Beijing being the capitol of China has a lot to offer. Here is a list of my top 10 sights to see when visiting this ancient capitol.
1. The Great Wall
Duh! There are several sections of the wall that you can visit. Badaling is the most touristy. Mutianyu and Jinshanling are other restored sections of the wall. The sections of Huanghua Cheng and Zhuangdaokou are part restored and part “wild”. And the “wild wall” sections include Gubeikou and Jiankou.
I hiked the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall and had an amazing experience. Read about my hiking the Great Wall here.
2. Tian’anmen Square and Forbidden City
I’m going to group these two together as they are close proximity to each other, you walk through Tianamen Square to get into the Forbidden City. Tianamens Square is free to visit and is the worlds largest public square coming in at a whooping 440,000 sq. meters. If you get up early enough you can watch the flag-raising ceremony or see the flag lowered at sunset.
The Forbidden City also holds a record as the worlds largest palace complex. It however is not free and costs 60 RMB (high season) for your basic entrance ticket. You must also carry your passport on you to gain entrance as they scan it and your passport becomes your ticket. Purchasing an audio guide would be beneficial to learn about the areas and the history of this crazy place.
3. Temple of Heaven
A beautiful park surrounds this temple. Get there early enough (before 4) to buy a through ticket. We got there at 4:30 and weren’t able to get close to the temple (still charged) and then we got rained out! Looked beautiful from where we could see it and wished we could have seen it up close.
4. Summer Palace
The Summer Palace is filled with temples, gardens, pavilions, lake views, and oh ya stairs! It’s an iconic image to Beijing like the Great Wall and the Forbidden City but is very busy, especially in peak season…Are you seeing the pattern yet?
5. Pick a Market and go Shopping
There are quite a few markets to choose from to suit your shopping needs.
Silk Market – clothes, shoes, bags, and fabrics
Antique Market – you guessed it for antiques
Pearl Market – jewelry, electronics, and of course pearls. I went to the Pearl Market and got some great camera gear at a really good price. If I wasn’t on a backpacking trip and was headed home after I would have bought a lot more!!
6. Wonder the Hutongs
They say you never truly experience ‘real Beijing’ until you’ve wondered the narrow alley ways of the Hutongs, the heart and soul of the city.
7 Try some Exotic Foods
Anything you can imagine on a stick from seafoods to starfish to types of bugs and scropions. Head to Wangfujing Shopping Street to do the unthinkable and eat something weird.
8. Lama Temple
A Tibetan temple with a 18 meter statue of Buddha carved from a single sandalwood tree.
9. Drum and Bell Towers
The red painted drum tower originally built in 1272, used to be the cities official time keeper, when the drums and bells were rung daily to mark the time of the day. You’re able to climb the inner staircase for views of the grey tiled roof tops.
The bell tower also offers spectacular views of the drum tower from its balcony. If you want views of this ancient, modern, and ever changing city, don’t miss these places!
10. Beihai Park
A huge park that surrounds Beihai Lake. The island inside the lake has a white pagoda which used to be Kublai Khans Palace where he resided and is worth checking out especially if you’re a Marco Polo fan like @j.morgan_photography. You can rent boat and paddle around or hoof it and walk around the lake. There are a few bridges that you can walk across to get to the island.
Survival Tips for traveling Beijing:
- A visa is required for most countries to visit China
- Subways stop at 10:30
- Beijing serves food family style
- Beijing is flat so its fun to explore the city via bike
- Download the bike share, WeChat, DiDi App before you visit to travel with ease
For a full detailed guide of Beijing check out my travel guide here.
Thanks for reading and leave a comment if there’s something to see in Beijing that I missed! Follow me @imjess_traveling to see more of my adventures as I frolic across the globe.