Beijing Travel Guide

This tower and its counterpart, the Drum Tower, kept Beijing people up to date on the official time through three dynasties. Drums beat out at night, while the bells rang out during the day. The Bell Tower burned in the Qing Dynasty and was rebuilt, this time of fire-proof brick.

A day trip to the Great Wall is an absolute must when in Beijing. The only question is, what part to visit?

If you’re a first- or business-class passenger on China’s national airline, take a seat in a big upholstered chair in your own private skybox while you wait for your flight and watch the world go by—and through security—below. Drinks, snacks, and magazines are complimentary.

Elbow your way through the antiques stalls of the labyrinthine market, open only on weekends.

Nothing says China like a silk panda-motif necktie. Tax-free at 198 yuan ($29), it’s a bit more than you’d pay in town, but the quality is solid.

The main draw of this area west of Tiananmen Square is the new Financial Street area, home to high-rise office towers, a cluster of five-star hotels, and the tony Seasons Place Mall.

Past the bookstore and the Arrival-level Starbucks, look for the English signs labeled “Lost & Found” and “Left Luggage,” where you can leave extra baggage up to three months if you’re touring China and will depart for home from Beijing ($4.50 per piece per day).

Hidden away along a bland, utilitarian suburban block, this über-hip space is a major haunt for Beijing fashionistas.

Laetitia Gauden, a French curator, started the Imagine Gallery in Feijiacun in 2003.

Paul Andreu's delightfully zany China National Grand Theater, a.k.a. the Alien Egg, opened its doors in 2006.

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

The central Houhai Lake is lined with lively waterfront bars and cafés, take a stroll along the promenade before sitting down to dine.

Stop here for Chinese books, periodicals, and a limited selection of overpriced English language texts, from President Barack Obama’s The Audacity of Hope ($19) to Candace Bushnell’s Sex and the City ($20) to Time and Newsweek ($6.50).

Capable of holding a million people, the 100-acre Tiananmen is the world’s largest public square.