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Beijing

As the second largest city in the most populous country in the world, you can expect great things from Beijing. The nations political and cultural centre, this is where the wonders of ancient China meet the modern marvels of this great nation. From the Great Wall to the Forbidden City, Beijing is a must see for any visitor to China.

Tours and activities in Beijing

Opting for a guided tour for a day or two of your holiday will ensure you get the very best from your visit to Beijing. Some trips are just easier when you’ve got an expert guiding your experience, and others are near on impossible without someone to help.

Beijing’s monuments, museums, palaces and temples are all notoriously difficult for western visitors to understand. A complex history, the intricate symbolism in many of the works together with the lack of explanatory signage can leave even the most intrepid traveller scratching their head. Take a look at our selection of short, simple tours to many of the city’s major attractions, designed to make your visit even more amazing.

If you want to attend an event, see a cultural show or experience a bespoke activity in Beijing, we can help with that too. From concerts to theatre performances, sporting activities to spa days, we can help you book the very best activities in Beijing to enrich your experience of this amazing city.

Best time to visit

Autumn and late spring are the best times to plan a visit to Beijing. These times of year tend to bring clear blue skies and pleasant temperatures for sightseeing.

Top Attractions in Beijing

What to see and do
Tiananmen Square
1. Tiananmen Square
Landmarks and icons

Arguably the city’s most important landmark, Tiananmen Square is a must see for any visitor. Surrounded by grand buildings, museums and monuments, we recommend you start your first day here.

Lama temple
2. Lama temple
Landmarks and icons

Don’t miss the Lama temple either, the heart of Buddhism in Beijing, where clouds of incense mix with gorgeous frescoes and stunning carpentry to create a truly magical experience.

Palace Museum
3. Palace Museum
Museums, galleries and exhibitions

With more than 100 museums and galleries, you’ll be spoilt for choice if culture is your thing. Prioritise the Palace Museum (also known as the Forbidden City), the National Museum in Dongcheng District and the Military Museum for a worthwhile itinerary. Contemporary art is alive and well in Beijing, so if this is your passion, head to the 798 Art District. Here you’ll find a huge number of abandoned factories which have been turned into the most amazing modern art galleries.

National Museum
4. National Museum
Museums, galleries and exhibitions

National Museum in Dongcheng District and the Military Museum for a worthwhile itinerary.

798 Art District
5. 798 Art District
Historic Site

Contemporary art is alive and well in Beijing, so if this is your passion, head to the 798 Art District. Here you’ll find a huge number of abandoned factories which have been turned into the most amazing modern art galleries.

 

Great Wall of China
6. Great Wall of China
Nature, parks and outdoors

We couldn’t talk about being outdoors without mentioning the Great Wall of China. You can get there in an hour from the city by train, or around an hour and a half by bus. Most tours will take you to Badaling, although it can be crowded, so try to visit Huanghuacheng, Jinshanling, and Simatai as well to avoid the crowds and get a great view of the wall.

Ming Tombs
7. Ming Tombs
Nature, parks and outdoors

Closer to the city, try to visit the Ming Tombs, the Temple of Heaven Park and the Summer Palace for beautiful architecture, rich history and stunning surroundings.

Summer Palace
8. Summer Palace
Nature, parks and outdoors
Temple of Heaven Park
9. Temple of Heaven Park
Nature, parks and outdoors
Beijing zoo
10. Beijing zoo
Things to do with kids

If the kids have had enough of temples, pop along to the Beijing Zoo for a more family friendly activity. Located in the Xicheng District, it contains some 450 species of animal, including the Chinese icon, the giant panda.

Spring Festival of Beijing
11. Spring Festival of Beijing
Regular festivals and celebrations

The Spring Festival of Beijing takes place in late January to Early February, which is a great time to visit temples and see the temple fairs.

Grand View Garden Fair
12. Grand View Garden Fair
Regular festivals and celebrations

At this time of year, the Grand View Garden Fair also takes place outside the Chang'anmen, with exciting performances and beautiful traditional costumes.

Getting here and getting around

Served by Beijing Capital International Airport, a transport hub of epic proportions, visitors will have no problem getting in and away from Beijing from pretty much anywhere in the world. The airport is the second busiest in the world, with over 70 airlines connecting the city to all major airports around the world. Chances are you’ll start your China adventure here in Beijing, and if you’re planning to fly home or to another city in China when you’re done, you couldn’t be better catered for.

 

The airport is around 26km away from the city centre, so you’ll need to plan how to get into the city when you arrive. A taxi should cost around ¥70-120, or you can take the Airport Express train, which takes 20 minutes and costs ¥25 one way. There is also an airport shuttle bus, which costs ¥16 and runs every 10 – 30 minutes, day and night.

 

Getting around the city is simple too, as Beijing boasts an extensive subway network, with stops marked in English to make it easy to navigate. Trips are from ¥3 – 9, making this a great alternative to taxis for the budget conscious traveller. There are busses too, but unless you understand some Mandarin you are likely to struggle, as most bus drivers speak no English at all.

Eating and drinking

Here in Beijing, you’ll find food from all over China, so if you want to take a culinary journey, this is the place to do it! Sanlitun has the widest selection of restaurants in the city, or for more traditional Beijing fayre, head to Ghost Street in Dongzhimen. If you’re just craving some Western food, Wudaokou district houses many cafes and bars that serve dishes which you’ll find a bit more familiar.

Don’t miss the Peking roast duck, one of the city’s signature dishes. For cheap eats, don’t be scared to try some of Beijing’s street food. The savoury pancakes are easily the most popular street food snack, but you’ll also find delicious lamb kebabs, generous portions of rice noodles and even such delicacies as scorpion on a stick.

 

If you’re looking for liquid refreshment, Sanlitun is a hotspot for the city’s bars and clubs, and is popular with tourists and expats alike. If you’d like a more authentic experience, Nanluoguxiang has a good number of pubs and bars, right in the heart of one of the city’s most popular hutongs. For top quality surroundings, Houhai has a spattering of high class bars and nightclubs nestled around the lake, but check the prices before you order as some of these can be extortionately expensive.

Getting a good night's sleep

There are plenty of hotels to suit all needs and budget in the central city area. There are some near the airport too, and out towards the Great Wall you can find unique, country-club style hotels designed for luxury.

In the city itself, the most expensive hotels are found in the Dongcheng District, although they are still affordable by Western standards. Go for the Hotel Eclat or the NUO Hotel if its luxury you’re after, or consider the Double Happiness or the Red Wall Garden hotels for mid-range comfort. You’ll find all the familiar hotel chains present in the city too, including Marriott, Fairmont, Hilton, Four Season, Crowne Plaza and more. You can view a selection of the available accommodations here.