Tourist Attractions and Things to Do in Beijing

Information on the main tourist attractions, places of interest and sights to see in and around Beijing...

Beijing National Stadium (The Bird's Nest)

The venue for the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, the distinctive Bird's Nest stadium now hosts sports and other events throughout the year. Visitors can take a tour of the 91,000-seat facility, see a small wax museum and visit the gift shop.

  • Beijing National Stadium
    At: 1 National Stadium South Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing 100101
    Tel: 010 8437 3011
    Fax: 010 8437 3058

Beijing Opera

Also referred to as Peking Opera, Beijing Opera is a theatrical art form which began in the 18th century incorporating dance, acrobatics, poetry, history, singing and acting. Performances traditionally involve complex costumes and simple sets, with great emphasis on the movements of the performers. Formerly rather rigid in style, pace and storyline, today's Beijing Opera may have a quicker pace and more modern stories to meet the tastes of modern audiences.

  • For information from the City of Beijing about Beijing Opera: Click here

Forbidden City/Zijin Cheng (Imperial Palace) and The Palace Museum

Built between 1406-1420, the Forbidden City was the home of the Chinese government and emperor for nearly 5 centuries. The architectural style of the 980 buildings on the grounds is Chinese palatial. The Palace Museum has temporary and permanent exhibits on various aspects of Chinese imperial life, art and history. The site is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is the largest complex of ancient wooden structures in the world. A barrier-free route is available for visitors with reduced mobility. The site is open daily.

Gong Wang Fu (Mansion of Prince Gong)

Gong Wang Fu was originally constructed in the late 18th century for minister He Shen. Near the end of that century, He Shen was accused of corruption and his mansion was confiscated. The mansion eventually ended up as the home of Prince Gong (brother of Emperor Xianfeng) in the mid 19th century. Today the mansion still bears his name. Very popular with tourists, the royal mansion is over 32,000 square metres while the impressive gardens are over 28,000. The grounds also contain a Beijing Opera House.

  • Gong Wang Fu
    At: Qian Hai Xi Jie, Xi Cheng Qu (Qianhai West Street, Xicheng District) Beijing 100009
    Tel: 010 8328 8149

Hutongs

Hutongs are alleyways or streets in Beijing formed from siheyuan (courtyard residences). It is believed that the hutongs in Beijing date back to the 1200s. During the dynastic period, the Forbidden City lay at the centre of Beijing, while the city was divided in concentric circles around it. High ranking aristocrats were allowed to live closest to the Forbidden City. The aristocratic homes in these areas were generally large and ornate and they formed wider hutongs compared to those of the poorer residents further from the city centre. As Beijing grows and modernises, hutongs are threatened with demolition in order to make way for roads and buildings.

Temple of Heaven (at Tiantan Park)

The Temple of Heaven park covers 273 hectares and contains the temple itself as well as other buildings and gardens. Construction of the temple began in 1420 and after completion, emperors of the Ming and Qing Dynasties prayed at the temple to the god of heaven for a good harvest. The temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is open daily.

  • Temple of Heaven
    At: Tiantan Road, Dongcheng District, Beijing 10005
    Tel: 010 6702 8866

Donghuamen Night Market

A food market for the more adventurous eater, the Donghuamen Night Market features a large selection of food, most prepared on-site to order. Visitors can find spring rolls, fruit and other dishes familiar to the western palate, as well as fried scorpions, sparrows and snake. The market is open nightly but closed on Chinese New Year.

  • Donghuamen Night Market
    At: Donghuamen Dajie (west of Wangfujing Pedestrian Street), Wangfujing, Dongcheng District, Beijing 100010

Panjiayuan Market (Dirt Market)

A massive market featuring art (including fakes), books, second-hand items, tourist souvenirs and many other goods. Firm negotiating is highly suggested. Open all week, but with a much larger selection of goods on the weekend.

  • Panjiayuan Market
    At: 18 Hua Wei Lu, Pan Jia Yuan Lu (Road), Chaoyang District, Beijing 100021