 and get off at Muxidi Station, and get out from Exit C1.

10. Wander the YuYuanTan Park

YuYuanTan Park - beijing travel

This park in downtown Beijing is one of the largest and offers various picturesque spots, making it an ideal place for residents to unwind and take a leisurely walk. One of its most renowned attractions is the Cherry Garden, which boasts thousands of cherry trees imported from Japan. During the months of March and April, visitors can witness the stunning display of cherry blossoms that lasts for over a month.

Yuyuantan Park enjoys a convenient location with easy access through subway and bus transportation, and it generally doesn’t get overly crowded. However, the Yuyuantan Cherry Blossom Festival, held annually in April, tends to attract a large number of visitors, resulting in long ticket queues. During summer, visitors can enjoy boating and swimming in the park, while an ice festival takes place every winter, adding to the park’s diverse attractions.

🎫Admission ticket: CNY10
⏰Opening hours: 06:00-21:30
🚇By subway: Take Subway Line 1 and get off at Military Museum Station and enter from the northern side of China Millennium Monument

11. Stroll Qianmen Street

Qianmen Street - beijing travel

Qianmen Street is Beijing’s well-known shopping and sightseeing street situated on the central axis of the city, extending from the north end of the Archery Tower of Qianmen to the turning point of Tiantan Park in the south, covering roughly 845 meters. It was formerly called Zhengyangmen Street during the Ming and Qing Dynasties till the Republican era, and in 1965, it was officially renamed Qianmen Street.

The street boasts many renowned old-fashioned restaurants, including Quanjude, Donglaishun, Siji Minfu, and Yitiaolong, among others. While maintaining its original traditional and historic shops, new stores such as clothing department stores, food stores, and watch stores have also emerged. The street is worth a visit if one is interested in exploring Beijing’s heritage and culture.

Qianmen Street underwent renovations before the 2008 Olympic Games, and since then it has lost some of its former vibrancy and popularity. However, the street still boasts numerous old buildings adorned with archways, traditional brands, and red lanterns, providing a glimpse into old Beijing’s flavor- perfect for sightseeing and photo opportunities. While strolling along the pedestrian street, visitors can also opt for a small sightseeing trolley called Dang Dang Che, which spans several hundred meters and costs around CNY 20.

🚇By subway: Take Subway Line 2 to Qianmen Station and get out from Exit B or C.

12. Walk in Dashilar Street

Dashilar Street - beijing travel

Dashilar is a popular commercial street located in the central part of Beijing. Its total length is 275 meters from east to west, and it is an essential part of the south-central axis, situated south of Tian’anmen Square and on the west side of Qianmen Street. The street boasts numerous shopping, dining, and entertainment options, along with time-famous brands, making it a go-to place to experience Beijing culture. In the past, it used to serve as Beijing’s center for entertainment, with various notable opera houses, teahouses, book shops, and the earliest cinema in Beijing’s history located there.

Situated in the heart of ancient Beijing lies an array of options for purchasing Beijing’s old objects and tasting the city’s famous delicacies in Liubiju, Rui Fu Xiang, and Quanjude. Dashilar boasts an exquisite display of traditional Chinese architecture, a popular spot for foreigners to capture memorable photographs. However, the current reality of modern times has commercialized the area, resulting in the appearance of modern signage that takes away from the charm of old Beijing.

🚇By subway: Take Subway Line 2 and get off at Qianmen Station. Get out from Exit C and then walk south for about five minutes.

13. Enjoy Peking Duck at Quanjude

Quanjude Peking duck restaurant

Beijing Quanjude is a legendary restaurant that has become an iconic symbol of Chinese cuisine, particularly known for its mouthwatering Peking duck. With a rich history spanning over 150 years, it has earned a reputation as one of Beijing’s must-visit culinary destinations.

Quanjude’s roast duck is a culinary masterpiece, boasting crispy skin and succulent meat, served with delicate pancakes, scallions, and a delectable hoisin sauce. The restaurant’s skilled chefs meticulously prepare the ducks using traditional techniques, ensuring a delightful dining experience.

Over the years, Quanjude has welcomed countless dignitaries and celebrities from around the world, adding to its allure. Beyond the famous roast duck, Quanjude offers a range of delectable dishes that showcase the essence of authentic Chinese cuisine. It is truly a gastronomic delight that captures the essence of Beijing’s culinary heritage.

⏰Opening Hours: 11:00 – 14:00 16:30 – 21:00
📍Address: No.30 Qianmen Street, Dongcheng District

14. Appreciate the Charm of Old Beijing at Nanluoguxiang

Nanluoguxiang - beijing travel

Nanluoguxiang, also known as South Gong and Drum Lane, is a historical and cultural landmark situated in Beijing. This 786-meter-long and 8-meter-wide alley is one of the oldest surviving hutongs in Beijing and is listed among the city’s 25 protected areas. It dates back to the time of the Yuan Dynasty and has the distinction of being the only well-preserved Yuan Dynasty Hutong courtyard structure. This historic residential area is truly remarkable due to its large scale and highest-grade checkerboard traditional layout.

