With over 20 million locals and an array of sights, tastes and sounds, Beijing is one of the bustling cities that never sleeps. There over 900 attractions so it’s no surprise that you’ll always have something to do. Here are fifteen touristy things to do in Beijing.
- THE GREAT WALL
One of the great world wonders and a 1987 UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Great Wall forms one of China’s greatest historical splendors filled with cultural symbolism and thousands of years of history.
- THE FORBIDDEN CITY
Also known as the former Imperial Palace, The Forbidden City is located north of Tiananmen Square and was the home to twenty four Chinese emperors during the Ming and Qing dynasties between 1420 and 1911. Now known as the Palace Museum, it is surrounded by a 3800 meter long moat and forms the world’s largest palace complex, covering an area of approximately 74 hectares.
- THE TEMPLE OF HEAVEN
Located in the Chongwen District of Beijing, the Temple of Heaven is one of the largest ancient sacrificial buildings. Covering an area of 2 700 000 square meters, it is even larger than the Forbidden City. It was originally a place where emperors of the Ming and Qing Dynasties held their Heaven Worship Ceremony. The temple now forms one of the world cultural heritage sites.
- THE SUMMER PALACE
Situated northwest of Beijing in the Haidian District is the Summer Palace. Forming one of the largest and most well-preserved sites in China, here you will find over 3000 man made structures; including a range of pavilions, towers, bridges and corridors.
Beijing is famous for its hutongs. Also known as little grey tiled old lanes or alleyways, these hutongs have existed for over 700 years and can be found all over the city.
- THE OLYMPIC PARK
Constructed for the 2008 Summer Olympics, the Olympic Park can be found in the Chaoyang District. There is a beautiful park here with lots to do on warm sunny days.
- WANFUJING SHOPPING STREET
Known as one of the most famous shopping streets in all of Beijing, Wanfujing is a popular place for both tourists and residents alike. Located in the Dongcheng District, this snack street houses some of the most exotic foods found in Beijing. In addition, it also serves as one of the biggest shopping areas around, filled with traditional paintings, arts and crafts.
- TIANANMEN SQUARE
Tiananmen Square is located at the center of Beijing. Named after the Gate of Heavenly Peace (Tiananmen), here you will find Tiananmen Tower, the Monument to the Peoples Heroes, Chairman Mao Zedong Memorial Hall and can also see the national flag raising ceremony before the sun rises.
- BEIJING ZOO
Situated in the Xicheng District and founded in 1906, the Beijing Zoo is home to around 450 different species of animals. It is one of the oldest zoos in China and is also home to a specialized center focusing on zoological research and breeding of rare animals from around the world.
- THE THIRTEEN TOMBS OF THE MING DYNASTY
The Ming Tombs are a collection of mausoleums built by the emperors of the Ming Dynasty in China. They can be located within the Changping district in Beijing, approximately 42 kilometers north west of the city center. Here you will find the burial sites of many emperors, empresses, concubines, princes and princesses.
- YONGHE LAMA TEMPLE
The Lama Temple is located in the Dongcheng district and was first built in 1964 during the Qing Dynasty. It forms the largest and best preserved lamasery in Beijing, encompassing architectural styles of the Han, Manchu, Mongolian and Tibetan ethnic groups.
- THE SILK MARKET
The Silk Market is a popular stop for tourists in Beijing. Spread over seven floors, here you will find around 1600 booths all selling a huge selection of local souvenirs, luggage and name brand clothing (of course, these are genuine). Be ready to bargain though, the sales assistants can often speak English and are not afraid to start selling you items with a 300 – 500 % mark-up.
- SANLITUN BAR STREET
Located in the east Chaoyang district, Sanlitun is a world famous bar street and one of Beijing’s most upper class areas. Here you will find a range of shops, food houses and local trinkets. More than 60 % of Beijing’s bars are located here with over 80 different bars lining both sides of the street. Many of these places serve a range of drinks such as imported and homemade wines, cocktails and more. Apart from the various bands, magicians and dancers, most foreigners come here to enjoy major sporting matches.
Houhai is another of Beijing’s gems. Located directly north of Tiananmen Square, the lake here forms the largest and an important part of Shichahai which is the collective name given for the three most northern lakes in Beijing. At Houhai, you will not only see one of the most beautiful lakes in Beijing but also a range of hutongs and historic sites with bars and restaurants dispersed in between.
- BEIJING DRUM TOWER
To the north of Beijing, you will find two of the cities biggest symbols – the Bell and Drum Towers. Built in 1272 during the reign of Kublai Khan, these towers were originally used as musical instruments. They were later used for telling the time. After being rebuilt twice because of fires, these buildings now stand as a popular historical site.