There’s no shortage of fun things to do in Beijing (think: guangchang wu dancing in public squares and grabbing drinks at the highest bar in the city, Atmosphere). But there are five Beijing attractions you can’t miss.
Start by conquering the Great Wall of China, a UNESCO World Heritage site you can see from space. While you’re still in Earth’s atmosphere, visit the Mutianyu section—one of the most impressive—and the blissfully un-touristy Huanghuacheng part of the wall.
You’ll discover Chinese art in the contemporary 798 Art District (a series of old munitions factories) and the neighborhood of Caochangdi. Famed artist Ai Wei Wei founded this village and keeps his studio there to this very day.
Next, go boating in Beihai Park. Once the emperor’s private garden, Beihai is now the finest, and most popular, gathering ground for locals. Boat over to the 40-meter stone stupa, the White Dagoba, in a lotus boat. Inside, you’ll find monks’ bones, mantles, and alms bowls.
Concentrated within the Second Ring Road are the traditional alleys, or little-known hutongs, that are rapidly disappearing and best seen on foot. Before leaving Beijing, sample some completely foreign cuisine (scorpions, starfish, tarantulas, and other creepy crawlies) at the Wangfujing Night Market. Be warned, this Beijing sight is for brave eaters only.