This article may contain affiliate / compensated links. For full information, please see our disclaimer here.
Top things to do in Beijing China for first time visitors
Beijing is an incredible city, but planning your first visit can feel overwhelming. With over 3,000 years of history and modern sites like the Bird’s Nest Stadium, where do you even begin? The dizzying amount of options becomes the ultimate paradox of choice.
You want to experience the top attractions, but also grasp authentic local culture. Of course, you hope to avoid tourist traps and crowded sites, if possible, too.
The good news is this blog post serves as your essential Beijing travel guide! Having visited Beijing and greater Asia several times, I carefully curated this list of the 31 best things to do in Beijing based on my own first-hand experience.
From seeing the Great Wall to wandering historic hutong alleyways, I have you covered with quintessential Beijing activities. Follow my insider tips to effortlessly navigate the Beijing score tickets to the top sites, sample Peking duck, and soak up both ancient history and modern energy.
Best Things To Do In Beijing China
With this post, you can discover the Beijing highlights in a strategic way that skips stress and leads to an unforgettable inaugural visit. I’m sharing hard-won knowledge from my trips to help design a memorable first-time itinerary filled with what you value most.
1. Marvel at the Magnificent Forbidden City
No first-time visit to Beijing is complete without spending ample time immersed in the sprawling Forbidden City.
This awe-inspiring UNESCO World Heritage Site was the Chinese Imperial Palace for almost 500 years and is one of the top attractions in Beijing, sitting at the political and geographic heart of Beijing and China’s dynastic history itself.
As you traverse its outer defensive moats and climb the Meridian Gate entrance, prepare to be awestruck by the sheer vastness of this 180-acre complex containing nearly 1,000 intricately crafted buildings, resplendent ceremonial halls, and imperial homes and gardens.
Magnificent Forbidden City’s architecture explicably mirrors traditional Chinese cosmic philosophies. Seen from above, its 980 structures embody perfect symmetry and alignment based on northern constellations, with southern reddish buildings symbolizing fire while northern darker blue/green buildings epitomize water.
The number of rooms, gates and temples factor numerology with lucky meanings.
Structures feature the quintessential Chinese palace architectural elements like swooping yellow tiled roofs dotted with mythical beasts, crimson pillars carved with dragons and phoenixes, and gleaming marble terrace platforms.
This palace city formed the nucleus of the Chinese universe politically and spiritually. Spend at least half a day wandering Forbidden City’s many exhibitions displaying imperial collections to discover what life was like for the emperors, empresses, and their households and courtesans who resided here.
Climb Coal Hill behind the Imperial Garden for unparalleled views overlooking all of Forbidden City’s majesty and the surrounding hutongs. This is Beijing’s crown jewel attraction.
2. Stroll through Tiananmen Square
Tiananmen Square is one of the best tourist attractions in Beijing. Right in front of the north entrance to the Forbidden City lies Tiananmen Square, the largest public square in the world.
As the world’s largest public gathering space spanning over 40 hectares, Tiananmen Square holds deep meaning for Chinese citizens. Its name translates to “Gate of Heavenly Peace,” referring to the main entrance gate separating it from Forbidden City where emperors, seen as Sons of Heaven, once lived.
Historic ceremonies saw commoners entering here to kneel before royalty in this symbolic space between heaven and earth.
Now it represents China’s modern political history after Chairman Mao Zedong proclaimed founding of the People’s Republic here in 1949.
His mausoleum remains nearby. Additionally, it was site of the tragic 1989 pro-democracy protests where clashes left hundreds of student demonstrators dead, causing the square’s temporary fall from grace.
However, its size and central location ensure Tiananmen remains an assembly point for celebrations (this massive plaza can accommodate over one million people) like National Day and Spring Festival amid constant police monitoring against dissent.
Strolling through Tiananmen Square lets you take in sights like the Monument to the People’s Heroes, Great Hall of the People, National Museum of China, and the Chairman Mao Mausoleum, some of the top tourist sites in Beijing.
Watching the daily flag-raising ceremony at sunrise is a highlight for many visitors. Allow at least an hour to wander the square and watch the locals’ flying kites and taking photos.
