Things to do in Beijing
If you’re an early riser looking for things to do in Beijing, visit Ritan Park first thing in the morning. Here you’ll find the Chinese tradition of using public spaces; traditional swordsmanship, Mah-Jongg, T’ai Chi and ballroom dancing, even a climbing wall. A less restful but exciting Beijing activity awaits you in the Silk Market, with buzzing carts and shops. No Beijing tour would be complete without the Forbidden City. Visit the grand 16th-century palace early, since it takes at least three hours to get around. Temple of Heaven Park is a Confucian style urban landscape, equally worthy of a visit.
Tiananmen Square is the world’s largest public square, surrounded by Soviet-style buildings, is a reminder of China’s turmoil and political history. It’s not a place to sit and relax, but it is certainly a site not to be missed by any Beijing visitor. Summer Palace is a marvel of temples, gardens, bridges, and pavilions to explore. There are also riverside walkways, shops and restaurants. The 798 Arts District is a popular artist hangout with cafes lining the streets. Beijing is also the best departure point to see the Great Wall of China, easily done as a half-day trip.
Olympic Pedigree: Home to swimming, diving, water polo, and synchronized swimming in 2008, and possibly where amphibious phenom Michael Phelps breaks Mark Spitz’s Olympic record of seven gold medals.
At this trademark-skirting park in western Beijing—where a banner over the entrance proclaims: "Disneyland is too far"—there's a replica of Sleeping Beauty's castle (with less sparkle and more Communist-brick realism); live character doppelgangers of Shrek, Donald Duck, and Minnie Mouse; and even
Paul Andreu's delightfully zany China National Grand Theater, a.k.a. the Alien Egg, opened its doors in 2006.
During the summer months, this dinky but charming bar—set right at the edge of a lake in Ritan Park—hosts an array of live music acts.
The resort offers two slopes: an amateur run of 650 feet and an advanced one that stretches for 1,000. It's open year-round, a bragging right the resort emphasized by debuting in August.
The epicenter of the Beijing games, the green is the site of Herzog & de Meuron-designed "Bird's Nest" National Stadium where the gymnastic and aquatic competitions are held; and Olympic Village, where more than 10,000 Olympians set up camp.
This women’s wear and accessories boutique carries little-known Chinese brands, like namesake White Collar and sister company Shee.
A man with a PhD in Chemistry from Oxford may not be the first person you’d expect to start a Tibetan textiles company, but that’s exactly what Chris Buckley did in 2000, leaving product development to launch a craft and textile business.
This 2010-opened bar is shaking up local cocktail culture with creative concoctions and house-made mixers. Try the “secret Earl Grey,” Beefeater gin finished off with pomelo-lavender bitters.
This groundbreaking gallery is set in one of the capital’s most intriguing developments—a former state munitions factory turned into an 80,000-square-foot home for contemporary art.
Located northwest of the city, this district is where many of the city’s universities are located. It’s also home to the Beijing Zoo (with its ever-popular giant pandas) and the glorious Summer Palace.
While the traditional boat that guests board may be called a “junk,” the experience is far from it on this staffed all-night cruise.
It isn't often that a building defines a city, and even becomes its icon, but that seems destined to be the case of Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron's National Stadium in Beijing, the primary site of the 2008 summer Olympic games.
Pick up small comforts at this duty-free foodstuffs and sundries shop. Thirsty? Try China’s popular pu’erh tea ($10) or a bottle of fiery Moutai, a fermented sorghum liquor from Guizhou, in southwest China ($125). Peckish?
For really distinctive souvenirs, avoid the dreary state-run stores and samey hotel-lobby shops in favor of this boisterous, treasure-filled market.