Today, it features various specialty shops with different styles, elegant private houses, and restaurants that provide an exciting combination of old Beijing hutong and modern appeal. It now has become a fashionable hotspot in Beijing, blending modern elements with the historical essence of old Beijing. Anyone who wants to appreciate the quiet charm of old Beijing could visit the traditional courtyard dwellings on both sides of the road. These houses feature former residences of celebrities and historic buildings that can be explored.

Nanluoguxiang remains the most intact alley of conventional courtyard houses in Beijing. The majority of the courtyard residences in the hutong are private dwellings, which are not accessible for visiting. It is noteworthy that making sure to visit the Wenyu Nai Lao store to purchase cheese or yogurt is recommended. Nowadays, Nanluoguxiang is increasingly crowded with tourists, particularly during weekends and holidays; and many of the goods sold here are more expensive than anywhere else.

🚇By subway: Take Subway Line 6/ Line 8 directly to Nanluogu Xiang

15. Taking a Stroll Down the Yandai Xiejie

Yandai Xiejie, which spans 232 meters in length, is renowned as the oldest commercial street in Beijing. During the Qing Dynasty, this street was primarily dedicated to selling cigarette sets, mounted calligraphy and painting, and jade artifacts. Its enigmatic name was inspired by its resemblance to a smoking pipe, with the eastern entrance being likened to a cigarette holder.

A trip down this avenue is a quintessential experience showcasing ancient customs, including Beijing paper-cut, sugar-blowing figures, and characteristic snacks. A range of local and traditional delicacies such as Yaoji fried liver, and roasted lamb prepared by Master Ji can be found in the vicinity, so don’t miss out!

The route to the street can be accessed by taking a leisurely walk from Nanluoguxiang, which is in close proximity to the street. It is quite narrow and is lined with small shops selling varying specialties. You can also come across numerous small souvenirs being sold, however, due to the flocks of people, waiting in line is almost inevitable for purchasing anything.

Taking a stroll down the street for a while can take you to Houhai which is quite bustling, especially during the evening hours. If you get tired walking, you can opt for a tricycle tour that is popular for hutong sightseeing.

🚇By subway: Take Subway Line 8 to Shichahai, get out of the station from Exit A2, and then walk west for 1 minute

16. Learn Chinese Cuisine at Black Sesame Kitchen

If you’re all about exploring different food cultures, then Black Sesame Kitchen is the spot for you! It’s been hailed as one of Asia’s finest by Miele Guide, guaranteeing you a truly unique experience. By day, the kitchen transforms into a hotspot for private Chinese cooking classes tailored to international folks. You can roll up your sleeves and learn the art of dumplings and noodles, among other tasty techniques. But here’s the deal: those classes are super popular, so snag your spot ahead of time.

When evening rolls around, the restaurant switches gears and serves up a delicious set menu of Chinese dishes. It’s a fantastic chance to mingle with folks from all over the globe and delve deeper into Chinese cuisine and culture. And yes, you can totally make advance bookings for this culinary adventure.

⏰Opening Hours: 11:00 – 22:00
📍Address: 28 Zhong Lao Hutong The Courtyard Institute, Dongcheng District

17. Admire the Serene Bell and Drum Tower

Bell and Drum Tower - beijing travel

The Bell and Drum Tower is a group of ancient buildings located at the northern end of Beijing’s north-south central axis. It served as the time-telling center of the Han, Yuan, Ming, and Qing dynasties and played a crucial role in the city’s history. The pair of towers stand in the front and back and have an imposing and magnificent appearance. And This scale and height of the tower construction are unparalleled in the history of the urban bell and drum towers.

While the Bell and Drum Tower may not offer a multitude of sights, its modest size in comparison to other world cultural heritage sites in this imperial capital ensures a serene and tranquil experience for the few tourists from home and abroad who come to explore its historical significance.

🎫Admission ticket: CNY20
⏰Opening hours: 09:00-17:00
🚇By subway: Take Subway Line 2 and get off at Guloudajie Station, walk 10 minutes to the tower

18. Enjoy A Night at Houhai Bar Street

Houhai stretches from Menwai Street in the east to Xinjiekou Street in the west and boasts of an ancient historical atmosphere that imbues the place with a mysterious color. The bars here are distinct and not excessively noisy, offering a unique cultural atmosphere and melodious singing that make for a modern urban alternative. To ensure the best clubbing experience here, it is advisable to avoid getting lost among the numerous choices and feeling embarrassed when rejecting a waiter’s warm greetings.

🚇By subway: Take Subway Line 8 to Shichahai Station and leave from Exit A2.

19. Visit Prince Gong Mansion – A Best-Preserved Imperial Mansion

Prince Gong Mansion - beiing travel

Prince Gong Mansion also referred to as Gong Wang Fu in Chinese, is the most extensively conserved imperial mansion in China that comprises more than 30 buildings showcasing Western architecture and traditional garden designs. Its compact layout and distinct style have made it a remarkable place to visit.

Initially serving as the dwelling of Heshen, a Qing Dynasty official, the mansion witnessed the historical transition from the dynasty’s prosperity to its decline. The divided complex includes two parts – the mansion and the garden area. Within the mansion, there are multiple luxurious courtyard houses as the residential section, while the garden area located at the back of the mansion is called Jincui Yuan. Within the garden precinct, there are three unique features which include the Western-Style Gate, the Grand Theater House, and the ‘fu’ Stele, which are also known as the Three Uniqueness in Prince Gong Mansion.