3. Climb the Great Wall at Mutianyu
The Great Wall, or ‘Chángchéng’ in Mandarin, is not just a tourist attraction in Beijing; it’s a symbol of China’s enduring strength. Stretching over 13,000 miles, it was originally built to protect against invasions.
The Great Wall of China is one of the New 7 Wonders of the World and a must-see attraction near Beijing. Instead of visiting the busy Badaling section, head to the less crowded Mutianyu.
While Badaling is the busiest restored section, Mutianyu offers equally dramatic scenery and historical stone and brick watchtowers along mountain ridges with slightly smaller crowds.
Although short, restored portions showcase the Great Wall’s magnificent stonework, equally inspiring is appreciating how this ancient defence barrier inexorably follows rural mountains continuing through undeveloped countryside. Only 15-30% of original construction remains across 35,000+ kilometres.
Mutianyu rewards adventurers with challenging hiking opportunities along stretches not crowded with tourists. Gaze out in awe at the Wall’s magnificent construction climbing sheer cliffsides seemingly without end into the rural forested mountains.
Then ride a thrilling toboggan down, walk high alpine meadows through fragrant pine woods, or even watch the Wall illuminated at night for an unforgettable experience at one of the world’s top attractions and is one of the most fun things to do in Beijing China.
4. Explore Historic Hutong Neighbourhoods by Rickshaw
Looking for unique things to do in Beijing China? Then explore historic Hutong using a rickshaw tour.
For an authentic taste of local life in Beijing, wander through the narrow alleyways (alleys that crisscross the older parts of the city) known as hutongs. The best way to navigate these hutongs is by rickshaw, an open cart pulled by a bicyclist.
Gliding through the hutongs offers an intimate look into local life and a chance to admire the old architecture.
Many hutongs have drum towers, picturesque courtyards, and teas houses that you can duck into. Taking a hutong tour by rickshaw lets you gain insight into Beijing’s traditions while supporting these historic communities. Exploring these neighbourhoods is undoubtedly one of the most interesting things to do in Beijing.
Pro Travel Tip: Top areas to explore include Nanluoguxiang, Shichahai, Beixinqiao, and Baochao Hutong.
5. Relax in Beihai Park
With all the sightseeing Beijing offers, you’ll want to make time for relaxation too. A serene spot for this is Beihai Park, set on an island in central Beijing. Dating to the 10th century, it’s one of the oldest and most tranquil imperial gardens in the city.
Highlights include the white dagoba-shaped White Dagoba, Jade Islet with gazebos connected by graceful bridges, and the inviting beaches along the lake shoreline.
You can also watch elders practicing tai chi, impromptu ballroom dancing, and other activities. With its trees, ponds, and winding walkways, Beihai is a perfect place to recharge during your visit.
Consider combining a visit here with the neighbouring Forbidden City. Entry tickets are valid for both attractions.
6. Climb the Great Wall at Badaling
No visit to China is complete without walking on the Great Wall, which stretches over 13,000 miles across northern China. The most popular and convenient section of the Great Wall near Beijing is at Badaling, about an hour drive northwest of the city centre.
There you can hike on restored portions that give a glimpse of the Wall’s grand scale and architecture as it snakes along mountain ridges. The views from the watchtowers are breath-taking.
Give yourself at least half a day to explore Badaling and soak in the history and natural scenery. Wear comfortable shoes and be prepared for lots of steps.
7. Eat Your Way through Wangfujing Street Food Market
When you need a break from historical attractions, head to Wangfujing Snack Street in the modern district of the same name.
This pedestrian food street is lined with stalls, this night market selling popular Beijing Street eats like candied haws (tanghulu), roujiamo (Chinese hamburgers), savoury ‘jianbing’, giant squid skewers and lamb skewers as well as exotic snacks like scorpions, it’s a must-visit for foodies in Beijing.
It’s the perfect place to dive into local flavours, try new foods, and watch the street chefs at work.
The atmosphere is lively and fun with a mix of tourists and locals. Don’t leave Beijing without trying some of its iconic snacks at Wangfujing. It’s a fun thing to do in Beijing for those who enjoy a blend of modern and traditional experiences.
