Beijing, China’s massive capital, has history stretching back 3 millennia.
Beijing, China’s massive capital, has history stretching back 3 millennia. Yet it’s known as much for its modern architecture as its ancient sites such as the grand Forbidden City complex, the imperial palace during the Ming and Qing dynasties. Nearby, the massive Tiananmen Square pedestrian plaza is the site of Mao Zedong’s mausoleum and the National Museum of China, displaying a vast collection of cultural relics.
10:00am-10:30am : Bell and Drum Towers
Admire Beijing’s Bell and Drum Towers, two towers that were used to tell time in ancient China, and landmarks of the city. The drum tower dates back to the 13th century and the rule of Kublai Khan, while the bell tower was probably built a century later. Restored many times over the years, the towers were opened to the public in the 1980’s. Climb one of the historic structures, the taller of which is the drum tower at 47 m (154 ft), for a rewarding view of the city center and to see the surviving drum and bronze bell.
12:00pm-4:30pm : Mutianyu Great Wall
Exceptionally well preserved and rich in detail, Mutianyu Great Wall offers visitors an iconic view of China's symbolic World Heritage Site and one of the seven man-made wonders of the world. This segment of the wall was originally built in the 6th century CE during the Northern Qi dynasty and has remained unchanged since 1569. The section boasts many watchtowers and is surrounded by a dense forest, which makes for sweeping scenery. Access the wall by climbing the approximately 4,000 steps, riding the chairlift, or taking the gondola lift.
10:00am-12:30pm : Meridian Gate (Wu Men)
Meridian Gate (Wu Men) represents the southern and only public entrance to the Forbidden City compound. With a height of 38 m (125 ft), the large red gate features a concave layout with phoenix-like towers on all four sides. Observe the gate's central arch, which was once reserved solely for the emperor--the empress passed this way only on her wedding day. Above the arches, the Ming and Qing dynasty emperors inspected their troops and issued imperial proclamations from the gatehouse. Once you pass the gate and the Inner Golden River Bridges, inspect the grand square and the rest of the majestic Forbidden City.
1:00pm-4:00pm : The Palace Museum
Within a palace that served as the seat of power for the Ming and Qing dynasties, The Palace Museum houses a massive collection of artifacts that include ceramics, porcelain pieces, paintings, bronzeware, steles, sculptures, and much more. Built in the early 15th century, the palace holds the honor of being a World Heritage Site and contains an unparalleled number of preserved ancient wooden structures. Bring your ID or passport to purchase entry tickets.
4:30pm-6:00pm : Tiananmen Square (Tiananmen Guangchang)
Famous and infamous in modern Chinese history, Tiananmen Square (Tiananmen Guangchang) stands as one of the most important political and cultural sites in Beijing. This vast square provided the setting for Mao Zedong's speech announcing the establishment of the People's Republic of China on October 1, 1949. Surrounding the square, you'll find significant structures like Mao's mausoleum, National Museum of China, Monument to the People's Heroes, and Great Hall of the People. Visit the square at dawn to see the ceremonial raising of the Chinese national flag.
10:30am-3:30pm : Summer Palace (Yiheyuan)
The assembly of lakes, palaces, gardens, and pavilions that make up Summer Palace (Yiheyuan) dates back to the 12-century Jin dynasty. This World Heritage Site served as a residence for members of the Qing dynasty in the 18th and 19th centuries. The complex contains an exemplary collection of landscaped royal gardens, temples, bridges, and palaces. Look out for the 96 m (315 ft) stone boat constructed entirely from marble, and for the elaborately painted and decorated corridor connecting the Hall of Joy and Longevity to the Shizhang Pavilion.
4:00pm-5:30pm : Olympic Park
The Olympic Forest Park is a large, man-made nature park situated at the north end of the Olympic Green in Beijing. Built for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the park has two parts: the southern part is oval in shape and features lake Wa Biancun in the center, and the northern side has a mountain that gives an excellent view of this part of the city. The northern part is outside of the 5th Ring Road. The park was designed by Hu Jie.The park features many walking paths and a jogging path. Several small islands in the lake are linked by bridges. The south-east end of the lake has a handful of carnival rides for children.The South Gate of Forest Park Station of the Beijing Subway is located at the south entrance to the park.
