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3 Mix and Match Days in Beijing

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When my friends and family come to Beijing for the first time, these are the places I take them: a few classic attractions, a few cultural experiences, some places to shop, and some undiscovered gems. Beijing is a huge city - this guide could fill a week! So mix and match as you like to create a shorter itinerary that's perfect for you.

Good for
  • Trendsetter

17 Places

6 City Tips

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17 Places

Day 1

Qianmen (Zhengyangmen)

Neighbourhoods

Tiananmen Square (Tiananmen Guangchang)

Architectural Buildings, Historic Sites, Monuments & Statues, Points of Interest & Landmarks, Lookouts

Forbidden City-The Palace Museum

Architectural Buildings, History Museums, Speciality Museums

Jingshan Park (Jingshan Gongyuan)

Parks, Points of Interest & Landmarks, Lookouts

BeiJing Dadong Roast Duck (TuanJieHu)

Restaurants

1949 The Hidden City (Sanlitun)

Restaurants

Day 2

798 Art Zone

, Neighbourhoods, Art Galleries

Lama Temple (Yonghegong)

History Museums

Wudaoying Hutong

Historic Walking Areas

Nanluoguxiang

, Gift & Speciality Shops

Mao Mao Chong Bar & Pizza

Restaurants

Mai Bar

Bars & Clubs

Ghost Street (Gui Jie)

Points of Interest & Landmarks

Day 3

Beijing Hikers

Hiking & Camping Tours, Private Tours, Day Trips

Baoyuan Dumplings

Restaurants

Din Tai Fung - Shin Kong Place

Restaurants

Lily K's City Tips

  • Use the subway! It's clean and efficient, with English language maps, signs, and announcements. Preferable to cabs, where the driver won't know English. Just avoid rush hour.
  • Don't tip anywhere except if you're staying at an upscale hotel - then tip the bellboy.
  • Download the TripAdvisor mobile app and then download the city of Beijing onto your phone. You'll be able to access a map of the city even if your phone has no data or wifi.
  • Also on the TripAdvisor mobile app: look for the "name and address in local language" button for a helpful message to show to the driver to communicate where you'd like to go.
  • Western travelers may need to adjust their form when hailing a cab: locals extend the arm straight out with a limp wrist, moving the whole arm slowly up and down from the shoulder.
  • When hailing cabs, stand on the street corner that points the cab driver in the direction of your destination. Some cabs will refuse to pick you up if they have to turn around.
    Day 1
  • Qianmen (Zhengyangmen)
    Neighbourhoods
    See more photos
    Lily K Says:

    Get on the subway and head to Qianmen on line 2. Leaving the station, exit B or C will spit you out near the front gate ("qian men") of ancient Beijing. To the North is the Forbidden City - you'll get there in a minute. For now, head South through the archway in the restored section of the ancient city wall and stroll along Qianmen street. This is the Beijing you came to see! It has its share of modern storefronts but there are plenty of treasures to be found in the "lao zi hao," or time-honored brands.

    Good for
    • Shopping Fanatic
    Tips
    • The original location of Quanjude draws huge crowds for its Peking Duck, but there are now branches of this chain restaurant all over town. Skip the crowd and get duck elsewhere.
    • Take your first right down a side street to visit another time-honored brand, this one known for its silks: Ruifuxiang (No. 5)
    • On the same side of the street, Nei Lian Sheng Xiedian (No. 34) made cloth shoes for Chairman Mao
    • Back on the main street is an ancient Chinese cosmetics shop: Chanchuntang (No. 133).
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #60 of 1,566 things to do in Beijing
    • Nice area to visit, but not impressive 29/07/2018
    • A gate in Beijing historic city wall 24/05/2018
    • Qianmen (Zhengyangmen)
    Address:
    North of Qianmen Street
    Beijing 100050
    China
    Phone:
    +86 10 6511 8110
  • Tiananmen Square (Tiananmen Guangchang)
    Architectural Buildings, Historic Sites, Monuments & Statues, Points of Interest & Landmarks, Lookouts
    See more photos
    Lily K Says:

    Head North from Qianmen to get to the Forbidden City. On the way, you'll catch a glimpse of Tiananmen. Don't be fooled by the history: a glimpse is enough. There's not much to see here, but you have to say you came.

