18 Things To Do in Beijing

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Beijing is the major city of China. To me, Beijing is the unique city because in this city we can feel the mixed culture between Chinese culture and Western culture. Beijing is the ancient yet modern city, not like Shanghai which really a modern city.

So now I’m going to share what to do in Beijing. There are so many things to do in Beijing, but in my opinion there are 18 top things to do in Beijing.

1. Hike The Great Wall of China

Badaling Great Wall 八达岭长城

Hike The Great Wall of China must be your to-do list if you’re in Beijing. In Beijing there are two entrance of Great Wall, Badaling and Mutianyu. I suggest you to go to Badaling, because it’s the most famous one. If you go to Badaling, there’s a direct public transportation from the center of the city. But if you go to Mutianyu, there’s no direct public transportation from the center of the city.

I already have been to Badaling Great Wall 八达岭长城 twice. I usually hike until the third tower. Hiking the Great Wall is so tired. But when already at the third tower, it’s all paid off and feel so relieve.

Got a medallion from The Great Wall, because I have climbed it! There’s my Chinese name ‘蔡素贞’ engraved on the medallion
The wall of Great Wall

Name: Badaling Great Wall 八达岭长城
Opening Hours: April – October, 06:30 – 19:00; November – March, 07:00 – 18:00
Admission Fee: April – October, CNY 40; November – March, CNY 35
Transportation:
[Bus] Bus 877 (Deshengmen – Badaling) Please note that the last departure from Deshengmen is at 12:30pm; Tourist Bus Line 1 (Qianmen – Badaling).
[Train] S2 (Huangtudian Railway Station – Badaling Railway Station).

Name: Mutianyu Great Wall 慕田峪长城
Opening Hours: April – October, 08:00 – 17:00; November – March, 08:30 – 16:30
Admission Fee: Adults: CNY 45
Seniors elder than 60: CNY 25 (valid ID or passport required)
Children between 3.9 feet (1.2 meters) and 4.6 feet (1.4 meters) in height: CNY 25
Children less than 3.9 feet (1.2 meters) in height are admitted free.
Transportation:
[Bus] Bus 916 Express or 916 (Dongzhimen Bus Station – Huairou North Avenue / Huairou Beidajie Station). Then transfer to Bus Line h23, h24, h35, or h36 to Mutianyu Roundabout.

2. Shopping at Wangfujing, Xidan, Qianmen, and Tianyi

Wangfujing

Beijing is actually has so many shopping center. I’d suggest you to go to the four shopping places in Beijing: Wangfujing, Xidan, Qianmen, and Tianyi.

Wangfujing is the most famous shopping place in Beijing. You can find everything here, the branded fashion (Zara, H&M, etc), the local fashion, street foods, etc.

Xidan is similar with Wangfujing, but Xidan can be divided into two parts: Cheap Xidan and Expensive Xidan. I prefer to go to the Cheap Xidan. Cheap Xidan is one of my favorite shopping center in Beijing.

Qianmen is one of the shopping street in Beijing. Qianmen can be called as the mini version of Wangfujing. Qianmen shows the ancient Chinese style and has a lot of small stores, while Wangfujing looks so magnificent and has a lot of malls. But in Qianmen, there are also some shops that sell branded fashion, similar like in Wangfujing and Expensive Xidan. It’s located near Tiananmen too. So, if you go to Tiananmen, you should visit Qianmen to go shopping or just take a stroll.

Qianmen at Night

Tianyi Wholesale Market is one of the cheapest shopping places for souvenirs. This is only for you who want to buy Chinese souvenirs or other cute things, such as cute dolls, cute greetings cards, etc.

Tianyi Wholesale Market at Night

Name: Wangfujing Street 王府井大街
Transportation: [Subway] Subway Line 1, get off at Wangfujing Station, exit A

Name: Xidan Commercial Street 西单商业街
Transportation: [Subway] Subway Line 1 or Line 4, get off at Xidan Station, exit F1 or F2

Name: Qianmen Street 前门大街
Transportation: [Subway] Subway Line 2, get off at Qianmen Station, get out from southwest or southeast exit

Name: Tianyi Wholesale Market 天意批发市场
Address: No.259, Fuchengmenwai Dajie, Xicheng District (north of Jinrun Building)
Transportation: [Bus] 846, 855, 101, 112, 103, 603 (get off at Fuwai Xikou Stop)

