6 Tourist Spots to Avoid in Beijing

6 Tourist Attractions That Are Actually Not Worth the Trip

Beijing boasts a myriad of exciting and awe-inspiring tourist attractions, but not all necessarily warrant a visit. With so much to see and do — and limited time available — it behooves you to avoid the city’s less impressive destinations. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to determine which tourist attractions are most worth avoiding, particularly if you tend to gravitate towards spots off the beaten path. When in doubt, steer clear of the following:

1. Badaling And the Forbidden City on Chinese National Day

Many Beijing attractions need not be avoided outright. Rather, they’re worth bypassing on specific days, when the crowds are even larger than usual. Chinese National Day, in particular, warrants concern, as it typically delivers hordes of locals alongside the usual tourists. While the occasion technically involves a full week (known as the Golden Week) of festivities, the kickoff on October 1st tends to draw the largest crowds.

While the entire city of Beijing will be busier than usual on National Day, top attractions such as Badaling Great Wall and the Forbidden City may feel particularly overwhelming. If you’re willing to put up with crowds, you’re better off hitting up one of the city’s official celebrations, where you can at least take part in a memorable cultural occasion. If possible, plan to visit Badaling and the Forbidden City in late September, when the weather will be beautiful and locals will still be at work.

2. Panjiayuan Antique Market

The vibrant atmosphere of the Panjiayuan Antique Market lures in tourists eager to find unique souvenirs. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with walking around the market, where interesting sights abound. Think twice, however, before buying anything. Unfortunately, several of the market’s vendors are notorious for selling fakes — and passing them off as originals.

These can be visually impressive, but they also tend to be expensive due to their false designation as authentic. If you absolutely insist on purchasing something, resist the urge to buy it at face value. Bargaining is expected and will ensure that you aren’t completely ripped off.

3. Chairman Mao Memorial Hall

If you love waiting in line, you’ll be in for a real treat at Chairman Mao Memorial Hall, where the entire experience essentially consists of standing around impatiently. Your best bet for getting in and out in a reasonable amount of time involves waking up at the crack of dawn and arriving well before the attraction opens for the day. Otherwise, don’t be surprised if you wait well over an hour in line.

Once you finally make it inside, you’ll be afforded, at best, a quick glance at Chairman Mao’s resting place before you’re forced to move on. Blink, and you might miss it entirely.

4. Lama Temple’s Fortune Teller’s Street

The beautiful Lama Temple is absolutely worth visiting. The fortune-telling stores on nearby Yonghegong Street? Not so much. If you prefer to keep to yourself, you’ll be quickly annoyed by the many fortune-tellers who wander the area. They aren’t shy about getting in your face and talking about your future — and they’ll prove persistent, even if you’re in a hurry.

5. Blue Zoo Beijing

Also known as the Gongti Richina Underwater World, Beijing’s Blue Zoo provides up-close views of coral reefs, fish, stingrays, and more. You might even get to see a mermaid.

Unfortunately, the entire facility has a rundown feel that heavily detracts from the visual spectacle of the aquatic life on display. With a reasonable entrance fee, this might be acceptable. The Blue Zoo’s exorbitant tickets, however, justify higher expectations — which will definitely not be met.

6. Badaling Wildlife Park

The Badaling Wildlife Park may be home to a variety of creatures, but that doesn’t mean it’s an enjoyable place to visit. Unfortunately, the animals here spend their lives in very small — and often, very dirty — cages. Many of the animals appear to suffer from malnutrition and general neglect. Compared to other zoos, this location is downright depressing.

Don’t let this list discourage you. Thankfully, most Beijing attractions live up to the hype. That being said, you’ll find your visit most enjoyable if you dedicate your time exclusively to the city’s most impressive destinations. With a little planning, your trip can be just as wonderful as you’ve envisioned.

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Complete Guide To Visiting Beijing In February 2020: Weather, What To See & Do

Beijing in February Travel Guide

So you’re planning your travel and wondering: is February a good time to visit Bejing? Indeed. This is one of the best times to visit. Not only will you encounter smaller crowds and shorter waits, you’ll be impressed by the array of activities and events only available when cold weather descends. February, in particular, warrants a visit, as we explain below:

Beijing Weather: What to Expect in February

Beijing tends to be cold and dry between December and February, although temperatures may pick up a little as winter draws to a close. The general lack of precipitation makes it easier to plan outings in advance, but you’ll still want to arrive equipped with plenty of layers.

The temperature typically hovers around 30 or 40 degrees Fahrenheit, making jackets, gloves, and hats absolute necessities. Warm clothing will prove especially valuable if you visit the Great Wall of China.

