Beijing is brightened by its glorious past but is by no means stuck in the past. Behind its rich and complex historical tapestries, everyday life unfolds with bewildering variety.
From the commanding austerity of the Forbidden City to the hectic bar street at Sanlitun, Beijing is overflowing with a unique charm, beckoning visitors from around the world to lose themselves in its prestigious poise. We could list hundreds of reasons to visit Beijing, but the following reasons should be on the top of the list.
1. Lots of Attractions to Visit
Beijing is a monster of a city. 20 million locals, 16 massive districts and 17,000 square kilometers full of modern to ancient sights that would decorate any Facebook photo album ten times over.
There are so many places to visit in Beijing: historical sights, parks, hills, canyons, museums, art centers, shopping malls and streets… Some of them set national or even world records. Here are some recommended places to visit in Beijing:
- The Great Wall: the longest man-made structure in the world
- The Forbidden City: the largest and best-preserved ancient architectural complex in the world
- The Temple of Heaven: the largest of Beijing's imperial religious building complexes
- The Summer Palace: the best-preserved imperial garden in the world
- The Old Summer Palace: once the most splendid royal garden, reputed as being the "Garden of Gardens"
- Lama Temple: Beijing’s biggest Tibetan Buddhist temple
- The Ming Tombs: world’s best-preserved emperors’ burial site with the largest number of tombs
- Beijing Imperial Academy: the only well-preserved site of the highest institution of learning in ancient China
Museums and Art Zones
- National Museum of China: one of China's biggest collections of ancient treasures
- Beijing Urban Planning Exhibition Hall: a showcase of the achievements of the capital in city planning and construction
- Beijing Railway Museum: a collection of more than 50 antique and modern era trains mainly from 1881–1993
- Military Museum of the Chinese People's Revolution: military weapons and China’s first tank are the highlights on display
- Beijing Ancient Coins Museum: a collection of all kind of ancient/medieval Chinese coins
- Beijing 798 Art Zone: an artistic community creating modern art in a complex of 50-year-old decommissioned military factory buildings
Parks and Canyons
- Beihai Park: one of the largest of China’s gardens; former imperial garden
- Jingshan Park: best place to get a panoramic view of the Forbidden City
- Beijing Zoo: China’s oldest zoo with giant pandas and other animals and an aquarium
- Beijing Universal Studios: newly opened in 2021; largest one in the world; the Kung-Fu-Panda-themed area is the highlight
- Jingdong Grand Canyon: glass sightseeing platform, forest views with waterfall, scenic valley, stone pillars
- Longqing Gorge: most famous for its Ice and Snow Festival
- Wangfujing Shopping Street and Qianmen Street are the most famous commercial streets in Beijing
- Sanlitun: the representative hub of Beijing nightlife
- Nanluoguxiang and Yandaixie Street are Beijing’s most well-known hutongs for shopping and eating
2. Profound History
Beijing is a window with a view on much of China’s history. Beijing boasts a history of more than 3,000 years, of which more than 800 years were as a national or regional/kingdom capital.
During the course of history, many buildings were built by the ruling dynasties in Beijing, making it the city with the largest number of imperial relics: palaces, gardens, temples, tombs…
3. The Culture
As an ancient capital, Beijing has preserved many aspects of traditional Chinese culture very well: Beijing opera, kung fu, tea culture, paper cutting, Chinese calligraphy, sugar painting… If you are interested in these, you can experience them at their best in Beijing.
Beijing’s religious culture is also rich including Taoism, Buddhism, Christianity (Protestant and Catholic), and Islam — the Four Religions of China. Lama Temple is the largest Tibetan Buddhist temple outside of Tibetan areas in west China, White Cloud Temple is Beijing’s most famous Taoist temple, Chongwenmen Church is the largest Methodist church in Beijing, and Beijing Niujie Muslim Mosque is the oldest Islamic site in Beijing.
