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Beijing Travel Guide

As one of the world's great ancient capitals, and the modern era capital of China, Beijing is a must-see, because it is home to many of the finest icons of China's imperial and recent past.

Standing side-by-side with old Beijing's crimson palace complexes are the city's impressive skylines. Beijing is a superb example of the great transformation China has undergone as it burst into the 21st century. Beijing's travel industry has forged forward after China's economic reforms in 1978, and the city is now one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.

Want to see Beijing without a Visa? See our guide to 72-Hour Visa Free Travel to Beijing.

Beijing Attractions

Beijing's invaluable cultural heritage of imperial relics has drawn millions of visitors every year, but traveling around Beijing, you are also struck by the city's modern buildings. Some of the places of architectural and scenic beauty include:

  • The Forbidden City, the largest and best preserved ancient architectural complex in the world;
The Forbidden City in Beijing, Chinathe Forbbiden City
  • Temple of Heaven, where Ming and Qing emperors performed solemn rituals for bountiful harvests;
  • Summer Palace, the emperors' magnificent garden retreat;
  • Ming Tombs, the majestic mausoleums of 13 Ming Dynasty emperors;
  • The Great Wall of China, especially the world-renowned Badaling section.

Beijing became the focus of world attention in 2008 when it hosted the Olympics, which was a symbol of both China's progress and China's traditions with high-class eye-catching facilities and spectacular ceremonies, highlighted by the super-modern Olympic Village, the Bird's Nest Stadium and Water Cube.

The green areas in and around the city are epitomized by Xiangshan (Fragrant Hills) Park. China Highlights provides a range of Beijing tours to explore China's capital city. Follow the link for the Beijing's Top 10 Tour Packages.

Beijing Hiking and Biking

Great Wall hikingGreat Wall hiking

Although the city of Beijing is not a good place for hiking and biking due to its busy traffic, there are a many quiet routes in the areas around it for outdoor-lovers to explore.

The most popular hiking routes are the Great Wall and Badachu to Fragrant Hill routes. Beijing's Hutongs are good place for a cycling tour, and a must for most travelers to Beijing, as it offers a great opportunity to explore the old Beijing. See Beijing Biking Guide.

Travel Beijing with Kids

Beijing is also an idea place for family tours. There are a lot of things to do with kids in Beijing. Your children may be interested in parks, museums, historical sites, and authentic snacks and restaurants. See how to plan a family tour in Beijing.


Beijing is approximately at the same latitude as Philadelphia in the U.S. (but drier in winter and much wetter in summer) and Madrid in Spain (though colder in winter). See Beijing Weather.

Air Quality

Beijing's air pollution and traffic congestion are being tackled with improved public transport, restrictions on the use of vehicles, and the relocation of factories. Daily and localized variations in airborne particle levels are great, with some days below the WHO's strictest targets. Breathing Beijing's air for six average days is the equivalent of smoking just one cigarette, which is not bad for a large developing world city.

xiangshanBeijing fall colors

Beijing's air quality, apart from pollutants, is greatly affected by occasional dust storms in the spring, and humidity contributes greatly to the haze in summer, which is the worst time of the year for visibility and air quality. Shutterbugs will probably find an autumn trip best for photography.

Generally Beijing's pollution is not harmful, no more than an unpleasant smell or a mild throat irritant for healthy people. If you are sensitive to pollution, to limit your exposure you could buy a 3M n95 "dust mask" in Beijing for 18 yuan.

If you have severe breathing-related health issues or feel Beijing is not an option, we suggest making fresher Hong Kong or Shanghai your gateway city to China.

More on What to Do on a Low Air Quality Day in Beijing>>>

The Most Popular Beijing Tours

Want to discover more of Beijing? Our popular tour packages cover the highlights of Beijing. Here are our four most popular Beijing tours, based on our customers' bookings and feedback.