Beijing, China’s capital, is a city steeped in history and culture, boasting numerous renowned landmarks like the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, and the Great Wall. If you’re planning a trip to Beijing, this article recommends the top 10 must-visit attractions that will allow you to fully experience the charm of this city.
The top 10 must-visit attractions in Beijing are the Temple of Heaven, the Summer Palace, the Old Summer Palace, the Imperial College, the Lama Temple, the Prince Gong’s Mansion, Jingshan Park, Nanluoguxiang, the Ming Tombs, and the Zhoukoudian Site.
Temple of Heaven(天坛公园)
The Temple of Heaven is an ancient architectural complex used for imperial worship and celestial observations in ancient China. Its main structures include the Circular Mound Altar, the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, and the Divine Music Administration. The most iconic is the Circular Mound, symbolizing the sky, and the Hall of Prayer, a grand circular structure used for worship.
The Summer Palace, a royal garden from the Qing Dynasty, is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of China’s four famous gardens. It features various attractions like Suzhou Street, Seventeen-Arch Bridge, the Long Corridor, and ancient buildings around Kunming Lake. Visitors can customize their itineraries within the vast garden.
Old Summer Palace (Yuanmingyuan圆明园)
The Old Summer Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage site, was once one of China’s largest and most luxurious imperial gardens. It comprises three parts: Yuanmingyuan, Changchunyuan, and Wanchunyuan, collectively known as the “Three Gardens.” Notable are the Western-style ruins, especially the Grand Waterworks, a captivating remnant. It’s a large area, requiring at least half a day to explore.
Imperial College (Guozijian国子监)
The Imperial College is one of ancient China’s highest educational institutions and one of the most well-preserved in the country. Established in the Sui Dynasty, it thrived during the Ming and Qing Dynasties. This is not just an educational place but a significant center for the dissemination of Confucianism. Countless scholars left their mark here.
Lama Temple (Yonghe Temple雍和宫)
Lama Temple is a significant Tibetan Buddhist temple of the Gelug school and a renowned attraction in Beijing. It’s a living history book, offering insights into stories preserved by time. Besides being a religious site, it’s an art treasure trove, featuring invaluable murals, sculptures, and calligraphy.
Prince Gong’s Mansion(恭王府)
Among Beijing’s many royal mansions from the Qing Dynasty, Prince Gong’s Mansion is the largest and best-preserved. The intricate and exquisite murals and carvings inside are especially impressive. They not only showcase exceptional craftsmanship but also depict the social life and culture of the time. Don’t miss this historical gem when in Beijing.
Jingshan Park is a large urban park offering recreation, leisure, and fitness activities. It features ancient buildings like Wanchun Pavilion, the Pavilion of Viewing the Wonderful Scenery, and the Shouhuang Palace. The park’s lakes, pavilions, and terraces create a picturesque landscape. It’s also one of the best places in the city to enjoy panoramic views.
Nanluoguxiang is a historic hutong (narrow alley) in Beijing’s Dongcheng District, known for its unique character and vibrant street life. Its streets are lined with various shops, selling traditional handicrafts, authentic Beijing snacks, and antique items. These small shops feel like tiny history museums, offering a taste of old Beijing’s atmosphere.
Ming Tombs (Ming Shisanling明十三陵)
The Ming Tombs are a collection of mausoleums for emperors and their families from the Ming Dynasty. They include famous tombs like Changling, Dingling, and Zhaoling. Each tomb is an architectural masterpiece, and the serene natural surroundings make for breathtaking views. The Ming Tombs are a perfect destination for history enthusiasts.
Zhoukoudian is an archaeological site from the late Paleolithic period in China and one of the earliest locations where Homo erectus fossils were discovered, providing crucial evidence of human evolution. The abundant fossils, tools, and ornaments at the site tell a captivating ancient story, offering valuable historical insights and promoting an understanding and appreciation of human diversity.
As the capital of China, Beijing also offers a rich culinary scene. You can’t visit Beijing without trying its famous Peking duck, among other delectable dishes like zhajiangmian (noodles with soybean paste), lu rou fan (braised pork over rice), douzhi (fermented mung bean milk), and yang xiezi hotpot (spicy lamb kebabs). These flavorsome delights are not to be missed.
Friends, Beijing is a city filled with a wealth of cultural heritage and natural beauty, and these attractions are just a part of it. When you visit, don’t forget to savor the food, immerse yourself in the culture, explore the natural landscapes, and delve into the historical treasures. May you have an unforgettable journey!