The mansion from the Qing Dynasty boasts an artistic beauty that is just as impressive as that of the Forbidden City, showcasing some things that even the royal family doesn’t have. Currently, there are museum exhibitions that relate to Qing history. During spring, visitors can bask in the beauty of the garden, which boasts different types of blooming flowers.

🎫Admission ticket: CNY40
⏰Opening hours: 08:30-17:00
🚇By subway: Take Subway Line 6 to Beihai North and leave from Exit B

20. Go to See the Lama Temple – The Largest Tibetan Buddhist Temple in Beijing

The Lama Temple - beijing travel

The Lama Temple, also known as Yonghe Temple, is situated in the northeast corner of Beijing and is regarded as the largest Tibetan Buddhist temple in the area, widely visited by locals for worship. It spans a total area of 6.6 square meters, featuring more than one thousand temples that seamlessly blend various ethnic architectural styles such as Han, Manchu, and Mongolian.

The temple comprises five main buildings, including the Yonghe Gate Hall, the main hall Yonghe Gong, the Yongyou Hall, the Falun Hall, and Wanfu Pavilion, which stand apart in their specific courtyards. The height of the buildings lessens as one proceeds northwards.

Currently, the Lama Temple in Beijing has become the most prosperous religious site for praying for good fortune. Adjacent to the entrance gate, there is a small window that offers the free distribution of Buddha incense. It is strictly prohibited to take photographs of the Buddha statues within the temple premises. Visitors are expected to comply with the rules and regulations of the temple.

🎫Admission ticket: CNY25
⏰Opening hours: Apr to Oct: 09:00 – 17:00 | Nov to Mar: 09:00-16:30
🚇By subway: Take Subway Line 2 or Line 5 to Yonghegong (Yonghe Temple) Station, get out of the station from Exit F

21. See the Confucius Temple and The Imperial College

The Confucius Temple and the Imperial College (Guozijian), constructed during the Yuan Dynasty, served as places of worship for emperors to Confucius and as the central government’s most prestigious institution of learning, respectively. Located symmetrically along the central axis, these two architectural complexes make up a magnificent and comprehensive display of ancient Chinese architecture.

Some of the key structures found in the Beijing Confucius Temple are the Xianshi Gate, Dacheng Gate, Dacheng Hall, and Chongshengci (Worship Hall), with the Dacheng Hall being the holiest temple in the Confucian Temple. The Imperial College’s main building remains well-preserved after more than seven centuries and is currently the sole fully-preserved site of China’s highest ancient university.

The Confucius Temple and the Imperial College may not hold the status of being a world cultural heritage or a 5A scenic spot, but they are still worth a visit, especially for individuals who are interested in Chinese ancient architecture along with the history and culture. Not as crowded as the Forbidden City or the Summer Palace, one can find towering ancient trees and splendid temples inside, and the 14 stone stele pavilions from the Ming and Qing dynasties are highly valuable sources of historical information about ancient China. Visiting this place can provide a great insight into the tradition of honoring Confucius during the Ming and Qing Dynasties, and one can also gain knowledge about the ancient education system’s highest university.

🎫Admission ticket: CNY30
⏰Opening hours: May to Oct: 08:30 – 18:00 | Nov to Apr: 08:30 – 17:00
🚇By subway: Take Subway Line 2 or Line 5 and get off at Yonghegong Station, and get out from Exit G

22. Enjoy Coffee at Wudaoying Alley

Wudaoying Alley - beijing travel

Wudaoying Hutong is a notable hutong in Beijing with a length of a little over 600 meters. The buildings are in the Chinese style and feature mottled red paint that adds an aged feel to the area. The big red gate, gate pile, and drum-shaped bearing stone are juxtaposed with modern shops, signs, and advertisements, forming a strong contrast between Chinese and Western cultures.

It is now becoming a hub for young people in Beijing, with a plethora of creative shops, cafes, and boutiques to explore. The street is adjacent to an ordinary residential area, blending street life with the latest fashion trend. Though there aren’t many tourists here, it’s an excellent spot to grab a coffee and feel at peace.

Wudaoying Hutong, which is often frequented by young people and foreign tourists, can be included in an itinerary alongside The Lama Temple, Confucius Temple, and The Imperial College Museum. Unlike the bustling atmosphere of Nanluoguxiang (South Luogu Lane), this location offers a quieter experience. The area boasts an array of cafes, restaurants, B&Bs, jewelry shops, and clothing stores. It is known that many of the shop owners here are expatriates and returnees.

🚇By subway: Take Subway Line 2 or Line 5 to Yonghegong Station, get out of the station from Exit F

23. Stroll Around Ditan Park

Ditan Park - Beijing travel

Ditan Park, alternatively referred to as the Temple of Earth, holds the position of being the second of the five altars present in Beijing. It was a place where the emperors of the Ming and Qing Dynasties offered sacrifices to the “imperial deities” and still remains the most substantial sacrificial altar in China. The ancient trees within the premises are worth admiring, especially during autumn when the ginkgo trees turn golden, and the place is relatively less crowded. Additionally, every Spring Festival, a bustling temple fair takes place, which showcases a sacrificial performance resembling the Qing Dynasty and displays the grandeur of its ceremonies.