3. Culinary at Wangfujing, Wudaokou and Nanluoguxiang

My favorite Bubble Tea: COCO

Wangfujing is not only famous of its shopping place, but also of its culinary. That’s why Wangfujing is called shopping street, so along this street we can find everything. The unique and weird foods were also available here. I bet you have heard, people eat Scorpion in Beijing. Yes, they ate it in Donghuamen Night Market Wangfujing, or usually called as Wangfujing Night Market. But unfortunately, it’s officially closed since 2016. So for those of you who want to taste the Scorpions on stick, maybe you can find it in other places. But don’t worry, there are still a lot of unique street foods at Wangfujing. There’s also the famous tea shop, named “Wuyutai Tea Shop” at Wangfujing.

Wudaokou can be called as the area for Korean people, or “Korean village”. So, there are so many Korean restaurants here. There’s one of my favorite restaurant in Beijing which located behind U-Center Wudaokou, named “Toppoki Shabu-Shabu”. It’s a Korean restaurant that sell Toppoki or rice cake. But if you don’t like Korean foods, there are still so many other good restaurants in Wudaokou. Because actually there’s a university in Wudaokou, named Beijing Language and Culture University (BLCU), which very famous for international students to study Chinese language. So no wonder why, there are so many international restaurants here.

Wudaokou U-Center

Nanluoguxiang is actually one of the shopping street in Beijing. But I usually did culinary here, not shopping. There are so many yummy street foods here, such as Choux Cream. There’s also a traditional Harbin ice cream which very famous from the ancient times. I also have tried Churros with ice cream/yoghurt. Here we can also feel the ancient times of Beijing, because Nanluoguxiang is in Hutong area.

Choux Cream at Nanluoguxiang
Harbin Ice Cream

Name: Wangfujing Street 王府井大街
Transportation: [Subway] Subway Line 1, get off at Wangfujing Station, exit A

Name: Wudaokou 五道口
Transportation: [Subway] Subway Line 13, get off at Wudaokou Station

Name: Nanluoguxiang 南锣鼓巷
Transportation: [Subway] Subway Line 6 and 8, get off at Nanluoguxiang Station,exit E

4. Experience Night Life in Beijing: Sanlitun and Houhai

Restaurant and Bar in Houhai

This one is for those of you who would like to experience the night life in Beijing. You have to go to Sanlitun or Houhai. Both places are the most famous of its night life.

Sanlitun is a modern area, so there’re so many foreigners and expatriates here. Along the streets, you will find so many foreigners. The nuance is also similar like in Western countries. While in Houhai, it has ancient Chinese nuance, but there’re also a lot of foreigners come here, mixed with the local people. So, you can feel the mixed culture between Western and Chinese culture here.

Name: Sanlitun 三里屯
Transportation: [Subway] Subway Line 10, get off at Tuanjiehu Station, Exit A, and then walk westwards; Subway Line 2, get off at Dongsishitiao Station through Exit A, and walk 100 meters to the east, and then take Bus 113, 115, 431, 701 to Sanlitun Station.

Name: Houhai 后海
Transportation: [Subway] Subway Line 8, get off at Shichahai Station, Exit A2.

5. Down the trail of ancient Beijing at Hutong

Hutong 胡同

Hutong 胡同 is the small alleys and is the icon of Beijing city. If you would like to see the ancient side of Beijing, this is the right place for you. We can stroll around Hutong by foot, or even by rickshaw. Hutong is exist all over Beijing. One of the famous hutong is Nanluoguxiang or South Gong and Drum Lane, which located in Dongcheng District. In the end of Nanluoguxiang, there’s another street that is still belong to Hutong. If we walk along this Hutong, we can reach Shichahai and Houhai.

Name: Nanluoguxiang 南锣鼓巷
Transportation: [Subway] Subway Line 6 and 8,get off at Nanluoguxiang Station, exit E

6. Eat Peking Duck in Beijing

Who doesn’t know this traditional Chinese food? Peking Duck is originally come from Beijing. There are so many Peking Duck in Beijing, one of them is “Quanjude Roast Duck”. This restaurant is available in some places in Beijing: Wangfujing, Qianmen, and other places.

