No one should skip Beijing even if only visiting one city/region in China. Beijing is a window into the authentic core of China, especially recommended for China first timers.
As one of the world's great ancient capitals, and the capital of the world's upcoming superpower, Beijing is the most important and interesting city in China to travel, both for tourism and understanding China.
What is Beijing like:
- A sense of China's history — served as the capital of China in six ancient dynasties for 800 years
- A cultural hub — opera, architecture, dialect, food, etc
- Tourist friendliness — receiving about 3 million foreign visitors every year
- Top Attractions & Places to Visit
- Top Things to Do in Beijing
- The Best Time to Visit Beijing
- Beijing Transportation
- Accommodation in Beijing
Top Attractions & Places to Visit
- The Great Wall: We recommend the Mutianyu section, which is the most child-friendly and not too crowded, or the Jiankou section for hiking and camping.
- The Forbidden City — symbol of imperial power in China and the largest palace complex in the world
- The Summer Palace: resort for the royal family, known as the "Museum of Royal Gardens"
- The Temple of Heaven — the most important of Beijing's imperial temples
- The Lama Temple — the biggest Tibetan Buddhist lamasery in Beijing
Top Things to Do in Beijing
- Explore Beijing's most famous attractions: the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, the Summer Places, the Temple of Heaven...
- Lose yourself in the narrow historical hutong alleyways. See what a courtyard house is, sightsee, shop…
- Hunt for local Beijing delicacies. Find restaurants that only local people know about.
- Enjoy top Chinese entertainment: acrobatics, martial arts performances, Beijing opera...
For more, see The Top 20 Things to Do in Beijing.
Things to Do Recommended for Family with Kids
- Enjoy an easy walk at Mutianyu Great Wall equipped with advanced cable car, chairlift and toboggan
- Take a rickshaw through hutongs and play with a Chinese yo-yo made of wood or bamboo in a hutong's courtyard
- Go on a treasure hunt in the National Museum of China
- Pay a visit to Beijing Zoo & Beijing Aquarium
- Go boating in Beihai Park
Things to Do Recommended for Couples
- Enjoy a stunning sunset at the Great Wall with a romantic picnic
- Taste fine rce wine in a hidden hutong
- Enjoy the night cityscape on the Western Hills
- Go to the Place and express your love on "the Sky Screen"
- 5-Day Beijing Family Tour
- 6-Day Beijing Winter Tour with Skiing in a 2022 Olympic Winter Games Venue
The Best Time to Visit Beijing
Although you could travel Beijing throughout the year, autumn (September and October) is the most recommended season to visit for its relatively comfortable temperatures and scenic beauty.
Beijing is approximately at the same latitude as Philadelphia in the U.S. (but drier in winter and wetter in summer) and Madrid in Spain (though colder in winter).
Beijing's air quality is improving, with better public transport, restrictions on the use of vehicles, and the relocation of factories.
See more on Beijing Weather and the Best Time to Visit Beijing
Beijing Side Trips
Xi'an, Datong, Chengde, Tianjin, and the Great Wall are popular destinations for a weekend trip from Beijing. See these itineraries for inspiration.
- 2-Day Xi'an Tour from Beijing
- 4-Day Datong and Pingyao Tour from Beijing
- 2-Day Jiankou Wild Great Wall Camping Tour
- 3-Day Chengde Tour with Gorgeous Great Wall
Check details of all the options on Best Beijing Side Trips and Top China Tours from Beijing.
Getting to Beijing
Beijing is China's No. 1 gateway city and it has two airports: Beijing Daxing International Airport, the world's biggest airport, and Beijing Capital International Airport.
The airports serve around 120 destinations. There are many flight choices for visitors from all continents. Beijing Capital Airport is closer to downtown area.
Getting around Beijing
As a capital city, Beijing has traffic problems like anywhere else in the world, especially during rush hours or national holidays.
Contact us for a private tour with a private vehicle, an experienced local driver, and a knowledgeable English-speaking guide. It's the most hassle-free option to avoid traffic congestion and help you maximize your time.
Beijing's subway system is the second largest in China, and the cheapest way to get around in Beijing. During rush hour, however, some popular lines can be very crowded.
See more on Beijing Transport or learn about how to get to Beijing city from Beijing Capital Airport and how to get to the Great Wall.
Accommodation in Beijing
Beijing is an international city with a vast range of accommodation suiting every budget from luxury hotels to guesthouses. If you want to experience old Beijing life, you can opt to stay in a traditional hutong courtyard.
