Things to Do in Beijing

Dean Kaufman

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).... Read More

The cluster of Bauhaus-style factory buildings, dating from the 1950's, have been converted into artists' studios and experimental galleries. Read More

Though some would say 798 Art District has become too commercial, art lovers shouldn't miss this complex of former munitions factories that was... Read More

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... Read More

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... Read More

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... Read More

Pack duty-free liquor in an imitation Wenger “Swiss Army” carry-on-size wheelie suitcase from this travel accessories store. Smarter buys... Read More

This 2010-opened bar is shaking up local cocktail culture with creative concoctions and house-made mixers. Try the “secret Earl Grey,”... Read More

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... Read More

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... Read More

Once an imperial park, Beihai ("North Sea") was built to showcase the best in Chinese gardening traditions. There are pavilions, canals, temples, a... Read More

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... Read More

The heritage center offers educational tours through the city's traditional, and fast disappearing, hutong neighborhoods. Read More

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... Read More

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... Read More

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,... Read More

This unique restaurant and culinary school offers cooking classes, tea workshops, and "communal dinners," where guests are encouraged to dine with... Read More

Big, riotous, and open around the clock, this lacquer-walled music lounge is hugely popular with the after-work crowd. In the early evenings, men and... Read More

This sprawling district east of Tiananmen Square has lots of variety: some areas are dotted with lively clubs and cutting-edge restaurants; others have... Read More

A gallery opposite the Nangao police station, in an area just outside The Fifth Ring Road. Read More

The television headquarters will be the second-largest building in the world, after the Pentagon, and the architects Rem Koolhaas and Ole Scheeren have... Read More

The now-restored Legation Quarter, the fabulous Temple of Heaven, and bustling pearl and tea markets are the highlights of this neighborhood southeast... Read More

The Confucius Temple and adjacent Imperial College can be visited together with a through ticket. The latter was the highest center of learning during... Read More

Founded during the Ming Dynasty by members of the Han clan from Shanxi Province, Cuandixia is a village on a hill with more than 500 beautifully... Read More

Don't be fooled by the fading paint and dusty velvet banquettes: the best young Chinese indie bands can be found cutting their teeth at this respected... Read More

A brick-walled gallery that, come night, morphs into a gathering spot for fashion designers and media types. The most creative drink: “emperor... Read More

Also known as Factory 798, this Bauhaus-style complex houses the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art. Read More

The historical and geographical heart of Beijing, this district contains the Forbidden City and is crisscrossed by scores of atmospheric hutongs. Many... Read More

Wangfujing's infamous night market is worth visiting for the photo ops alone. Rows of stalls are replete with edible creepy crawlies: scorpions,... Read More

The airport’s mini-spa offers small, semi-private rooms with two comfy chairs each.  Try a 50-minute Tibetan Sweet Herb Alga Mud foot massage... Read More

Beijing is synonymous with the Forbidden City – once the political, religious, cultural as well as geographical center of the city. The complex is made... Read More

Chairman Mao himself is said to have surveyed Beijing from atop the Gate of Heavenly Peace and announced he wanted "the sky to be filled with smokestacks." Read More

A day trip to the Great Wall is an absolute must when in Beijing. The only question is, what part to visit? This ancient masterwork (which, in a failed... Read More

Treasures spotted here recently: a Ming dynasty bed; pharmacy cabinets smelling of medicinal herbs. Ships internationally. Read More

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... Read More

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

Take home China’s drink. This shop has a variety of boxed sets of teapots, cups, and samples of all the tea in China, from 500g (17.64 ounces) of... Read More

A 12-seat Japanese whiskey bar stocked with a selection of rare vanilla- and cherry-scented whiskeys. Read More

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

There's nothing like a morning or sunset visit to Jingshan, an imperial park once attached to the Forbidden City. The dominant feature is the central... Read More

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

Get to your gate on time! Beijing Capital International Airport strives for efficiency but has yet to warn unsuspecting travelers arriving late at the... Read More

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... Read More

Past the bookstore and the Arrival-level Starbucks, look for the English signs labeled “Lost & Found” and “Left Luggage,”... Read More

