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.

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.

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

Take home China’s drink.

798

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

Beijing’s atmospheric hutong, or traditional alleyways, are fast disappearing; explore the bustling ones off Nanluoguxiang, near the 13th-century Drum and Bell towers.

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 legendary Forbidden City, lay hidden from view and slowly disintegrating.

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.

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.

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