The size of the Temple of Earth may not be huge but it has a relatively high number of vegetation covered with a variety of old trees. During the autumn season, many photographers visit there to capture the beauty of the ginkgo leaves in shades of yellow. People also gather there to perform various activities such as singing, dancing, and playing guitar. Overall, it’s a tranquil location.

🎫Admission ticket: CNY2
⏰Opening hours: May to Oct: 06:00 – 21:30 | Nov to Apr: 06:00-20:30
🚇By subway: Take Subway Line 2 or Subway Line 5 to Yonghegong Station and get out from Exit A

24. Find Art at 798 Art District

The 798 Art District is situated in the northeast part of Beijing and is referred to as the Dashanzi Art District, situated in the Dashanzi zone. Art enthusiasts will find solace in this old, converted factory that showcases various contemporary and innovative artistic expressions from around the world, including art exhibitions, galleries, photography, clay sculpture, coffee, bars, graffiti, boutiques, design studios, and art performances. Additionally, it hosts significant international art exhibitions, art events, and fashion shows.

🎫Admission ticket: Free; some galleries and exhibition halls sell admission tickets
⏰Opening hours: The art district is open all day long. Most shops and galleries inside are open from 10:00 to 18:00 and some may close on Monday
🚍By bus: Take bus 401, 402, 405, 418, 445, 973, 988, 991 or Fast Transit Line 117 to Wangyefen Station or Dashanzi Lukou Nan Station

25. Purchase Second-hand Goods at Panjiayuan Flea Market

Panjiayuan Flea Market - beijing travel

Beijing Panjiayuan Flea Market, established in 1992, is the most extensive and well-known market for second-hand goods and curios in China. It covers 48,500 square meters and is situated in the southeast corner of Beijing’s Third Ring Road, Chaoyang district. Stores are open every day, while street stalls are only available on weekends.

If you happen to be a collector or enthusiast of Chinese antiques, crafts, or collectibles, then you might want to consider visiting this marketplace. The best time to drop by is on Saturdays and Sundays as there is a wider selection of items on offer. You can find cultural relics, paintings and calligraphy, the four treasures of the study, pearl, and agate, Beijing Opera facial masks, porcelain wood, furniture crafts, and other collections here. However, be cautious when making any purchases as there are many counterfeit goods being sold. Make sure to carefully examine the items, compare prices, and choose your sellers wisely to avoid being taken advantage of.

⏰Opening hours: Mon to Fri: 8:00-17:30 | Sat to Sun: 04:30-17:30
🚇By subway: Take Subway Line 10 to Panjiayuan Station and leave from Exit B

26. Visit Beijing Olympic Park

Beijing Olympic Park - beijing travel

The Olympic Park in Beijing is situated at the north end of the central axis of Beijing, spreading over an area of 11.59 square kilometers. The most iconic landmarks of the park include the Bird’s Nest and the Water Cube, which are located in the southern part and are representative of the Beijing Olympics; The Beijing National Indoor Stadium is one of the three main venues for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, its shape resembles an unfolded folding fan, and adjacent to the “Bird’s Nest” and “Water Cube”.

The Olympic Forest Park, the most extensive urban park in Beijing, is situated north of the Olympic Park and is now a natural scenic getaway for the city’s residents. The Sunken Garden, composed of seven courtyards with elements of Chinese culture, effectively showcases China’s cultural heritage in a modern context.

The southern section of the Olympic Park features a diverse range of natural beauty, such as lakes, woodlands, hills, and wetlands, across the entire park, conveniently located near the subway station. The lakeside is a popular spot for people to relax, read books, and watch movies, while many joggers can be seen on the jogging paths. Visitors can rent bikes or electric scooters to explore the lake’s surrounding scenery. Despite being busier on weekends, the park’s vast size ensures it never feels overcrowded.

Beijing National StadiumCNY 50Apr to Oct: 09:00 – 19:00 | Nov to Mar: 09:00-17:30
The Olympic Forest ParkFreeMar 15 to Nov 15: 06:00 – 21:00 | Nov 16 to Mar 14: 09:00-17:30
Beijing National Indoor StadiumCNY 20Apr to Oct: 09:00 – 19:00 | Nov to Mar: 09:00-17:30
Opening Hours and Admission Fees

🚇By subway: Take Line 8 or 15 to Beijing Olympic Park and leave from Exit B

27. Stop by Silk Street

Silk Street, also known as Xiushui Street, is a popular shopping market situated in the Chaoyang District of the city, which is close to the international CBD business district. It is considered the most influential worldwide tourist shopping mall in China and is on par with the renowned Great Wall and Forbidden City tourist attractions.

In 2005, the “Silk Street” was replaced with a new “Silk Street” department store, spanning over an area of 28,000 square meters and containing 1,500 stalls. The store sells a diverse range of ethnic products including silk, fine clothes, pearls, tea, handicrafts, and Chinese food such as Quanjude roast duck. Silk Street attracts a diverse clientele, ranging from dignitaries and their wives to international sports stars, which emphasizes its unique position as a leading international market in China.