7. Visit Beijing National Stadium

Beijing National Stadium (Bird’s Nest)

Do you still remember Beijing Olympic Games 2008? The Olympic was held at Beijing National Stadium, or can be called as Bird’s Nest. After the olympic was over, Bird’s Nest is one of the tourist attractions in Beijing. The unique architecture makes you have to visit Beijing National Stadium. Moreover, many of events or performances are held in this place.

Name: National Stadium (Bird’s Nest) 国家体育场(鸟巢)
Admission Fee: CNY 50
Opening Hours: April – October, 9:00 – 19:00; November – March, 9:00 – 17:30.
Transportation: [Subway] Subway Line 10 to Beitucheng, then switch to Subway Line 8, get off at Olympic Sports Center Station, Exit B1 or Exit B2, walk north for about 900 yards (823m).

8. Visit parks in Beijing: Summer Palace, Old Summer Palace, Beihai Park, Purple Bamboo Park

Beihai Park 北海公园

Beijing has so many beautiful parks. The most famous parks that usually visited by tourist are Summer Palace and Beihai Park. Actually there are still so many other beautiful parks. In my opinion, there are four beautiful parks you have to visited in Beijing: Summer Palace, Old Summer Palace, Beihai Park, and Purple Bamboo Park.

Summer Palace / Yiheyuan 颐和园 is the biggest and most well-preserved royal park in China. It greatly influences Chinese horticulture and landscape with its famous natural views and cultural interests. Summer Palace is a royal garden which radiating the beauty of nature and grandeur of the royal garden. Summer Palace is divided into 4 areas: Court Area, Front Hill Area, Lake Area, and Rear-Hill Area. Many people said the best time to visit Summer Palace is in Summer, but I think every season has its own beauty.

Summer Palace in Autumn

Not many people know about Old Summer Palace / Yuanmingyuan 圆明园. The park is located opposite of Summer Palace 颐和园. When I was there during Autumn, this park was quite and serene. This park is divided into 3 areas: Yuanmingyuan, Wanchunyuan, and Changchunyuan. Old Summer Palace is also called as “Versailles of the East”, because there’s one tourist spot which similar like Versailles Palace in France. People said there’s a Lotus Festival here, start from June to August.

Old Summer Palace in Autumn

Beihai Park 北海公园 is one of the oldest, largest and best-preserved ancient imperial gardens in Beijing. Beihai Park is said to be built according to a traditional Chinese legend. There are so many tourist spot that you have to visit in Beihai Park: White Dagoba, Hao Pu Creek (Haopujian) Garden, Quiet Heart (Jingxin) Studio, Nine Dragon Screen, Five Dragon Pavilions, Circular City, etc. Because it’s the oldest park, so here you can also find the seniors (grandma and grandpa) who are strolling around the park, or even dancing and singing.

Nine Dragon Screens, one of the three famous screens in China

Zi Zhu Yuan Gongyuan 紫竹院公园 which literally means Purple Bamboo Park, is one of the seven largest park in Beijing, according to Wikipedia. But not many people know this park. Mostly the local people visit to this park. To me, the park is so beautiful. There are 3 lakes and 2 small islands. Just like the name, Bamboo Park, the park has more than 50 species of bamboos on display. Among the diverse bamboo stock, such as mottled bamboos, purple bamboos, fishpole bamboos, the most common by far is the purple bamboo. Every year, people flock to the Bamboo Culture Festival, held from April to June.

Name: Summer Palace 颐和园
Opening Hours: April – October, 06:30 – 18:00 (Scenic spots are open from 08:30 – 17:00); November – March, 07:00 – 17:00 (Scenic spots are open from 09:00 – 16:00)
Admission Fee:  April – October, CNY 30; November – March, CNY 20
Transportation: [Subway] Subway Line 4, get off at Beigongmen, exit D, and walk to the North Palace Gate, or get off at Xiyuan to reach the East Palace Gate from exit C2; Subway Line 16, get off at Xiyuan and leave from exit C2. Walk west to the East Palace Gate.

Name: Old Summer Palace 圆明园
Opening Hours: May – August, 07:00 – 19:00; April, September, October 07:00 – 18:00; January, February, March, November, and December 07:00 – 17:30
Admission Fee: CNY 10
Transportation: [Subway] Subway Line 4, get off at Yuanmingyuan Station, Exit B

Name: Beihai Park 北海公园
Opening Hours: April – October, 06:30 – 21:00 (ticket office closed at 20:30); November – March, 06:30 – 20:00 (ticket office closed at 19:30)
Admission Fee: April – October, CNY 10; November – March, CNY 5
Transportation: [Subway] Subway Line 6 and get off at Beihai Bei Station, Exit B and walk 5 minutes east to get to the north gate of the park.

