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Visiting Beijing - Top Tourist Attractions in Beijing, China

Updated on June 18, 2013

Visit Beijing

If you are looking for somewhere interesting and different to travel to then I can recommend a trip to Beijing, China. There are frequent flights into Beijing with major airlines, making travel to Beijing easy and convenient. There are also a large number of hotels and hostels available to suit evey budget.

One thing you should take note of when visiting Beijing is that most of the everyday people that you may encounter (e.g. taxi drivers) do not speak English so it is advisable to have some things written down and to have details of your accommodation in Chinese when you are out and about so that you can get home again easily! Most hotels will be able to give you a card with the address details in Chinese that you can show to taxi drivers.

Beijing (previously known as Peking) has some great tourist attractions, a lot of which you can cover in a break of maybe 4 days or so. There are lots of standard day trips that are organised from hotels to the big places of interest.

Part of the Great Wall of China, as visited from Beijing
Part of the Great Wall of China, as visited from Beijing

The Great Wall of China

The great wall of China is one of the biggest tourist attractions in the world and can be accessed as a day trip from Beijing. There are many points of entry to the great wall and some are more touristy than others. If you take a day trip organised by a hotel then you may not get much of a choice to which point of the Great Wall you get taken to.

As the Great Wall has turned into a big tourist machine, there are various other stalls and attractions that surround it. you can even take a ride on a somewhat bizarre small rollercoaster type thing to get to it! you may see bears and camels tethered near the entrance with their owners charging money to have your photo taken with them.

Inside the Forbidden City (c) Azure11
Inside the Forbidden City (c) Azure11

The Forbidden City

A visit to the Forbidden City is a must - there is a huge amount of history here and the architecture is amazing. This place was the palace of the Emperors for almost 500 years from the Ming Dynasty onwards and now houses the Imperial Museum. Tours are very organised and you are ushered through the palace in polite queues. There are some significant antiquities housed in the museum that are really worth seeing.

The Forbidden City is located right in the centre of Beijing so is very easy to get to. 

The Summer Palace

The Summer Palace requires a short trip out of Beijing City and is set in large gardens with a huge lake. Tours can be taken in dragon type boats across the lake and the palace is a place to wander round and take in the tranquility of the area.

A Dragon Boat at the lake at the Summer Palace
A Dragon Boat at the lake at the Summer Palace

Tiananmen Square

Tiananmen Square is probably most famous for the protests that occurred there in 1989 where hundreds, possibly thousands of protesters were killed by government tanks. The square is the largest one in the world and it borders on the Forbidden City, being connected by the Forbidden Gate.

There is not really much to do here but just marvel at the size of it and perhaps reflect on all those who died in 1989.

The old streets of Beijing can be good photo opportunities and the chance to look into real life for everyday Chinese.
The old streets of Beijing can be good photo opportunities and the chance to look into real life for everyday Chinese.

Visit Old Beijing

Although a lot of the old traditional parts of Beijing are fast disappearing as they are bulldozed to make way for newer more modern homes and offices, it is still possible to see some traditional old Beijing houses and alleys (Hutongs) if you look hard enough. Take a trip round on foot or venture onto the public trains to take you to different parts of the city.

The Temple of Heaven, Beijing
The Temple of Heaven, Beijing

The Temple of Heaven

The Temple of Heaven is another of Beijing's great tourist attractions. It was built in the 15th Century and was used as a place of prayer for the Emperors. 

The area around the temple has a large park which is popular with local Chinese who often exercise there in the mornings.

Other Popular Beijing Attractions

There are other attractions to see and experience in Beijing. One thing that is almost essential is to have the local dish of Peking Duck. There are plenty of restaurants who serve this but even if you don't get to try that you should go to any of the local Chinese restaurants and you will be treated to fantastic food at great prices. You should also check out the local beer!

Another trip that is frequently done in Beijing is to one of the silk factories. Here you will see the process of spinning the silk and making various things from it including silk hand cream and silk duvets.

Also look out for old men who sit around in the parks perhaps playing cards with their friends or tending to their caged birds. Or the many people who practice various forms of martial arts in parks around the city.

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    • beijing driver profile image

      Xin Ping 

      6 years ago from Beijing, China

      The most attractions in Beijing are : Tiananmen Square , Forbidden City , Summer Palace , Temple of Heaven , The Greta Wall of China, Ming Tombs , Lama Temple , Houhai Hutong , 798 art factory .

    • teacherinchina profile image

      teacherinchina 

      6 years ago from China

      Thanks for the intro. Next time I go to Beijing, I will check it out. So far Beijing has been underwhelming.

    • Azure11 profile imageAUTHOR

      Marian L 

      7 years ago from UK

      Yes I think you are right VL - I did quite a bit of walking about and that is how I chanced upon the locals doing their tai chi and the old men with their caged birds.

    • VirginiaLynne profile image

      Virginia Kearney 

      7 years ago from United States

      These are all great places to see in Beijing. I've visited there three times and enjoyed each trip. I think that perhaps my favorite thing to do in Beijing is just walk around the middle of the city and look at the shops and people. That is a great way to find some unusual and more out-of-the way sights. For example, we found an outdoor exhibit which showed one of the original city walls. That was amazing to see something so old.

    • profile image

      onetourchina 

      7 years ago

      If you have any questions about how to reach the destination in China from main city by train, you can email me at any time.

    • SJKSJK profile image

      SJKSJK 

      7 years ago from delray beach, florida

      Another place to add to my list of where I want to see!

    • Azure11 profile imageAUTHOR

      Marian L 

      7 years ago from UK

      thanks onetourchina, I would also like to venture further from Beijing so your suggestions sound good.

    • onetourchina profile image

      onetourchina 

      7 years ago from Beijing, CN

      Yes, Beijing is an amazing history and culture city, from where you can take the newly developed speedy train to coastal cities like Tianjin and Qingdao, express overnight sleeper train to capital city in old times like Xi'an and Luoyang, besides inter flights landed and fly out everyday frequently and easily. Worthy to see it.

    • Azure11 profile imageAUTHOR

      Marian L 

      7 years ago from UK

      Thanks Cogerson, yes I reckon should definitely be on most people's bucket list!

      @jennybus yes you an indeed find McDonalds everywhere but the Chinese restaurants are amazing so hopefully you could give those a try!

    • jennysbus profile image

      Jenny 

      7 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      I would love to do the touristy stuff. these days Mcdonalds are everyone. so you don't have to worry about the cultural difference as I live with someone who is a fussy eater.

    • Cogerson profile image

      UltimateMovieRankings 

      7 years ago from Virginia

      This is a bucket list item for me(going to China).....I almost went many years ago but it fell through at the last minute....great photos and great information on the places everybody should see when in China....voted up

    • Azure11 profile imageAUTHOR

      Marian L 

      7 years ago from UK

      Thanks Pamela, I can definitely recommend a visit - it is so different to the usual tourist places to go and some really amazing history.

    • Pamela N Red profile image

      Pamela N Red 

      7 years ago from Oklahoma

      Great article. I'd love to visits someday.

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