If your flight is delayed, go down one level to the Arrivals hall and walk 100 yards east of Gate B (with the giant glass windows overlooking the street... Read More

Sandwiched between Di’anmen E St. and Gulou E St., Nanluoguxiang is a reconstructed hutong famous for its many shops, bars, cafes, and street snacks.... Read More

A colossal monument to theatre, opera, and classical music opened in the Fall of 2007, just in time to impress the Olympic crowds. Read More

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

If you’re new to Beijing, forgot your own guidebook, and no one is meeting you, consider picking up the best (if overpriced) guidebook in stock,... Read More

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... Read More

Set in the city’s northeastern Chaoyang district, the newly built Olympic Park is home to the fabulous “Bird’s Nest” national... Read More

For really distinctive souvenirs, avoid the dreary state-run stores and samey hotel-lobby shops in favor of this boisterous, treasure-filled market. The... Read More

Upon arrival, go one flight up directly to the Departures hall Passenger Service Center for excellent help (finding a car, hotel, transfers, sightseeing... Read More

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

Pass a carved white stone wall and there, next to the bathrooms, is a vending machine with SIM cards from China Mobile, China Unicom, and China Telecom ... Read More

British expat and longtime Beijing resident Dominic Johnson-Hill mines a rich seam of local nostalgia with his line of quirky, retro T-shirts&mdash... Read More

For much of the 20th century the exquisite interiors of the two-acre Qianlong Garden, built between 1771 and 1776 and tucked within Beijing’s... Read More

Qianmen refers to both the gate that once guarded the southern end of the imperial Inner City and the nearby pedestrian street that is now a major... Read More

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... Read More

The respected gallery's new space at 798 was previously a liquor factory. Read More

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.... Read More

While the traditional boat that guests board may be called a “junk,” the experience is far from it on this staffed all-night cruise. During... Read More

In-the-know shoppers head to this Tianamen square locale for bespoke qipaos (traditional full-length dresses) in rich silk or brocade. Read More

This historic scenic area encompasses three interconnected former imperial lakes: Houhai, Qianhai, and Xihai. From ice skating on the lake in winter to... Read More

At this trademark-skirting park in western Beijing—where a banner over the entrance proclaims: "Disneyland is too far"—there's a replica of... Read More

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. Blues... Read More

This complex of religious buildings southeast of the Forbidden City received emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties for annual harvest ceremonies. The... Read More

Beijing’s newly opened Terminal 3, designed by Norman Foster’s Foster & Partners, is a miracle of rapid-fire engineering and army-ant... Read More

Avoid the crowds at Badaling and head to Mutianyu, a restored section of the Great Wall about a mile and a half long. Its crenelated parapet and smooth,... Read More

This charming little pottery studio-cum-store, which features ceramics from talented local potters, has solved many a gift-giver’s dilemma. The... Read More

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... Read More

Kite flying is a hugely popular pastime in Beijing: visit Tiananmen Square on a breezy day and you’ll see scores of people—tots, teens, old... Read More

Capable of holding a million people, the 100-acre Tiananmen is the world’s largest public square. Built in 1949, when the Communist Party took... Read More

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... Read More

This groundbreaking gallery is set in one of the capital’s most intriguing developments—a former state munitions factory turned into an 80... Read More

Olympic Pedigree: Home to swimming, diving, water polo, and synchronized swimming in 2008, and possibly where amphibious phenom Michael Phelps breaks... Read More

This hip hutong just west of Yonghegong Lama Temple is home to trendy vintage boutiques, restaurants, cafes, bars, and music venues. Popular venues... Read More

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,... Read More

In the Central Business District, well-heeled urbanites take in live jazz over Moët champagne, crispy prawn fritters, and Cohiba cigars at Park... Read More

Well-known rock venue impresario Li Xuebing (or “Bing Bing”) and Hong Kong gallery owner Zhao Lei combined forces in 2001 to open the Yan... Read More

Not to be confused with the Old Summer Palace, Yiheyuan is a vast complex of lakes, gardens, and palaces centered around Longevity Hill and Kunming Lake... Read More

Yonghegong was originally a residence for eunuchs before half of the complex was converted into a Tibetan Buddhist lamasery in 1722. The centerpiece of... Read More

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