    Good for
    • Must See
    Tips
    • See it from afar.
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #55 of 1,566 things to do in Beijing
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Crowded 22/10/2018
    • Iconic structure 22/10/2018
    • Tiananmen Square (Tiananmen Guangchang)
    Address:
    West Changan Street, Dongcheng District
    Beijing 100006
    China
  • Forbidden City-The Palace Museum
    Architectural Buildings, History Museums, Speciality Museums
    See more photos
    Lily K Says:

    Get ready for lots of people and plenty of walking! There are two good ways to do the Forbidden City: 1. Get yourself an audio guide. See the first few main buildings and then get off the beaten path - the structures on either side are beautiful, interesting, and way less crowded. 2. If you're not super interested in walking through the Forbidden City, don't go in at all. See it from afar by skipping ahead to Jingshan park.

    Good for
    • Must See
    Tips
    • The Forbidden City is worth a visit, but huge crowds can ruin the mood - shoot for a weekday if you can. If you can't, go in the morning. They can run out of tickets on busy days.
    • The crowd control in this neighborhood make it tough to get a taxi. Luckily, taxis stop 50 meters west of the Forbidden City exit.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #5 of 1,566 things to do in Beijing
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • A must see 22/10/2018
    • Trip to Forbidden City 22/10/2018
    • Forbidden City-The Palace Museum
    Address:
    No.4 Jingshanqian Street, Dongcheng District
    Beijing 100009
    China
    Phone:
    +86 10 8500 7422
    Hours:
    Tue - Sun
    8:30 am - 4:30 pm
    Other:
  • Jingshan Park (Jingshan Gongyuan)
    Parks, Points of Interest & Landmarks, Lookouts
    See more photos
    Lily K Says:

    If the thought of skipping the Forbidden City doesn't keep you up at night, try Jingshan Park instead. If it's early enough in the day, locals may be outside dancing, playing music, or jumping rope. Make sure you get to the top of the hill, which has a birds-eye view of the Forbidden City - a much more efficient way of taking it all in if you're not picky about the details.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Again, if you're tired, find the taxi stop 50 meters west of the Forbidden City exit. The nearest subway station is a half-hour walk east (Dongsi Station).
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #11 of 1,566 things to do in Beijing
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Specific spot to get an awesome view 15/10/2018
    • Beautiful panoramic view 14/10/2018
    • Jingshan Park (Jingshan Gongyuan)
    Address:
    No.44 Jingshanxi Street, Xicheng District
    Beijing 100009
    China
    Phone:
    +86 10 6403 8098
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    6:30 am - 9:00 pm
  • BeiJing Dadong Roast Duck (TuanJieHu)
    Restaurants (Chinese, Asian)
    See more photos
    Lily K Says:

    You've done a lot today, but you need some Peking Duck to cap off the full Beijing experience. Here you have options. If you don't want to break the bank for a better ambience at 1949 The Hidden City, get yourself to the Tuanjiehu subway station area and learn what all the fuss is about.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    Tips
    • Dadong is the leaner of two rival Peking Duck chains, the fattier one being Quanjude
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #72 of 6,299 restaurants in Beijing
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Great place for roast duck 19/10/2018
    • Terrible Service 14/08/2018
    • BeiJing Dadong Roast Duck (TuanJieHu)
    Address:
    ChaoYang District DongSanHuan ChangHong Bridge
    Beijing
    China
    Phone:
    +86 10 6582 4003
    Price range:
    USD 15 - USD 20
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    11:00 am - 10:00 pm
    Other:
  • 1949 The Hidden City (Sanlitun)
    Restaurants (Chinese, Asian, International)
    See more photos
    Lily K Says:

    If you want a no-holds-barred Peking Duck meal, reserve a table ahead of time at Duck De Chine at 1949 The Hidden City. This complex is an oasis of quiet in the middle of crazy Beijing. The prices are high, but the food is great and the surroundings are super cool.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #68 of 6,299 restaurants in Beijing
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Sub par - expensive tourist rip off 11/08/2018
    • Ambiance to embrace your Peking Duck 08/07/2018
    • 1949 The Hidden City (Sanlitun)
    Address:
    Gallery 49 Courtyard 4, Gongti Beilu
    Beijing
    China
    Phone:
    +86 10 6501 8881
    Other:
  • Day 2
  • 798 Art Zone
    , Neighbourhoods, Art Galleries
    See more photos
    Lily K Says:

    Start your day by getting lost in the converted warehouses and factories of 798. The galleries can be hit or miss, so keep moving if you don't like something. Google for "798+[current year]" to stay on top of this year's hottest spots.

