The huge bustling capital of China, Beijing has a lot to offer travelers. Once you’ve got your visa to China and booked your tickets, Beijing simply must be put on your itinerary. Whether your taste runs to the ancient or the modern, Beijing has what you are looking for.
The Forbidden City is perhaps the most typical Beijing destination. The home of the Chinese emperors in the Ming and Qing dynasties, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and contains courtyard upon courtyard of ancient Chinese architecture and artifacts. In front of the Forbidden City lies the famous Tiananmen Square, the largest public square in the world and site of the controversial student uprisings and subsequent massacre in 1989. Spend a day exploring the area, getting lost in history both ancient and contemporary.
One of the more beautiful sites in Beijing, the 720-acre Summer Palace was constructed in the Yin dynasty. Today, the Summer Palace’s beautiful gardens, palaces, and manmade lake make for an incredible afternoon stroll. And, for those looking to duck the hustle and bustle of this popular tourist site, the back hill and west bank offer quieter places, with secretive ruins and natural beauties well worth the walk.
Great Wall of China
You can’t visit China without getting a glimpse of the Great Wall. Anohther UNESCO World Heritage site, the world-famous Great Wall of China lies just a short hour and a half drive outside of Beijing. While more visited portions like Badaling are often crowded and have been over-restored, more distant portions like Jinshaling and Simatai, amongst others, are still accessible and allow you to see the Wall in its ancient glory.
Temple of Heaven
A religious site predating Taoism, the Temple of Heaven was built in the early 15th century as the site where the emperor, regarded as the representative of Heaven on Earth, could pray for good harvests. For modern travelers, its attractions include the large, marble altar and the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, a circular wooden building constructed entirely without nails.
More recently, Beijing held the world’s attention in 2008 with its hosting of the summer Olympics. Today, iconic buildings like the Bird’s Nest and the Water Cube still stand, though they are largely unused or repurposed. Visitors can wander freely through the Olympic stadiums and reminisce about their favorite moments of the Games.
China’s capital has a lot more than normal city-type stuff. With centuries of history, multiple UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and a firm grasp on the modern world, Beijing is sure to be one of your favorite stops in China. This Chinese treasure is sure to excite, no matter your tastes.