Sometimes still referred to as its former name Peking, Beijing is the capital of the People’s Republic of China. The city is also one of the most populous in the world, with approximately 21 million people living in the city. The large population guarantees that Beijing is sure to have a plethora of fun and exciting attractions for your vacation.
5 Must-See Attractions
- Forbidden City: Tour this massive palace built for China’s Emperors. The palace, which has over 9,000 ornately decorated rooms, is a great way to dive into China’s rich culture.
- Great Wall at Badaling: Put on your walking shoes and go for stroll on the world’s most famous wall.
- Ming Tombs: See the elaborate resting places of 13 Ming Dynasty rulers. Two of the tombs have been fully excavated for viewing. Truly adventurous visitors can climb down into the burial chambers.
- Summer Palace: A beautiful blend of vast lakes and gardens is this large royal park. It was originally used as a luxurious retreat for the royal families.
- Beijing Capital Museum: This museum is located in a five-story mansion, which is complete with numerous exhibitions of history and culture.
5 Kid Friendly Sites
- Beijing Zoo: The Beijing Zoo has all the crazy critters kids love seeing in American Zoos. BUT the Beijing Zoo is also home to an expansive Giant Panda exhibit where kids and adults can watch these fuzzy, Oreo-colored animals play around.
- Kung Fu Show: These shows are bound to awe any family that goes to watch. The highly coordinated moves and special effects will get the whole family’s hearts racing.
- Rickshaw through Hutong: Great to do if the kids are starting to tire out, hop on a rickshaw and tour the inner streets of Beijing and view sites off the beaten path.
- Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding: If you have some time to spare, take a trip to this incredible research base to learn about and interact with endangered Giant Pandas.
- Fly a kite: Kite flying is a popular family activity in China. Head to Tiananmen Square where you can purchase one from the many vendors around.
5 Free Things To Do
- Tiananmen Square: Tiananmen Square is often cited as the birth place of the modern day Republic of China. As the world’s largest public square, visitors can visit Chairman Mao’s mausoleum and view other monuments of the People’s Republic of China.
- Qianmen Street: Akin to Times Square in New York City, this street is full of glittering lights and fun shops for people walk around through.
- 798 Art Zone: This area of the city is the designated arts zone for the city. Visitors to the area can view statues, paintings, and other exhibits fresh from the minds of the Beijing artists.
- Nanluoguxiang: Spend a few hours exploring this historic neighborhood where long, winding passageways meet traditional courtyards. You’ll find shopping and great biking trails here as well.
- Olympic Park: Built for the 2008 Olympic Games, this park is easily accessible via public transportation. At night, the park is beautiful and has an amazing water and light show in the water cube that’s well worth seeing.
5 Great Restaurants
- Duck de Chine: A perfect place to order some of Beijing’s famed roast duck, this restaurant claims to have perfected the secret of making the most delectable duck dishes.
- Temple Restaurant Beijing: A great spot to taste some traditional Chinese dishes done in gourmet style.
- Mr. Shi’s Dumplings: We all have our favorite type of dumpling we order when we get take out; now try authentic Chinese dumplings at great prices.
- Maison Boulud: This New York celeb chef’s branch in Beijing serves delicious French inspired food here.
- Chuan Ban: You may have to wait in line at this traditional Chinese restaurant, but the turnover is quick and the food is great.
5 Nightlife Recommendations
- Slow Boat Brewery Taproom: Relax and enjoy some beer from a Chinese microbrewery. This brew is ideal for when you are looking to go out, but want to keep things low-key.
- Sanlitun Pub Street: Beijing’s ideal “bar-hopping” street. Get your friends together and hit the street to enjoy some drinks and live music of all genres.
- Dashilan: An area with a history of commerce for over 500 years, the market place has a special ambiance at night.
- Beijing Chaoyang Theater: A slightly different way to spend your night is to head to the theater to see some amazing flying acrobat shows.
- Lantern Club: If you’re looking for that crazy nightclub scene, this underground club is the place for you.
5 Romantic Getaways
- Beijing Opera: Witness some Chinese culture through one of these incredible performances by the best opera performers in China. After, head to one of Beijing’s fine restaurants to complete your romantic evening.
- Laoshe Tea House: Whether your significant other and you are tea aficionados or are just looking for a quiet place to relax after a long day of site seeing, the Laoshe Tea House provides the atmosphere for either occasion.
- Central Television Tower: On the surface, nothing seems remarkable about a television broadcasting tower; however, the observation deck on top allows for stunning views of the Beijing skyline that set a perfect romantic mood.
