A trip to China is a great opportunity to get acquainted with the traditions of the East and to see exotic architectural monuments. Beijing has many unique places, ancient temples, luxurious palaces, museums with rare exhibits and relics. The sights of Beijing most fully reveal the Asian culture in all its diversity. If you have come here and do not know what to see in Beijing, we have prepared this review of interesting places in the Chinese capital especially for you.
In this city of contrasts, you can see how ancient temples stand next to modern office centers, and Chinese people still walk the streets in traditional attire. Excursions in Beijing come in all shapes and sizes: full-day or couple of hours, sightseeing and theme tours, etc. - Just choose the option that suits you.
A beautiful legend tells of the construction of the Forbidden City, according to which there are 9999 and a half rooms (in reality 8707) in the world’s largest palace complex. The Forbidden City crowns the attractions of Beijing, as it is a religious structure. Popular places of the palace complex:
The Forbidden City is now home to the Gugong Museum, which, according to its first inventory, housed more than a million pieces of unique artifacts. It is impossible to see all the attractions of Beijing in the Forbidden City in one visit. The complex has many interesting places and museum exhibits that reveal the cultural traditions and history of the Chinese people.
Official website: http://en.dpm.org.cn/
80 km northwest of Beijing is the most visited section of the Great Wall of China, Badaling. It was erected during the Ming Dynasty, and during the Qing Dynasty it served as a gateway to the Chinese capital. Even closer to Beijing (50 km) there is another section of the Chinese Wall - Jiuyunguan. The natural attractions of Beijing await tourists:
The Great Wall of China, the total length of which exceeds 8,000 km, consists of separate sections, which were completed during different reigns. Each section is unique in its own way, with steep climbs and unexpected descents, so the view is constantly changing. When sightseeing China’s best sights, you can’t miss this place!
Before the Forbidden City, the rulers of the Liao Dynasty built a lavish palace near Lake Taye Hu. Later, the emperors of the Qing and Yuan dynasties contributed to the architecture as well. They erected a bulk artificial island, palaces and pavilions. What to see in Beijing in the North Sea Park:
It is worth a visit to the White Dagoba, located on the Jade Flower Island. The pagoda is different from traditional buildings and is a masterpiece of Buddhist art. Beihai Park has the Hall of the Pearl of Wisdom, the Terem for Reading Classics, the Long Corridor, the Haopujiang Garden, the Garden of Heart Peace, and the Setan of the Nine Dragons. Beijing’s sights are varied and unique, and Beihai Park has many of them.
Tiananmen Square, the largest square in the world, occupies 400,000 square meters in Beijing. Solemn national parades are held here, because the square can simultaneously accommodate up to a million people. Gate of Heavenly Tranquility conceals many interesting things. The national flag is raised here in the early morning and lowered in the evening.
On the west side is the House of People’s Assemblies, where the Chinese parliament meets. On the east side of Tiananmen is the National Museum of China.
Attractions in Beijing include a monument to the People’s Heroes (38 m high). Tourists are sure to visit the Mao Zedong Mausoleum, which occupies 20,000 square meters. The area of Tiananmen includes the Main Solar Gate built in the 15th century. There is also the unique Archers’ Tower. The grandiose size of the square is an object of attention for tourists and travelers.
Just west of Beijing’s second ring road is China’s largest zoo. It is home to exotic animals. Ponds, streams, flowers, green lawns and lush vegetation create a fertile environment for the inhabitants of the huge zoo to live here. What is worth seeing in Beijing Nature Garden is the Great Panda Hall, Beijing Ocean Hall, Water Birds Lake, Monkey Hill and Giraffe Aviary, Bear Mountain and African Zone, and the Oceanarium with the formidable sharks.
The Beijing Zoo is home to lions, tigers, rhinos, snakes, elephants, crocodiles and pythons. The total number of animals is about 7,000. It is noteworthy that the Beijing Zoo is the only natural habitat of the giant pandas.
China’s grandiose iconic structure is the Temple of Heaven. What better place to visit in Beijing than this amazing landmark? The shrine is more than five hundred years old. The beautiful color of the roof of the temple building, made of glazed tiles, captures the attention of visitors. The grounds of the Temple of Heaven are enclosed by walls in the shape of a circle and a square. The altar, in the form of a three-stage terrace, is finished with white marble slabs.
