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The best attractions & experiences in Beijing

When it comes to ticking things off your bucket-list, you don’t have to look far in Beijing. Made up of all things quintessentially Chinese, this is a city that will beguile, that’s for sure. 

Lying just north of the mega metropolis’ urban sprawl, is China’s main event. Yep, we’re talking Great Wall of China people. An attraction worthy of the hype, this sinuous construction, that dates back around 2,700 years, is one that will be ingrained in your memory forever. And you might want to turn your notifications off, because Instagram may not be able to cope with this one. The likes will be flooding in. 

Back in Beijing’s bustling centre, crimson lanterns sway beside neon lights, street-sellers’ shouts combine to make a glorious din and a smattering of trendy bars and hole-in-the-wall eateries mark the city’s historical hutongs – the remaining narrow alleyways that make up the capital’s traditional, labyrinth-like corners. Alive and sizzling with rich culture, these streets are best explored on two wheels, so grab a bike and get pedalling. 

Then there’s the Forbidden City – one of the most important imperial site’s in the world – which housed Emperors for nigh on 500 years and today stands as a living museum of countless colourful temples and shrines. Made up of just short of 1000 buildings, you’ll certainly have enough to keep you occupied for a few hours here, but when you’ve had your fill of Ming Dynasty history, head out of its southern entrance to make sure that you don’t miss Tiananmen Square. One of the largest public squares in the world, and China’s most political, this vast expanse of concrete signifies the country’s communist heart. 

Other icons likely to make it to the ‘gram are the Temple of Heaven and Summer Palace. With the former a firm favourite for prayer amongst the emperors of the Ming and Qing Dynasties and the latter the perfect spot to escape to from the imperial court – the Forbidden City tends to cook under the hot summer sun – you’ll get a chance to brush up on your ancient history, as well as getting the perfect shot, at these two sites. 

And let’s not forget the ex-industrial area that now homes one of the hottest hangouts in Beijing. 798 Arts District is where it’s happening. Think trendy galleries and museums, bohemian cafes and bars and some of the city’s most sought-after restaurants, all seamlessly knitted with the urban cool of derelict Mao-era factories. It may be much of a mecca for modern Chinese art-lovers, but even if you’re not into art, the punk-like atmosphere of this hip part of town is one not to miss – hello, industrial chic.

Love your food? Add our ‘Foodie’ experience pack onto your trip and you’ll get an Evening Hutong Food Tour – that’s a tour of the best local eateries that Beijing’s narrow streets have to offer – included as part of your package. What are you waiting for? Head over to our itinerary builder now to get planning.

Experiences and attractions in Beijing

Great Wall of China

With a history dating back nearly 2,700 years and still standing today at a staggering 21,196 km long, the Great Wall of China really is one of the world’s most mind-boggling attractions. Originally built to keep invaders out, ironically now it’s continually repaired in order to draw visitors in.

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Forbidden City

Dating back nearly 600 years, this walled city-within-a-city is one of the most important imperial palaces in China. Housing a whole host of Emperors from both the Ming and Qing dynasties and standing as everything that the founder of modern China, Chairman Mao, was against, the Forbidden City is the ultimate symbol of traditional power.

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Summer Palace

Pretty as a picture and a mandatory stop during any visit to Beijing, the Summer Palace – where emperors once came to play – is a serene spot, perfectly showcasing all things quintessentially Chinese. Think intricately designed ancient architecture backdropped by the lush verdure of picturesque gardens, all looking out over a charming lake.

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Temple of Heaven

Strikingly beautiful and drenched in rich imperial history, the Temple of Heaven is an integral legacy of traditional China. Built during the Ming Dynasty in 1420, the same year as the Forbidden City, you can expect plenty of old-school Chinese architecture sat within the tranquil grounds of its very own 267-hectare park.

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Tiananmen Square

Not just another square, Tiananmen is up there as one of the world’s largest and also one of its most political. Dating back nearly 500 years, today this square is utilised to showcase the grand scale of the communist party. Overlooked by a Mona Lisa like portrait of the late founder of modern China, Chairman Mao himself, this is a concrete expanse with one hell of an atmosphere.

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