10:00am-10:30am : Jingshan Park (Jingshan Gongyuan)
Constructed on an artificial hill during the Ming Dynasty's Yongle era, stands Jingshan Park (Jingshan Gongyuan) as a remarkable royal landscaped garden which covers an area of 23 hectares (57 acres). The park contains five peaks with an ornate pavilion on the top. As you explore the lush ambience, notice how the surrounding traditional tombs and residences were constructed by implementing the feng shui principles. Take a walk through the park and view its large peony rose garden. The area features a calm, mystical atmosphere where you can commonly find locals socializing and doing cultural activities.
11:00am-1:00pm : National Museum Of China
East of Tiananmen Square stands National Museum Of China, an inclusive institution which commemorates the nation's history and honors its culture. After years of renovation and expansion, the museum reopened in 2011 as one of world's largest modern museums. Inspect the displayed treasures exhibited in various themes such as the arts of porcelain and jade, Chinese paintings and calligraphy, dynasty furniture, and Buddhist memorabilia. The museum also houses thousands of archaeological discoveries like the 1.7 million-year-old teeth of the Yuanmou Man. In addition to exploring the exhibition halls, you can rest at tea or coffee shops, purchase souvenirs, and watch educational movies at the 700-seat theater.
1:30pm-3:00 : Temple of Heaven
Dating back to the early 15th century, Temple of Heaven served the leaders of the Ming and Qing dynasties as the site of annual harvest prayer ceremonies. Regarded as a Taoist house of worship, the temple complex contains several structures, including a central prayer hall, an enormous triple-gabled structure intricately detailed on the outside and elaborated decorated on the inside. There, the emperors, traditionally considered interlocutors between mortals and gods, performed rituals to request the blessing for successful harvests.
3:30pm-6:00pm : Panjiayuan Antique Market
Shop for arts, crafts, and antiques at Panjiayuan Antique Market, a bustling market with around 3,000 traders selling their creations and collections. Find little treasures, some centuries old, including calligraphy, porcelain, Cultural Revolution literature, religious ornaments, and ornately carved furniture. Prepare to haggle: it's common for vendors to bump up prices to around 10 times their actual worth at first offering. With up to 50,000 visitors a day, the market gets lively and hectic even though it's set over a large site. Plan and take your time, so you don't find yourself rushing into a deal that you might regret.
10:30am-1:00pm : Baijing Bayi Ski Field
2:30pm-5:00pm : Jundushan Ski
10:30am-5:30pm : Nature & Wildlife Tours
10:00am-11:30am : Back Lakes (Hou Hai)
Catch a glimpse of a fading past at Back Lakes (Hou Hai), one of the capital's few remaining bastions of traditional residential architecture and a local favorite for enjoying the outdoors. Head for this historic neighborhood and enjoy a leisurely stroll around the lakes. You can get in some solid people watching as you explore, as the area generally fills with old folks, students, and fishermen indulging in the fresh lake air. The surrounding streets boast an array of cafes and nightlife establishments, so you can refresh with a drink on a patio followed by raucous karaoke. Rickshaws make for one of the more convenient methods of sightseeing--flag down a driver and go for a ride around the neighborhood streets. Keep your eyes peeled for "hutongs," residences that epitomize local architecture with their courtyards and grand entry gates.
12:00pm-1:30pm : Lama Temple (Yonghegong)
Constructed with a combination of Tibetan and Han Chinese styles, Lama Temple (Yonghegong) represents a Buddhist monastery and the best-preserved lamasery in modern China. Built in 1694, the site initially served as a residence for court eunuchs, but was later converted into both an imperial palace and a monastery for monks of Tibetan Buddhism. Inside you can find many interesting works of art, such as three displayed bronze Buddhas, a white sandalwood statue of Maitreya Buddha, sculptures of Arhats in different sizes and positions, and large frescos decorating the walls. You can also purchase many souvenirs and quality incenses at the temple.
2:00pm-6:00pm : Linda Beijing Tour