The central slab in the Temple of Heaven amplifies the sound when prayers are recited. The structure is completed by the Tower, the Office of Music, and the Kitchen for the Celestials. In the Temple of Heaven, the number of finishing slabs is a multiple of nine, and this figure is symbolic of the Chinese people.
The iconic structure reflects the skill and talent of Chinese architects who have implemented unique geometric patterns. The structure has been used for centuries for prayers and sacrifices.
Beijing’s modern landmarks are no less unique than the ancient monuments of architecture. These include the Bird’s Nest National Stadium. The grandiose structure in the Olympic Village is an unusual construction made of intertwined metal rods.
The Naochao Stadium was built for the 2008 Summer Olympic Games. The majestic structure is “entourage” of iron and concrete. When the lights come on inside, the stadium appears in all its beauty. The “Bird’s Nest” seats more than 90,000 spectators. The famous Swiss architects Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meyron took part in the design of the facility. It is noteworthy that no matter what row the spectator is sitting in, he gets a full view of the events taking place on the field. The monumental structure is located next to a huge swimming pool, and the stadium itself is used as the largest ski resort in Beijing.
Official website: http://www.n-s.cn/enindex.aspx
What’s unusual to visit in Beijing? An astronomical observatory that was founded at a time when there were no telescopic instruments or equipment. In the mid-15th century during the Ming Dynasty, the first instruments for the observatory were created. The area of the complex is 10 thousand square meters. From the site you can see the ancient instruments - the Celestial Globe, Altazimuth, Theodolite, and Armilla.
Visitors to the observatory can view the exhibits of the exhibition halls, among which are unique maps of the starry sky, ancient Chinese calendars, astronomical instruments.
Official website: http://eng.bjp.org.cn/
In terms of the number of tourists who visit the National Museum of China each year, this attraction is considered one of the most popular. Numerous exhibits tell the history of the Chinese people and tell about their traditions and customs. What to see in Beijing at the National Museum? The Jade Prince exhibit is of considerable interest to travelers and explorers. The tomb was found in Hebei Province in the XX century. During archaeological excavations were found buried Prince Zhongshan and his wife Dou Wang. Remarkably, they wore clothes woven from tiny pieces of jade cloth connected with gold thread.
Another popular exhibit of the National Museum is the Din ritual tripod made of bronze. Its weight is 800 kg and it is about 3000 years old. In the bronze collection there is a square wine vessel. The highlight of the museum is the porcelain Chinese dishes. The exhibits are part of the country’s national heritage.
Official website: http://ru.chnmuseum.cn
The Confucius Temple was built in Beijing in the early 14th century. After numerous restorations and improvements, many elements of the ancient structure remain intact. The Confucius Temple is included in the landmarks of Beijing as the second largest temple structure in China. Unique elements of the complex:
In former times in China it was considered prestigious to get an education at the Imperial Academy. Examinations were taken by the emperor himself once every three years. Now in the Pavilion of Scholarship there is an exhibition of artifacts and sculptures.
Official website: http://www.kmgzj.com/en
It is impossible to see even a third of all the tourist sites in the Chinese capital in one visit, but if you want to make your visit as informative as possible, guides in Beijing are at your service. Hiring a tour guide saves you time and nerves, and the route can be chosen at your own discretion, choosing the most interesting for you from the proposed memorials.
An amazing structure located near Tiananmen Square is the National Center for the Performing Arts. It is part of the attractions of Beijing and has the unusual shape of a giant egg. The structure is made entirely of glass and titanium and sits in an artificial lake. The center contrasts sharply with the ancient architectural monuments and stands out spectacularly. The 212-meter-high dome contains an opera house, a theater and a concert hall, aerial corridors, a gallery, conference rooms, underwater and underground corridors, a library, a café, an exhibition hall and an underground parking lot. There is an artificial lake and green areas around the building.
The overall fantastic impression is strengthened by the transparent glass plates on the surface of the “Egg”. Performances, opera premieres, concerts, dance shows and ballet performances are held in the halls.