8. Visit the Summer Palace
If you have time, make a half-day excursion to the spectacular Summer Palace about 15 km northwest of central Beijing. It is one of the best places to see in Beijing.
The 296-hectare grounds are dominated by Kunming Lake and feature ornate Chinese garden architecture and landscapes meant to recreate a mythical land of immortals.
As the infamous Empress Cixi’s favoured retreat, lavish Summer Palace compound provides glimpses into late Qing dynastic court drama.
Wandering pavilions, temples, and gardens surrounding shimmering Kunming Lake reveals this powerful ruler’s excess, with estimates saying funds spent here could have modernised China’s entire 19th century navy lost disastrously to Japan.
Yet from dragon-topped Long Corridor offering lake views to the breath-taking Buddhist Fragrance Pavilion, you sense Cixi’s drive for supreme refinement and beauty at any cost, seeing her adopted son’s marble boat monument frozen mid-voyage beside her own now forever empty throne.
Just outside lies Old Summer Palace ruins, victim of pillaging British and French troops – stark reminders of China’s painful past interactions with foreign powers.
Spend time wandering sites like the Long Corridor covered promenade and the Marble Boat pavilion on the lake. Climb Longevity Hill to enjoy panoramic views and see iconic structures like the Buddhist Tower of Buddhist Incense.
The Summer Palace is one of the most interesting places in Beijing. You can easily spend half a day strolling the shaded walkways, gazing at historic sites, and renting a boat. Don’t miss scenic Long Corridor which stretches over half a mile.
This site, combining natural beauty with historic structures, is a must-visit in Beijing for those who appreciate the fusion of nature and architecture.
9. Take a Food Tour In Beijing
Beijing’s food scene is diverse and destinations for gourmands. To get a tasty overview, consider taking a food tour. Knowledgeable local guides will take you to eateries and markets to sample Beijing’s best local delicacies like classic Peking duck, zhajiangmian (noodles with soybean paste), fried rice cakes, and tempting desserts like sweet bean pastes.
Tours often involve street food tastings, dinners at century-old establishments, and stops for drinks like Chinese baijiu liquors, local beers, or teas. Food tours are a fun way to try dishes you may miss otherwise while learning about Beijing’s cuisine and food culture with an expert.
10. Visit the Temple of Heaven
The Temple of Heaven, or ‘Tiāntán’, is more than a top tourist site in Beijing; it’s a masterpiece of architectural symbolism. It’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and exemplifies sacred Ming dynasty architecture.
Built in the 15th century for emperors to make sacrifices to heaven for good harvests, the temple complex contains iconic structures like the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests with its distinctive conical roof and the Circular Mound Altar.
Although now a public exercise park, UNESCO World Heritage site Temple of Heaven grounds provide deeper insights into ancient imperial rituals. Concentric circled marble Heavenly Altar allowed safest communication between heaven and the mortal Chinese emperor pleading for bountiful harvests.
Nearby sprawling red ramped Circular Mound Altar connected with winter solstice rites determining optimal sowing times.
Climb the Echo Wall to witness its acoustic marvel transporting even whispered prayers skyward. Watch elderly playing traditional Chinese musical instruments on ornate pavilions to reconnect spiritually across the dynasties now lost to history.
The care invested in Temple of Heaven’s elaborate design reflects how seriously agriculture concerns dominated the Imperial leadership.
You could easily spend a few hours wandering the sprawling natural park grounds. Don’t miss the Echo Wall either. With its classical Chinese architecture in a tranquil setting, the Temple of Heaven is a beautifully relaxing spot to visit.
11. Check Out Nanluoguxiang Hutong
For a glimpse of old-world charm, wander the narrow lane of Nanluoguxiang Hutong just east of the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square. The pedestrian-only lane Nanluoguxiang gives visitors enticing glimpses into Old Beijing hutong atmosphere minus tourist hordes, making it a unique place to visit in Beijing.
This well-preserved historic street has become a trendy area with boutique shops, restaurants, and cafes housed in traditional architecture along its length.
You can pick up unique souvenirs while admiring the preservation of traditional Beijing culture. Stone plaques commemorate the history of this community.
