With history as rich as Beijing’s, planning an itinerary to cover her entire timeline is no easy feat. From the herculean task of constructing the Great Wall, to the scheming plots in the Imperial Palace and not forgetting our modern-day symbols of China’s prosperity, we present to you the ultimate Beijing itinerary. So buckle up and sit tight as we take you on a trip back in time.

*Warning: please keep your hands and feet inside the carriage and do not interact with anyone of the past to prevent any alteration of the timeline.*

Great Wall of China; 萬里長城, 221B.C.

As Chairman Mao preached, you’re not a real man until you’ve scaled the great wall. So not only is this a great cultural exposure, it’s also a sure-fire way of transforming into a man (life hacks!)

There are multiple tourist spots around Beijing but you’ll only ever hear the name of one: Badaling. Aside from cultural and historical backgrounds, Badaling is known for its walls’ majestic arches and slopes which contributes to the overall picturesqueness.

Location: Yanqing, China
Tel: +86 10 6912 1226
Opening hours: 7:30am- 6pm

Houhai; 後海, 1271

With the literal meaning ‘back sea’, the former district exclusive to the royal family is a famous tourist attraction for bars, cafes, restaurants and a walk along anachronistic housings. The area is characterized by hutongs, which are alleys dotted with traditional buildings from Ancient China. To really get the full experience, you can even pay for a rickshaw ride around the neighborhood. 

We thought that this was one of the more interesting places as there was an abundance of options for food and shops selling little knick-knacks and souvenirs.

Location: Shichahai, Xicheng, China

Temple of Confucius; 孔廟, 1302

The Temple of Confucius was built for people to pay respects to the greatest educator and philosopher in China, Confucius. Personally, we felt that there wasn’t much going on there so it’s okay to give this place a skips unless you’re an avid devotee to Confucius. 

Location: No.13 Guozijian Street, Beijing, China
Opening hours: 8:30am- 6pm (May- Oct); 8:30am- 5pm (Nov-Apr), closed on all Mondays

Wang Fu Jing Shopping Street; 王府井, 1400s

A mix of olden days antiques and modern fashion brands, Wang Fu Jing acts as a bridge between generations. For those who are purely looking at fashion apparels, the APM Mall at the end of the street is your best bet. Otherwise, most stores in the streets carry anachronistic hand woven shoes and traditional hats, along with Beijing labeled souvenirs and knick knacks!

We highly recommend Chui Tang Bang 搥糖幫 which sells freshly hand-made peanut sweets, nougats and many others.

Location: Wangfujing St, Dong Dan, Dongcheng, Beijing, China

Tiananmen Square; 天安門, 1415

Located in central Beijing, you will find the souls of Beijing, Tiananmen Tower, Monument to the People’s Heroes and Chairman Mao Zedong Memorial Hall. If you’d like to learn more about China’s history and development, head down to the National Museum of China located at the east side of Tiananmen Square. Lastly, don’t forget to catch the grandeur flag-raising ceremony that occurs every morning.

Location: Dongcheng, China

Forbidden City; 紫禁城, 1420-1912

More commonly known as the Former Palace now, the Forbidden City holds stories of the Royal households and their servants from the Ming and Qing dynasties. A common stage for popular drama series such as ‘Story of Yanxi Palace’ and ‘Ruyi’s Royal Love in the Palace’, explore the complex palace cluster and learn their unique tales.

Location: 4 Jingshan Front St, Dongcheng, Beijing, China, 100009
Tel: +86 10 8500 7421
Opening hours: 8:30am- 5pm (Apr-Oct); 8:30am- 4:30pm (Nov-Mar)

Temple of Heaven; 天壇, 1420

Perhaps the most representative installation in China (you’d think it’s the Great Wall), the Temple of Heaven was constructed for the emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasty to hold the Heaven Worship Ceremony. As a valuable cultural site, it is highly recommended to explore the entire area. However, if there isn’t enough time, I recommend the Circular Mound Altar, Imperial Vault of Heaven and Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests.

Location: 1 Tiantan E Rd, Dongcheng, China, 100061
Tel: +86 10 6702 8866
Opening hours: 6am- 8pm

Dingling; 定陵, 1861

Cross the boundaries of life and death into the former Emperor Xianfeng’s burial ground. As the only tomb out of Thirteen Tombs of the Ming Dynasty that was successfully excavated, Dingling provides valuable insights to the death ceremonies and customs of Ancient China.

Location: Ming Tombs, Changling Town, Changping District, Beijing 102213, China
Opening hours: 8:30am- 5pm (Apr-Oct); 8:30am- 4:30pm (Nov-Mar)

Summer Palace; 頤和園, 1888

The Summer Palace is a large collection of palaces and greenery. We felt that this was one of the more interesting palaces due to it’s vastly different sceneries and decors. Some highly recommended locations include the Suzhou Street 苏州街, Stone Boat 石舫 and Long Corridor 長廊, which is 728 metres long with paintings of famous sceneries and folklores in China.