Official website: http://en.chncpa.org/
Fans of explosive emotions looking for something to visit in Beijing can come to the swimming complex. The structure is made in the form of a parallelepiped. Construction was timed to coincide with the Olympic Games, and now the Water Cube is used as a modern water park. Features of the cube:
The shape, lighting and execution of the swimming complex create a unique picture, especially in the evening. This amazing structure is included in the attractions of Beijing.
Official website: http://www.water-cube.com/en/
Not far from Qianhai Lake is a beautiful palace, the residence of Prince Gong. The complex is divided into two parts - luxurious residential buildings and a huge flowering garden. In scale, the Gong Palace is second only to the Imperial Palace. The park-palace ensemble includes a museum and a theater.
There are few original items, relics, and ancient exhibits preserved in Gunwangfu. To open the museum, antiques and objects were brought to the Palace. Nowadays, Gunwangfu is among the landmarks of Beijing because of its imposing size and unique architecture.
Official website: http://www.pgm.org.
The ancient Xiangshan Park was founded at the end of the 12th century and stretches 10 kilometers from the Chinese capital. Looking at it in the early morning, the park seems to be enveloped in a misty haze. Exotic vegetation fills the whole territory of the park, and with the change of seasons it is filled with bright colors - scarlet, yellow, and red leaves of numerous trees. The highest point of Xiangshan is Incense Peak, which offers a picturesque view of the surrounding area.
There are more than 280,000 trees on the park grounds. Among them are ancient plants that are over a century old. There are many Buddhist temples in the Xiangshan Park. The greatest number of visitors come to the park in the fall during the festival of red leaves falling from thousands of scampi. You can take a unique souvenir - laminated red leaves. They are kept as a memento of your visit to Xiangshan Park.
The Capital Museum of China officially opened in 1981. The structure includes five upper tiers and one underground floor. The museum exhibits rare and valuable relics. What to see in Beijing at the Capital Museum:
The exhibits at the Capital Museum are valuable historical and cultural artifacts that have been preserved since ancient times. They tell the history of China, show the construction of Beijing, its development during the reign of imperial dynasties.
Official website: http://en.capitalmuseum.org.cn/
The founding year of Hongluo Temple is 348, the time of the Jin Dynasty. The ancient structure is famous not only for its age, but also for its magnificent scenery. Next to the Honglo Temple is the Pearl Spring. Thousands of clam shells turn its water red.
In the past, there were about 300 monks who lived at Honglo Temple. Later, a teacher training school opened here. In 2017, the venerated Spring Festival was vividly celebrated on the Temple grounds.
Attractions in Beijing include more than just iconic and historic buildings. The capital has an amusement park - Happy Valley. This is a kind of analogue of Disneyland, where you can get a lot of impressions. Visitors to the park can take a ride on a merry-go-round, visit a shopping center, watch a movie in a theater.
In the Valley of Happiness tourists are waiting for the area of Ancient Greece, the Land of Ants, the Lost Mayan Civilization, the area of wild fjords. The park is designed in the best entertainment tradition. Here mind-blowing slides and merry-go-rounds are organically combined with islands of wildlife.
Beijing is a grandiose metropolis with original culture and traditions, oriental values and unusual history. China is a tourist’s paradise, and the sights of Beijing amaze with their mystery and monumentality.
While the sights of Shanghai reflect the bustling life of the modern metropolis, Beijing has a slightly different image - here the historical past is honored to a greater extent. The ancient imperial palaces, ancient Buddhist temples and other centuries-old structures, carefully preserving the fragments of the past, are evidence of that. One of China’s unique constructions is a complex of tombs, located near Beijing, at the foot of Mount Tianshan. In the valley of the tombs on an area of 40 square kilometers there are 13 luxurious mausoleums, where the rulers of the Qing and Ming dynasties are buried. Of the existing tombs only three were uncovered and examined by archaeologists, the rest were left unexplored - in 1989 a lack of funding led to a cessation of research activities. Today the mausoleums of the Emperors Zhaolin, Changlin and Dinglin are accessible to the public.