Name: Purple Bamboo Park 紫竹院公园
Opening Hours: 06:00 – 21:00 (Summer); 06:00 – 20:00 (Winter)
Admission Fee: Free
Transportation: [Bus] Take bus no. 118 and get off at Zizhuyuan South Gate Station.
Take bus no. 588 and get off at Zizhuyuan North Gate.

9. Visit historic sites in Beijing: Tiananmen Square and  The Forbidden City

Tiananmen 天安门

Located at the center of Beijing city, there’s Tiananmen Square and Forbidden City. Both places are the most historical places in Beijing.

Tiananmen Square 天安门广场 is the place of founding proclamation of PRC, and the place of Tiananmen’s demonstration 1989 which ended with the bloody incident Tiananmen 1989. So here you can also find Monument to the People’s Heroes, Great Hall of the People, Chairman Mao Zedong Memorial Hall, Tiananmen Tower, and even you can also see the flag raising ceremony here. Tiananmen Square is one the largest city square in the world.

Located on the north side of Tiananmen Square, there’s Forbidden City 故宫, which is one of China’s largest ancient building that is still well maintained until now. Forbidden City is the imperial palace of China from the Ming Dynasty to the Qing Dynasty. It’s also the largest palace complex in the world. Apart from being the emperor’s home, this place is also the ceremonial and political center of the Chinese government for nearly 500 years.

The Forbidden City 故宫

So if you go to Tiananmen, you have to go to Forbidden City too. Because the location is just opposite to each other. These are also the landmark of Beijing city. If you haven’t take a picture in front of Tiananmen Square and/or Forbidden City, that means you haven’t been to Beijing.

Name: Tiananmen Square 天安门广场
Admission Fee: Free for visiting the square; CNY 15 for ascending the Tiananmen Tower
Transportation: [Subway] Subway Line 1, get off at Tiananmen Dong or Tiananmen Xi Station; Subway Line 2, get off at Qianmen Station, exit A or B and walk north

Name: Forbidden City 故宫
Opening Hours: April – October, 08:30 – 17:00; November – March, 08:30 – 16:30
Admission Fee: April – October, CNY 60; November – March, CNY 40
Transportation: [Subway] Subway line 1, get off at Tiananmen East Station (Exit A) or Tiananmen West Station (Exit B); Subway line 2, get off at Qianmen Station (Exit A)

10. Visit Temple of Heaven

The Temple of Heaven 天坛 is the place where the Ming and Qing dynasty emperors celebrated the rituals and sacrifices to pay homage to Heaven and pleaded for a good harvest. The grandeur and history of Temple of Heaven make this building serve as one of the symbols of Beijing city.

Name: Temple of Heaven 天坛
Opening Hours: April – October: North, East, South and West Gates are open from 06:00 to 22:00; November – March: North, East, South and West Gates are open from 06:30 to 22:00;
Admission Fee: April – October, CNY 15; November – March, CNY 10
Transportation: Subway Line 5, get off at Tiantan Dongmen Station, Leave from Exit A an d you’ll find the East Gate of the Park.

11. Wear Chinese traditional clothes

Photo Session at Beihai Park and Qianmen

In Beijing, there are some tourist places that provides photo services wearing Chinese traditional clothes. At that time, I tried in Qianmen, Beihai Park, and Summer Palace. The price was around 10RMB/photo. Based on my experiences, it couldn’t be rent for hours like in Korea.

12. Visit 798 Art

798 Art Zone 七九八艺术区

798 Art Zone is the art center in Beijing. This place is the unique place you have to go in Beijing. The place is named 798 Art Zone because it was an area for 798 factory, however since 50 years ago this factory was closed. So, then the local people are using the old buildings as art center. This area has been recognized as the cultural heritage in Beijing, and is protected by the local government as a tourist place that capable of carrying the name of Beijing.

Name: 798 Art Zone 七九八艺术区
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.
Admission Fee: 798 Art district is open for free, but some galleries and exhibition halls sell admission tickets.
Transportation: [Subway] Subway Line 14 and alight at Wangjing Nan Station. Get out from Exit B1. Then take bus 403 and get off at Dashanzi Lukou Dong Station or take a 20-minute walk to the destination.

