Explore Beijing, China

What to see in Beijing, China


The centre of the city and most important landmark is Tiananmen Square in Dongcheng District. This is the world’s largest public square and a must see for all visitors from abroad and from elsewhere in China. The square is surrounded by grand buildings including the Great Hall of the People, the Museum of Chinese History, the Museum of the Chinese Revolution, the Qianmen Gate and the Forbidden City. It is also home to the Chairman Mao Memorial Hall and the Monument to the People’s Martyrs and was also the site of the infamous massacre of student activists by the People’s Liberation Army in 1989.

The National Stadium or affectionately “Bird’s Nest”, in Chaoyang District is a major landmark and a lasting symbol of the 2008 Olympic Games. Two contemporary buildings in Chaoyang District are remarkable landmarks: the CCTV Building (sometimes called “The Underpants” or “Bird Legs” by locals) and the World Trade Center Tower III. Both are outstanding examples of contemporary architecture.

There are also a number of remarkable remains from the medieval city including the Ming Dynasty City Wall Site Park (the only remains of the city wall) in Chongwen District, the Drum and Bell Towers in Dongcheng District, and Qianmen in Chongwen District.

Palaces, temples and parks

Inside the Forbidden City

The city’s many green oases are a wonderful break from walking along the never ending boulevards and narrow hutongs. Locals similarly flock to Beijing‘s palaces, temples and parks whenever they have time. The green areas are not only used for relaxing but also for sports, dancing, singing and general recreation.

The most important palace, bar none, is the Forbidden City in Dongcheng District. The Forbidden City was home to the Imperial Court during the Ming and Qing Dynasties. Unlike many other historical sights, the Forbidden City was relatively untouched during the Cultural Revolution due to the timely intervention of Premier Zhou Enlai, who sent a battalion of his troops to guard the palace from the over-zealous Red Guards. Passport is required for foreigners to buy tickets to the Forbidden City.

When you come to Beijing, the first place you have to go is the Forbidden City. Because it is one the most significant symbols that shows the culture of China. Here are some introductions of The Forbidden City:

  • The Forbidden City was the Chinese imperial palace from the Ming dynasty to the end of the Qing dynasty—the years 1420 to 1912.
  • It is located in the center of Beijing, China, and now houses the Palace Museum.
  • It served as the home of emperors and their households. They live here, do lots of daily things here. It also served as the ceremonial and political center of Chinese government for almost 500 years.
  • The Forbidden City was Constructed from 1406 to 1420, the complex consists of 980 buildings and covers over 180 acres. And it has influenced cultural and architectural developments in East Asia and elsewhere. The Forbidden City was declared a World Heritage Site in 1987, and is listed by UNESCO as the largest collection of preserved ancient wooden structures in the world.
  • Since 1925 the Forbidden City has been under the charge of the Palace Museum.

The Temple of Heaven in Chongwen District is the symbol of Beijing and is surrounded by a lively park typically packed with hordes of local people drinking tea, practicing calligraphy or tai-chi or just watching the world go by. The Yonghegong (Lama Temple) in Dongcheng District is one of the most important and beautiful temples in the country.

Other parks are scattered around Beijing. Some of the best are Zhongshan Park in Xicheng District, Beihai Park in Xicheng District, Chaoyang Park in Chaoyang District and Ritan Park in Chaoyang District. The Beijing Zoo in Xicheng District is famous for its traditional landscaping and giant pandas, however like many zoos; the conditions for the animals have been questioned. The Beijing Aquarium is on the same grounds.

Haidian District is home to the summer palace, the ruins of the Old Summer Palace, Fragrant Hills, and the Beijing Botanical Garden. All are quite close together and worth a visit.

Nanluoguxiang has a total length of 786 meters and 8 meters wide. The Lane is a north-south channel during Yuan Dynasty, as the Beijing Hutong protected areas.

JuYong Guan Juyongguan Pass, also known as Juyongguan in Chinese, is located 20 kilometers (12 miles) north of Changping County, about 60 kilometers from Beijing. It is a renowned pass of the Great Wall of China. Enlisted in the World Heritage Directory in 1987, it is a national cultural protection unit.

Olympic Water Park. Covering a planned area of 162.59 hectare and a floor area of 32,000 square meters, Shunyi Olympic Rowing-Canoeing Park is designated as the venue for rowing, canoeing and marathon swimming competitions of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, and also rowing events during the Beijing Paralympics.

Museums and galleries

Beijing has more than 100 museums but most are not visited by foreign tourists. The city contains one of the largest and most well-known museums the world, the Palace Museum, also known as the Forbidden City, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Several museums may have free admission throughout the year or on certain holidays. Additionally, entry tickets must be reserved three days in advance.

One of the most well-known museums in Beijing is the National Museum in Dongcheng District. The Military Museum in Haidian District has long been a favorite with domestic and foreign tourists. The Capital Museum in Xicheng District is a high profile museum with historical and art exhibitions. The China Aviation Museum located in the Beijing/Northern Suburbs hosts 200+ rare and unique Chinese (mostly Soviet-era) aircraft. Finally, a number of restored former residences of famous Beijingers, especially in Xicheng District, give a good insight into daily life in former times.

The contemporary art scene in Beijing is booming and a large number of artists exhibit and sell their art in galleries around the city. The galleries are concentrated in a number of art districts, including the oldest and easiest accessible, but also increasingly commercial and mainstream. The most well-known is Dashanzi Art District in Chaoyang District. Other newer and perhaps more cutting edge art districts include Caochangdi in Chaoyang District, Dashilar near Qianmen, and Songzhuan Artist’s Village in Tongzhou District.