Beijing Travel Guide
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.
A colossal monument to theatre, opera, and classical music opened in the Fall of 2007, just in time to impress the Olympic crowds.
Pack duty-free liquor in an imitation Wenger “Swiss Army” carry-on-size wheelie suitcase from this travel accessories store. Smarter buys include Snuggy Snoozer neck pillows ($19) and fresh earplugs to drown out the plane engines and crying babies ($6).
Set in the city’s northeastern Chaoyang district, the newly built Olympic Park is home to the fabulous “Bird’s Nest” national stadium (an inventive, spiderweb structure of interlocking steel beams), along with the “Water Cube” National Aquatics Center (with an exterior made up of hundreds of what
In a hurry and/or traveling light? Speed your international check-in on busy travel days by taking your carry-on luggage, ticket, passport number, and frequent-flier number (if you have one) straight to a bilingual electronic self-check-in kiosk.
This bar’s name accurately represents its size—which, at 130 square feet, is easily the smallest in the city (and possibly all of China). The tiny nook contains just three wooden barstools and a booth big enough for four.
The respected gallery's new space at 798 was previously a liquor factory.
Jokes about all the tea in China aside, this shopping center (with a main cluster of stores surrounded by street stalls) is a must-visit for cuppa lovers.
It must have been quite a schlep for emperors of old—who traveled in slow-moving palanquins along with hundreds of courtiers to get to this beautiful, serene lakeside palace. These days, though, it doesn’t take much longer than a half-hour car ride to get here, and it’s well worth the journey.
In the Central Business District, well-heeled urbanites take in live jazz over Moët champagne, crispy prawn fritters, and Cohiba cigars at Park Hyatt Beijing's bar.
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.
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.
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.
Elbow your way through the antiques stalls of the labyrinthine market, open only on weekends.
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.