Beijing is not only the sprawling political capital of China - it is a city full of unique and beautiful sights. As a 3000-year old city, it holds a lot of historical value. But at the same time, the city has been able to keep up with the fast-changing trends of the world.
Every year, millions of tourists visit Beijing to discover the hidden (and not-so-hidden) treasures this city holds, with the most famous one being the Great Wall of China. If you’re planning a trip to Beijing for the first time, you should not miss these 7 must see places:
1. Great Wall of China
One of the greatest and most famous historic structures in China, the Great Wall offers a is perfect location to start your Beijing tour from!
Although Beijing covers eight sections of this wall, we recommend that you cover the Badaling Pass. Standing up to eight metres high since the 16th century, this section was the first one to be opened to tourists in the 1950s. Along your way, you’ll come across many towers that offer a mesmerizing view of the surroundings. The Wall also has some amazing spots to take photos, so don’t forget to keep your camera with you!
2. The Imperial Palace (Forbidden City)
Famously known as the Forbidden City, The Imperial Palace dates back to the Yuan Dynasty in the 15th century. It was later renovated during the Qing Dynasty in the 18th century.
With over 9000 rooms spread across 250 acres, this beautiful palace is the most noteworthy attraction of China. The top things to see here are the Golden River Bridges, the Meridian Gate, the Palace of Heavenly Purity, the Hall of Preserving Harmony and the Hall of Military Courage. It is the epitome of the history and culture of China, so make sure you don’t miss it!
3. The Temple of Heaven
Situated in Southern Beijing, the Temple of Heaven (Tiantan) is a collection of sacred buildings that date back to 1420. These buildings consist of shrines and temples that are of immense importance in Chinese history.
The temple was used by many Chinese Emperors for sacrificial ceremonies. What’s intriguing about this place is that the shrines and temples are divided into two sections - one rectangular and one semi-circular - to represent the Heaven and the Earth. If you go there early in the morning, you’ll find different groups of people doing Kung Fu or other exercises, or simply sitting with each other playing cards or music. You can join them too!
4. Tiananmen Square
Initially designed to mark the 10th anniversary of the Chinese Republic in 1958, Tiananmen Square is the world’s largest inner-city square designed to hold a million people.
The place is mainly used for large public gatherings and parades. It is surrounded by important buildings on all four sides. These include Gate of Heaven peace in the north, Chairman Mao's Mausoleum and Monument to the People's Heroes in the south, the National Museum of China in the east, and the Great Hall of the People on its west.
5. The Summer Palace
The Summer Palace is China’s largest imperial garden. Once a summer resort for the most famous Chinese Emperors, it now serves as the perfect retreat spot for tourists.
Relax your mind as you wander through the lush gardens and the 700-year-old man-made Kunming Lake. Highlights include the Longevity Hall and its an elaborate throne, traditional Chinese performances in 19th-century Grand Theatre, and taking a small boat tour in the Kunming Lake. If you have time left, you can also take a stroll down the Suzhou Market Street, and explore the riverside shops.
6. Beijing Zoo
The Beijing Zoo is one of the largest zoos in China. It is divided into different sections, and each section is home to a wide variety of exotic animals, including African Chimpanzees, Mexican Manatees, Leopards, and Australian Kangaroos.
In addition to this, the zoo also has a large aquarium with lots of different sea creatures in the North Zone. However, the highlight of this zoo are giant, cute pandas which are only found in China. You definitely can't miss this, especially if you’re travelling with your kids!
If you want to enjoy the nightlife in Beijing, then Sanlitun is the place to be. The area is known for its fine dining and nightlife scene. Sanlitun Bar Street has a number of bars, so it’s a must visit if you’re travelling with your friends (or planning to make new friends!).
Moreover, the area also has many famous restaurants, which are perfect for a date night. Apart from this, there are many international, branded shops located in the area, with Taikoo Li Shopping Mall being the most popular one. This street is a must visit for all fashion lovers.