In fact, the New Silk Road retains the form of the old market’s shopping street while featuring a wider range of specialty products and longer shopping hours. The vendors communicate in English, utilize calculators, and haggle with foreign traders. And multitudes of merchants remain active and diligent.

⏰Opening hours: 9:30-21:00
🚇By subway: Take Subway Line 1 and get off at Yonganli

28. Go Shopping in Taikoo Li Sanlitun

Taikoo Li Sanlitun - beijing travel

Taikoo Li Sanlitun, which covers an area of about 61,014 square meters and consists of 30 independent buildings, is now known as an ultimate destination for fashion trends in Beijing. The site offers a wide range of facilities including shopping, dining, hotels, and entertainment, which are divided into three areas: South, North, and West Districts.

Taikoo Li South hosts the largest Adidas brand center in the world as well as the first Apple Store in China, both of which attract a large number of young people who are interested in limited-edition releases. Meanwhile, Taikoo Lee North is the home of many international luxury brands, creative and cutting-edge designer stores, and art galleries.

Sanlitun is a unique area in Beijing where ordinary and extravagant lifestyles come together to create a melting pot of culture and indulgence. It is a popular spot among young people on weekends as it offers a diverse range of experiences, from high-end fashion brands and luxury goods to local street food and upscale Western-style Chinese cuisine. Additionally, visitors can enjoy a cup of coffee at a quiet cafe or unwind at a smoky bar. All in all, Sanlitun is a confluence of diverse elements that must not be missed.

🚇By subway: Take subway line 10, get off at Tuanjiehu Station, and exit from A

29. Enjoy Your Nightlife at Sanlitun Bar Street

Sanlitun is the answer to the question of where to find Beijing’s liveliest nightlife, especially for those who are fashionable and enjoy the high-end atmosphere. Being close to the embassy district, it’s common for foreigners to frequent the area. Sanlitun bar street offers a variety of bars and nightclubs catering to different tastes like wine bars, gay bars, and music bars. However, visitors should be aware that prices in Sanlitun can be quite costly.

🚇By subway: Take subway line 10, get off at Tuanjiehu Station, and exit from A

30. Do Half-day Trip to the Summer Palace

Summer Palace - beijing travel

The Summer Palace, which is situated in the western parts of Beijing, China, holds the distinction of being the largest and best-preserved royal park in the country, spanning an area of approximately 290 hectares. This heritage site was added to the World Heritage List in 1998.

The palace has three main areas, namely, a political center focused around the Hall of Benevolence and Longevity, the emperor’s living quarters consisting of the Hall of Jade Ripples and the Hall of Joyful Longevity, and the scenic tourist area of Longevity Hill and Kunming Lake. The Long Corridor in the Summer Palace has a small purple “waterfall” with thin vines adorned with purple blooms, creating a romantic and charming view.

To fully explore the vast Summer Palace, set aside approximately five hours on foot. Begin at the East Palace Gate, prioritizing visits to the Hall of Benevolence and Longevity, as well as the Garden of Virtue and Harmony—spaces where the emperor worked and entertained. Nearby, well-proportioned attics housed the emperor and concubines. Continue along the Long Corridor, leading to the Tower of Buddhist Incense Pavilion. If fatigue sets in, consider taking a boat to Suzhou Street, exiting through the North Palace Gate. Alternatively, keep walking the Long Corridor to the West Causeway, modeled after the Su Causeway. Follow the lake path, eventually reaching the Seventeen-Arch Bridge. Finally, exit through the new palace gate or continue north toward the East Palace Gate.

🎫Admission ticket: Apr to Oct: CNY30 | Nov to Mar: CNY20
⏰Opening hours: Apr to Oct: 06:30 – 18:00 | Nov to Mar: 07:00 – 17:00
🚇By subway: Take line 4 to Beigongmen, and exit from D

31. Explore the Ruins of Old Summer Palace

Old Summer Palace - beijing travel

The Old Summer Palace, which consists of Yuanmingyuan(the Old Summer Palace), Wanchunyuan(the Garden of Blossoming Spring), and Changchunyuan(the Garden of Eternal Spring), was a significant imperial palace of the Qing Dynasty for over 150 years. Unfortunately, the main constructions were burned down by the Anglo-French Allied Force in 1860, and today only the wreckage remains as a reminder of its past imperial glory.

Wanchunyuan is the smallest garden with many small attractions and pavilions scattered throughout. Nowadays, it is mainly used as the venue for the annual Lotus Festival in Yuanmingyuan. Changchunyuan boasts large-scale waterscapes and the Great Fountain Ruins (Dashuifa) is the most comprehensively conserved ruins in the area.

The Old Summer Palace appears to be less attractive in reality than it is described in the book. There are ruins and broken walls as far as the eye can see, and despite repairs, weeds and stones still occupy the area. The destruction of Yuanmingyuan was heavily influenced by the materials used for construction at that time, with the wooden houses consumed by the fire.

The ruins park may not be visually stunning, but it can create a significant psychological impact on people due to the ruins. What once was the magnificent Garden of Gardens, now lies in ruins and holds little beauty in its current state.