    Good for
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • 798 is pretty remote - plan to take a taxi there, and build in time to look for a taxi on the way back.
    • Most galleries open around 10 AM, and are closed on Mondays.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #32 of 1,566 things to do in Beijing
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Best place to walk around and see some arts and relax with nice cafe 22/10/2018
    • Unique 17/10/2018
    • 798 Art Zone
    Address:
    No.4 Jiuxianqiao Road, Chaoyang District
    Beijing 100015
    China
    Phone:
    +86 10 5978 9798
    Other:
  • Lama Temple (Yonghegong)
    History Museums
    See more photos
    Lily K Says:

    My favorite attraction in Beijing: a good mixture of less crowded + wow factor. Make sure you get all the way to the back to see the World Record-holding statue.

    Good for
    • Hidden Gems
    Tips
    • Incense is free in the temple, so unless you want an upgrade on the basic incense package, don't worry about buying incense on the street before you get there.
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #12 of 1,566 things to do in Beijing
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Nice place Zen feel 22/10/2018
    • 雍和宫 21/10/2018
    • Lama Temple (Yonghegong)
    Address:
    No.12 Yonghegong Street, Beixinqiao, Dongcheng District
    Beijing 100007
    China
    Phone:
    +86 10 6404 4499
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    9:00 am - 4:30 pm
    Other:
  • Wudaoying Hutong
    Historic Walking Areas
    See more photos
    Lily K Says:

    Off the same main intersection as the Lama Temple, on the Northwest side, is a Costa Coffee. Next to it is your destination: Wudaoying Hutong. This quickly gentrifying alleyway is still great for a stroll or a coffee. Poke your head in some shops and check out what the cool kids are doing.

    Good for
    • Trendsetter
    • Hidden Gems
    Tips
    • This is a good place to shop for souvenirs you'll keep, especially clothes and pottery.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #84 of 1,566 things to do in Beijing
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Excellent 18/10/2018
    • A stroll through the Hutong 11/10/2018
    • Wudaoying Hutong
    Address:
    Dongcheng District
    Beijing
    China
    Phone:
    +86 173 6014 1905
    Other:
  • Nanluoguxiang
    , Gift & Speciality Shops
    See more photos
    Lily K Says:

    Take the subway to the Nanluoguxiang stop and stroll north to south down this popular alleyway to do some souvenir shopping or take in the scene - it's usually a circus but an interesting circus. Excursions off the main street will be rewarded with less crowded shops and cool discoveries.

    Good for
    • Shopping Fanatic
    • Like a Local
    Tips
    • If you're hungry, don't go too far in -- Beijing's best pizza is the second right from the southern end of the street.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #8 of 308 Shopping in Beijing
    • Beijing changes day by day...used to be more colorful... 20/10/2018
    • Good fun! 05/10/2018
    • Nanluoguxiang
    Address:
    Nanluoguo Xiang, Dongcheng District
    Beijing 100009
    China
  • Mao Mao Chong Bar & Pizza
    Restaurants (Pizza, Bar, Pub)
    See more photos
    Lily K Says:

    Beijing has great Chinese food, of course, but sometimes finding familiar cuisine in a new corner of the world is just as exciting. If you're in the mood for Italian, fortify yourself with a few pizzas and a cocktail before you go back into the frey. (If you want something more local, hold out for Ghost Street).

    Good for
    • Foodie
    Tips
    • To get here, start from the south end of Nanluoguoxiang and take your second right into Banchang Hutong. You'll find this place when you're nearly at the next main road.
    • The menu may be European, but the backdrop is old Beijing - the nearest toilet is a few buildings down the alley. Bring your own toilet paper!
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #144 of 6,299 restaurants in Beijing
    • Fantastic: a real Speakeasy 27/08/2018
    • Great little place 23/08/2018
    • Mao Mao Chong Bar & Pizza
    Address:
    No.12 Banchang Hutong, South Main Street, Dongcheng District
    Beijing
    China
    Phone:
    +86 10 6405 5718
    Other:
  • Mai Bar
    Bars & Clubs
    See more photos
    Lily K Says:

    If you emerge from the northern end of Nanluoguxiang and you're in the mood for a cocktail, cross the street and walk straight into Beiluoguxiang. This residential hutong is quickly turning into an extension of its noisier southern neighbor, but you can still see what life looks like for hutong residents. Mai Bar is just 5 minutes down the street but it's a long 5 minutes when you feel like the locals are staring at you -- it's worth the walk to Instagram your travel photos like a real Beijing hipster with a cocktail in hand.

