Beijing: Top Attractions for Any Traveller.

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How to Get Around

Before we get into the best places to visit let’s have a look at how to get around Beijing as it can seem quite daunting to begin with.

Beijing is a large city with a well-developed transportation system that makes it easy for tourists to get around. Here are some of the most popular ways to get around Beijing as a tourist:

  • Subway: Beijing’s subway system is one of the most convenient and affordable ways to get around the city. It’s easy to navigate and covers most of the city’s major tourist destinations. Single-ride tickets can be purchased at vending machines located at the subway stations.
  • Taxis: Taxis are widely available in Beijing and are a convenient way to get around the city. Fares are metered, and it’s a good idea to have your destination written down in Chinese to show to the driver.
  • Bicycles: Beijing is a bike-friendly city and bike rentals are widely available. You can rent a bike for the day or for a longer period of time. It’s a great way to explore the city and it’s also environmentally friendly.
  • Buses: Buses are a cheap and convenient way to get around Beijing, however, it can be difficult to navigate if you don’t speak Chinese.
  • Walking: Walking is a great way to explore the city and see some of the local neighborhoods. Many of the city’s main tourist attractions, such as the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square, are located within walking distance of each other.
  • Private Car Service: If you want to avoid the hassle of public transportation, you can hire a private car service with a driver. This is a more comfortable and convenient way to get around the city, but it will be more expensive than other options.

It’s worth noting that most tourist attractions in Beijing are within walking distance of each other, so it’s a good idea to plan your itinerary accordingly. Before you head out, it’s also a good idea to check traffic conditions and plan your route accordingly.

Exploring every nook and cranny of the summer palace.

Top Tips

  • It’s a good idea to keep your passport or a copy of it with you at all times, as it may be required to check in at some hotels or to purchase tickets for certain attractions. And, it’s highly recommended to have a map, either in paper or digitally, to help you navigate the city, especially if you’re not familiar with Chinese characters.
  • I also recommend downloading a translator on your phone. It saved me quite a few time being able to type what I needed to say and translating it right there and then.
  • Download Maps Me it is extremely useful to find your way around, especially if you don’t have internet.
  • Try to arrive early to beat the crowds. If you didn’t already know Beijing is one of the most populous cities in the world. That’s mean long queues, cramped public transport and popular areas overflowing with tourists.
  • Carrying on from the last point avoid public transport during peak hours. I made this mistake once and it was not fun at all.
  • Don’t be scared to try new things. There’s so much to try food wise in Beijing, throw yourself out there and try whatever you can.
  • Book a hotel or hostel close to the center. You don’t want to have to keep commuting into the center of Beijing everyday.
There are photo opportunities everywhere you turn.

Now Let's Dive Into What to do!

  1. Visit the Great Wall of China: This iconic wonder of the world is a must-see for any visitor to Beijing. The most popular section to visit is the Badaling section, which is the closest to the city and has been fully restored. If you want to find out more about the Great Wall of China and how to get there without a tour click here.
The Seemingly Endless Great Wall of China.

  2.      Explore the Forbidden City: As the former imperial palace of the Ming and Qing dynasties, the Forbidden City is a treasure trove of Chinese history and culture. The palace complex is massive and a guided tour is recommended to fully take in all the sites.

Finding a Quiet Spot in the Forbidden City to Get a Picture.

  3.      Wander around Tiananmen Square: This large public square is the heart of Beijing and is surrounded by important government buildings and monuments. It’s a great place to get a sense of the city’s history and culture.

Tiananmen Square Backed by the Entrance to the Forbidden City.

 4.    Take a Hutong Tour: Hutongs are traditional neighborhoods made up of narrow alleys and traditional courtyard houses. Taking a tour of these neighborhoods is a great way to experience the local culture and way of life.

A Charming Alleyway in a Hutong.

 5.    Visit the Temple of Heaven: This temple complex was used by the emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties to pray for good harvests. It’s a beautiful example of traditional Chinese architecture and is surrounded by a large park where locals gather to play games and practice tai chi.

The Temple of Heaven.

 6.   Enjoy a Peking Duck dinner: One of my favourite foods the Peking duck is a traditional Beijing dish and is considered one of the city’s signature foods. There are many restaurants in the city that serve Peking duck, and a dinner of crispy duck with pancakes and various sauces is a must-try experience. You will be surprised by how cheap it is.

The Must-Try Peking Duck.

 7.   Take a day trip to the Summer Palace: This imperial palace and garden is located just outside the city and is a great escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. It’s a perfect spot to spend a day relaxing and enjoying the beautiful scenery.

We Were Lucky to Catch the Summer Palace on a Quiet Day

 8.   Visit the Capital Museum: This museum is often overlooked by tourists, but it’s a great place to learn about the history and culture of Beijing. The museum has a large collection of artifacts and displays that showcase the city’s rich history.

The Capital Museum

 9.  Take a stroll in the Fragrant Hills Park: This park is located on the western outskirts of the city and is a great place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. It’s known for its beautiful red leaves in fall, but it also offers great views of the city, temples, and pagodas, and a variety of hiking trails.

The Park is Beautiful During the Spring Blossom.

 10.   Explore the 798 Art Zone: This is an alternative art district that’s often overlooked by tourists. The area is a former factory complex that has been transformed into an arts and culture hub with galleries, studios, and trendy cafes. It’s a great place to explore and see some contemporary Chinese art and culture.

Beijing Art Zone

 11.  Visit Wangfujing Food Market: Wangfujing Food Market is a must-visit destination for foodies visiting Beijing. Located in the heart of the city, it’s one of the oldest and most famous food markets in Beijing and offers a wide variety of traditional Chinese snacks and delicacies. If you are brave enough they also have a large selection of creepy crawlies for your tasting pleasure. I will recommend trying the stinky tofu, it smells terrible but tastes great.

 12.   Feast on dumplings: Literally everyday we were in Beijing I would eat at least ten dumplings for breakfast. They are easy to find and there is always a huge variety of different flavours. An added bonus is that they are cheap as chips!

A Variety of Dumplings

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