🎫Admission ticket: CNY10
⏰Opening hours: May to Aug: 07:00-19:00 | Apr, Sep, and Oct: 07:00-18:00 | Nov to Mar: 07:00-17:30
🚇By subway: Take Subway Line 4 and get off at Yuanmingyuan Station, and get out from Exit B

32. Admire the Charm of the Fragrant Hills Park

Fragrant Hills Park - beijing travel

Xiangshan Park, also known as Fragrant Hills Park, is located in the western suburbs of Haidian District, Beijing. It is a famous forest park and an imperial garden with a long history. In ancient times, emperors would come here to hunt and keep cool during the summer. It is a famous maple leaves landscape area in Beijing. Every autumn, the maple leaves all over the mountains are as red as flames.

The best viewing season is from mid-October to early November, which lasts about a month. Famous scenic spots are Bright Temple (Zhao Miao), a large and attractive building with Tibetan temple style, and quaint courtyard with Jiangnan characteristics –Study of Reading Heart (Jianxin Zhai), Chairman Mao Zedong and the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China stationed earliest living and office place – Shuangqing Villa.

The annual Red Leaves Festival, which runs from mid-October to mid-November, attracts tourists from all over the country. But catching up with the peak of weekend tourism can be really a sea of people. If you want to come here, you need to arrange both the time and the route. There are two options for going up the mountain: cable car and walking, you can walk up to the top can enjoy the scenery first, and then go down with the cable car is not too bad for the knees.

🎫Admission ticket: Apr to Nov 15: CNY10 | Nov 16 to Mar: CNY5
⏰Opening hours: 06:00 – 19:30
🚍By bus: Take bus 563, 318, 360, or 698 and get off at Xiangshan Station

33. Hiking the Great Wall

The Great Wall of China is a remarkable architectural feat that spans approximately 13,000 miles. It was constructed over several centuries to defend China against invasions. The wall varies in age, with some sections dating back over 2,000 years. It is made of various materials, such as stone, brick, tamped earth, and wood. The wall’s purpose extended beyond defense, serving as a transportation route, a symbol of national unity, and an engineering masterpiece. Today, it is a popular tourist attraction, offering breathtaking views and insights into China’s rich history and cultural heritage.

Hiking the Badaling Great Wall Section

badaling great wall - beijing travel

Badaling is a renowned section of the Great Wall of China, located in the Yanqing District of Beijing. It is widely recognized as one of the most well-preserved and popular segments of the Great Wall. Known for its beautiful scenery and steep terrain, Badaling offers a captivating experience for visitors.

Constructed during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), Badaling served as a crucial military fortification, protecting the northern borders of China. Stretching approximately 7.6 kilometers, it features a series of watchtowers, beacon towers, and defensive walls that wind their way along rugged mountain ridges.

Since its opening to the public, Badaling has attracted countless tourists from around the world. In 1988, it was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site, acknowledging its historical and cultural significance. Over the years, extensive restoration work has been carried out to preserve its original grandeur.

Visitors to Badaling can embark on an awe-inspiring journey by walking along the ancient walls, exploring the watchtowers, and enjoying breathtaking views of the surrounding landscapes. For those who prefer a more convenient option, there is a cable car that transports visitors to the highest point of the Wall, providing stunning panoramic vistas without the need for strenuous hiking.

🎫Admission ticket: Apr to Oct: CNY40 | Nov to Mar: CNY35
⏰Opening hours: 06:30 – 14:30

How to Get to Badaling Great Wall

  • Take Bus 877 from Deshengmen Bus Station, located near Jishuitan Subway Station on Line 2. The bus operates from early morning until late evening, with a travel time of about 2 hours. The fare is approximately CNY 12.
  • Take the Tourist Bus Line 1, which departs from the southwest of Qianmen Arrow Tower. This bus will take you to the Badaling Guntiangou Parking Lot. The payment fee is CNY20 in cash per person. The estimated duration for a one-way journey is around 100 minutes.

Hiking Juyong Pass Great Wall Section

Juyongguan, also known as Juyong Pass, is a section of the Great Wall of China located in the Changping District of Beijing. It is one of the three most famous mountain passes of the Great Wall, along with Jiayuguan in the west and Shanhaiguan in the east.

One of the notable features of Juyongguan is its steep terrain, which makes it a natural defensive position. The pass is surrounded by mountains on three sides, and its narrow valley is flanked by steep cliffs. To enhance its defensive capabilities, various fortifications were built along the pass, including watchtowers, gates, and beacon towers. These structures provided both defensive functions and served as signaling stations for communication along the Great Wall.

The Juyongguan section of the Great Wall is also renowned for its architectural beauty. It features several well-preserved structures, such as the Cloud Platform (Yun Tai), which is a marble terrace built during the Ming Dynasty. This platform served as a base for ceremonies and provided a vantage point to observe the surrounding landscapes.

🎫Admission ticket: Apr to Oct: CNY40 | Nov to Mar: CNY35
⏰Opening hours: 08:30-17:00
🚍By bus: Take bus line 883 or 919 from Deshengmen West or Deshengmen to Nankou Lukou South or Nankou Lukou North. Then, change to bus line Chang 20 to Juyongguan Great Wall.

Hiking Mutianyu Great Wall Section

Mutianyu Great Wall - beijing travel

Located in Huairou County, approximately 70 km northeast of central Beijing, the Mutianyu Great Wall is renowned for its breathtaking scenery and remarkable preservation. This section of the Great Wall stands out as one of the most picturesque and sought-after destinations for both local and international tourists, offering a captivating blend of natural beauty and historical significance.

