10 Best Things to Do in Beijing for First-Time Visitors

top things to do in Beijing
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No matter your reason for visiting, Beijing has something for everyone. If it’s your first time to Beijing, you’ll probably want to spend some time at the world-renowned the Great Wall of China, the Forbidden City, but don’t miss out on other notable city jewels such as the Summer Palace, Temple of Heaven, and the  National Museum of China.

With so much to see and do in Beijing, it’s hard to narrow it down to the essentials while still having an experience that’s a good balance of everything the city has to offer. We’re here to guide you to the top 10 places to visit or must do activities for the first time visitors.

1: Take Toboggan Ride at Mutianyu

If there’s only one thing you must do in Beijing, it’s to visit the Great Wall, arguably the city’s most famous attraction. Just northeast of Beijing, you’ll find the significantly less crowded Mutianyu Great Wall. Here you can take a cable car for a quick-and-easy access to the highest restored section, and descends to the base by zooming down a fun, steep, zig-zagging toboggan. Avoid getting stuck behind other riders who are scared of moving fast, they may ruin your fun.

Mutianyu Great Wall slide toboggan
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2 Eating Out in Beijing.

For anyone who has even the slightest interest in Asian food Beijing is a delight that begs to be explored.

Firstly there is of course the world renowned Peking Duck. If you are lucky enough to locate a restaurant which prepares this duck delicacy in a clay oven fired with Red Date wood you will be in for a treat. The crispy and crackling skin and rich meat is something that will never escape the imagination. It’s worth a try.

But for for younger, more adventurous travellers – they need to take to the streets. And this means finding the best Donkey Burger in town. For westerners this name might be a bit off putting – but there are no equine ingredients. Called Lürou huoshao in local terms these are street burgers that are simply delicious. Green peppers and ultra fresh coriander in a wonderful fresh out of the oven bun make this an absolute delight.

3. Explore The Forbidden City.

No visit to Beijing would be complete with at least an afternoon exploring the delights of the Forbidden City. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to more than 2 million cultural icons from many of the periods that made China into what it is today. It simply cannot be missed by anyone who is visiting China.

Forbidden City of Beijing
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4. Visit The Chairman Mao Memorial.

Mao might have been responsible for an enormous amount of death and pain in China during his rule – however he still occupies a place in Chinese history. It is at this memorial on the Tiannamen Square that his crystal coffin is raised and lowered from its refrigerated containment every day.

5. Hop On Your Bike.

If you really want to get under the skin of Beijing then there is no better way than on a bike. Mobike has cleverly made an app that makes getting your hands on a bike incredibly easy. Download the app and it’ll let you know where your nearest bike is. Then just leave it there. Someone who wants it will be long shortly to pick it up – genius!

best things to do Beijing
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6. Soak Up Some Culture In The National Museum.

For culture vultures the National Museum in Beijing is an absolute wonder. 5000 Years of Chinese history and five floors of exploration make it an absolutely essential stop for anyone who is interested in the history of the country.

7. Shop Till You Drop.

Beijing is a modern city – and it brings with it a reputation for being a shopping mecca. For those who want high quality and low cost fitted clothing this is the place to be. For men getting that perfectly fitted suit made with the best of materials is so simple in Beijing. Ask around and you will be able to locate districts where your suit will be ready in 24 hours – and made to the most exacting standards.

Beijing street food
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8. Discover Antiques.

If you are happy to have what might not be the real thing but still looks fabulous then Panjiayuan Antique Market is the place that you should be visiting when you are Beijing. Not everything is fake – there are still some fantastic original items to be had – but you might want to check the providence – unless you are happy to purchase something that is simply beautiful and not worry too much about its historical value.

9. Immerse Yourself In The Lama Temple.

Beijing, and by extension the Chinese government may not be the greatest fan of Buddhism, but the Lama Temple is still held in highest regard in Beijing. Go and explore this wonderful building and its history. It has been central to many ages of the Chinese Empire. For those who are curious a sneaky glance behind the curtains of the third prayer hall will open their eyes to some rather racy sex education images from the old school.

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10. Keep Rocking.

Beijing has long had a reputation as one of the most progressive music destinations in Asia – and nothing has changed. There are numerous clubs and music destinations that will delight those who enjoy cover bands and original music. Ask around and you will be delighted at what you find after the sun sets.

Get to Beijing – it’s not the China you think about or expect. Vibrant and fantastic – it’s the true 21st century city.

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