Great Wall of China

Ironically, the No. 1 thing to do in China’s capital is to visit the Great Wall, which is actually located almost 2 hours outside the city. The most popular spot with tourists is the Badaling section because it’s the closest to Beijing but we recommend you go to the Mutianyu section because it offers the best view of the Wall snaking through lush valleys and there are usually fewer people there. Mutianyu is where the Chinese government always takes foreign dignitaries.

The Forbidden City

One of the great palaces in the world, this gigantic “house” will give you an insight into how China’s emperors once lived. The concubine homes at the back of the main palace show just how privileged a life they had but the grounds fill up fast each day with tourists and in the summer, with little shade to offer, the place can become a furnace so plan to be there when the gates open or save your visit until later in the day.

Tiananmen Square

This is the seat of power in China and the massive Hall of the People, the country’s parliament, and the other giant government buildings that surround the largest square in the world are very impressive. The Old city gate at the south side of the square reminds us of China’s ancient past.

Qianmen Street

Right behind Tiananmen Square you’ll find this pedestrian street that harkens back to Beijing’s earliest days. There’s lots of fine dining restaurants located here and souvenir shops and the small alleys leading off Qianmen are really fun to explore.


Visit a Hutong

There were once lots of these traditional courtyard homes in Beijing but few have survived the city’s rapid modernization. Tour companies arrange visits to the homes and the usually elderly owners will make you a cup of tea and tell you the history of their home and the area in which they stand. It’s well worth the expense.

Lama Temple

In a city filled with so much history, grand structures and traffic, the Lama Temple is a welcome respite for most visitors. It dates back to 1694 and once was the official residence of court eunuchs. It’s still used as a school for Tibetan Monks. It offers lots of shade in the hot summer months.

Beijing duck

You have to have a roast duck dinner when you visit the capital and there’s lots of restaurants that offer the delicacy. Getting an authentic Beijing duck dinner is tricky so two restaurants that we’d recommend are Quanjude or Bianyifang.
  More Info on Quanjude More Info on Bianyifang  

Silk Market

The one thing most visitors want to take home from Beijing are the designer “knockoff” products that are still sold in shopping malls known as the Silk and Pearl markets. The skill here is to negotiate with the over aggressive vendors (mostly young girls from the countryside) and never pay more than 25 per cent of their opening demand. Also, always ask for the “good fakes” because even knockoff products have ratings.


Bird’s Nest Stadium

After looking at ancient Beijing, this massive modern stadium built for the 2008 Summer Olympics and the other athletic stadiums surrounding it have become a must see when in the capital. The Olympic Park, as it’s known, has become a gathering spot for young people at night and there are lots of clubs and trendy hotels here.

Summer Palace

It’s a bit of a trek from the centre of Beijing to get to this summer cottage of the Qing Emperors but it’s filled with lots of classic Chinese architecture and lovely gardens. It’s the largest royal garden in Beijing and you’ll have to set aside 2-3 hours to see it all.