When we think of traveling to Beijing we imagine the greatness of the Forbidden City and the Temple of Heaven. A trip to Beijing suggests we move to the imperial era of China, but we must bear in mind that Beijing is much more.
Travel to Beijing means seeing a lot of people everywhere, a lot of cars, a lot of hustle and bustle and a lot of skyscrapers. That’s what makes it a living and unique capital.
Why visit Beijing? 🤔
When you travel to Beijing you will realize that it is one of the most populous cities in the world. In Beijing there is a lot to see and experience, mixing modern with traditional.
Antique markets, luxurious neighborhoods, old neighborhoods stagnant in the communist era, shopping areas, and great historical monuments.
History of Beijing
Beijing began to be the capital of China with the government of the second emperor Ming, in the reign of Yongle. Before it had also been the capital of much older dynasties.
It was during the Ming dynasty that the city we know today began to be built. Many of the monuments you can see there date back to the time of great emperors.
What to see in Beijing? 🌇
There’s a lot to see in Beijing, so getting to know the city’s tourist attractions never hurts. Here is a list of the mandatory visits if you go to Beijing, with their price and duration in each.
The Forbidden City is a palace complex where the Chinese court lived next to the emperor since the 15th century. It was built by the Ming dynasty.
Its name comes from the fact that only the high strata of society, as well as the imperial family and guests, could enter it.
Here you will find beautiful gardens, imperial ceramics, paintings, concubine rooms, and emblematic figures such as the great lions of the entrance.
If you’re going to travel to Beijing you can’t leave without seeing it, but because of its sheer size and popularity it’s recommended that you reserve a few hours before your visit.
- Adults: 11$ from April to October, and 9$ from November to March
- Children: Free
- Reduced mobility: Free
- +60 years old: -50%.
*To enter the clocks room or the treasure gallery you have to pay a couple of euros more.
Summer Palace 🌞
The Summer Palace is an extensive palace complex bordered by a lake. It is 15 kilometers from Beijing, but you can easily go by subway.
It was built in 1750. Within the complex we can find temples, bridges, towers, and even a beautiful marble boat.
The court of the Qing dynasty used it as a resting place during the summers. The Dehe Garden and the Buddhist Tower of Incense should be highlighted inside.
It is also advisable to make a prior reservation here.
- High season: 5$
- Low season: 4$
Complete visit (access to the whole complex, including the garden)
- High season: 9$
- Low season: 8$
* Students have discounts
If you’re going to the Forbidden City, you’ll have to go through Tian’anmen Square. You can’t miss the biggest square in the world.
Here you will find the National Museum of China and the Grand People’s Palace, as well as Mao Zedong’s mausoleum.
If you want, you can access Mao’s Mausoleum for free and see his embalmed body and military dress, although you’ll have to leave your backpack and camera in a locker that costs 3$ for two backpacks.
Entrance to the National Museum of China costs 5$ per person.
Great Wall of China 🏰
The Great Wall of China was built to protect against attacks by nomadic peoples from the northern steppes.
In spite of the attempt, both the Mongols and the Manchus went through it, but a grandiose monument remained that you have to see.
There are several sections along the Great Wall of China, but some are very far from Beijing and others are dangerous to visit because of their deterioration. I recommend visiting the section called Mutianyu if you are staying in Beijing.
There are several ways to get to Mutianyu: by private taxi, taking a cheap tour, or using public transport, which is the cheapest.
When you arrive you have to pay the entrance fee and the price of the cable car. To get off, you can go for a slide 723 meters long (no kidding).
* Don’t forget to bring a rucksack with water and food as well as sunscreen and a cap.
Temple of Heaven
It is a set of religious buildings built during the Ming dynasty. The emperor himself went to the Temple of Heaven to pray for the harvests once a year, and after the harvest he went to thank the God of Heaven for the harvest obtained.
The complex is located in Tian Tan Park, a very nice park where you can find old people practicing Tai Chi.
We recommend that you buy your ticket to the Temple of Heaven in advance if you decide to travel to Beijing, in order to avoid long queues.