Twelve kilometers northwest of Beijing is the Iheyuan, or Garden of Serene Joy - so the name of the attraction sounds in Russian. It is the biggest preserved imperial park in Beijing, located at the foot of the mountain, surrounded by lush greenery, next to a quiet peaceful lake - the atmosphere of the park very accurately reflects its name. Dozens of large and small structures immersed in the vegetation, openwork bridges, neat pagodas and tranquil lake surface create a beautiful spectacle, once created by Chinese craftsmen. And, of course, the pearl of all this splendor is the summer palace, once intended for the rest of high-ranking persons of the Qing dynasty. The theme of immortality and longevity is used throughout the decoration of the complex - it can be seen in the symbols, ornaments and numerous details of decoration.
Official site: http://www.summerpalac
A stunningly beautiful place is the Summer Imperial Palace, surrounded by a grandiose park that houses about 3,000 different structures, the World Heritage Sites of China. One of the most significant and large-scale structures is the mid-18th century Changlan Gallery, a 0.73-kilometer-long covered walkway that connects the most important sites of the Summer Palace. The structure consists entirely of colored wood with carved elements and is divided into nearly 300 sections by crossbars. The gallery connects many elements of the complex and is itself a viewing platform with an excellent overview. Walking around the gallery, one can find several hundred pictures of cranes, which are a symbol of longevity in China, as well as picturesque painted scenes of mythological and historical scenes - there are more than 14 thousand of them altogether!
Some interesting places in Beijing are so famous and large-scale that you won’t have to look for them for long - for example, the world’s largest square, capable of accommodating up to a million people at once, is located in the heart of the city. This is Tiananmen, or Gate of Heavenly Tranquility - such a romantic name given to the square by the southern gate of the Imperial Palace. This is a true symbol of the Celestial Empire, one of the most recognizable places, which is an ancient complex with five aisles, tribunes and a large portrait of Mao Zedong - he was on this square in 1949, proclaimed the establishment of the People’s Republic. Near the Gate are two figures of stone lions, as well as 5 century-old columns topped with guards - mythical creatures on top. The entire design and decoration of Tiananmen is riddled with philosophical and religious principles, built around the notions of wisdom and justice of the emperor.
One of the key structures of Tiananmen Square is Mao Zedong’s mausoleum, which became the final resting place of the creator of the modern Chinese state. Now the embalmed remains of the legendary political leader are kept in a crystal coffin, preserving the memory for future generations. It is worth noting that Mao Zedong himself willed to cremate his body after his death, but the Party, not taking into account this wish, ordered the construction of the tomb, which was completed only a year after Mao’s death. The only decoration of the complex is a red roof in the style of a Chinese pagoda, and its main hall is the Memorial Hall, in the center of which stands a crystal coffin with the body, covered with a large flag of the Communist Party of China. There is also a 3.5-meter marble sculpture depicting Mao Zedong. The second floor of the mausoleum is a memorial hall with marble statues of other prominent Chinese political figures.
Where to go to see the city’s important shrines? One of the most interesting religious sites in Beijing is the Shishikou Cathedral, which looks quite uncharacteristic for a Japanese capital. Its Gothic architecture gives the impression of being transported straight from medieval Europe. In the past, Christians weren’t particularly well-liked here, until Jesuits managed to cure one of the emperors of the Qing dynasty of a grave illness. In gratitude for the cure, the ruler gave the Jesuits a plot of land on which the cathedral was built. The Shishikou is a unique blend of European and Chinese architectural traditions, making it one of the world’s most unusual Catholic churches. Services are held here in Chinese, and the temple is visited every Sunday by many Christians in Beijing.
Official website: http://www.drben
In the northern part of the so-called “Imperial City” is one of the largest monasteries of Tibetan Buddhism in Beijing, the Yongheggun Temple. Its history dates back to the late 17th century, when the country was ruled by Emperor Yong-Qingwang - his main motto was “harmony and justice,” which is why the palace acquired the name Yunhegung, which means “Palace of Harmony. As a court temple, Yunhegung has always had a special status, with annual memorial ceremonies for the deceased held here by the emperors themselves. From the temple to the north stretched a long gallery - the “imperial road” with the consecutive gates Zhaotaimen and Yunhemen, behind which begins the territory of the monastery itself with isolated sections and pavilions. The main attraction of the monastic complex is the large structure of Wanfuge, with its 18-meter statue of the Buddha of the Future.