Sunglasses, although often forgotten, are very important at the Great Wall and in several other outdoor locations, where the glare of the sun may otherwise leave you squinting. Don’t forget a pair of quality walking or hiking shoes — and warm socks.

Top February Events in Beijing

If you’re willing to put up with cold weather, you will be rewarded not only by fewer tourist crowds at top attractions, but also with the opportunity to check out some of the city’s most impressive festivals.

If you arrive at the end of January, you can even participate in the excitement of the Chinese New Year, known locally as the Spring Festival.

Don’t worry if you miss out on the Spring Festival; this is just one of many opportunities to celebrate as Beijing’s winter season comes to a close.

The Longqing Gorge Snow and Ice Festival is especially worth checking out. This annual event resembles the world-famous Harbin Ice Festival, but has a smaller and slightly more intimate feel. Situated between two mountain peaks, the event features gorgeous ice carvings, several of which portray famous temples and palaces. Other festival highlights include folk dancing and fireworks.

Sometimes referred to as the Yuanxiao Shangyuan Festival, the annual Lantern Festival brings a sea of lanterns to Beijing, where the streets glow as locals and tourists celebrate under a full moon.

Qianmen is a top spot during this special tradition; there, you’ll find not only lanterns, but also lion dancing. Although beautiful and entertaining for tourists, this festival holds a greater purpose for locals, who use it as a time to let go of their former selves and take on a new year with a fresh sense of optimism.

Top Attractions to Visit in February

Beyond attending festivals, you’ll definitely want to visit Beijing’s top attractions, where you can avoid the crowds that gather during peak tourist season. The Great Wall, in particular, warrants a visit. If you’re lucky, this iconic attraction’s already amazing scenery will be complemented by a beautiful layer of snow.

Beyond the Great Wall, you’ll find a variety of winter activities unavailable during peak tourist season. Skating, for example, is a big deal in Beijing, with several outdoor rinks offering gorgeous views. At minimum, build time into your itinerary for the Kunming Lake Skate Rink at the Summer Palace.

If you love downhill skiing, you’re in luck: several amazing ski resorts and villages can be easily accessed from Beijing. Set aside a full day to take on new thrills at the Nanshan Ski Village or the Shijinglong Ski Resort — you won’t regret it.

If you need a break from the cold, feel free to visit Beijing’s many acclaimed indoor attractions. From top museums to shows, options abound. Top sights include:

  • Beijing Capital Museum
  • The Antiquarium of Palace Museum
  • National Art Museum of China
  • Tiandi Theatre Acrobatic Show
  • Peking Opera at the Huguang Guild Hall
  • Red Theatre Beijing Kung Fu Show
  • The Place Shopping Center

There’s no shortage of entertainment in and around Beijing. No matter when you visit, you’ll encounter a lovely blend of history, culture, and modern amenities. Don’t hesitate to explore the city in February — you just might find that you prefer Beijing’s winter vibes.

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6 Reasons To Visit Beijing This Winter


Top Reasons to See Beijing in Winter

Every season brings something special to Beijing. Winter, in particular, is full of delight. Many travel enthusiasts, however, only visit the city during tourist season. In doing so, they miss out on a uniquely authentic and laid-back side of Beijing. There’s a lot to love about winter in Beijing, including the following travel benefits:

1. Fewer Crowds

Peak tourist season typically hits Beijing between April and October, when the weather is often comfortable and the views are spectacular. Winter, however, sees a considerable slow-down.

While there’s no such thing as a ‘quiet’ season in Beijing, reduced tourist traffic can make a huge difference in wait times for top attractions, while also keeping crowds to a minimum. This could prove beneficial if you’re nervous about navigating the city’s busy streets.

2. A Unique Look at the Great Wall of China

The Great Wall may be gorgeous all year long, but it achieves a special kind of beauty in the winter. If you’re lucky, a layer of snow will blanket the surrounding hills, transforming the area into a true winter wonderland. If you opt to visit one of the sections of the Great Wall situated closest to the city, you may also find smaller crowds. Chinese New Year is a notable exception, as locals typically descend on Badaling for the holiday.

3. Exciting Skiing And Skating Opportunities

If you dream of exploring Beijing on skis or skates, you’ll definitely want to visit during the winter months. Beijing is home to a surprisingly vast array of outdoor recreational opportunities, including several charming ski villages and resorts. Whether you’re a beginner or a longtime ski enthusiast, you’ll love the excellent grooming and the challenges that nearby ski locations provide.

If you prefer a low-key experience, stop in at one of the city’s many open-air or indoor skating rinks. Outdoor skating, in particular, is enjoyable in Beijing, as many of the city’s top destinations provide spectacular views. The Kunming Lake Skate Rink at the renowned Summer Palace is especially worth checking out.


