Must-see attractions in Beijing

  • Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest in Temple of Heaven Park, Chongwen.

    Temple of Heaven Park

    Temple of Heaven Park & Dongcheng South

    An oasis of methodical Confucian design, the 267-hectare Temple of Heaven Park is unique. It originally served as a vast stage for solemn rites performed…

  • Summer Palace

    Summer Palace


    A marvel of Chinese garden design and one of Beijing's must-see attractions, the Summer Palace was the royal retreat for emperors fleeing the suffocating…

  • Beihai Park 北海公园:承光殿 (Beijing 北京)

    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…

  • Southeast Corner Watchtower, with purple flowers in foreground.

    Southeast Corner Watchtower

    Temple of Heaven Park & Dongcheng South

    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…

  • Photo shoot in 798 Art District.

    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…

  • Lama Temple.

    Lama Temple


    Converted from a princely residence to a lamasery in the 18th century, the Lama Temple extends through a crescendo of ever more divine halls in a whirl of…

  • Beijing's ancient Drum Tower, built during the Ming Dynasty (1380AD).

    Drum Tower


    Venerable bastions of time-keeping, the Drum Tower and its counterpart the Bell Tower were for centuries the tallest buildings in Beijing, lording it over…

  • 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…

  • Wuta Temple


    If any Beijing sight can vanquish the dreaded 'temple fatigue', it's Wuta Si. This little-known gem is eminently worthy of a pilgrimage, not just for its…

  • White Dagoba Temple


    Originally built in 1271 under the reign of Kublai Khan, the serene Miaoying Temple slumbers beneath its astonishing high dagoba, the tallest in China. A…

  • Spirit Way


    A highlight of a visit to the Ming Tombs is to walk the Shen Dao, or Spirit Way, a funerary avenue that plots a sombre course to Cháng Líng, the earliest…

  • UCCA


    Remodelled in 2019, UCCA remains the finest contemporary-art gallery in 798, and a contender for the best in the country. Many global art superstars have…

  • Saturday night rush hour on Houhai Lake, Dongcheng.

    Houhai Lake Scenic Area


    A grand sweep of willow-lined waterways enclosed by invitingly maze-like hutong lanes, this trio of lakes is one of Beijing's best-loved outdoor spots,…

  • Dingling Tomb is one of the three tombs located at The Ming Tombs which are open to the public. The tomb is famous for its underground palace and the burial of Emperor Wanli and his two empresses. Of all Ming Dynasty emperors, Emperor Wanli reigned for 48 years and is considered one of the longest reigning emperors in Chinese history. Historical documents have stated that the cost of constructing Dingling Tomb cost a staggering 8 Million taels of Silver.

    Ming Tombs


    Established according to feng shui in the cradle of Tianshou Mountain (天寿山, Tiānshòu Shān), this auspicious swath of nature was walled off by the Ming to…

  • Fragrant Hills Park


    A great swath of Beijing's Western Hills (Xīshān) was once an imperial pleasure resort, acres of undulating pine-cypress forest peppered with temples,…

  • The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests in Beijing.

    Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests

    Temple of Heaven Park & Dongcheng South

    The crowning glory of the Temple of Heaven is the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, its triple-eaved roof canopy of glazed blue tiles reflecting its…

  • Round altar, Temple of Heaven, Beijing

    Round Altar

    Temple of Heaven Park & Dongcheng South

    The present build dating to around 1540, this is the business end of the Temple of Heaven. Here on this open-air, raised platform (a circle within a…

  • Confucius Temple & Imperial College


    An incense stick’s toss away from the Lama Temple, China’s second-largest Confucian temple is a haven of scholarly calm and contemplation. Come to wander…

  • The Long Corridor at the Summer Palace in Beijing.

    Long Corridor


    Stretching for 728m along the north shore of Kunming Lake, the open-air Long Corridor is one of the premier sights of the Summer Palace. One can imagine…

  • Inside the Imperial Vault of Heaven at the Temple of Heaven Park.

