Beijing is a huge city, although many of the main tourist attractions within its borders are centrally located. In addition, it is very easy to visit them all, because Beijing, like all other Chinese cities, has an excellent public transport system, and the subway is fantastic! There is a lot to see and do in the capital of the People’s Republic of China, so if you are planning a visit, you may want to consider our recommendations on the most popular and important tourist attractions in the city.
Tiananmen Square. Ask anyone who’s ever been to Beijing what you should visit in this city and the first answer will almost certainly be Tiananmen Square. Walking into this market, you will be overwhelmed by its incredible size. It is the third largest street market in the world, in front of it being ranked only Praca dos Girassois in Palmas, Brazil and Merdeka Square in Jakarta, Indonesia. With a size of 440 000 square meters, Tiananmen Square is really huge!
There are always interesting events and activities going on here, and guards and cameras are everywhere to prevent any problems. Unfortunately, many people around the world still associate this market with the massacre that took place here, in 1989, which is also the last unfortunate event on the market. In 1989, pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square were crushed by government forces, killing hundreds of civilians.
The best time of day to visit the market is at sunset. At that moment, every day, the flag of the People’s Republic of China is lowered and carefully folded by the guards, as part of a ceremony in which the soldiers show their national pride. If you are a more morning person, you can also attend the flag raising ceremony, which takes place daily, at sunrise.
Donghuamen Night Market. Located just a few blocks from Tiananmen Square, Donghuamen Night Market is organized daily, after sunset, on Wangfujing Pedestrian Street. You will find, for the most part, souvenirs, culinary delights and tourist objects, but it is a very different experience compared to the markets we normally see in European cities.
In the market you’ll find Chinese dishes such as scorpions, tarantula, and many other creatures that you normally consider as food elsewhere. Wander around the market and explore a very different culture of this wonderful people. But be careful, prices are higher than in other city markets, although they are not exactly astronomical.
Forbidden City. Close enough to Tiananmen Square you will find another wonderful place to visit in Beijing, the Forbidden City. Here you will find the Imperial Palace, which was to be the home of the members of the Ming Dynasty and, later, of the members of the Quing Dynasty, who ruled the Chinese Empire for almost half a millennium until the revolutionary movement that took place in the early 20th century.
Like most tourist sites in China and the country itself, the size of the Forbidden City complex is overwhelming. In addition to the impressive Imperial Palace, the complex still houses about 980 buildings. Needless to mention, the Forbidden City is designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is recognized as having one of the largest collections of ancient timber structures in impeccable condition.
This is one of the most popular tourist attractions in China, so try to avoid visiting it at the weekend. The large number of visitors can it you feel quite uncomfortable.
Great Wall of China. Although the Great Wall is not technically in Beijing, it can be easily visited as part of a city day trip. The earliest and most famous part of the wall is located in Badaling, just 80 kilometers from Beijing. It is an easy place to reach with public transport, especially by train.
The Grand National Theater. Opened in 2007, the Grand National Theater may not be included on all lists with the most important tourist attractions in Beijing, but if you are a lover of original Chinese architecture, then you should not miss a visit here.
The spectacular theater building is located near Tiananmen Square and consists of three large halls: the opera room, the music room and the theater. It was designed by French architect Paul André and has a structure similar to a dome made of titanium and glass. Surrounded by water, the building is only accessible through an underground tunnel.
Even according to Chinese construction standards, the theater building was incredibly expensive. Thus, make sure to include a visit to the Grand National Theater in your trip to Beijing! We guarantee you will not be disappointed!
The capital of the People’s Republic of China is definitely a destination that any traveler should put on their itinerary at least once in their lifetime. It is a vibrant, traditional and modern city at the same time and reveals China’s history better than anywhere else.