4. Authentic Local Experience

As tourist season dies down, locals settle into their normal routines. As a result, a winter visit will grant you a better idea of what it is actually like to live and work in Beijing. When you visit top attractions during the off-season, you’ll encounter fewer tourists and more locals, many of whom are willing to interact on a personal basis.


5. Festivals And Temple Fairs

Beijing takes on a decidedly festive atmosphere in January and February, when several of the city’s best events are scheduled. These special occasions grant you an inside look at the region’s prized traditions. Temple fairs are especially worth observing. Also referred to as miaohui or yíngshén sàihuì, these traditional gatherings take place at the city’s most notable temples, where locals visit to pray for good fortune — and to have fun.

Be sure to add the following events to your itinerary:

  • Lantern Festival
  • Spring Festival (also known as Chinese New Year)
  • Longqing Gorge Ice and Snow Festival
  • Ditan Park Temple Fair
  • Longtan Temple Fair


6. Off-Peak Hotel Rates

If you’re determined to visit Beijing on a budget, you’ll find this goal most within reach during the winter, when several hotels offer significant discounts in hopes of attracting off-season tourists. Conversely, you may encounter sky-high rates during the peak of the tourist season — if you’re able to find vacancies at all. During the winter, it’s shockingly easy to score luxury accommodations for a fraction of the usual price. Take advantage of this exciting opportunity to pamper yourself and your loved ones.

No matter when you visit Beijing, you will encounter a thriving city filled with awe-inspiring attractions, mouthwatering cuisine, and friendly locals. On or off-season, this vibrant destination is definitely worth checking out.


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Where to Celebrate Your Christmas in Beijing

The Best Places To Celebrate Christmas in Beijing

It’s not uncommon to call celebrating Christmas in Beijing a once in a lifetime experience. But those who experience the amazing festivities, food, carol, shopping, singing, and holiday strolls on the Great Wall of China find themselves returning year after year.

That’ because sharing the holiday season with loved ones in Beijing offers a rare opportunity to be immersed in a culture renowned for its commitment to long-standing traditions. These rank among the wondrous things you can do in Beijing during a Christmas vacation.

1: Join in Traditional Christmas Carols at Beijing Churches

Beijing has earned a global reputation for outstanding architecture and is home to some of the world’s most beautiful churches. During Christmas, church choirs, congregation members, and visitors come together to sing. These six are considered among the most inspiring churches to carol during your stay.

  •  Xuanwumen Cathedral: Built in 1904, this marvel is called “Cathedral of Immaculate Conception.” It stands on the site of a church constructed by Jesuit missionary Adam Schall in 1650 that later burned down.
  • St. Joseph’s: This house of worship is conveniently located on Wangfujing Dajie, one of the more popular areas to shop during the holidays. Built in 1905 with a Romanesque façade, it also stands on the site of one raised by Jesuits during the 1600s. St. Joseph’s also housing historical paintings by Giuseppe Castiglione.
  • St. Michael’s: Built in 1902, the Gothic-style marvel features stunning stained-glass windows and statues of angels.
  • Xishiku Church: The “Church of the Savior,” as it is called, is designed in the neo-Gothic style and has been deftly restored.
  • Zhushikou Church: Built by the United Methodists, it enjoys three levels and delivers a modern evangelical experience complete with large monitors.
  • Xizhimen Church: Originally constructed in 1723, this Catholic church was rebuilt in 1912 after a fire destroyed it in 1811. Its high Gothic peaks are incredible.

These beautiful structures are home to choirs and everyday people who embrace the joy of song during Christmas.

2: Hike the Jinshanling Great Wall

Following a hearty Beijing brunch, you may be pleased to know you can stretch your legs in full holiday regalia on the Jinshanling Great Wall. Visitors can generally access this section from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. and enjoy the breath-taking views. You may find a few revelers wearing Santa hats. Bundle up though, because the weather is usually chilly and dry at this time of year.

3: Soak up the Festive Atmosphere at Sanlitun

For many Beijing visitors, Christmas is an opportunity to continue their traditional celebration and dip a toe into some modern fun, as well. Sanlitun ranks among the more lively neighborhoods in Beijing.

Party people can enjoy the bar-hopping scene in the area’s semi-dive scene. By contract, you can also have a sophisticated dining experience at some of the upscale restaurants. In terms of Christmas shopping, the 19-building, dual-site Taikoo Li offers flagship brands and significant savings. These possibilities are just the tip of the iceberg at Sanlitun.

4: Explore Beijing Christmas Markets

China has embraced a similar shopping cycle to the West, and visitors will be able to take advantage of huge discounts during the holidays. Expect extended hours, and there are niche markets for people from all over the world.

