10 Must See Things in Beijing

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Joel Fulleda

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

Author and references

Beijing is the capital of the People's Republic of China. Second most populated city of China after Shanghai, is located in the north, in the plains of northern China.
Extending over an area of ​​17.000 square km, surrounded by hills and mountains, crossed by streams, evergreen trees and futuristic skyscrapers, Beijing represents one of the largest and most versatile political and cultural centers in the world. Rich in history and colors it is one of the most popular tourist destinations today.


  1. Forbidden City
  2. great Wall
  3. Summer Palace
  4. Hutong
  5. Tian'anmen Square and Mao's portrait
  6. The Sacred Way of the Ming Tombs
  7. The Bell Tower and the Drum Tower
  8. Temple of Heaven
  9. Houhai Lake
  10. Lama Temple
  11. BONUS - National Museum of China
  12. User questions and comments

1 - Forbidden City

Located in the heart of Beijing and nestled between the Imperial Gardens and Prospect Hill (an artificial hill that offers a breathtaking view of the same), the Forbidden City represents one of the best preserved imperial palaces in China. This complex of palaces, courtyards and buildings, built and positioned according to a precise scheme, and each with its own meaning, covers about 150.000 square meters and represents the maximum expression of Chinese folk architecture.

Inhabited for almost five hundred years exclusively by the emperors and their families: Ming dynasty (1368-1644), Qing dynasty (1644-1911), the Forbidden City was opened to the public only in 1949.

  • Line 1 of the subway, getting off at Tian An Men Xi or Tian Men Dong stop; or with tourist buses 1 or 5, getting off at the Qian Men stop.
  • 8:30 - 17:00 (high season), tickets available until 16:00; 8:30 am - 16:30 pm (low season), tickets available until 15:00 pm.
  • 60 yuan per person (€ 7,80)

2 - Great Wall

Considered one of the most important symbols of Chinese folk tradition and one of the seven wonders of the world, the Great Wall of China, included among the UNESCO World Heritage Sites, was built in just ten years by General Meng Tien in 221 BC. C. as a strategic line of defense. It stretches for thousands of kilometers, surrounded by the green of the jungle: from the mountains of Korea to the Gobi desert.
Known to Westerners only at the end of the th century, thanks to the descriptions of the first travelers, the Great Wall is a must-see on a trip to Beijing

  • subway line 13, from Dongzhimen station to Wanjing West Station. From this last, subway line 15 to Houshayu station. Finally, taxi to the Great Wall (journey time approximately 44 minutes).
  • Visits and treks are organized in the Mutianyu Chinese Wall, particularly recommended in spring and autumn. Opening scheduled from 6:30 am to 17:30 pm (high season), 7:30 am to 16:30 pm (low season).
  • 45 yuan per person (€ 5,83)

3 - Summer Palace

Located about fifteen kilometers northwest of Beijing, the Summer Palace was built in 1750, during the Qing Dynasty, as the summer residence of the emperors. Legends narrate that the widowed empress Cixi made it her home for many years, giving rise to excesses and irregularities.

In 1998 it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. His garden, which covers an area of ​​about 290 hectares, is one of the maximum expression of the ancient Chinese landscape art and is considered today one of the best preserved in all of China.

  • Metro line 4, stops: Beiyuan or Xiyuan
  • Park opening: 7:00 - 19:00; halls: 8: 00-17: 00.
  • High season 30 yuan (€ 3,89) park; 60 yuan (€ 7,78) combined ticket (park and pavilions). Low season 20 yuan (€ 2,59) park, 50 yuan (€ 6,48) combined ticket (park and pavilions).

4 - Hutong

The Hutongs are the typical narrow streets in the oldest districts of Beijing. Intersection of avenues and alleys, the Hutongs are still dotted with traditional Siheyuan court houses: classic Chinese houses, characterized by a gray tile roof.

Today theater of markets and shops, these alleys, whose width varies from 40 cm to 10 m, represent one of the most visited attractions in the city.
Walking in these alleys means take a dip in the most intact and intact Pekingese popular culture. In this regard, the municipal government has in fact activated an urban protection plan for these neighborhoods.

  • Metro line 4, stops: Beiyuan or Xiyuan

5 - Tian'anmen Square and Mao's portrait

Spread over an area of ​​440.000 square meters, Tian'anmen Square is the real thing beating heart of Beijing. Named after the Tiananmen, that is the door that separates it from the Forbidden City, this square is very famous for the proclamation of the People's Republic of China by Mao-Tse-Tung, which took place in 1949, and for the protest at the hands of workers and students. against the Chinese government, between May and June 1989.
On 12 February 1949, the date of proclamation of the Republic, a portrait of Mao was placed on the gateway to the Forbidden City.

  • Red metro line 1, Tian'anmen East or Tian'anmen West stops
  • Always open
  • Free.