At night, red lanterns give Nanluoguxiang a magical feel for unusual things to do in Beijing visit. It’s a charming area to stroll, shop, admire ancient dwellings, and maybe stop for a drink in a hutong.
12. Take in Skyline Views from Jingshan Park
Jingshan Park, or ‘Jǐngshān Gōngyuán’, is a beautiful place in Beijing for panoramic views.
Jingshan Park sits directly behind the Forbidden City, providing excellent skyline panoramas. Climb the large artificial hill for breathtaking vistas of the palace complex and Beijing’s modern towers.
The central pavilion also gives gorgeous views. Come for sunset when Jingshan Park looks especially photogenic. Strolling the pathways under shade trees is a nice escape from the bustle of the city streets too.
13. Browse Panjiayuan Flea Market
Panjiayuan Flea Market, locally called the “Dirt Market,” is a haven for antique lovers and vintage shopping. Located in southeast Beijing, this bustling market has over 3,000 stalls selling everything from Buddha statues, Revolutionary era memorabilia, jade ornaments, handmade crafts, scroll paintings, jewelry, porcelain dishes, and more.
Hunting through the many treasures is a fun way to spend a morning. Sundays are the busiest days here. Keep an eye out for amazing antique finds as you wander through China’s largest flea market, making it a unique shopping experience in Beijing.
Bargaining is expected, so brush up on your negotiation skills before visiting! Even if you don’t buy anything, it’s fun browsing the maze of booths. Go early on weekends to beat the crowds.
14. Explore the 798 Art District
Beijing isn’t just about ancient sites; it also has a thriving contemporary arts scene. The 798 Art District is a hub of modern art, galleries, shops, and cafes housed in a former electronics factory complex built in the 1950s. Wandering the graffiti-covered industrial buildings is a visual treat, with many galleries open to visitors.
You’ll find everything from avant-garde installations to traditional Chinese paintings and photographs from local artists. Many cafes and shops sell whimsical designs too. Beijing’s modern creative side flourishes in this district, which comes to life on weekends with a lively, bohemian vibe, highlighting it as a cool thing to do in Beijing. It’s worth visiting for an afternoon.
15. Wander Inside the Olympic Park
Visiting Beijing’s Olympic Park lets you explore the stunning venues from the 2008 Games. The grounds contain the Bird’s Nest National Stadium and Water Cube Aquatics Centre along with other impressive arenas and architectures. Inside you can tour the Olympic Museum and relive highlights from the summer and Paralympic events.
See athlete statues and take photos of the iconic structures outside. At night the buildings are colourfully illuminated. Seeing where the magic happened at the 2008 Olympics is a must for sports fans visiting Beijing. It’s a modern architectural marvel.
16. Take a Day Trip to the Great Wall at Simatai
For a more adventurous Great Wall trek, consider a day trip from Beijing to the Simatai section northeast of the city near the Gubeikou Water Town.
Simatai’s rugged terrain and watchtowers winding along towering cliff peaks make for dramatic scenery.
This section has limited restoration to give a glimpse of the Wall’s original wild appearance. The hikes here are more strenuous but offer jaw-dropping vistas.
You’ll feel immersed in the natural landscape of pristine forests and mountains surrounding Simatai’s 5.4 km length. It makes for an unforgettable Great Wall experience and is one of the best places to visit in Beijing.
17. Eat at a Peking Duck Restaurant
Peking duck, or ‘Běijīng kǎoyā’ is Beijing’s signature dish, and no visit is complete without trying it. Treating yourself to dinner at one of the city’s many famous Peking duck restaurants, like Da Dong Roast Duck or Bianyifang, is a must for foodies.
You’ll dine on paper-thin, crispy duck along with pancakes, sauces, vegetables, and sides.
Watch the chefs expertly carve up the duck at your table for the full experience. Peking duck has an incredible crispy skin and rich, juicy meat. Savouring this iconic dish at a top Beijing eatery is an epicurean delight.
18. Explore the Former Qing and Ming Imperial Tombs
About 50 km north of Beijing lie two UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the Ming Tombs and Qing Tombs.
Together they harbour the remains of emperors and imperial family members in elaborate mausoleums and underground vaults. The sites offer a fascinating look into dynastic burial rituals. The easiest to visit are Changling and Dingling tombs at the Qing Tombs.
