ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Beijing on film: top sights of the city

Updated on February 3, 2016

1. The Forbidden City

At the centre of Beijing lies the most complete histor­ical site in China. This remarkable complex, spreading out over a full square kilometre, is a must-see for any visitor. To avoid the crowds get here early in the day, and avoid weekends and public holidays.

The Forbidden City was the heart of the Chinese empire for nearly five hundred years. Within its thick red walls a succession of emperors ruled, served by thousands of officials, eunuchs, and concubines. The emperor was known as the Son of Heav­en, a divinely appointed in­ter­me­di­ary between the earth and heaven, responsible for the peace and prosperity of his empire.

Rare aerial footage of the Forbidden City


Though currently the only entrance point is the south gate, to really appreciate the wonder of the Forbidden City, take in the view from the artificial hill to the north in Jingshang Park. After exiting the palace from the north gate, cross the road and enter the park directly opposite.

View of the Forbidden City from Jingshan Park

2. The Great Wall of China, Jian Kou section

The Jiankou section of the Great Wall

The legacy of the Wall

The Great Wall is the single greatest tourist attraction in China, and one of the greatest in all the world. It has excited fascination and wonder among Westerners ever since tales of its immensity and scale began trickling back to Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries. Its popularity as a tourist attraction among Chinese is a more recent phenomenon, one given a considerable boost by Mao’s comment to the effect, “If you haven’t been to the Great Wall, you’re not a real Chinese.” An unattributed, but similar, aphorism directed at Westerners says, “If you haven’t been to the Great Wall, you haven’t been to China”.

"This is a great wall and it had to be built by a great people" - US President Richard Nixon, 1972

The Jiankou section

The most accessible section of the Wall - and consequently the most crowded - is at Badaling, 60km northwest of Beijing.

However, the Jiankou section of the Great Wall, about 90km northwest of Beijing, is one of the most picturesque places to take in the marvel. Built in 1368 during the Ming Dynasty, much is unrenovated.

The video below shows the fun but risky possibility of camping out on the wall.

3. The 798 Art District

Taking its name, or rather number, from the German-built arms-­factory-turned-gallery that serves as its symbolic heart, the 798 Art District is a thriving community of contemporary artists, shops, studios and galleries great and small.

Musician Su Yang performs at the 798 Art District

Some contemporary Chinese artists


4. Nanluoguxiang

Beijing has its fair share of plazas and soul-less shopping malls. For a better option, why not head to some smaller boutique shops at the hutong area of Nanluoguxiang. It's one of the best shopping streets in town for quirky Chinese contemporary and retro gifts and clothes. Many of its shops are barely bigger than a large cupboard.

Beijing's trendiest shopping spot: Nanluoguxiang

How to find Nanluoguxiang

Retro designs at Plastered Tshirts

5. The Lama Temple

The Lama Temple is one of the Beijing's most beautiful and interesting temples.

At first glance, you might think it odd that a Tibetan Buddhist ­temple enjoys such prominence in the ­capital, given Beijing’s high-profile squabbles with the Tibetan government-in-exile. But China’s relationship with Tibet and its religion goes back further than the contemporary clashes. The presence of a Lamaist temple has been part of a centuries-long policy of pacifying the fractious “Land of the Snows”, as well as other Lamaist states, such as Mongolia, and several emperors – notably Qianlong – were followers of Tibetan Buddhism.

The halls to the left and right of the central courtyard contain, among other items, statues of Yab-Yum, a male and female divinity whose intimate sexual connection symbolises the cosmic unity of all opposites. This courtyard is bounded by the Hall of the Wheel of Dharma, in the middle of which is a 6-metre (20ft) high statue of Tsongkhapa. Behind this statue is the monastery’s treasure: a miniature mountain of sandal­wood, with 500 Luohan figures of gold, silver, ­copper, iron and tin.

The temple buildings

Buddhism in China

Merchants and monks came to China in the first century AD via the Silk Road bringing with them Buddhism. Though the prospect of life after death and the theory of karma were attractive to Chinese, there were still stark contradictions between this new religion and the teachings of Confucius.

The Chinese have long had a flexible approach to religion, however, reflected in the long-running practice of blending aspects of Daoism, Buddhism, Confucianism and even Christianity.

Today, Buddhism is China's most popular religion with an estimated 100 million practitioners. Some social observers say this is a reaction to China's growing material wealth and that the aestheticism of the teachings of Buddha is considered fashionable among some middle-class circles.

Exploring Buddhist culture in Beijing

Beijing roast duck

Of course, the culinary highlight of a trip to Beijing is sampling the legendary roast duck. The two most famous restaurants for this dish are Quan Ju De and Bian Yi Fang.

Bianyifang has been serving up its own slow-oven-roasted style duck since 1855, although the Bianyifang name goes all the way back to 1416, and is considered the originator of Peking duck. It was also the first restaurant in Beijing to offer take away – early telephone owners could phone for a home delivery service by bicycle.

Beijing roast duck at Bian Yi Fang


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)