Top 10 Things to Do in Beijing

Written by Sally Guo Updated Jul. 1, 2021

Beijing, formerly called Peking, is an ancient and modern metropolis. With over 3,000 years of history, its well-preserved cultural and imperial relics and bustling modern features are perfectly integrated, making it one of the most popular travel destinations in the world. According to Lonely Planet, Beijing is one of the top 10 places in the Asia Pacific to visit in 2019.

If you are planning a trip to China for the first time, don’t miss Beijing. If you come to Beijing, don’t miss the following 10 things.

No. 1 Climbing the Great Wall

the Great Wall

the Great Wall

There is a saying in China, “He who has not climbed the Great Wall is not a true man”. The Wall is unparalleled throughout the world in scale and span of construction, meandering from east to west of China like a giant dragon, one of the great masterpieces of ancient China.

Whether you choose a child-friendly Mutianyu Great Wall Family Tour, or a Night Tour on the Great Wall at Simatai or even an adventurous Hiking Tour from Simatai to Jinshanling, the Wall will not disappoint, constituting a non-negotiable part of your tour.

Check Great Wall Hiking Routes for detailed hiking tips.

No. 2 Visiting Tian’anmen Square

Tiananmen Square

Tiananmen Square

Tian’anmen Square in the heart of Beijing is the largest central city square in the world, with a capacity of around a million people.

Tian’anmen is not only an icon of Beijing but also a symbol of China. It is the place where numerous important political and historical events have taken place and have witnessed the fall and rise of China.

Take the Beijing Boutique Small Group Tour and get to know Tian’anmen Square under the tutelage of our knowledgeable guide.

No. 3 Exploring the Forbidden City

Forbidden City

Forbidden City at Night

With a history of over 600 years, the Forbidden City, or the Palace Museum, falls bang in the middle of Beijing.

During the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1912) dynasties, the City was home to the last 24 emperors in China. It is now home to many imperial secrets and treasures of ancient art, one of the landmarks of Beijing, which for decades has attracted an endless stream of admirers.

Check How to Plan a Forbidden City Tour and be a smart visitor. And, you can join our Beijing Culture Discovery Tour to investigate the deep secrets of the emperors, while wandering around the Forbidden City.

No. 4 Hopping on a Rickshaw to Drive Through Hutongs

Customers on Pedicab

Our Customers on a Hutong Pedicab

Have you ever walked through narrow streets like labyrinths? Have you ever taken a tricycle through such streets? If not, why not give it a try!

Originating during the Yuan dynasty (1271–1368), Beijing hutongs are narrow streets and alleys formed by lines of siheyuan (Chinese traditional courtyard residences) and used to be at the heart of community life in Beijing.

If you would like to catch a glimpse of the most traditional and authentic life of Beijingers, look up Recommended Hutong Tour Routes, or, a Half Day Pedicab Tour will be one of the top priorities on your travel diary.

No. 5 Strolling Around the Temple of Heaven

Temple of Heaven

Temple of Heaven

Built-in 1420, the Temple of Heaven was a special altar complex for the emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties to worship or to “communicate” with heaven.

Four times the size of the Forbidden City, this is the largest complex of altar architecture in China and is regarded by some as an architectural masterpiece unmatched anywhere in the world.

Nowadays, the Temple of Heaven is often described as the lungs of Beijing, because of the park’s luxuriant greenery. It’s a very popular place where local people, the elderly and retired in particular, gather for morning exercise. So it is also a good place for strolling around and witnessing the local life in Beijing.

Please feel free to contact us if you would like to visit the Temple of Heaven.

No. 6 Relaxing in the Summer Palace

Summer Palace

Summer Palace

Located in the western suburbs of Beijing and only 1 kilometer from the Old Summer Palace (Yuanmingyuan), the 716-acre Summer Palace is the largest and best-preserved royal garden in China.

Once a summer retreat for royalty, it is now still a retreat for crowd-weary tourists, who can relax here and stroll around ancient pavilions, mansions, temples, bridges, and the huge lake, stopping occasionally at a shop or teahouse.

The Summer Palace is so big you may want a tour guide who can lead you the right way and tell you the history and gossip behind the garden. Contact us and we can tailor-make a delightful royal garden tour for you.

No. 7 Gorging Yourself on Peking Duck

Peking Duck

Peking Roast Duck

Peking Roast Duck is a renowned Beijing dish with a worldwide reputation. The high-quality duck meat, roasted using fruit tree coal, looks reddish, with crisp skin and tender meat, and is known as “one of heaven’s delicacies”.

We recommend three well-known restaurants for authentic Peking Duck: Quanjude (全聚德), Dadong (大董) and Bianyifang (便宜坊).

Optionally, if you want to know another cuisine in Beijing, please check The Most Popular Restaurants in Beijing Hutongs for inspiration.

No. 8 Savoring Some Ear-Splitting Peking Opera

Peking Opera

Peking Opera

Maybe the shrill trills of Peking opera, or Beijing opera, are not for everyone, but no one can deny its important place in Chinese culture.

Regarded as the quintessence of national culture, it has only had 200 years of history in China but is enormously popular, enjoyed by the whole population.

Peking opera performs stories in different ways, presenting different characters and their feelings and moods by singing, dancing, dialogue, and acrobatic fighting. The best place for Peking opera in Beijing is Liyuan (梨园) Theatre.

No. 9 Appreciating a Chinese-Style Show

Kung Fu Show

Kung Fu Show

One of the best ways to learn about a city’s culture is to experience the lives of locals and participate in their daily entertainment. Beijing is no exception. The most-highly recommended Chinese-style shows in Beijing are as follows:

Kungfu Show at the Red Theatre: This performance blends modern dance with traditional Chinese kungfu and arts. The average age of performers is only 17.

Folk performance at Lao She Teahouse: Named after a famous Chinese novelist and playwright, Lao She, and his signature drama, Teahouse, Lao She Teahouse presents almost every kind of Chinese folk art, such as storytelling, cross talk, shadow plays, tea ceremonies, face changing and so on.

Acrobatics show at Chaoyang Theatre: Chaoyang Theatre mainly presents acrobatics performances. Over the past 30 years or so, more than three million foreigners have sat among its audiences.

No. 10 Wandering Round the 798 Art Zone

798 Art Zone

798 Art Zone

798 Art Zone, or DAD – Dashanzi Art District – is the most famous among the art districts in Beijing. In keeping with other changes in Beijing’s orientation, this nationally-owned area completed its “gallant about turn” at the turn of the century and became one of the first art districts in Beijing.

If you are an art lover, don’t miss out on this venue. Various studios, bars, and galleries are scattered throughout the area. Walking around the district will feel like being in a world of the art innovation. At the end of September each year, the area hosts an art festival.

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Forbidden City

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Below are three hand-picked Beijing tours based on popularity ratings from our customers, reviews on, booking data, and guide services:

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