Highlights include the Hall of Eminent Favour with its ornate interior and the Underground Palace excavation.
Nearby, the Sacred Way leading to the Ming Tombs has towering stone statues lining it. If you have time, a half-day trip to wander this imperial graveyard is worthwhile.
19. Tour the Drum and Bell Towers
Dating back to the 13th century Yuan Dynasty, the Drum and Bell Towers originally helped keep time in imperial Beijing.
Climb the imposing wooden structures for panoramic views over the hutongs. At dusk, crowds gather to watch the drum ceremony as the sun sets, making a visit here a fascinating historical experience in Beijing.
Get tickets in advance for the best viewpoint. Time your visit to catch one of the traditional performances here.
20. Shop the Silk Street Market
Silk Street, or ‘Sījìe’, is famous for its tailor-made silk products. No visit to Beijing is complete without bringing home some souvenirs. While there are many markets, Silk Street Market is a favourite for its broad array of goods spanning silk items, knock-off clothing, jade jewellery, electronics, antiques, handicrafts, and more.
Haggling is expected at this bustling market. Have fun bargaining for items like cashmere scarves, pearls, traditional Chinese dresses, or whatever strikes your fancy.
The market is several stories high with various themed sections and shops. You can easily spend a whole afternoon poking around for unique treasures before finding a bargain on that perfect Beijing keepsake and is one of Beijing must visit places.
While you may not find the highest quality goods, the prices can’t be beat. Come with patience and a sense of humour – negotiating is part of the fun!
21. Visit the Beijing Zoo to See Pandas
No trip to China is complete without seeing its iconic giant pandas. The best place in Beijing is the zoo, which has rare red pandas, golden monkeys, and various exotic species, but the main attraction is the giant panda enclosure. Visitors can see pandas lounging in trees and gnawing on bamboo.
Try to visit earlier in the day when the pandas are most active. Watching these cuddly creatures and national treasures munching away is fun for visitors of all ages. Capturing photos of pandas can make anyone’s trip to Beijing!
22. Take in Morning Exercises at Temple of Heaven Park
For an authentic local experience, head to Temple of Heaven Park around 5 or 6 am to watch the morning exercise routines of Beijing’s seniors.
Hundreds of residents practice everything from tai chi to ballroom dancing to Qi Gong amid the temple grounds. It’s an impressive display of fitness, energy and community.
Quietly observing or even joining in the friendly routines is a great way to start your day. You’ll leave feeling inspired and connected to Beijing’s people after watching their joyful morning rituals in the expansive green space, making it a cultural gem in Beijing.
23. Explore Beijing’s Modern City Centre
While many visitors focus only on the old historic sites, it’s worth exploring Beijing’s contemporary city centre too around Guomao and Wangfuing. This vibrant business district has gleaming skyscrapers, luxury shopping malls, popular restaurants serving global cuisines, and an energetic urban buzz.
See modern sites like the iconic CCTV Building, China World Trade Centre, Silk Street Market, and I.M. Pei’s Jianwai SOHO towers.
The area around Dawang Lu is full of bustling restaurants and bars catering to young locals and expats. Embrace Beijing’s cosmopolitan side in this district and a Beijing must see.
24. Take a Day Trip to Chengde Mountain Resort
Around three hours northeast of Beijing lies Chengde Mountain Resort, a sprawling imperial retreat complex situated beautifully within surrounding hills.
Construction started in 1703 and the site spans 5.6 square kilometers. Highlights include the green-tiled Putuo Zongcheng Temple, Imperial Summer Villa, and lush gardens, making it a fun place to relax in Beijing.
Visitors can easily spend a day here immersed in the natural scenery and Ming dynasty architecture. Walking through the temple halls and pagodas nestled in the hills makes for a peaceful side trip from Beijing. It’s worth a visit for the history and landscape.
25. Sample Hot Pot and Other Local Cuisines
A delicious way to try more Beijing cuisine is to sample the hot pot restaurants found across the city.