Stretching across a length of about 2.5 kilometers, the Mutianyu Great Wall claims the title of the longest segment of the Great Wall in China. It boasts an impressive array of features, including 22 watchtowers and three primary defensive barriers, among them a moat designed to deter potential intruders from approaching the wall.

Upon reaching the Mutianyu Great Wall, visitors have various options to explore this magnificent structure. They can choose to hike along the wall, opt for a cable car ride, or even embark on an exhilarating toboggan descent. It is advisable to wear comfortable shoes and bring along water and snacks, as the dining options on the wall itself are limited.

🎫Admission ticket: CNY40
⏰Opening hours: 08:30-17:00
🚍By bus: Take the bus from Dongzhimen Wai Bus Station and get off at Mutianyu’s Parking Lot P1. The bus operates from 8:30 am, with a travel duration of about 1.5 to 2 hours. The fare is roughly CNY 30.

Hiking Jiankou Great Wall Section

Jiankou Great Wall is renowned for its challenging nature and is considered one of the most difficult sections of the Great Wall to hike. Its steep and treacherous segments add to its reputation. The name “Jiankou” derives from its resemblance to an arrow, with the collapsed ridge forming the arrow nock. This segment is also home to noteworthy landmarks, including the “Eagle Flies Facing Upward” watchtower and the “Beijing Knot.”

Although Jiankou Great Wall is not as well-preserved as other parts, it remains a favored destination for adventurous hikers and history enthusiasts. However, it’s important to note that due to its rugged terrain and limited safety measures, hiking Jiankou Great Wall is recommended only for experienced hikers equipped with proper gear and precautions.

🚍By bus: Take bus line 916 Express at Dongzhimen Transit Hub. After approximately 1-1.5 hours, alight at Yangjiayuan. From there, head north on foot until you reach a crossing, then make a right turn and board the H25 bus to reach the Xizhazi Village West stop.

Hiking Jinshanling Great Wall Section

jinshanling great wall - beijing travel

Explorers of the Jinshanling Great Wall can embark on a hike along the wall while relishing breathtaking vistas of the surrounding countryside. This section of the Great Wall extends approximately 10.5 kilometers and boasts an impressive collection of 67 watchtowers. It is revered as one of the most well-preserved segments, attracting hikers and tourists alike.

During the autumn, Jinshanling Great Wall showcases its awe-inspiring beauty as the foliage of the surrounding trees transitions into vibrant hues of red, yellow, and orange, creating a picturesque landscape. This time of year is particularly favored for visiting. Additionally, the wall offers an enchanting setting for photography enthusiasts, especially during sunrise and sunset when the wall radiates a golden glow.

Jinshanling Great Wall is renowned for its challenging hiking trails, featuring steep inclines and rugged terrain. Due to these challenging features, it is not advisable for families with young children or elderly individuals. However, for those who are up for the adventure, it promises an unforgettable experience.

🎫Admission ticket: Apr to Oct: CNY65 | Nov to Mar: CNY55
⏰Opening hours: 6:00 – 17:30
🚍By tourist bus: Between mid-March and mid-November, a tourist bus departs at 7:40 am from Beijing’s Dongzhimen Wai Bus Station, returning from Jinshanling at 16:00 pm. Tickets cost around CNY 120.

34. Come to Ming Tombs

Ming Tombs - beijing travel

The Ming Tombs encompass the burial sites of thirteen Ming Dynasty emperors and rank among China’s most expansive and significant imperial mausoleum complexes. Presently, only the Changling Tomb, Dingling Tomb, Zhaoling Tomb, and Sacred Way are accessible to the public.

The entire scenic area is a harmonious whole, with each mausoleum functioning as an independent unit and strategically situated in front of a mountain. Among the thirteen tombs, the Changling Tomb holds significant prominence as it was the first constructed and serves as the tomb of the third Ming Dynasty Emperor. It boasts the distinction of being the largest, most original, and well-preserved tomb among the 13 Ming Tombs.

The Changling Museum exhibits a wide range of unearthed relics, including the phoenix crown, the civilian official’s top hat, jade belt, and hairpins, offering a captivating display.

In addition to exploring the historical aspects, it is recommended to visit the Zhaoling Tomb and take a leisurely stroll along the Sacred Way. The Sacred Way features captivating stone statues, while the Zhaoling area provides a serene and less crowded environment, ideal for peaceful walks.

🎫Combo Ticket: Apr to Oct: CNY130 | Nov to Mar: CNY100 (four open tombs)
⏰Opening hours: Apr to Oct: 08:30 – 17:00 | Nov to Mar: 08:30 – 16:30
🚇By subway: Take the Changping Line subway to Changping Dongguan Station. From there, transfer to bus 314, which will take you directly to Changling or Dingling.

🏨Where to Stay in Beijing

Mandarin Oriental Wangfujing Beijing

MOST LUXURY: Mandarin Oriental Hotel (⭐️ 9.6) This upscale hotel offers tranquility amidst the bustling city and provides stunning sunset views of the Forbidden City from its Mandarin room. It excels in all aspects, including considerate service, outstanding facilities, superb dining options, and a relaxing spa, making it highly recommended.