    Imperial Vault of Heaven

    Temple of Heaven Park & Dongcheng South

    Inside the Echo Wall, this ornate building was merely a storeroom, used to keep the spirit tablets of the gods and other materials used for the ceremonies…

  • Cháng Líng


    It's no coincidence that the most magnificent of the Ming tombs bears more than a passing resemblance to the Forbidden City. It was commissioned by the…

  • Divine Merit Stele Pavilion


    Along the Spirit Way before you reach the pairs of stone guardians, this glorious pavilion contains a stele thought to be the largest in China, mounted on…

  • 17-Arch Bridge


    Connecting the eastern shore of Kunming Lake to South Lake Island, this is the largest bridge in the Summer Palace at 150m long. It was built during the…

  • White Dagoba


    Topping Jade Islet (琼岛; Qióngdǎo), the 36m-high Tibetan-style White Dagoba was built in 1651 by the first Qing emperor to honour a visit by the Dalai Lama…

  • Faurschou Foundation


    Although this privately owned Danish gallery is a relative newcomer, it has racked up an enviable showreel of exhibitions and retrospectives since 2011,…

  • Nine Dragon Screen


    To the west of Western Elysium, set back from the lakeshore, is this 5m-high, 27m-long spirit wall emblazoned with writing and coiled dragons, picked out…

  • Yuanmingyuan Park,Beijing

    Old Summer Palace


    Shattered ruins are all that remain of the 'Garden of Perfection and Light', once known as the 'Versailles of the East' for its profound beauty, even…

  • North Cathedral, Xicheng.

    Cathedral of Our Saviour


    Formerly known as Beitang, this gothic church (c 1897) is Beijing's most exemplary, with a pair of 31m-high bell towers looking resplendent (read: gaudy)…

  • Lanterns hanging at Prince Gong Residence.

    Prince Gong’s Mansion


    The sprawling residence of Prince Gong (1833–1898), half-brother of the Xianfeng emperor, is most notable for its marvellous gardens, which feature…

  • Burning incense at White Cloud Temple, Taoist College.

    White Cloud Temple


    White Cloud Temple is an active, vast and fascinating maze of halls, shrines and brightly painted immortals, tended by Taoist monks with their hair…

  • Lanterns at Qianhai Dongyuan/ Qianhai Beiyan (Lotus Lane) also known as The Back Lakes.

    Dongyue Temple


    Dedicated to the Eastern Peak (Tài Shān) of China’s five Taoist mountains, this morbid Taoist shrine is an unsettling, albeit entertaining, place of…

  • Ming Ruins Park.

    Ming City Wall Ruins Park

    Temple of Heaven Park & Dongcheng South

    This wistful stretch of brick and stone is all that remains (besides a couple of other denuded nubs) of Beijing's once formidable city walls, girding the…

  • Da Zhong Temple, Bell Temple.

    Great Bell Temple


    Despite being stranded along the North 3rd Ring Rd, this Qing-era temple is well worth a diversion to marvel at its centrepiece, the humongous Yongle Bell…

  • CHINA - MAY 16: Guardian lion statue, Fayuan Si temple, Beijing. China, 15th century. Detail. (Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images)

    Fayuan Temple


    Infused with an air of sleepy reverence, this working Buddhist temple is one of Beijing's most evocative. Perhaps it's the ancient Song dynasty pines,…

  • Beijing

    CCTV Headquarters


    Known locally as Da Kucha (大裤衩, Big Pants), the 234m-tall CCTV Tower is an architectural fantasy that appears to defy gravity. Designed by Rem Koolhaas…

  • Wanshou Temple


    This tranquil, little-visited temple was originally consecrated for the storage of Buddhist texts. Its name echoes the Summer Palace’s Longevity Hill …

  • Song Qingling Former Residence.

    Song Qingling's Former Residence


    Set in well-tended gardens on the north shore of Houhai Lake, this is the mansion of Madam Song, venerated by the Chinese as the wife of Sun Yatsen, first…

  • The 33 metre (108ft) Bell Tower in Dongcheng, Beijing. The tower was first constructed during the Ming dynasty in 1420.

    Bell Tower


    The restrained, grey-stone edifice of the Bell Tower (Zhonglou) is arguably even more charming than its resplendent other half, the Drum Tower (Gulou),…

  • Dìng Líng


    Of all the Ming tombs, this is the only one to have been excavated, and visitors can descend into the enormous burial chambers of the Wanli Emperor (1563…

  • 798 Art Factory


    This cathedral-like Bauhaus space, ceilings emblazoned with red Maoist slogans, makes for the quintessential 798 photograph whether or not an exhibition…

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