These eateries revolve around simmering pots of broth set at each table. You add ingredients, like thinly sliced meats, vegetables, seafood, noodles, and dumplings to cook in the broth for a customizable meal that’s fun and communal. Haidilao is a popular chain.
Be sure also to sample dishes like zhajiangmian, jiaozi dumplings, Bejing roast duck, and street snacks for an overview of the local flavours that make up Beijing’s iconic culinary traditions.
26. Experience History at the National Museum of China
As one of the largest museums in the world, the National Museum of China should be on every visitor’s itinerary. Located on the eastern side of Tiananmen Square, this massive museum houses over 1 million artifacts spanning China’s history from ancient times to the 20th century.
Wander through galleries displaying pottery, jades, calligraphy, paintings, bronzes, Buddhist statues, Qing dynasty furnishings, and much more. Standout items include the Yuanmingyuan fountain clock and the Han dynasty’s Simuwu Ding cauldron. You could easily spend an entire day immersed in the expansive collection.
With its chronological exhibits spanning 5,000 years across four floors, the National Museum of China beautifully showcases the breadth of Chinese art, culture, and heritage in an engaging way. It’s a must-visit Beijing Museum.
27. Experience Acrobat Martial Arts Show – Off The Beaten Track Beijing
A thrilling Beijing entertainment option is attending an acrobat martial art show like the Legend of Kung Fu staged at the Red Theatre. These lively shows combine theatrics, music, costumes, modern lighting, and projection mapping with astounding physical feats.
Athletes perform stunning kung fu stunt work and acrobatics with high-flying flips, weapon wielding, and combat choreography mixed with dance.
With their climactic finales, these professional productions make for an unforgettable night out enjoying Chinese entertainment and traditions fused with modern technology and effects.
Some of the top venues to catch a performance are Chaoyang Theatre and Tianqiao Acrobatics Theatre. Prepare to be amazed at the skill and daring feats! taking in a show is an unforgettable experience.
28. Watch or Join Locals Dancing at Public Parks
Go off the beaten track In Beijing by visiting the public parks. One of the best ways to experience Beijing culture is to join locals dancing together in the city’s public parks – most popularly the parks around Houhai Lake. Houhai Lake means “Back Lake,” as it’s situated behind the Forbidden City and is known for its serene beauty and lively bars along the shore, making it a romantic spot in Beijing.
Hundreds of mostly older residents gather every day to dance everything from ballroom to Latin, line dance, waltz, and more. Some even dress up in vibrant costumes.
Watching and even participating allows you to connect with friendly Beijingers who are enthusiastic about their daily dance rituals, which are creative outlets promoting exercise and community. Dancing along to Chinese pop songs together helps immerse you joyfully in local life.
29. Visit China Film Museum
The China Film Museum is one of the top things to see in Beijing China. Film buffs shouldn’t miss visiting the modern China Film Museum, dedicated to the history of Chinese cinema.
The contemporary building houses a rotating cinema, galleries of memorabilia like Mao-era propaganda posters, vintage cameras and projection equipment, movie star costumes, and much more.
Learn about China’s film history from 1930s Shanghai golden age dramas to Fifth Generation craftsmen like Zhang Yimou.
See props and costumes from famous movies too. An IMAX theatre shows the latest Chinese and Hollywood blockbusters as well. Located north of Beihai Park, the impressive China Film Museum celebrates the nation’s rich cinematic achievements.
30. Experience a Traditional Tea Ceremony
Still wondering what to do in Beijing? Do a traditional tea ceremony. While teahouses abound in Beijing, visiting a traditional tea house for a Chinese Tea Ceremony lets you learn about tea culture while sampling aged teas.
Ceremonies involve meticulous preparation of leaves, boiling water, pouring techniques, and savouring the infusions. It’s almost spiritual and meditative.
Spots like the picturesque Yuanmingyuan tea house inside the Garden of Perfect Brightness offer intimate ceremonial experiences and tastings of China’s many prized teas.
Partaking in a ceremony makes for worthwhile cultural immersion. Discover exquisite teas while witnessing Chinese traditions and is best things to do in Beijing.
