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Top Things to do in Beijing

written by Webjet Australia April 9, 2018
Beijing China

Thinking of visiting Beijing? There’s so much to see and do across the Chinese capital, whether you happen to be interested in its rich heritage or are looking to experience what makes modern China so unique. From great museums and historic buildings through to sumptuous food, there are so many ways to enjoy this fantastic city!

Tour the Forbidden City

The home of China’s emperors from the 15th to the 20th century, the World Heritage listed Forbidden City complex offers a fascinating insight into the way in which the country’s ruling families once lived. Spread across an impressive 72 hectares and 980 different buildings, the sprawling complex, also known as the Palace Museum, houses an intriguing collection of cultural and historical items, including ceramics, painting and some of the personal belongings of the royal dynasties who called the Forbidden City home. You are free to set out on a self guided tour through the grounds or you can join one of the many guided tours that operate daily.

Forbidden City, Beijing, China

Forbidden City, Beijing, China. Image Credit: danmairen / CC by SA 3.0.

Stop by the Temple of Heaven

Comprised of ornate religious structures built at around the same time as the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven complex is an interesting historic site that was once primarily used as a place for the imperial emperor to pray for good harvests. Situated within 2.73 k㎡ of parkland, the complex was World Heritage listed in 1998, helping to preserve the three main building groups and the surrounding parkland. A great place to familiarise yourself with China’s spiritual and imperial heritage, the Temple of Heaven parklands are now a popular spot for locals to head out for a run, ride a bike or enjoy a tai chi session.

Temple of Heaven, Beijing, China

Temple of Heaven, Beijing, China. Image Credit: Fong Chen / CC by SA 2.0.

Explore the 798 Art Zone

Set in the Dashanzi area of Beijing, the 798 Art Zone is both the largest and most influential art district in China. Comprised of a collection of contemporary art galleries, artist studios, cafes, restaurants and bars, the district is housed within decommissioned Bauhaus-style government factories that were constructed during the 1950s and repurposed following the turn of the century. Hosting a variety of exhibitions by international and Chinese artists, the 798 Art Zone is the place to head to get in touch with Beijing’s thriving modern art scene, to discover new and upcoming art practitioners, and to get your own creative juices flowing.

798 Art Zone, Beijing, China

798 Art Zone, Beijing, China. Image Credit: Leeluv / CC by SA 2.0.

Pay a visit to the National Museum of China

One of the largest museums in the world, the National Museum of China was founded with the aim to educate visitors about the history and traditional arts of China. Situated to the east of Tiananmen Square, the museum, which came into existence following the merging of the China History Museum and the National Museum of Chinese History in 2003, welcomes more than seven million visitors annually. The museum’s collection is comprehensive and spans the country’s history from as far back as 1.7 million years ago through to the modern day, with more than one million artefacts currently held within its walls.

National Museum of China, Beijing, China

National Museum of China, Beijing, China. Image Credit: Tagosaku / CC by ND 2.0.

Sample sumptuous local delicacies

Best known for its bold flavours and abundance of garlic, chilli and other fragrant ingredients, Beijing’s food scene is one that certainly should not be missed. From its family run restaurants through to its cheap street eats, there’s something on offer to match almost every taste. Be sure to try the crispy skin and juicy meat of the iconic Beijing roast duck (also known as Peking duck), sample the classic Beijing hot pot (a bubbling pot of soup that you add meat and vegetable to) and enjoy more than your fair share of authentic, handmade dumplings.

Street food stall, Beijing, China

Street food stall, Beijing, China. Image Credit: A_Peach / CC by 2.0.

Enjoy a live performance of Beijing Opera

Said to be one of the country’s true cultural treasures, Beijing opera combines music, dance, singing and martial arts into one unique artform. Featuring elaborate, colour-rich costumes and typically sparse sets, the talents of the performers take centre stage as they share stories based on Chinese history and folklore. A number of opera playhouses operate throughout the city, with Huguang Guild Hall, Mei Lanfang Grand Theatre and Zeng Yici Opera Theatre among the most popular venues to catch an unforgettable performance.

Beijing Opera, Beijing, China

Beijing Opera, Beijing, China. Image Credit: Tom Thai / CC by 2.0.

Take a stroll through the grounds of the Summer Palace

The largest and best preserved imperial garden in China, the Summer Palace offers a tranquil escape just minutes from bustling downtown Beijing. Once the playground of China’s imperial family, the natural-styled park is now open to the public, with scenic lakes, ornate buildings, traditional gardens and walking paths scattered throughout. Although some buildings remain out of bounds while restoration efforts continue, there’s so much to see and do across the World Heritage listed park that you could easily spend a day exploring.

Summer Palace, Beijing, China

Summer Palace, Beijing, China. Image Credit: A_Peach / CC by 2.0.

Ready to see the sights of Beijing? Secure your place on a unforgettable China tour from Webjet Exclusives today!