Location: 19 Xinjiangongmen Rd, Haidian, China, 100091
Opening hours: 6:30am- 6pm (Apr-Oct); 7am- 5pm (Nov-Mar)

Old Summer Palace; 圓明園, 1900s

Reputed as the Garden of Gardens, The Old Summer Palace is made up of the Garden of Perfect Brightness, Eternal Spring and Elegant Spring (圓明園,長春園,綺春園).

A stark contrast from other palaces, its catastrophic aftermath was preserved with the purpose to educate future generations of the war that plagued Ancient China. Looking past the ruins, you’ll see the remnants of European-styled architecture and imperial palace designs. Also known as the biggest treasury in China, the palace was also the original location where the 12 Zodiac Heads were displayed.

Location: Haidian, China
Opening hours: 8am- 7pm (Apr-Oct); 8am- 5pm (Nov-Mar)

The Legend of Kungfu, 2004

This performance brings together not only Shaolin Kungfu, but music and contemporary dances. There were definitely sensational martial arts stuns. However, we felt that the pace was too slow due to all the theatrical elements. 

Location: 44 Xingfu St, Dongcheng, Beijing, China
Tel: +86 13 5525 27373

Book your tickets online!

Beijing National Stadium; 鳥巢, 2007

Due to its intertwining steel beams, the Beijing National Stadium is also officially known as the Bird’s Nest. It was initially built for the 2008 Summer Olympics and will be used in the 2022 Winter Olympics. But for now, it is open to the public. It’s not a bad place for photos (recommended timing is after night falls as the infrastructure lights up) but we do not recommend paying to enter the stadiums as there isn’t much to see.

Location: 1 National Stadium S Rd, Chaoyang, China
Opening hours: 9am- 9:30pm

Restaurants and Cafe Reviews 

Dong Lai Shun

Did you know that traditional Beijing hotpot was eaten with water? Neither did we! Dong Lai Shun not only mimicked our ancestor’s way of eating, but the utensils as well, using a Cloisonne pot and charcoal and a metal slate to control the heat.

We had their fengwei broth (essentially mineral water from laoshan) which brought emphasis to the original flavors of the ingredients. However, those with a preference for robust flavors may choose to top-up for a mushroom or mala broth.

Click here to read the full review.

Location: Wangfujing St, Wangfujing, Xicheng, Beijing, China
Tel: +86 10 6528 0932

Tian Rui Traditional Cross-Bridge Noodles

Located opposite Red Theatre, this hidden gem is home of one of the best noodles we’ve ever had. Their noodles are freshly-made every day and their broth are cooked for at least 5 hours, resulting in complex and deep flavors. We highly recommend their Tomato Soup Cross-Bridge Noodles which costs ¥20 (S$4). But their other items such as the Knife-Sliced Noodles and Braised Pork Rice left us wanting for more too!

Location: Xingfu St, Dongcheng Qu, Beijing Shi, China

Julange Hai Xian Jiaozi

Freshly made to order, the dumplings here are steamy and warm, the perfect afternoon snack on a cold winter day. We absolutely loved their seafood dumplings, which tasted really fresh! The only problem was that the minimum order for each type of dumpling was at least 10 or 15, which limited the variety of flavors we could try.

We’re unable to find the exact location on Google Maps so you can either ask around or pray that your driver knows where it is.

Location: Haidian Qu, (cross section between Tian Xiu Lu and Long Bei Cun Lu) 天秀路与龙背村路交叉口西100米路北

Lao Beijing Zhajiangmian

You’ll see this literally on every street in Beijing. It has quite a distinct doubanjiang (broad bean paste) taste and a lot lesser meat compared to the ones we usually eat in Singapore. 

Each bowl of noodle costs approximately ¥25 (S$5).

Location: Dongchengqu Wusi Dajie Chizi Dajie, Beijing, China
Tel: +86 10 6770 5901

Beijing Dadong

How can you leave Beijing without trying a crispy, oily, savory Peking Duck? Unfortunately, the Peking Duck at Dadong left a bitter note (literally) in our mouths. Not only was it dry, there was a distinct charred odor which masked the duck’s flavor. Truly unappetizing.

However, the Jiangsu Sweet & Sour Ribs and Steamed Buns Stuffed with White Cabbage was delightful, especially the ribs which had a good balance of flavors.

Location: China, Beijing, Dongcheng, Jinbao St, 88号金宝汇购物中心5层
Tel: +86 10 8522 1234

For geographical reasons and thus convenience, the attractions above were not planned in chronological order. If you’re interested in the itinerary, you can click here to see how we planned our Beijing trip!

Furthermore, this trip wouldn’t have been as fun and enriching without our personal tour guide and driver. While it sounds bougie and another word for expensive, the total cost for 4 days and 3pax only amounted to ¥6780 (S$1300). The cost is dependent on the number of days, pax and attractions visited as it includes entrance fees as well.

If anyone is interested, you can contact Yang Ying @+86 15 2105 85210 directly.

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