Photo courtesy of Mandarin Oriental via Trip.com

Manxin Hotel

BEST CULTURAL ARCHITECTURE: Manxin Courtyard Hotel (⭐️ 9.8) This hotel is perfectly situated and resembles Beijing’s Hutongs, featuring narrow passages leading to open courtyards and guest houses. Amidst the busy ambiance, it offers a tranquil traditional luxury. The service is exceptional. You can enjoy tea and capture moments in the courtyard.

Photo courtesy of Manxin Hotel via Trip.com

Crystal Orange Hotel

MID-RANGE PICK: Crystal Orange Hotel(⭐️ 9.6) This highly affordable hotel boasts an excellent location near Wangfujing shopping street and within walking distance of the Forbidden City. It’s conveniently situated right across the subway entrance. The rooms, though not spacious, are well-kept and clean. Additionally, the hotel provides free luggage delivery.

Photo courtesy of Crystal Orange Hotel via Trip.com
Crystal Orange Hotel

TOP BUDGET PICK: Atour Light Hotel(⭐️ 9.4) Atour Light, China’s leading humanistic hotel, charms with its serene color scheme, artful decor, and wooden floors. Guests enjoy custom mattresses, smart room controls, and cityscape views. United Park is a multifunctional public space that combines a coffee bar and reading area.

Photo courtesy of Atour Light via Trip.com

🌸Final Tip on Traveling to Beijing

To maximize your Beijing experience, plan your itinerary strategically, prioritizing popular attractions on weekdays to avoid crowds. Prepare for variable weather by packing comfortable shoes, sunscreen, and an umbrella. Engage with locals for authentic experiences and explore lesser-known neighborhoods for hidden gems. Respect local customs, indulge in Beijing’s diverse cuisine, and savor every moment of your journey. With these tips, your Beijing adventure will be truly remarkable.

China Travel Planning Guide&FAQ

🎫Do I need a visa for China?

Yes. Most visitors to China will need a visa to enter the country. The type of visa you need will depend on the purpose and duration of your trip, as well as your nationality. If you are a resident of the US, you must apply for a Chinese visa at the Consular Office in the country. On the other hand, inhabitants of countries like Japan, Canada, and the UK can request a visa through the Chinese Visa Application Service Center.

🤔Why is it necessary to install a VPN in China?

In China, the government has strict regulations on internet access, leading to the blocking of popular websites and social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Google, and YouTube. To access these sites, a VPN is suggested as a means of bypassing the restrictions. It is important to choose a reputable VPN provider and use caution while doing so. ExpressVPN has been historically deemed the most reliable VPN for this purpose, despite being heavily targeted by China’s censors. Nevertheless, it is still a widely preferred option owing to its ease of installation and user-friendliness.

📲Is it necessary to have a Chinese SIM card while in China?

Yes. It is crucial to acknowledge that accessing the internet in China may pose limitations due to certain websites being prohibited or filtered. To ensure uninterrupted connectivity while staying in China, purchasing a local SIM card is advisable. For optimum results, acquiring SIM cards from either China Unicom or China Mobile is recommended. While China Mobile has the most comprehensive coverage in China and is a market leader, China Unicom is more compatible with foreign phones, enabling 3G and 4G services. Or you can purchase a SIM card online.

🔮Should I buy China travel insurance?

Yes. Although China is generally a safe country for travel, it is still possible to encounter accidents or other unexpected occurrences. Therefore, obtaining travel insurance can provide a sense of security and financial protection. In my research, I have found that World Nomads is a reputable travel insurance provider that covers a wide range of activities and is recommended for the average traveler. Nevertheless, I advise you to compare insurance quotes from various providers before making a decision.

🚙Can you rent a car in China?

Unfeasible. Obtaining a Chinese driver’s license to rent a car and self-drive may seem like an option, but it is not a practical choice for most foreigners. Therefore, many prefer to opt for a driver or public transportation when navigating China, as it proves to be more convenient.

✈️What’s the best site to purchase flight tickets for China?

I suggest using Trip for affordable flights to China. As a China-based company, they often offer lower prices compared to foreign companies. Additionally, they offer English-speaking phone support in case of any issues.

🏡What is the best way to book hotels in China?

Not only does Trip offer a wider range of flight options, but it also provides a greater selection of hotels to choose from. Moreover, Agoda is a reliable resource for hotels throughout Asia.

🎒What do I pack for China?

Travel adapter and converter: China uses a different electrical system than many other countries, so it’s important to bring a travel adapter and converter if you plan to use electronic devices such as phones, cameras, and laptops.  
Sunscreen: The UV index in China can be high, particularly during the summer months, and prolonged exposure to the sun without protection can cause skin damage and increase the risk of skin cancer.
Deodorant: It should be noted that finding deodorant in China may not be a simple task.

📚Can a guidebook for traveling to China be useful?

Yes. If you’re planning to travel to China for the first time, a travel guidebook can be a valuable resource, and Lonely Planet is one of the most reputable guides available globally. Its comprehensive itineraries and recommendations take into account your personal preferences and can save you both time and money. The insider tips are also extremely helpful in navigating China’s unique cultural landscape like a local.

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