13. Take a picture in front of CCTV HQ (China Central Television Head Quarters)

CCTV HQ in Beijing

Do you know CCTV (China Central Television), the biggest network television in China, is located in Beijing? At first CCTV was named Beijing Television, then it’s officially changed to China Central Television in 1978. CCTV Building is very unique and so artistic to me. So if you go to Beijing, and want to do unique thing, take a picture in front of CCTV can be your choice 😉 But, you can’t go inside CCTV because it’s an office building.

Name: CCTV Headquarters Building 中央电视台新址
Transportation: [Subway] Subway Line 1 or 10, get off at Guomao Station; Subway Line 10 to Jintaixizhao Station and get out from Exit C.

14. Taste the traditional Street Foods in Beijing

Tanghulu

Every country, every city has its own street foods. In Beijing there are so many street foods you have to try. For example like Tanghulu, a traditional Chinese snack of candied fruit. Or you might try Shao Kao (Chinese satay), etc.

15. Watch Beijing Opera

Beijing Opera 京剧

Beijing Opera, or 京剧, is one of the traditional Chinese culture. If Chinese culture is your thing, so don’t you ever miss the opportunity to watch Beijing Opera. I also have watched Beijing Opera in Mei Lanfang Theater, Beijing.

Name: Mei Lanfang Theater  梅兰芳大剧院
Transportation: [Subway] Subway Line 2, and get off the Chegongzhuang station exit B, then walk to the south 50 meters

16. Get a Higher View of the City from CCTV Tower

CCTV Tower at Night

To get a higher view of the Beijing city, of course we have to go to the higher place. In Beijing, there’s a place named CCTV Tower. This place is different with CCTV HQ which I mentioned in point number 13 before. This tower is called as the highest tower in Beijing. There’s also a big aquarium named Pacific Underwater World inside the tower.

The 22nd floor is an open air observation deck, which is said to the largest in the world. You can enjoy the whole view of Beijing. On a fine day, you can have a clear view of the Western Hills, the Summer Palace, the white Dagoba in Beihai Park, and make out the location of Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City City, and even the new CCTV headquarters at a height of 230, designed by Rem Koolhaas in late 2009 and located in the new Central Business District east of Beijing.

Name: CCTV Tower (China Central Television Tower)
Opening Hours:08:30-22:00 (ticket sale stops after 21:30)
Admission Fee: CNY 90; CNY 120 for Pacific Underwater World
Transportation:[Subway] Subway Line 1, get off at Gongzhufen Station and walk north (The opposite to the west gate of Yuyuantan Park)

17. Visit the Biggest Tibetan Buddhism Temple in Beijing: Lama Temple

There are a lot of temples in Beijing, but the biggest one is Lama Temple, or can also be called as Yonghe Temple. Because it is the Tibetan Buddhism Temple, so you’ll feel like in Tibet once you arrive here. The monks are also wear the Tibetan robe. This temple is so big and magnificent. And also beautiful, especially in Autumn. Because there’s a Ginkgo Tree-Lined street here.

Ginkgo tree-lined street

Name: Lama Temple 雍和宫
Opening Hours: April – October, 9:00 -16:30; November – March, 9:00 -16:00
Admission Fee: CNY 25
Transportation: [Subway] Subway Line 2 or 5, get off at Yonghegong Station, get out of the station from Exit C (Southwest Exit), and walk south about 400 meters, then you’ll find it on the east side of the road

18. Visit Madame Tussauds Beijing

Madame Tussauds Beijing is opened since May 31th, 2014. It’s the forth Madame Tussauds in China after Hongkong, Shanghai, and Wuhan. It’s said the biggest Madame Tussauds in Asia, which located in Qianmen Street, Beijing.

Name: Madame Tussauds Beijing
Opening Hours: 10:00 – 21:00 with last admission at 20:00
Admission Fee: CNY 170
Transportation: [Subway] Subway Line 2 and get off at Qianmen Station. Get out from Exit B or C and walk south for 800 yards (732m) to the Madame Tussauds Beijing; Subway Line 7 and get off at Zhushikou Station. Get out from Exit A and walk north for 700 yards (640m) to the museum.

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