Top Free Things to Do in Beijing

Can you imagine having a FREE day in Beijing? Don't worry that you must spend large amounts of money there. Loads of attractions in Beijing are free.

We at China Highlights have summarized the free attractions and activities in Beijing for your reference.

Visiting Museums

Museums in Beijing are records of Chinese influential history, where a bounty of precious historic relics are housed. Most museums in Beijing are free for visiting (except for the guide fee).

1. National Museum of China

The top treasures of the National Museum of China are: "the Painted Pottery Basin with Human Face and Fish Design", "the Jar Showing a Stork with a Fish", and "the Stone Axe".

It is a popular place holding large-scale exhibitions throughout the year. The exhibitions of Ancient Chinese Currency, Ancient Chinese Jade, Ancient Chinese Bronze Art, Ancient Chinese Porcelain Art, and Ancient Buddhist Sculptures have drawn many travelers' attentions.

2. Beijing Museum of Natural History

The first large-scale natural history museum founded in China, Beijing Museum of Natural History has many rich collections and exhibitions, such as Animals, the Friends of Human Beings, the Green Homeland, Paleontology, and the Mystery of Humanity.

Children can have a lot of fun seeing the vivid and illustrative models of animals there, including the giant dinosaurs and aquatic animals.

3. Beijing Theater Museum

A brief introduction to the development of Beijing opera is told in Beijing Theater Museum, with exquisite exhibits. A strong Peking opera atmosphere has been created in the museum using ancient-style Chinese architecture and decoration.

Books, pictures recording the development of Peking opera, and even exquisite performing costumes used by famous artists, are displayed in the museum.

Check out our best selling tour: Four-Day Essence of Beijing Tour

Strolling around in 798 Art Zone

798 Art Zone is the most representative art zone in Beijing, located in Dashanzi Art District. It used to be a factory, but now it has developed as a comprehensive art zone, with many large exhibition halls and little squares.

You shoul find something to interest you in the lovely shops in 798 art zone, which are one of its highlights, such as art equipment, Chinese porcelain, and other works of art. The prices are acceptable.

Cafes and little restaurants in the art zone are all artistic. Both Chinese food and Western food are available.

798 photo gallery

Learning Taichi and Flying Kites in Parks

Lots of parks in Beijing feature beautifully crafted landscapes and ancient Chinese buildings. You can even witness and learn Chinese Taichi in some parks in the morning (like Ritan Park), which is a popular morning exercise in Beijing.

Since Beijing held the Olympic Games in 2008, the Bird's Nest and Water Cube became world-famous for their grandness. Flying kites on the large square in the park is popular.

天坛学太极

Hanging out on Tian'anmen Square, Paying Respect to Chairman

Tian'anmen Square, the center of Beijing city, is one of the must-visit places in Beijing. It is the world's largest public square, with many world-famous attractions nearby.

See the Gate of Heavenly Peace where Mao Zedong founded the People's Republic of China in 1949, and the Monument to the People's Heroes in the center of the square. You can pay your respect to Chairman Mao in the large memorial hall.

tiananmen

Going Window-Shopping

Shopping streets in Beijing are the hubs of the shopping malls. The three shopping streets below are the most popular ones in Beijing.

1. Qianmen Street

Shopping on Qianmen Street is wonderful, due to the large variety of commodities there, covering the modern brands for clothes and electronic products, but also some Chinese traditional snacks and other cute things, such as Peking clothes shoes.

Two snack streets in the two little lanes beside Qianmen Street, called Dazhalan and Xianyukou, are unmissable. Various kinds of fabulous authentic Beijing snacks can fulfill your appetite.

qianmen

2. Wangfujing Shopping Street

Before making a trip to Beijing, you shoul know something about Wangfujing Shopping Street, a must-go place in Beijing with a long history. It is not only popular among the local residents, but also spoken highly of by travelers.

The large shopping malls on the street sell all kinds of things that you can imagine. Restaurants on the streets can be found easily. Cafes and little bars hide in the basements of the shopping malls. Try the supermarkets in the shopping malls, or a little shop called Beijing Traditional Snacks Shop for souvenirs.

donghuamen night market

3. Sanlitun Village

"Young" and "modern" are the two best words to describe Sanlitun Village, which looks more fantastic and fabulous under the colorful lights at night. Fashion shows and small-scale activities and parties are usually held there, with excellent performances by skater boys and girls, and some dancers.

Many brands popular with the young are sold there, with large discounts during the seasonal crossover. Electronic stores, such as the Apple Store, are located here. After shopping have a relaxing drink with friends in the bars on Sanlitun Bar Street.

qianmen

A Hutong Stroll

Where are the most traditional living areas of the local people? Hutongs! The best-preserved hutongs are in Xicheng District and Dongcheng District. There are plenty of funny and interesting things that you can only do in Beijing's hutongs, including taking a rickshaw tour (not free).

hutong

1. Nanluogu Lane

Cute and characteristic nicknacks can be found in Nanluogu Lane, which is about 800 meters long. Shops in this ancient and lovely lane are exquisitely decorated. It is possible to go shopping for a half day there. Window shopping is free.

Specialty stores are one of the highlights of this lane, alongside the culture, and distinctive food. If you are tired of the shopping streets in the city, and want to find something unique, Nanluogu Lane is a great place that you must not miss.

the southern gong and drum lane

Hunting Treasures in Antiques Market

Panjiayuan Antiques Market

All kinds of ancient Chinese antiques can be seen in Panjiayuan Antiques Market: exquisite vases made of Chinese porcelain, old-style teapots, Chinese calligraphy, paintings, and much more.

Also read the best antique markets in Beijing.

panjiayuan

Contact Us to Start Your Tour

Beijing is must-visit China destination. We at China Highlights have put 12 years of experience into our Beijing tours, including the most popular attractions, highly-rated hotels, and the best restaurants. They have won lots of positive feedback from our customers.

China Highlights specializes in tailor-making tours of China, working hard to create special and unique tours. See our Beijing tours and join one of them , or contact us to discover Beijing your way!

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Hi, I'm Candice Song
I updated this article on April 10, 2014
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