The acrobatic art of China is famous all over the world - its original productions gather full houses all over the world. In Beijing this art form is presented at the Chaoyang Theater, located near China’s Central Television Tower. It was founded in 1984, and thanks to its spectacular acrobatic shows it became one of the capital’s main and most visited attractions a couple of years later. The level of training of the theatrical artists is truly virtuosic, and it is not difficult to explain, given that acrobatics has been an important part of Chinese culture for about 2 millennia. It all started back in the Tang Dynasty, when acrobats gave performances right on the streets, using plates, cups, chairs, tables, and rings as attributes - all used in acrobatic numbers today. Today, performances at Chaoyang are held twice a day in the evening.
Official website: https://www.chaoyangtheatre
One of the spectacular evening performances in Beijing can be seen at the Red Theater, located in the historic Chunwen district. Everything here is astonishing, from the elaborate acrobatic numbers to the decoration of the building itself, which is decorated with an intricate metal structure in the form of a red lattice. And, perhaps most surprising is the fact that the performances are attended not by professional stuntmen, but by the real monks of the famous Shaolin monastery! In addition to the acting itself, a number of acrobatic stunts and martial arts elements are used in the numbers. Particularly impressive is that even the most difficult numbers are performed without any safety equipment. The performances are in Chinese, but there is a parallel track in English. Foreign guests can also purchase a program, where the legend is translated into various world languages.
Official website: https://redtheatrekungfushow
The Chaoyang District is the center of China’s creative industries. All of its buildings are former factories, among which the exhibition complex mysteriously named “798” stands out. This number was inherited from the factory, which operated within these walls since the 1950s. In the 1980s, changes in the structure of the Chinese economy led to the gradual neglect of industrial areas. Since the 2000s, the area has been developed by artists, and the empty spaces have gradually been transformed into workshops, galleries and art centers. Art Zone 798 covers an area of 1 square kilometer, which you can walk around in minutes, but to explore the art objects is not enough even a day. There are antique stores, designer boutiques, and shops with vintage jewelry and accessories.
In old China, groups of houses were built one opposite the other, forming a narrow alley. Hutongs were called streets of a similar type, but only in Peking. They were considered the smallest unit of territorial division of the city. Hutongs had been home to the local population since ancient times, and it was here, more than anywhere else, that the spirit of old China was preserved. One of the surviving neighborhoods of this type is Nanluogu Hutun - shopping street, formed here 8 centuries ago. Today it is full of inexpensive eateries, souvenir shops and teeming with tourists who explore all this diversity with curiosity. But Nanluogu has not lost its atmosphere, and in addition to shop windows, you can see a real picture of the life of the locals who inhabited the Hutong for centuries on end. Housing here is rather cramped but economical, and most of the life of the inhabitants according to the ancient tradition spend in the street.
There are places in Beijing that are best visited at certain times of the year. If you’re looking for something to see in Beijing in winter, you should definitely check out Wangfujing, a famous and large shopping street that is especially busy in winter around New Year’s, when it is luxuriously decorated and the store windows are lit up with magical winter lights, creating a festive mood. There’s plenty to see and do on Wanfujing - despite its relatively short length of 0.8 km, there are over two hundred stores selling local food, books, cosmetics, souvenirs, jewelry, home appliances, and fashionable clothes - you name it. In the center of the street there’s a mobile dispensary where you can get your health checked right inside a special bus. The highlight of the shopping quarter is the Dunhuomen Market, where you can buy the most exotic food.
Beijing’s modern attractions, including the Wangjing SOHO skyscrapers erected in 2014, are surprising and astonishing in their scale. The ultra-modern high-tech business center was designed to meet the demand for office space that arose several years ago, and it has more than met this challenge, providing the business community with almost 400 thousand square meters of office space. The three skyscrapers have an unusual shape and resemble either huge boulders or smooth rocks, or giant fish. The towers are between 118 and 200 meters high and have a characteristic curvilinear shape and layered facades, which provide them with excellent ventilation and protection from the sun. A unified microclimate system smoothly changes the angle of the aluminum panels, acting on the readings of thousands of special sensors and creating an optimal level of air conditioning, heating, lighting, and water supply.
