Bei Hai Park
Bei Hai Park is a magnificent imperial garden and features numerous historically significant temples, palaces and other structures. Originally built in the 10th century, Kubla Khan took up residence in this palace in 1260. Spanning a total of more than 69 hectares, more than half of the park's area is covered by lake waters. You can glimpse Qionghua Island, sitting at the centre of the lakes. The compound of buildings adjoining the southern side of the gardens serves as the residence of China's supreme leaders.
Forbidden City and Palace Museum
The Forbidden City, located at the center of Beijing, served as the imperial palace of the Chinese Emperor during a span of nearly 500 years, from the era of the Ming dynasty up to the final period of the Qing dynasty. In this period the compound, with its majestic buildings, was used as the emperor's residence as well as the political and ceremonial seat of the Chinese government. No less than 24 consecutive emperors resided at the site. Consisting of more than 9,000 rooms and spread over 250 acres, this huge palace complex was built in the 15th century and later extensively renovated and restored during the Qing Dynasty in the 18th century.
The Great Wall, one of the greatest wonders of the world, was listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1987. Just like a gigantic dragon, the Great Wall winds up and down across deserts, grasslands, mountains and plateaus, stretching approximately 8,851.8 kilometers (5,500 miles) from the east to west of China. Along the total length of the Great Wall around Beijing, there are eight major sections including Badaling, Juyongguan, Huanghuacheng, Jiankou, Mutianyu, Gubeikou, Jinshanling, and Simatai. Most of the sections of the Great Wall in Beijing are well-preserved and mainly date from the Ming Dynasty, an era of huge construction. A guided tour is strongly recommended for this day trip out of the City.
Officially named the Yonghe Temple, locals call it the Lama Temple, though it is also known more lyrically as the “Palace of Peace and Harmony”. It is one of the crown jewels of Beijing’s imperial architecture; a 17th century princely abode of the Qing Dynasty turned one of the most prominent centers of Tibetan Buddhism in the world. This historic monument of the Dongcheng District narrowly escaped the purges of the Cultural Revolution and today boasts several footnotes in the Guinness Book of World Records.
National Grand Theatre
The National Grand Theatre was designed by the French architect Paul Andreu, the designer of the terminal of the Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris and lies to the west of Tiananmen Square. The dome of the National Grand Theatre is 212 meters from east to west, 144 meters from north to south and 46 meters high. The main structure covers an area of 10.5 square meters and has capacity of 6,000 people. The inside space of the National Grand Theatre is open to the public and it consists of various areas including streets, plazas, shopping areas, restaurants and waiting lounges.
Peking (Beijing) Opera House
The Peking Opera House is well known as a focal point of Chinese operatic tradition and has a history spanning more than 200 years. Peking Opera (also known as the Beijing Opera) is a complex and intricate form of authentic Chinese theatre, featuring a combination of vocal performance, music, dance, miming and acrobatics. This form of opera initially developed in the latter part of the 18th century, and achieved maturity in the 19th century. The art form was hugely popular during the Qing dynasty, and has been recognized as one of the cultural treasures of China.
Temple of Heaven (Tiantan Park)
Built in 1420 with a total area of 270 acres, this is the largest building for religious worship in China. The Temple comprises of a compound of structures of the Taoist faith, located in central Beijing. The temple was frequented by the Qing and Ming Emperors for annual supplications to Heaven requesting a good harvest. In imperial times the Emperor of China was considered to be the Son of Heaven, who regulated worldly matters on behalf of the heavenly powers. Therefore it was imperative for the Emperor to show due respect for the supreme divine forces by performing sacrifices and rites honoring them and showing his devotion.
Located in the heart of Beijing City, Tiananmen Square is the largest space of its kind in the world. This was the site when in 1949, from a rostrum on Tiananmen (the Gate of Heavenly Peace) Chairman Mao proclaimed the establishment of the People's Republic of China. Tiananmen Square is surrounded by Tiananmen on its north and the Great Hall of the People on its west, the meeting place of national people's congress of the People's Republic of China. On the east of Tiananmen Square is the National Museum of China, with the Monument to the People's Heroes, and Chairman Mao's Mausoleum is located to the south. At sunrise and sunset the raising and lowering ceremony of the Chinese National Flag is performed and the precision of the young troops is a site not to be missed.
Wangfujing Street is one of the most famous shopping areas in Beijing and arguably the heart of the city. This pedestrian street is essentially a 30-minute montage of over 250 of China’s most famous branded stores; a "Snack Street" hawking platters that range from deep fried insects to meat kebabs and candied fruit; Wangfujing Xinhua Bookstore which is the Chinese equivalent of Barnes and Noble, and two of the city's major plazas. At night the neon-lit store signs and impromptu night markets are two major draws that characterizes this ever-changing heritage streetscape.
The Silk Market is the most famous of all the shopping options in Beijing and for good reason with five levels of massive rooms filled to the brim with tightly filled aisles of shops. The building is chockfull of just about everything you can imagine and not just things made with silk. This is one of the most exciting places to buy souvenirs on your visit to Beijing, but be prepared to bargain hard and bring cash!
Panjiayuan Antique Market
This is Beijing’s biggest and best-known arts, crafts, and antiques market. Art lovers and collectors can easily spend hours perusing the endless stalls where traditional and contemporary local artists display their wares.
Qianmen Dajie is a recently restored pedestrian street in the architectural style of old Peking with little shops & restaurants. Connected to Qianmen, the Dashilar area is a vibrant mix of historic shops and hutong streets.