There are usually Christmas markets associated with the German, Polish, and British embassies, among others. However, the Liangma International Flower Market is an absolute must for Christmas shoppers.

5: Feast on Festive Food and Drink

One of the exciting facts that travelers are happy to discover is that Christmas is not a public holiday in Beijing. That means you can expect many of the attractions and eateries to be open. After gifts are exchanged and families have enjoyed some quality time, consider taking in one of the city’s extraordinary brunch buffets. Many are all-you-can-eat, which gives visitors an opportunity to try various traditional delicacies.

6: Go Ice Skating at Shichahai Skating Rink

Beijing is on a similar weather pattern as the West and locals and visitors alike take to this well-manicured skating rink. Located in the historic Houhai area, visitors can rent skates and other equipment on site. People love to ice skate in Beijing, and laughter and excitement fill the air.

Christmas in Beijing is a special time of year. The joy of the holiday and season are in everyone’s hearts, and the experience is one not to be missed.

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Top 5 Sunrise Spots in Beijing You Won’t Want to Miss

5 Recommended Places to See the Sunrise in Beijing

The sights and sounds of Beijing are worth exploring at all hours of the day. There is something truly special about dawn, however, when select corners of the city have yet to come to life. If there is any time to capture a serene moment in the heart of Beijing — or in nearby parks or historic sites — it’s at sunrise, when the already beautiful scenery is amplified by swirling colors worthy of painting.

Not sure where to start? You’ll definitely want to check out these top sunrise spots in and around Beijing:

1.Wanchun Pavilion at Jingshan Park

If you’re on the hunt for a distinctively cosmopolitan sunrise view, hit up the Jingshan Park’s  Wanchun Pavilion. Conveniently located in the center of Beijing, this famous park is easy to access. A sunrise visit will serve as the perfect precursor to a  busy day in the city. This is your opportunity to enjoy a little peace and quiet before the liveliness of Beijing takes over.

Once you arrive at the park, climb up to the Wanchun Pavilion. From there, you can enjoy an expansive view of the Forbidden City, along with the vibrant colors of the sunrise. The earlier you arrive, the better — but keep in mind that, depending on the season, the park’s opening hours could prevent you from witnessing the first rays of light.

2. Incense Burner Peak at Fragrant Hills Park

Spanning over 400 acres, Fragrant Hills Park is best known as the home of Incense Burner Peak, which is named for its two large stones that resemble incense burners. While the summit has long been a top spot for viewing fall colors, it offers spectacular scenery all year long —, especially during sunrise. Of course, the sunrise view is that much more impressive when complemented by vibrant autumn leaves.

Many people visit Incense Burner Peak early in the morning in hopes of avoiding the crowds that tend to gather later in the day. If possible, plan to arrive slightly before sunrise to see the park covered in the mysteriously beautiful haze of dawn. This haze will slowly give way to gorgeous colors as they usher the sun to rise over the expansive park.

3. Jinshanling Great Wall

Sunrise viewing opportunities abound all along the Great Wall of China, but the best view is arguably available at the beautiful section known as Jinshanling. Situated in a mountainous region northeast of Beijing, this section takes a little effort to access — but you’ll quickly realize that the trip is worthwhile, given the serenity and indescribable beauty available at this peaceful enclave.

While virtually any spot on Jinshanling can offer a memorable sunrise experience, West Five Window Tower is arguably your best bet. A go-to among both local and visiting photographers, this spot offers a remarkable view. Other areas worth exploring at sunrise include West Six Window Tower and Gaojian Tower.

4. Tanzhe Temple

Head to Beijing’s Mentougou District to explore the famed Tanzhe Temple at sunrise. Once one of China’s most important temples, this attraction is now beloved for its beautiful architecture and its Western Hills scenery. On a clear morning, you’ll enjoy panoramic views of the city.

Stop by early to take in the scenery before you explore Mahavira Hall, Yigan Pavilion, and a large collection of pagodas. In addition to the sunrise and the architecture, you may also spot several Buddhist monks.

5. Lingshan Mountain

If you’re willing to travel away from Beijing for the day, you won’t find a better sunrise view than the stunning display available from the summit of Lingshan Mountain. This view takes some effort to achieve, but those who have had the pleasure of taking it all in would happily go through the trouble again. Plan ahead to ensure plenty of time to reach the peak in time for the sunrise.

With the Lingshan Mountain hike, the journey is every bit as enjoyable as the destination. While you’ll surely be impressed at the gorgeous vistas available from the peak of the Beijing area’s highest mountain, you’ll also love the mountain goats, yaks, and wild horses spotted along the way.

Nothing compares to the beauty of a sunrise over Beijing. Set aside at least one morning to wake up before dawn and explore the region’s most beautiful attractions — you won’t regret it.

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