There are a myriad of skyscrapers in the capital’s metropolis, among which are true architectural masterpieces. But even compared to them, the CCTV headquarters building, which houses China’s central television station, stands out for its uncommonness. It was designed by Dutch architect Koolhaas, who created a unique 234-meter structure consisting of two inclined towers connected at the top and bottom by corner passages. The gigantic structure, forming a kind of loop, seems to hover over the city. In addition to its creative form, the Headquarters building stands out for its bright futuristic façade of glass, as if covered with a metallic mesh. Anyone can walk through the entire TV center and see with their own eyes how the entire cycle of TV program production, from filming and editing to broadcasting, takes place within these walls.
Visiting Peace Park in Beijing is like visiting different parts of the world with the most significant and famous sights, while spending no more than a couple of hours on such a “trip”. Here, on 42 hectares, are miniature copies of the world’s architectural masterpieces, most of which are made at a scale of 1:10. Each creation is carefully worked out with stunning detailing, so you almost can’t tell a copy from the original. There are reproductions of famous sculptures, nature sights and copies of world-known rides in the park. For example, you can even go for a ride on a scaled-down roller coaster. Besides fascinating walks, in the park you can have a good time and have a rest - take a walk among wonderful fountains and picturesque castles, ride a boat or a catamaran in the local pond.
There is a separate category of interesting objects - the unknown sights of Beijing, which are not so popular in the tourism environment as the key monuments-symbols of the Celestial Empire. Yuanmingyuan Park can be called one of the most beautiful places in Beijing, but the ruined state of the once luxurious structures has led the place to partial oblivion. During the Qing dynasty, the Old Summer Palace of Yuanmingyuan served as the home of the royal family, where the heirs to the throne spent their timea. The Old Summer Palace was once a thriving architectural complex that would have become a national treasure, but as a result of the international conflict that led to the attack and subsequent arson, the complex has not been preserved in its original integrity. Some of the buildings have been destroyed, the paths have become overgrown, the ponds have dried up, and the complex is currently undergoing reconstruction, which has so far affected only a few parts of it.
Official website: http://www.yuanmingyuanpark
Summer in the Chinese capital is very hot and humid - it’s not the best time to go to Beijing. What to see in summer to avoid the heat of summer? Outside of the city, the heat is much easier to bear - especially if there is a body of water nearby. The Beijing Botanical Garden at the foot of the Xiangshan Mountains amazes with its abundance of plants. Through the park runs a meandering river which is a refreshing cool in summer. Gray stone is laid out its banks, from the same cascades and rapids, from which the water with a splash falls down and soothes with its gurgling. Along the banks of lush vegetation - hundreds of thousands of bushes, flowers and trees are striking in their variety. From afar you can see the domes of a tropical greenhouse, in which hundreds of species of orchids are carefully nurtured. The bonsai garden is also noteworthy, displaying miniature dwarf trees.
Official website: http://www.beijingbg.
Northwest and west of the Imperial Palace are six artificial lakes laid out in the 13th and 14th centuries during the reign of the Yuan Dynasty. They have a traditional structure and are divided into three Fore Lakes and two Rear Lakes. And while the Front reigns on the atmosphere of political correctness, at the rear of the people having fun in the countless bars located there bars, eateries, ride on boats and catamarans. One of the Back Lakes is Lake Houhai, which has become a decoration of the palace and the city as a whole. It is one of the attractions where tourists flock to learn the history and culture of the local people. The lake’s shores captivate with their charm and serenity, and the labyrinthine streets of Beijing - the hutongs - allow you to feel the spirit of ancient times. In addition to walking and contemplation, you can visit one of the restaurants, night bars, clubs or souvenir stores. Hainan Island is a southern island of China, which is a must visit. Read about Hainan attractions and get inspired for your future journey to the Middle Kingdom.