Your trip to China is not truly over without visiting this wonderful city – eclipsed only by the greatness of Shanghai, Beijing is the third most famous city in the world with the population of roughly 21 million inhabitants.
The history of Beijing paves its way back to three millennia and it has been a cultural and economic center of China for several years. This never stopping city is a true wonder to visit and offers a large number of attractions both old and new – in other words, no matter what kind of tourist you are, you are likely to find your answers to travel quest here! (Seriously, it is not an issue if you’re more into spa break or more sensitive to the moment of athletic dexterity hiking the mountains, Beijing is your next tourism stop).
From this generation’s sky touching skyscrapers to the historical religious temples and the absolutely incredible great wall (undoubtedly one of the biggest attractions in all of China), Beijing has got something for everyone and it ensures to leave a lasting impression.
With that being said, we have compiled a list of 9 places you have to visit on your next trip to Beijing. Let’s dive right into the first name on the list:
The Forbidden City
Beijing is actually built around the Forbidden City/Imperial Palace and this structure lies at the heart of the city. Going back to the 13th century, this palace is absolutely incredible and is a wonderful spectacle.
Differentiated from the city by a large moat, and circled within 10m high walls, when entering the palace, it feels as if you are walking into another dimension. Top attractions of this significant complex are the Golden River bridges, the Hall of Military Courage and the hall of Supreme Harmony.
This wonderful public space was built to hold a million audience and you can really feel the scale of Tiananmen when you walk past its boundaries. Situated next to the Forbidden City, this is the second highlight of Beijing. Many important political events have been held here and in the center of the square is a 38m high marble stone pillar. Other scenarios within the square include the awesome Tiananmen gate and the Museum of the Chinese Revolution.
Being among the oldest public gardens in the city, Beihai Park offers a pause from the hustle and bustle of Beijing and is a wonderful destination to explore. Get on the top of the central Hall of Enlightenment for amazing views across to the Forbidden City, or adore the beauty of the 13th century Round Fort and the beauty of the 17th century White Pagoda on the Island of Exquisite Jade.
The Temple of Heaven
This amazing complex was built back in the 15th century and features a range of amazing temples and shrines. The top attraction is the central temple that is absolutely filled with color, decorations, and Asian artwork.
On top of that, you can see the dreamlike Echo Wall that amplifies even the tiniest bit of sounds and forms a series of exaggerated echoes. The encircled parkland also gives an opportunity to enjoy nature and explore at your own luxury.
The Lama Temple
Also popular as the Yonghe Temple, this monastery is one of the few preserved examples of Han Chinese and Tibetan architecture found in Beijing. Built-in 1694 during the Qing Dynasty, the temple was used as a royal court and residence. The main section of the temple is completely fantastic and the architecture is absolutely incredible– every inch of the building is covered with fancy decoration and typical Chinese dragon graffitis. Not just that, the interior features countless golden statues and shrines depicting the Buddhist religion. If you do not have enough time to see all the temples and you are settling for one, then The Lama Temple has to be on that list!
Beijing Capital Museum
For an exciting insight into the history of China’s capital, the incredible Capital Museum offers an amazing collection to admire. You could literally spend hours roaming through the various exhibits and rooms. Important artifacts include a display of traditional Chinese calligraphy, a large 40m memorial of Emperor Qian Long, popular porcelain from the Ming Dynasty, and a big array of cultural artifacts collected from around the country.
One of the most controversial one (and perhaps one you will be more eager to do if you haven’t caught a glimpse of Pandas in China yet) visit the Beijing Zoo. This is perhaps one experience you would never want to be skipped and who have a keen love for wildlife, you don’t need to think twice for them, do you?
Spread across a total land area of 220 acres, this is one of the oldest Zoos in the country and holds nearly 15,000 animals from over 1,000 various species. It would be very easy to spend a day strolling through this expansive zoo as you catch sight of the different animals. Unforgettable characters include the South China tigers, the Golden Snub-nosed monkeys, the beautiful Giant Pandas, and the quite rare Red-crowned Crane. Apart from the animals, there is also an incredible aquarium and acres of parkland and woods to explore.
Mutianyu Great Wall
Your trip to Beijing is incomplete without a tour to at least one section of the legendary Great Wall of China. The part at Mutianyu is one of the best preserved and also the least crowded so if you want to take some stunning shots of the wall without a tonne of other tourist stood next to you, then come here! (Also, when we say ‘best preserved’, just searching for some of the lesser preserved parts of the wall, on the internet will show you why this is the section of the wall you’ll definitely want to visit.) With a sum of 23 watchtowers at this part of the wall, the photographic permutations are endless, as are the hiking trails to wander through.
The Old Summer Palace
This vast complex was built in the 18th century and is situated to the northwest of the Forbidden City. Yuanmingyuan originally was the home of Qianlong Emperor and the successors of the Qing Dynasty and now it is observed as a public park. Here you can grab a look at the dazzling display of rustic Pagodas, wonderful water features, and even European style ruins. The different ruins of the palatial complex provide a sneak peek into its past, and the wonder of the gardens and park is a testament to this dynasty’s power.