6 - The Sacred Way of the Ming Tombs

About 55 km long, northwest of Beijing, this avenue came traveled by the funeral procession on the occasion of the death of the emperors. The route ends in imperial cemetery, flanked on three sides by mountains, which houses thirteen mausoleums: one for each emperor of the Ming dynasty buried there, along with empresses, concubines, princes and princesses.
Inside the cemetery there are 36 sculptures in white Beijing marble, carved in 1435: 24 animals and 12 human figures, according to the ancient tradition of erecting a sculpture in front of the entrance to the imperial tombs, which began under the Qing dynasty. The purpose of each statue was to protect the eternal sleep of the emperors.

  • Subway line 5 to Tiantongyun North terminus, bus 643 to Changping, bus 314 to Changling, to the boulevard of spirits.
  • Open every day, from 9:00 to 21:00.
  • 35 yuan per person (€ 4,55).

7 - The Bell Tower and the Drum Tower

Facing each other, in one of the historic hutongs, the Bell and Drum Towers represent two of the most important symbols of Beijing. They were erected during the Ming dynasty and in ancient times they came used to mark time, thanks to the twenty-five drums contained in the Torre del Tamburo and the bronze bell in the other. The dawn was in fact announced by the bell, the sunset from the drum. After the Forbidden City was abandoned, the towers were no longer used to mark time, however the drums still play for fifteen minutes today, four times a day. The bell, on the other hand, has been silent since 1924.
The towers are accessible to the public, it is indeed possible climb to the top to both, by means of steep stairways with irregular steps.

  • Line 2 or 8 of the subway, Gulou station stop.
  • Open every day, from 9:00 to 17:00.
  • 3 yuan adult (€ 0,90), 15 yuan (€ 1,95).

8 - Temple of Heaven

Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1998, the Taoist Temple of Heaven (also called the Heavenly Temple), located in the southern part of Beijing, in the Xuanwu district, was inaugurated in 1420 and was used by the emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties as a place to pay homage to deities through rituals and sacrifices.

Consisting of three main buildings, each representing a different philosophical aspect: the Earthly Mountain, the House of the Divine Lord and the Hall of Prayer for a Good Harvest, represents the largest temple in Beijing. It was renovated in the period between 2005 and 2006, on the occasion of the Olympic Games, which were held in Beijing in 2008.

  • Metro line 5, Tiantan Dongmen stop.
  • Open every day, from 8:00 to 18:00.
  • High season: 15 - 35 yuan (€ 1,00 - 4,00); Low season: 10-30 yuan (€ 2,00 - 5,00).

9 - Houhai Lake

Perfect for a boat trip or simply for a stroll at sunset, Lake Houhai is a body of water immersed in a green oasis in the great metropolis of Beijing. Located behind Beihai, the largest park in the city, is one of the three components of Shichahai: a tourist area that in addition to Houhai also includes Xihai and Qianhai lakes. Relaxing and wonderful, the lake becomes in the evening one of the most popular and lively attractions, for the many restaurants, souvenir shops and for the many clubs with live music that arise on its banks.

  • Metro line 4, Ping'anli stop.
  • Free

10 - Lama Temple

Considered one of the most important places of worship in Beijing, the Lama Temple was built in 1744 and for a very long time it was a monastery of Lama monks.
Spiritual home today of a group of Mongolian monks, this temple is characteristic for the intense scent of incense, due to the many sticks left by the faithful in the special diffusers, and for the golden color that stands out on the roofs of the complex of buildings that make up the monastery.
One of the central buildings houses the most important treasure of the temple: a statue of Maitreya, the future Buddha. Eighteen meters high, this statue was carved starting from a single piece of sandalwood.

  • Metro lines 2 and 5, YongheGong stop.
  • Open every day, from 9:00 to 16:00.
  • 25 yuan per person (€ 3,25).

BONUS - National Museum of China

Considered the temple of Chinese history and culture, the National Museum of China is one of the largest in the world. Imposing and majestic, thanks to the many rooms and collections inside, it tells about five thousand years of history: from exhibitions of ancient and precious artifacts dating back to the Neolithic period to contemporary art exhibitions. Dotted with portraits of Buddha and Mao, this museum is a synthesis of history and politics, concerning the various dynasties that have followed one another.
Some of the most curious attractions present inside are: the incisors of a homo Erectus, the "Man of Yuanmou", a ceremonial jade burial dress, dating back to the Han Dynasty, and an ancient bronze vase, called Simuwu Ding.

  • Metro line 1, Tian An Men Xi or Tian An Men Don stops
  • 9:00 - 16:30. Closed on Mondays.
  • Free, upon presentation of your passport.

Plan your stay in Beijing: info on flights, hotels and tours

Before leaving it is advisable take out an insurance policy, such as World Nomads, which covers traffic accidents, petty crime, etc. For move around the city Metro is recommended. The cost of the ticket is approximately 2 rmb (€ 0.2). From the airport it is advisable to take the Airport express train, a metro service from terminals T2 and T3. Cost 25 rmb (€ 0,25).
The recommended neighborhood to stay is Wangfujing Dajie, central and close to Tian'anmen Square and the Forbidden City

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