Beijing

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.

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

Get to your gate on time!

The highlight of a visit to the new Beijing Planning Exhibition Hall is the extraordinarily detailed scale model of the city that projects what China’s capital will look like in the year 2020.

The Taoist temple where Ming and Qing dynasty emperors once prayed for good harvests has some of the most exquisitely graceful architecture in the city—especially impressive given that it was built according to the precepts of numerology rather than aesthetics.

For the 2008 Olympics, this airport handled nearly 100,000 passengers and over 7,000 Olympic-related flights. That’s no issue for this sky port that saw almost 74 million passengers in 2010.

It’s a see-and-be-seen scene at Redmoon, where well-heeled late-nighters size each other up over Japanese sake-tinis and pricey plates of sashimi.

The Long March Space, which is well known for its public-art projects along the route of Mao's Long March, uses its space at 798 more as a base than as a gallery.

Beijing’s newly opened Terminal 3, designed by Norman Foster’s Foster & Partners, is a miracle of rapid-fire engineering and army-ant–intensity construction;  it’s also the world’s largest single building, with a ceiling that is a dizzying scrim of light and color.

Ran out of yuan at the end of your trip but need cash for a pre-boarding meal? The ATM speaks English! But be warned: most U.S. banks charge at least $5 for withdrawing from a Chinese ATM, no matter the amount.

Check out the Scandinavian-Chinese designs at this Sun City shop.

A high-end restaurant, entertainment, and cultural development set within the former American Embassy compound.

Big, riotous, and open around the clock, this lacquer-walled music lounge is hugely popular with the after-work crowd.

Take home China’s drink.