31. See Captivating Traditional Chinese Opera
As one of China’s four great classical cultural arts spanning 700 years, no visit to Beijing is complete without witnessing a mesmerizing Peking or Beijing opera performance. Shows reveal colourful characters with elaborate costumes and musical instruments accompanied by time-honoured stories from Chinese folklore or history.
Even without understanding the languages, the symbolic makeup, movements and musical cues allow you to follow the plotlines, a detail that enriches the viewing experience and makes it one of the most unique things to do in Beijing.
Visitors can watch short public teaser shows at historic venues like Huguang Guild Hall or Liyuan Theatre. For full-length productions, modern theatre stages like Chang’an Grand Theatre or Poly Theatre host the world’s leading troupes in grandeur befitting this cherished performing art.
Q&A Tips for First-Time Travelers to Beijing:
✅ What is the best time of year to visit Beijing?
Late spring (May-June) and early fall (September-October) have the most pleasant weather. Summers are hot and humid while winters are cold and dry with occasional smog issues.
✅ How many days do I need for my first Beijing trip?
You need a bare minimum of 3 full days to see the top highlights, but 5-7 days allows you to take a more relaxed pace with time to dive into markets, parks etc.
✅ What’s the best way to get around Beijing?
The subway system is quick, efficient and inexpensive. But also consider biking and walking tours to see hutongs not near metro stations. Arrange a car service for the Great Wall.
✅ How can I get tickets to the most popular sites?
Book online in advance whenever possible, especially for the Forbidden City, Great Wall hikes, or shows like the Beijing acrobat performance.
✅ What unique souvenirs can I bring home from Beijing?
Look for decorative Chinese fans, Cloisonne vases and jewellery, calligraphy scrolls, silk clothing or fabric, jade and bronzes, traditional medicine items, replicas of ancient coins, kites and chopsticks.
✅ What is the food like in Beijing and what dishes should I try?
Beijing cuisine is dominated by noodles, dumplings, hot pot, roast duck, and stir fries. Famous dishes include Peking duck, jiaozi dumplings, zhajiangmian noodles, Mongolian hot pot, and chuar (kebabs). Be adventurous with street food and market snacks!
✅ What electrical adapter do I need?
Power outlets in Beijing generally support Type A, C, I and F style adapter plugs with 220V electricity supply. Purchase an international all-in-one adaptor before your trip.
✅ Should I learn some Mandarin phrases?
Yes! Learn key Mandarin travel phrases like greetings, dining vocabulary and how to ask for help or directions. This shows respect, helps break the ice with locals and enhances your cultural experience.
✅ Can I use Google, Facebook and YouTube?
No. Due to government restrictions, Google services, many Western social media sites like Facebook and YouTube are blocked in China. Download a VPN app before arrival to access them. Popular choices are ExpressVPN and NordVPN.
✅ How much cash in yuan (RMB) should I take out?
Have at least 2000 RMB (~$300 USD) in a mix of large and small bills, as many vendors can’t break big notes. Use this as backup, paying by credit/debit cards whenever establishments accept them to get best rates.
✅ What traditional experiences should I add to my itinerary?
Take a private hutong tour by rickshaw, learn Chinese cooking or calligraphy, have custom clothes tailor-made, experience a traditional tea ceremony, get a Chinese massage, take a day trip to the Great Wall for a hike and outdoor overnight stay.
✅ What is the tipping culture like in Beijing?
Tipping is not expected nor common in Beijing. Locals see it as strange. However, tour guides may expect small tips. Rounding up taxi fares to the nearest Yuan is fine too. Very upscale international hotels and restaurants will add a 10-15% service charge to bills instead.
✅ Should I purchase travel insurance for China?
Highly recommended in case of unexpected cancelations, health issues, injuries, lost baggage or other delays. Choose a policy that includes medical evacuation – essential for adventure activities like hiking the Great Wall. Read fine print on COVID coverage too.
Best Things to Do In Beijing China Wrap-Up
I hope this extensive list of top things to do in Beijing provides lots of inspiration for first-time visitors planning their Beijing itinerary! With its long history, rich culture, stunning architecture, lively modern energy, and abundance of attractions, China’s capital offers endless possibilities.
Trying a mix of iconic sites, local experiences, cuisine, entertainment, and day trips makes for an epic adventure in this world-class destination.