- Fragrant Hill: These lovely gardens make for a great day trip. With temples and winding paths to explore, you can also take a cable car to top of the park for some stunning mountain top views.
- The Courtyard Restaurant: Enjoy some fine dining at this upscale, romantic restaurant with incredible views and service.
5 Great Hotels
- Raffles Beijing- 33 E Chang'an Ave, Dongcheng, Beijing
- China World Summit Wing- 1 Jianguomenwai Avenue, Beijing
- Park Hyatt Beijing- 2 Jianguomenwai St, Chaoyang District, Beijing
- Peking Yard: 28 Wangzhima Hutong, Beijing
- Sitting on the City Walls:57 Nianzi Hutong, Jingshan Houjie, Beijing
5 Must Try Foods:
- Roast duck: For over 100 years, the city has been famous for roast duck dishes topped with Peking sauce.
- Spring rolls: Once you eat a spring roll fresh from a hot pot in Beijing, take-out spring rolls will never taste the same; they are that good!
- Soup Dumplings: Perfect if you are visiting Beijing during the colder months, these delicious dumplings have a hot broth on the inside encompassed in a delicious doughy pastry.
- Zhajiang Noodles: This popular Chinese dish is made from wheat noodles, bean sprouts, radish, soybeans and bean sauce. It’s simple and traditional.
- Wan Don Huang: A popular dish in the springtime, this savory cake appeals to both the eyes and taste buds.
Climate and What To Pack:
Summer: Weather is usually humid due to monsoon season with temperatures climbing into the 80’s. Keep in mind that the poor air quality in the city is at its worst because of the heat. Shorts and a t-shirt are the best clothing for this season.
Fall: Fall is generally a dry season in Beijing with a temperature range similar to that found throughout most of North America. The season, however, tends to be shorter, so don’t expect to travel with just pants and a shirt for too long!
Winter: During winter-time, definitely bring the warm jacket and mitts, especially for all those outdoor activities. Winter temperatures can drop into the 20’s, so be sure to bundle up outside again. Winters also have a tendency to be windy, so facemasks are commonly used.
Spring: Springs in Beijing are often a time for sandstorms to blow in from the Gobi desert. This can make air quality even poorer than usual, as well as affect vision. Temperatures are generally in the 50’s and 60’s. And similar to fall, this season is also fairly short.
Electrical Converter Information:
Beijing is best equipped for 220V. Be sure to bring an adapter for chargers and an electrical converter for some appliances.
As with traveling to any foreign country, visitors can expect the local people to have their own customs and practices, and Beijing in certainly no exception. Certain practices that we may find to be rude in the United States are normal and part of everyday life in Beijing.
Within the city, the Beijing subway and bus system are capable of taking you to your favorite attractions. For local destinations, most people will use bicycles or hire a rickshaw driver. If you are looking to travel from Beijing, trains are a popular mode of transportation. Or if time is of the essence, then several airlines have short flights to other cities in China such as Shanghai.
It’s important to keep in mind that Beijing is a big and crowded city. Because of this there are always precautions to take that reduce the risk of loss and theft. Scan all major documents and email them to yourself before leaving, so even if your bag goes missing you still have copies. Be sure to keep a list of your emergency contacts with you at all times and always send your itinerary to a friend. Both men and women should avoid carrying valuables in their pockets, especially in their back pockets. Women should consider wearing an over-the-shoulder purse with a zipper; we carry a great brand of these bags called PacSafe, which greatly helps in reducing the risk of theft.
Paperwork Needed for the Trip:
To travel outside of the U.S., you will need a valid Passport with sufficient blank pages.Visitors may be required to obtain a visa depending on the length of stay. Before traveling we recommend that you consult your local consulate of the country you are visiting to ensure you obtain the proper paperwork and identification.
Air Travel Information:
Beijing is serviced by two major airports: Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK) and Beijing Nanyuan Airport (NAY). Both airports have ample public transportation and taxi services to carry you to and from your destination. Nearly all major airlines fly to these airports such as: Air China, Korean Airlines, Cathway Pacific, United, Delta, American Airlines, and more.
When you get back to the U.S. your friends are going to want to of course hear all your tales from China. So be sure to show them a picture of you posing on the Great Wall, how fuzzy the Giant Pandas were, and of course mention the killer food you ate while you were there.
Best Luggage to Use:
Must Have Travel Accessories:
As with any city, it is best to carry your money and credit cards in your front pocket. To accommodate this, try using a small money clip to keep in your pants pocket. Also, these garment bags maybe useful if you plan to bring a suit or dress for a night on the town check out our garment bags. We also recommend looking at our packing accessories.