4. The Food
Peking roast duck is the No. 1 representative of Beijing food. It is called "the first dish to taste in China". In Beijing, you should taste authentic Peking roast duck cooked in a local way. Besides roast duck, there are many more Beijing foods to try like shredded pork in Beijing sauce, noodles with soybean paste, rolling donkey, and sugar-coated haws on a stick.
China’s 56 ethnicities from every corner of the country are concentrated in the city bringing their delicacies to Beijing and many are now also ingrained in Beijing life, like Mongolian hotpot, Sichuan hotpot, and Kung Pao Chicken.
5. The Hutongs
One of the major attractions in Beijing are the zigzagging hutongs, an integral part of Beijing's local culture. Created in the 13th century, the Hutongs are actually small public alleys with private courtyard residences. It is the way old Beijing used to be. Hutongs are like folk-custom museums, presenting a window into a traditional way of life intertwined with the old architecture and maze of narrow streets.
Take a rickshaw through the hutongs, visit a hutong family, hunt for hutong delicacies… These will be unforgettable experiences in your Beijing visit.
6. The 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics
14 years after the 2008 Summer Olympics, Beijing will host the Winter Olympics in 2022, presenting the charm of winter sports to the world.
A total of 109 events in 15 disciplines will be contested. Watching a competition event and cheering for your favorite athletes would be an absolutely awesome experience.
Many excellent ski resorts have been newly built in Zhangjiakou, near Beijing, which is the main venue for the skiing events.
You can go skiing “like an Olympic athlete” there. Recommended ski resorts include Thaiwoo Ski Resort and Genting Resort Secret Garden.
- 6-Day Beijing Winter Tour with Skiing in a 2022 Olympic Winter Games Cluster
- 4-Day Emperor's Tour of Beijing Tour
- More Beijing tours
7. Lively Outdoor Markets
Beijing has several shopping districts offering a mind-boggling variety of goods. Besides the traditional shopping districts, including Wangfujing Street and Qianmen Street, the lively outdoor markets should not be missed by foreign travelers. Check out Panjiayuan "Antiques" Market and Xiushui Street for local specialties such as fresh-water pearls, antiques, silk, and much more.
The Ya Show Shopping Center, Zoo Wholesale Market, and Silk Market offer some of the world's hottest brands at the world's cheapest prices.
8. Ancient and Modern Culture
The juxtaposition of modern and ancient structures and culture is one of the most astounding spectacles on the city's landscape.
A five-hundred-year-old hutong nestled under the shadow of a towering skyscraper or a high-tech super-modern structure across the street from an ancient empirical palace is an awe-inspiring treat that never get old. This in addition to the lightning-fast city development and construction keep the face of Beijing under an unending facelift.
9. Colorful Nightlife
As the capital city of China, Beijing attracts people from all over the country and the world. The diversity and vitality of the city has endowed Beijing with a varied and colorful nightlife. Lots of people choose to relax themselves in the bars. The numerous shows and performances, including Peking Opera and acrobatics, are attractive to lovers of live entertainment.
10. Accommodation of All Levels
Beijing has great appeal to both domestic and international travelers. To cater for the booming tourist industry, Beijing provides accommodation that can meet all budget levels, including boutique hotels, star-rated hotels, hostels and inns.
11. Convenient Transportation
As the nation's capital, Beijing is the center of domestic transportation. It also has many international direct flights to major cities of the world. Air and rail connections link Beijing to virtually every point in China, and fleets of buses head to destinations around Beijing.
12. Beijing’s Safe and Friendly
Beijing is a safe and tourist-friendly city. Beijing has received about 3 million foreign visitors every year (in recent pre-COVID years).
Beijing people are warm and friendly. They will be happy to share everything about Beijing with you. Most young people can communicate in basic English.
Tour Beijing with Us
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!
- 1-Day Beijing Highlights Tour — Visit the Forbidden City and the Great Wall at 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 out all our Beijing tours for inspiration.