There are several areas you can consider when choosing your hotel:
- The Qianmen Street area: best for first timers who are sightseeing travelers; near the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven…
- The Wangfujing Street area: best for first timers who are shopaholics; near the Forbidden City and the biggest shopping area
- The Hutong area: best for families with children and culture lovers; near the Lama Temple and the Drum Tower
- The Sanlitun area: best for young people and night owls
Learn more about the 11 best areas to stay in in Beijing.
What to Eat in Beijing
Peking roast duck is absolutely a must-try food during a trip to Beijing. In Beijing, there is a limitless range of national and international cuisine to choose from, in every price range. It is easy to find Chinese restaurants, Western restaurants, vegetarian restaurants, Muslim restaurants, and Asian restaurants.
- The Top 20 Restaurants in Beijing
- The Top 10 Beijing Foods You Must Try
- The Top 10 Snack Shops in Beijing
- The Best 10 Roast Duck Restaurants in Beijing
- How to Eat Like a Local in Beijing
Shopping in Beijing
Beijing can be a shopaholic's heaven. World famous international-brand shopfronts are packed along Wangfujing Street, which doubles up as an exotic snack street at night.
Apart from that, Beijing is home to Qianmen Street and Dashilar Street, two classic commercial streets that have prospered for centuries. Beijing also hosts bizarre antique markets, which are great for tourists looking for souvenirs.
Beijing is spoilt for such a wide variety of nightlife choices. Housing an estimated population of 107,000 expats (2018), the city is never short of Western-style cafés, bars, and clubs. Plus, Beijing is the engine of China's underground rock music.
- Bar street and club areas to visit: Houhai bar street is a hub for local youth culture. The Sanlitun night club area is packed with stylish night clubs for night owls and is where expats often hang out.
- Savor Beijing snacks: Do a hutong night-food gourmet walking tour.
- Enjoy breathtaking night views on the Great Wall at the Simatai section of Great Wall.
- Enjoy Beijing opera or a kung fu show in reputable traditional tea houses.
- Admire nighttime cityscapes… Option A: Olympic Green Park area — the Bird's Nest and Water Cube light up at night; Option B: The CBD area: landmark buildings including the CCTV headquarters, The Place Shopping Mall, Guomao (Chinese World Trade Center etc.), and the newly-erected CITIC Tower combine to create central Beijing's night skyline.
For more, see Things to Do at Night in Beijing.
- Beijing Traditional Food Tour
- Half-Day Beijing Walking Tour in a Neighborhood
- 1-Day In-Depth Beijing Culture Tour
Entertainment in Beijing
Beijing offers a wealth of entertainment. See these pages for inspiration.
- Beijing's Top 10 Museums
- Beijing's Top 10 Ski Resorts
- Top 7 Massages and Spas in Beijing
- Beijing's Best 10 Art Galleries
- The 4 Best Teahouses in Beijing
- Beijing's 6 Best Live Music Venues
- Top Water Parks in Beijing
- The best time to visit Beijing
- How to Plan Your Beijing Trip (Cost and Itinerary)
- How to plan a day in Beijing
Beijing Travel Tips
- 13 Things Not to Do in Beijing
- Beijing 144-Hour Visa-Free Transit
- Travel Tips for Senior Travelers to Beijing
Our Beijing map page provides tourists with many useful maps.
- Beijing Subway Map
- Beijing Attraction Map
- Great Wall of China Maps: 26 Location & History Maps
- Beijing Forbidden City Map
In-Depth Beijing Explorations for Discerning Travelers
Beijing is such a large and complex city that going with a tour guide and driver helps make your visit less stressful and more rewarding.
Experience and customer feedback show that our well-designed tour plans cover the highlights of Beijing in the best possible ways.
Just make a free inquiry for a customized tour with professional arrangements, to save you time and avoid any unforeseen problems. We have over 20 years of experience tailoring tours in China!
Popular Beijing Itineraries
- 1-Day Beijing Highlights Tour — Visit the Forbidden City and the Great Wall at a your own pace.
- 4-Day Emperor's Tour of Beijing — This 4-day tour is designed to be flexible, without missing the must-sees.
- The Golden Triangle — This 8-day Beijing–Xi'an–Shanghai itinerary,or variations of it, has been our most popular first-time China trip over the last 20 years.
- Check all our Beijing Tours for inspirations.