    Good for
    • Hidden Gems
    • Nightlife Seeker
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #5 of 66 Nightlife in Beijing
    • The Great New Mai Fresh Restaurant Next to Mai Bar 01/09/2018
    • Hutong bar 12/06/2018
    • Mai Bar
    Address:
    No.40 Beiluoguxiang Hutong, Dongcheng District
    Beijing
    China
    Phone:
    +86 10 6406 1871
  • Ghost Street (Gui Jie)
    Points of Interest & Landmarks
    See more photos
    Lily K Says:

    If you skipped pizza at Mao Mao Chong, you have to be starving by now! Take the subway from Andingmen to Dongzhimen, (or just hop in a cab), and get to Ghost Street! This stretch of Dongzhimen Nei was originally named for the ghostly aura of shopkeepers' lamps, but it's now known for spicy Chengdu-style hotpot.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    Tips
    • For the uninitiated, this is a meal best enjoyed with a group. Your food will come raw so you can cook it in boiling broth.
    • The hottest spot on the block: Wa Wa Jiao, where you can get stir-fried bullfrog. There are plenty of copycats, so if you're brave enough, research the real thing before you go.
    From the community
    Ranked #126 of 1,566 things to do in Beijing
    • Super cool 27/06/2018
    • Delish 17/06/2018
    • Ghost Street (Gui Jie)
    Address:
    Dongzhimennei Main Street, Dongcheng District
    Beijing
    China
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    12:00 am - 12:00 am
  • Day 3
  • Beijing Hikers
    Hiking & Camping Tours, Private Tours, Day Trips
    See more photos
    Lily K Says:

    There is no better way to see the Great Wall than with Beijing Hikers. Here's why: they will take you to unrestored, uncrowded parts of the wall that tours don't, and let you experience what's best about the Great Wall: walking on it. Their 3-4 hour hikes are a much better memory of this Ancient Wonder than a half-hour lap with a tour guide. You'll spend most of the day with them between hiking and transport, but it's a day you won't forget.

    Good for
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • When they say it's a hike, they mean it. Pay attention to their difficulty levels and pick one that's right for you. Wear shoes with a good grip.
    Plan to stay:
    More than 3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #16 of 147 Outdoor Activities in Beijing
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Sunset over the huanghuacheng great wall 18/10/2018
    • Well organized and flexible 14/10/2018
    • Beijing Hikers
    Phone:
    +86 10 6432 2786
    Other:
  • Baoyuan Dumplings
    Restaurants (Chinese, Asian)
    See more photos
    Lily K Says:

    When you get back from your hike, you'll be exhausted, but if you can stretch yourself for one last cultural experience, go to Baoyuan Dumplings. This is not on the tourist roadmap, so make sure you have a written address or a phone number for the taxi driver in case you get lost. When you get there, the dumplings are friendly, colorful, and divine. For those who want to work a little less for their dumplings, Dingtaifeng will never disappoint.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Like a Local
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #43 of 6,299 restaurants in Beijing
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Best dumplings in Beijing - will always return. 20/10/2018
    • Fabulous Dumplings 24/09/2018
    • Baoyuan Dumplings
    Address:
    North of 6 Maizidian Jie, Chaoyang District
    Beijing 100025
    China
    Phone:
    +86 10 6586 4968
  • Din Tai Fung - Shin Kong Place
    Restaurants (Chinese, Asian, Taiwanese)
    See more photos
    Lily K Says:

    Dingtaifeng is a chain and any location is delicious, but the Shin Kong plaza location has the advantage of being right off the Da Wang Lu subway and in a luxury mall. You don't have to talk to anyone to find your way there, just get yourself to the top floor of the Shin Kong plaza. The soup dumplings are incredible, but so is the service - it's the only place in Beijing where you can get service with eye contact.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #53 of 6,299 restaurants in Beijing
    • Yummy dumpling dinner! 20/09/2018
    • The food is consistently fresh, aromatic, and tasty! 21/07/2017
    • Din Tai Fung - Shin Kong Place
    Address:
    No 87 Jianguo Road, Chaoyang District
    D6001, 6th Floor, Shin Kong Place
    Beijing 100025
    China
    Phone:
    +86 10 6533 1536
    Hours:
    Sun - Thu
    11:00 am - 9:30 pm
    Fri - Sat
    11:00 am - 10:00 pm
    Other:
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