Beijing attractions

Top Choice Historic Site in Forbidden City & Dongcheng Central

Forbidden City

Enclosed by 3.5km of citadel walls at the very heart of Beijing, the Unesco-listed Forbidden City is China’s largest and best-preserved collection of ancient buildings – large enough to comfortably absorb the 16 mil…
Top Choice Park in Temple of Heaven Park & Dongcheng South

Temple of Heaven Park

An oasis of methodical Confucian design, the 267-hectare Temple of Heaven Park is absolutely unique. It originally served as a vast stage for solemn rites performed by the emperor (the literal 'Son of Heaven'), who …
Top Choice Historic Site in Summer Palace & Haidian

Summer Palace

As mandatory a Beijing sight as the Great Wall or the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace was the royal retreat for emperors fleeing the suffocating summer torpor of the old imperial city and, most recently, the retir…
Top Choice Square in Forbidden City & Dongcheng Central

Tian'anmen Square

Flanked by triumphalist Soviet-style buildings, Tian'anmen Square is an immense void of paved stone (440,000 sq metres, to be precise) at the symbolic centre of the Chinese universe. Watched over by Mao's portrait (…
Top Choice Park in Beihai Park & Xicheng North

Beihai Park

Beihai Park, inside the old Imperial City, looks much as it would have done in the 18th century when it served as Emperor Qianlong's private gardens. The Tibetan-style White Dagoba soars majestically over the lake (…
Top Choice Buddhist Temple in Summer Palace & Haidian

Azure Clouds Temple

Though it dates back to the Yuan dynasty, this enchanting Buddhist temple complex was enlarged to its current splendor by Emperor Qianlong in 1748, adding the all-marble Diamond Throne Pagoda at the rear, inspired b…
Top Choice Watchtower in Temple of Heaven Park & Dongcheng South

Southeast Corner Watchtower

This immense fortress, part of the Ming City Wall Ruins Park, guarded the southeast corner of Beijing's city walls. Originally built in 1439 but repaired numerous times over the centuries, the tower is skewered with…
Top Choice Buddhist Temple in Summer Palace & Haidian

Wuta Temple

If any Beijing sight can vanquish the dreaded 'temple fatigue', it's Wǔtǎ Sì. This little-known gem is eminently worthy of a pilgrimage, not just for its remarkable design, which owes more to India than imperial Chi…
Top Choice Historic Site in Forbidden City & Dongcheng Central

Gate of Heavenly Peace

Instantly recognisable by its giant framed portrait of Mao, and guarded by two pairs of Ming dynasty stone lions, the double-eaved Gate of Heavenly Peace (literally 'Tian'anmen') is a potent national symbol. Formerl…
Top Choice Area in Sanlitun & Chaoyang

798 Art District

Contemporary art meets communist history at this thrilling enclave of international galleries installed within China's model factory complex of the 1950s. Most of Beijing's best galleries are here, staging shows fro…