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The Top 10 Things to Do in Beijing

The Great WallThe Great Wall

Having served as the capital of China for more than 800 years, Beijing is home to some of the finest remnants of China's imperial past and is a China culture hub.

Interest in visiting Beijing is largely to explore its glorious past, but also to feel its modern era prestige.

Our local experts have journeyed to every corner of the city and uncovered the best things to see and do in Beijing.

1. Walk on the Great Wall

The night view of the Great WallThe night view of the Great Wall at Simatai

The Great Wall of China extends 4,000 miles. There are several Great Wall sections around Beijing to choose form, both restored sections and rugged sections.

You could enjoy an easy walk at Mutianyu, take a challenging hike on the wild walls of Jinshanling or Jiankou, or take our exclusive tour to Simatai to appreciate the stunning night views of the Great Wall.

See our insider’s guide for how to choose the right section for you.

2. Explore the Forbidden City

The Forbidden CityThe Forbidden City

The Forbidden City is the best preserved imperial palace in China and the largest ancient palatial structure in the world.

Travel with an experienced guide to avoid the crowds and explore the hidden treasures of the palace, and discover the history and culture behind it, spanning the emperors’ personal lives, imperial examinations, and worship.

See How to Visit the Forbidden City — for Discerning Travelers

3. Take a Rickshaw through the Hutongs

The HutongTake a rickshaw through the Hutongs. 

The Beijing hutongs are mazes of narrow alleyways linking old single-story traditional courtyard houses. Hutongs give a wonderful glimpse into the world of yesterday in Beijing.

Taking a rickshaw through the Hutongs and visiting a hutong family living in a traditional quadrangle dwelling is an authentic way to discover traditional Beijing life.

4. Stroll in the Summer Palace

The Summer Palace is the best-preserved imperial garden in the world, and the largest of its kind still in existence in modern China.

It represents traditional Chinese gardens well. Appreciate a charming artificial landscape first created hundreds of years ago.

A fine way to enjoy sightseeing at the Summer Palace is to take a dragon boat on Kunming Lake.

5. Get to Know Tian'anmen Square

Tian'anmen Square is the world’s largest famous square and can accommodate a million people. Like Times Square in New York and Red Square in Moscow, Tian’anmen Square is a must-visit place for travelers to Beijing.

Escorted by a knowledgeable guide, you can get to know the architecture and history of the square.

6. Feast on Beijing Roast Duck

Beijing Roast DuckBeijing Roast Duck

A saying that is often heard is: "There are two things you must do in Beijing: eat Beijing Roast Duck and see the Great Wall."

Beijing roast duck is the epitome of Beijing cuisine. The dish is mostly prized for the thin, crispy skin, with authentic versions of the dish serving mostly the skin and little meat.

Your Beijing trip is not complete if you have not enjoyed an authentic Beijing roast duck dinner in a time-honored brand restaurant. The famous roast duck chains of restaurants are Quanjude (全聚德) and Dadong (大董).

7. Discover the Temple of Heaven

The Temple of HeavenThe Temple of Heaven

The Temple of Heaven, the royal altar where the emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties worshipped heaven, is seen as the most holy of Beijing's imperial temples. It has been described as "a masterpiece of architecture and landscape design".

Temple of Heaven Park is a great place to wander around and see the locals doing morning activities, including practicing tai chi, playing chess, singing, and dancing.

8. Appreciate Beijing Opera

0Beijing Opera

Beijing opera is regarded as Chinese cultural treasure. The make-up, the face masks, the gorgeous costumes, the unique vocal style, and the demanding choreography make Beijing opera a high-class performance entertainment.

The best place to enjoy Beijing opera is Li Yuan Theater.

9. Check Out the Souvenir Markets

Beijing's outdoor markets sell a great variety of souvenirs and old arts and crafts. They are living museums of folk artwork, old articles for daily use, and antiques (though some of them are fake).

You can go to Panjiayuan Collection Street, Xiushui Street, and Liulichang Street for local specialties such as cloisonné, ivory carvings, jade pieces, lacquer carvings, antiques, and fresh water pearls.

10. Enjoy a Kung Fu or Acrobatics Show

Acrobatics ShowYou can spend a night to enjoy an acrobatics show in Beijing. 

Watching a kung fu show is an exciting way to spend a night. The Legend of Kung Fu Show is the best one. It is visually stunning with a fast-paced plot and impressive martial art skills. Children might like it.

The acrobatic show in Chaoyang Theatre is a breathtaking routine of flexibility involving ballet, bikes, human strength, jumping hoops, rotating plates, chairs, and umbrellas. The complicated and exciting performances will give you an exciting night.

Discover Authentic Beijing with Local Experts

Want to discover more hidden gems and explore more authentic experiences in Beijing? Travelling with a local expert opens up so many more possibilities than trying to figure it out for yourself.

The Forbidden CityThe corner tower of the Forbidden City. Travel with us to discover the hidden gems that you can't find by yourself. 

Tell us your interests, and one of our specialists will help you to maximize your travel experience by suggesting the optimal trip for the time you have and the things you love to do.

Here are some sample itineraries for your inspiration: