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Things to do in Beijing

Many of Beijing's top attractions are clustered around the city centre, where Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City loom large. Head south to Chongwen district and the Temple of Heaven. Five kilometres north, the Chaoyang district is the place to take Olympic Bike Tours of the 'Bird's Nest' Stadium. It is also home to the Dashanzi art district with hundreds of galleries, while the enormous Summer Palace is in the northwest.

Skiing at Nanshan, Beijing. © Exoweb

Museums and Galleries

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  1. 1. National Art Museum of China - Museums and Galleries

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    National Art Museum of China, Beijing. © Sami Salminen

    The National Art Museum of China in Dongcheng shows traditional Chinese art exhibitions and contemporary art shows. Not as edgy as the art in the Factory 798 art complex, the museum enjoys regular good collections from big-name artists.Show this on map

    Cost

    RMB20

    Opening hours

    Daily 9am-5pm (last entry 4pm)

    Address

    1, Wusi Dajie, Dongcheng district, Beijing 100010

    Telephone

    +86 (0) 10 8403 3500

    Transport

    Taxi

    Website

    National Art Museum Of China Website

  2. 2. Chairman Mao's Mausoleum - Museums and Galleries

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    Chairman Mao's Mausoleum, Beijing. © Jennifer M. McGrew

    Visitors sometimes think that seeing 'waxy Mao', who was embalmed against his own wishes, will be a kitsch experience. Whatever your thoughts on the great helmsman, there's still an atmosphere of serious reverence surrounding Chairman Mao's Mausoleum on Tiananmen Square.Show this on map

    Cost

    Free

    Opening hours

    Tue-Sun 8am-12pm

    Address

    South end of Tiananmen Square, Beijing

    Telephone

    +86 (0) 10 6512 0909

    Transport

    Taxi; Metro Tiananmen West or Tiananmen East

    Website

    Chairman Mao's Mausoleum Website

  3. 3. Factory 798 - Museums and Galleries

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    Factory 798, Beijing. © Fred Hong

    This vast collection of galleries and cafés in the Chaoyang district is well worth the long taxi ride. In a Soviet-designed former weapons factory, Factory 798 is the centre of China's modern art scene. Purchase a map when you arrive.Show this on map

    Cost

    Free

    Opening hours

    Daily 10.30am-7.30pm

    Address

    North of Dashanzi Huandao, Chaoyang district, Beijing

    Telephone

    +86 (0) 10 6437 6248

    Transport

    Taxi (say 'Dashanzi' to taxi drivers)

    Website

    798 Space Website

Attractions

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  1. 4. Chinese Ethnic Culture Park - Attractions

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    Chinese Ethnic Culture Park, Beijing. © www.davidclee.us

    This striking north Beijing attraction features 55 village gardens designed in the folk styles of 55 Chinese ethnic groups. Performances are held nearly every day and there are regular festivals, like the Dai people's Water-Splashing Festival in July and August.Show this on map

    Cost

    RMB90; children RMB30

    Opening hours

    Daily 8.30am-4.50pm

    Address

    1, Minzuyuan Lu, Chaoyang district, Beijing

    Telephone

    +86 (0) 10 6206 3647

    Transport

    Taxi

    Website

    Chinese Ethnic Culture Park Website

  2. 5. Tiananmen Square - Attractions

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    Tian'anmen, Beijing. © China National Tourist Office

    Tiananmen, in the centre of Beijing, is an attraction in itself. The world's largest square may not be beautiful, but it is where Mao founded the People's Republic in 1949 and where hundreds were massacred 40 years later.Show this on map

    Cost

    Free

    Opening hours

    Daily all day

    Address

    Tiananmen Square, Dongcheng district, Beijing

    Transport

    Taxi; Metro Tiananmen

  3. 6. Prince Gong's Mansion - Attractions

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    Prince Gong's Mansion, Beijing. © Sharon Tseng

    Formerly occupied by Guangxu emperor's son Prince Gong, this impressive Imperial mansion in Xicheng has a fascinating history. A labyrinth of pavilions and rockeries, Prince Gong's Mansion also hosts short performances of acrobatics.Show this on map

    Cost

    RMB40; RMB70 (including acrobatics)

    Opening hours

    Daily 8am-4pm

    Address

    17, Qianhai Xijie, Xicheng district, Beijing

    Telephone

    +86 (0) 10 8328 8149

    Transport

    Taxi

    Website

    Prince Gong's Mansion Website

  4. 7. Forbidden City - Attractions

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    Forbidden City (Palace Museum), Beijing. © www.davidclee.us

    Despite occasional scaffolding, the central Forbidden City is still China's most important, and arguably spectacular, tourist sight. It's vast and today houses the Palace Museum. Visit the artefact-filled East and West Galleries and the Treasure Gallery, often missed by tourists.Show this on map

    Cost

    RMB40 (1 Nov-31 Mar); RMB60 (1 Apr-31 Oct)

    Opening hours

    Daily 8.30am-5pm (until 4.30pm 1 Nov-31 Mar)

    Address

    4, Jingshan Qianjie, Beijing 100009

    Telephone

    +86 (0) 10 6513 2255

    Transport

    Taxi; Metro to Tiananmen West or Tiananmen East

    Website

    UNESCO World Heritage Website

  5. 8. Lama Temple - Attractions

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    Lama Temple, Beijing. Photo by Breeze Robertson, © Whatsonwhen

    This tranquil venue in Houhai began as an imperial lamasery for the 'yellow hat' Lama sect of Buddhism. Around 70 monks still reside at Lama Temple. The Wanfu pavilion houses the world's largest carving from a single piece of wood.Show this on map

    Cost

    RMB25

    Opening hours

    Daily 9am-4pm (4.30pm in summer)

    Address

    12, Yonghegong Dajie (just inside the North Second Ring Road, next to Yonghegong metro station), Dongcheng district, Beijing

    Telephone

    +86 (0) 10 6404 4499

    Transport

    Taxi; Metro to Yonghegong

    Website

    Yonghe Gong Website

  6. 9. Temple of Heaven - Attractions

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    Temple of Heaven, Beijing. © China National Tourist Office

    The biggest temple in China is set in a tranquil 273 hectare park. Temple of Heaven in Chongwenmen is a gargantuan complex of interconnected buildings. Built in 1420, it was designed as somewhere for monarchs to pray for good harvests.Show this on map

    Cost

    RMB30

    Opening hours

    Daily 8am-6pm (until 5pm in winter and 5.30pm in spring)

    Address

    Yongdingmen Donjie, Chongwenmen district, Beijing

    Telephone

    +86 (0) 10 6702 8866

    Transport

    Taxi; Metro Chongwenmen

    Website

    UNESCO World Heritage Website

  7. 10. Beijing Zoo - Attractions

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    Beijing Zoo, Beijing. © Jimmy Yao

    Beijing Zoo in Dongcheng is known for its outstanding giant panda enclosure and its collection of rare golden monkeys. The zoo has upgraded its facilities making the giant panda compound one of the best in the world.Show this on map

    Cost

    RMB10

    Opening hours

    Daily 7.30am-5pm

    Address

    137, Xizhimenwei Dajie, Haidian district, Beijing

    Telephone

    +86 (0) 10 6831 5131

    Transport

    Taxi

    Website

    Beijing Zoo Website

  8. 11. Summer Palace - Attractions

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    Summer Palace, Beijing. © China National Tourist Office

    This exquisite palace in Haidian is set at the foot of the Western Hills, surrounded by Kunming Lake. The Summer Palace features some of Beijing's most beautiful Qing dynasty architecture, which can also be seen by climbing nearby Longevity Hill.Show this on map

    Cost

    RMB20-RMB30; concessions RMB10-RMB15

    Opening hours

    Apr-Oct 6.30am-6pm; Nov-Mar 7am-5pm

    Address

    Yiheyuan Lu, Haidian district, Beijing

    Telephone

    +86 (0) 10 6288 1144

    Transport

    Taxi

    Website

    UNESCO World Heritage Website

Special things to do

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  1. 12. Skiing at Nanshan - Special Things to do

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    Skiing at Nanshan, Beijing. © Exoweb

    Skiing at Nanshan, the biggest ski area in north China, with 12 pistes and the country's first snowboard park, is one for winter sports enthusiasts. Under 64km from Beijing, in summer the resort offers water-skiing, grass skiing and gliding.Show this on map

    Cost

    Mon-Fri RMB130; Sat & Sun RMB210 (one day ski pass)

    Opening hours

    Daily 9am-5.30pm

    Address

    Nanshan, South Miyun County, Beijing

    Telephone

    +86 (0) 10 8909 1909

    Transport

    Coach from central Beijing

    Website

    Nanshan Ski Area Website

  2. 13. Hutong Tour - Special Things to do

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    Hutong Tour, Beijing. © China National Tourist Office

    Beijing's fast-disappearing hutongs - tight, labyrinth alleyways lined with courtyard houses - are a must-see. Take a Hutong Tour by pedicab from Houhai Lake in Dongcheng around some of Beijing's most beautiful remaining houses.Show this on map

    Cost

    Approx RMB25 (negotiable)

    Opening hours

    Daily all day

    Address

    Around Qianhai Beiyan on Houhai Lake, Dongcheng district, Beijing

    Transport

    Taxi to Houhai Lake

  3. 14. Mutianyu Great Wall - Special Things to Do

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    Not quite as crowded as the tourist hotspots of nearby Badaling and Juyongguan, the section of the Great Wall at Mutianyu is a good option for seeing this staggering monument. Walk for more than an hour along the wall as it rises and falls over some spectacular scenery, passing through twenty-two partially restored watchtowers. There is a gondola to help with the climb at the start.

    Show this on map

    Cost

    RMB45 (Gondola RMB60)

    Opening hours

    Daily 7am-6pm

    Address

    , Mutianyu Town, China

    Transport

    Bus 936 from Dongzimen Bus Station

    Website

    Mutianyu Great Wall Website

  4. 15. Olympic Bike Tours - Special Things to do

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    Olympic Bike Tours, Beijing. Courtesy of Cycle China

    The 'Bird's Nest' Olympic Stadium is, if nothing else, a stunning piece of architecture. Cycle China does Olympic Bike Tours which also take in the old neighbourhoods and hutongs of Dongcheng.Show this on map

    Cost

    RMB400 (does not include tickets for the Bird's Nest)

    Opening hours

    Daily 9am-5pm

    Address

    12, Jingshan Dongjie (opposite the east gate of Jingshan Park), Dongcheng district, Beijing

    Telephone

    +86 (0) 10 6402 5653

    Transport

    Taxi

    Website

    Cycle China Website

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