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Beijing Top 10

Beijing Travel: Beijing Top 10

Forbidden City | Great Wall | 798 Art District | Nanluoguxiang | Summer Palace | Temple of Heaven | Beihai Park | Ming Tombs | Panjiayuan Flea Market | Wangfujing Snack Street

Best of Beijing 北京

If you only had 72 hours to spend in the Chinese capital where would you go?

Long-term Beijing resident Daniel Allen proposes his top 10 Beijing destinations for the newbies in town.

Of course the Chinese capital is overloaded with attractions new and old, so feel free to weigh in with your support, scorn or substitutes.

Tiananmen Square, Beijing, China.

1) Forbidden City / Tiananmen Square / National Center for Performing Arts

The iconic heart of Beijing symbolizing three distinct Chinese eras. An outsized dynastic palace and playground, drab monolithic Soviet edifices and space-age, minimalist architecture in close proximity. Worth braving the crowds.

Forbidden City / Tiananmen Square / National Center For Performing Arts

2) Great Wall at Simatai

A more authentic Wall experience than Mutianyu and Badaling, yet still relatively accessible and not likely to result in many sprained ankles. Camp overnight for a truly memorable Wall sunrise.

Great Wall of China

3) 798 Art District

Fascinating cross-section of Bohemian Beijing with galleries, restaurants, cafes and a hip, artistic crowd. Slightly too commercial for some - nevertheless a great place to see Beijingers at their most expressive.

Dashanzi - Factory 798 Arts Area

4) Nanluoguxiang

This 800-meter long North-South hutong network is now lined with hip cafes and bars, bargain basement hostels, funky boutiques, and a wide assortment of restaurants serving up everything from fish and chips and chicken tikka to gongbao jiding and hawaiian pizza. Catch it before it becomes the next Houhai.

Nangluoguxiang

Great Wall of China.Forbidden City, Beijing.


Temple of Heaven, Beijing.Dashanzi 798, Beijing, China.

5) Summer Palace

The grandest imperial playground in China, twice leveled by foreign barbarians. An elaborate expanse of Qing-style pavilions, bridges, walkways, and gardens, scattered along the shores of immense Kunming Lake. Worth the trek out to Western Beijing.

Summer Palace

6) Temple of Heaven

China's largest existing complex of ancient sacrificial buildings dating back over 600 years is a must-see on any Beijing tour - especially in spring and autumn. Arrive in early morning to see local Beijingers practicing tai chi, Beijing opera, gong fu, and all manner of other games and exercises.

Temple of Heaven

7) Beihai Park/Fangshan Restaurant

Empress Dowager Cixi (1835-1908) was renowned for her beauty, style, political acumen - and love of good food. Hundreds of dishes were created to suit her taste, and many of these are still served up today at the ornate Fangshan Restaurant, situated on Qionghua Island at the heart of central Beijing's verdant Beihai Park. Sample such delicacies as braised abalone, shark's fin soup, and sesame cakes with minced beef (Cixi's favorite).

Beihai Park

Ming Tombs.Summer Palace, Beijing.


Ming Tombs, Beijing, China.

Stone statue at the Ming Tombs, Beijing, China

8) Ming Tombs

One of the largest and best-preserved imperial tomb complexes in the world. Thirteen emperors and 23 empress of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) were buried here. Arrive early to avoid the tour groups.

Ming Tombs

9) Panjiayuan Flea Market

From trinkets to treasures, Mao caps to Ming pottery, whatever your heart desires from any part of the Middle Kingdom will likely be found at Panjiayuan, Beijing's infamous dirt market. Bring big bags and bargain hard.

Panjiayuan Market

10) Wangfujing Snack Street

After some retail therapy in nearby department stores and malls, meander through the crowds of snack street to witness (and sample) an eye-popping Chinese culinary smorgasbord. From sugar-coated fruit and roast chestnuts to deep-fried scorpions and sea horses, there's something to suit every palate.

Wangfujing Snack Street

National Theatre of Performing Arts, Beijing.Nanluoguxiang hutong, Beijing.


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