There is so much to see and to do in Beijing. If you are visiting Beijing for the first time, it might be quite a challenge to decide how to make the best use of the time. Don’t worry, here I would like to recommend 10 must-dos in Beijing that will help you plan your trip, whether you are looking for scenic and historic sites, art galleries and museums, or places for a nice meal or a cup of drink. Let’s go!
The Forbidden City, the largest remaining ancient palace complex in the world, was the Chinese imperial palace from the Ming Dynasty to the end of the Qing Dynasty. It is perfectly placed in the heart of Beijing, and it now houses the Palace Museum, which owns a massive collection of delicate Chinese artifacts, ranging from ceramics to jade, from traditional paintings to sculptures. And the complex itself is also a museum in addition to being a historic marvel.
Beijing is an absolutely fascinating city for most foreigners and the Great Wall should be on any “must-see” list, just as you can not miss the Great Pyramids of Giza when visiting Egypt. More than 600 kilometers of the 8851.8-kilometer-long Great Wall, stretching from Jiayuguan Pass in Gansu Province on the west to Hushan Mountain in Liaoning Province on the east, snake through northern Beijing. As Chinese assert: “He who does not reach the Great Wall is not a true man”.
The Temple of Heaven is the world’s largest structural complex dedicated to the worship of heaven. Emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties came here to worship heaven and pray for good harvests every year. The Temple of Heaven is an icon of Beijing and a masterpiece of ancient architecture.
Known as the grandest imperial garden in China, the Summer Palace, located in northwestern Haidian District, was once an imperial retreat. It remains a harmonious ensemble of outstanding aesthetic values, with its man-made pavilions, halls, palaces, temples and bridges elegantly combined with the area’s graceful natural landscape of hills and open water.
According to a Chinese saying, no visit to Beijing is complete if you miss seeing the Great Wall or savoring Beijing roast duck. Beijing roast duck is the epitome of Beijing cuisine and is known and admired worldwide by Chinese-food gourmets. British scientists have concluded that people have deeper memory of what it looks like than how it tastes, but, to savor Beijing roast duck will likely be one of your most unforgettable memories after leaving Beijing.
This art form emerged during the 18th century and was fully recognized by the mid-19th century in Beijing. Beijing Opera is a blend of music, dance, art, acrobatics, and martial arts. With its beautiful facial make up, masks, exquisite costumes, and graceful gestures, the opera has become a comprehensive art form. So, don’t miss an old and authentic Chinese tradition of Beijing Opera when you come to Beijing.
Shichahai is a popular lakeside scenic spot in Beijing and a favoured destination of foreign tourists. Featuring lake views, remnants of old-style Beijing residences, such as hutong and siheyuan (courtyard residences), it is a perfect spot to enjoy life in Beijing with fellow travelers or local residents who co-exists harmoniously in this trendy lakeside environment. The area includes the famous Houhai bar street and the increasingly popular Nanluoguxiang Hutong is just a block or two to the east.
Sanlitun is a popular bar street in Beijing and a long-time favourite of foreign tourists. Now, trendy local shoppers and Chinese celebrities are joining in the fun. It features various kinds of pubs and dining outlets, shopping locations and entertainment destinations. While “old” Beijing may impress you with its traditional culture and folk arts, Sanlitun is a good place to go to get a sense of the pulsating vitality of today’s Beijing, a modern, colourful and fashionable international metropolis.
Liulichang is known as a culture street. The street, which is only 750 meters long, is the place to go for ancient books, calligraphy, classical Chinese paintings, rubbings, ink stones and ink, and so on. All the stores are housed in buildings which have retained old architectural styles. Shopping in this street is a sightseeing tour as well.
Prince Gong’s Mansion is located on the north bank of Shichahai. You should not miss it if you are interested in Chinese architecture, because the mansion is the most representative courtyard that exists today.