Okay, so you’ve finally made it to the big, bustling capital of Beijing, you only have a few days to explore, and have no idea where to begin… Well here is my guide to what you can get done in and around Beijing in only 72 hours! Start your stopwatch and lets dive right in…
Beijing Temple of Confucius
Built in 1302, this temple is dedicated to the famous Chinese educator, politician, and philosopher Confucius. The temple expands over a large area incorporating four different courtyards, alongside housing a museum of artefacts, historical documents, and deep Chinese history. A must see for all you history and cultural buffs!
Bell & Drum Towers
The Bell & Drum Towers of Beijing were built in 1272 and are iconic pieces of history – as there was no other way to tell time, there would be a morning bell and a dusk drum. Both towers are in close distance to each other, and offer beautiful views over the city of Beijing. Be sure to look up the performance times before you arrive so you don’t miss out!
Learn about Chinese tea culture
Everywhere you turn in China, you will see people carrying bottles of tea opposed to bottles of water. Tea holds historic significance throughout China in regards to trade, healing powers, and culture. It is believed that certain kinds of tea hold anecdotal properties, nutrients, and could even be used as an antidote for poison. With such significance in the Chinese culture, spend half an hour of your 72 hours learning about the different kinds of tea (along with a taste test!).
The Temple of Heaven
An expansive construction of religious buildings, built in 1420 the Temple of Heaven is a stunning piece of Chinese architecture where the Emperors of the Ming and Qing Dynasties would visit to worship the God of Heaven in hopes for a successful harvest.
Wander through lanes of the Forbidden City
At the top of most visitors to China’s list, the Forbidden City was the Imperial Palace and political centre for over 500 years, housing the royal families and hundreds of concubines. It is absolutely huge, so you will most likely get lost at some point, but that makes it an exciting place to visit.
People in China are unlike anyone I have seen around the world. Just walking down the street you will find people dancing, singing, doing some sort of art, meditating, exercising… The list goes on. It is definitely a great source of entertainment, and feel free to join in on the dancing if you’re in the mood!
Explore the quirky streets of the 798 Art Zone
Everywhere you turn you will be faced with some sort of weird and whacky art or unique buildings and architecture. It is an entirely modern area of China with a thriving artistic community, so if you are looking for a break from temples then this is your go to! You can also find a bunch of funky cafes, restaurants, and bars alongside a huge university community.
Try local cuisine at the Dong Hua Men Night Markets
You cannot pass this up if you are in Beijing! Centrally located and surrounded by metro stations, you have to visit here (more than once if you like). The food is unreal, from sweets to savoury, to meats and exotic foods. You can try anything from chicken skewers to stinky tofu, deep fried squid to starfish, and spicy beef to bugs! If you are an adventurous eater then this is your haven, so bring plenty of spare change (as everything is super cheap), some napkins, and dig in!
Day trip to the Great Wall of China
One of the seven wonders of the world, you have to take a half day trip out to see it. Only an hour and a half out of central Beijing, Mutianyu is the nearest spot to see this incredible architectural masterpiece. Be sure to bring a coat as even in summer (above) it can get rather chilly. Escape the city centre, wander along the wall, breathe in the history, and enjoy the views!
Unwind in one of the many city parks
You have to pay to enter most parks in Beijing, but that is because they are very beautiful, clean, and spacious! Your entry fee covers the upkeep, and wandering through the gardens or alongside the lakes really feels as if you are a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of the city. If you are feeling overwhelmed then grab a blanket and head down to the nearest park to relax.
Walk through Tiananmen Square
Smack bang in the centre of Beijing, this square holds deep, upsetting history. Historically known for the 1989 massacre of people in peaceful protest, it is now severely monitored through cameras and military personnel. Now known as the cultural hub, you will find many of China’s museums surrounding the square, monuments of war heroes, and even Chairman Mao’s grave and memorial hall (if you are willing the wait in the multiple hours long queue).
A beautiful World Heritage Listed garden area hidden in the city, it holds the secrets and history’s of Emperors and Chinese royals in the corridors. It is a spectacular area to explore so don’t miss out!
Have you ever traveled to Beijing? What are some of your must dos?