Silk Market 🐛
It is not a historical site, but it is a place that surely attracts your attention to visit. The Silk Market not only sells silk, it sells everything.
But beware, never pay what they tell you, you will always have to haggle to get an object for what it is really worth.
Most people go to buy counterfeits of famous brands. You will always be offered double the original price and you will never have to pay more than 100¥ for anything.
Admission, of course, is free.
Also known as Coal Hill, is an imperial park located north of the Forbidden City. In it we can also find some pavilions like the Eternal Spring.
The views of the Forbidden City from that pavilion are spectacular and deserve the climb up the hill. You must see it if you take a trip to Beijing.
* Wear comfortable shoes so you can easily climb the hill.
Price: Less than 1$
Beijing Hutongs 🍜
When you travel to Beijing you will find the hutongs or traditional neighborhoods where a way of life remains stagnant in time. They are pedestrian areas where you can also find food markets.
Hutongs have existed since the Yuan Dynasty, but most were built during the Ming Dynasty.
There are several Hutong neighborhoods in Beijing. One of them is near the Drum Tower, which is in the Shichahai area.
There is also Qianmen, south of Tiananmen Square and Guozijian Square, which you will pass through if you visit the Temple of Confucius or the Temple of the Lama.
Confucius Temple 👴
It is the second most important temple dedicated to Confucius. It dates from the Yuan dynasty and was also frequented by the emperor to worship the famous thinker and educator of Chinese society.
Temple of the Lamas
The Lamas temple is dedicated to Tibetan Buddhism built during the Qing dynasty. At first, it was used as the residence of Prince Yongzhen, until he became emperor of China.
It is essential to visit it to see up close the Buddhist cults in China (including the Giant Buddha), in addition to being a complex worth seeing.
Beijing Olympic Village 🚴
In Beijing, the constructions that were made for the 2008 Olympic Games are still preserved.
I recommend that you take a walk in this Olympic Village at night, as its coloured lighting accentuates contemporary architecture and creates a pleasant atmosphere.
This is an obligatory visit, since the Beihai Park is a unique environment and has a historical importance.
It did not open to the public until the 1920s, as it was an imperial park. The origin of the park goes back to the Jin dynasty, an ancient dynasty.
The White Pagoda, which can be visited, is built on the Moon Palace of Kubilai Khan. In short: Marco Polo was there!
We can also find various Buddhist temples. All in a peaceful environment with a lake that turns into an ice rink in winter.
- High season: 3$
- Low season: 2$
- White Pagoda: 2$
- Yongan Temple: 2$
Drum Tower 🥁
The Drum Tower was used to mark the hours from the Yuan dynasty until 1920 with the end of the last imperial dynasty and the appearance of clocks.
Currently, you can enjoy a musical show of drums. The Bell Tower was also used to mark the hours.
- Drum Tower: 3$
- Bell Tower: 2.5$
- Combined ticket: 5$
The Beijing Opera became popular during the Qing dynasty, becoming an essential part of Chinese culture. It is a different spectacle worth seeing.
I recommend that before you go you watch some videos of the Beijing Opera and find out about the dress of the characters who usually appear in it so that you can understand it better.
Price: 28$ if you book in advance.
* You can even reserve a site online from your country and pay with your currency of origin.
Budget How much does it cost to travel to Beijing? 💸
The budget when you travel to Beijing depends on many factors: In which country you live, the hotel you choose, the time of your stay, etc …
Here I will give two examples of itemised budgets. One basic and one for those who are going on all-inclusive trips to Beijing.
- Round trip flight from USA or Mexico (1100 $)
- Visa from USA (140 $)
Visits: Includes the Forbidden City, the Great Wall, bus and minibus trip, complete Beihai Park, Tambor Tower and Campana Tower, Confucius Temple, Lama Temple, complete Summer Palace, and Temple of Heaven (about 55$ per person).
Hotel: 6 nights stay in a cheap double bed hotel with 3 star private bathroom (145$ total per person). You can look for more here:
Food: Approximately 145$ total. In a cheap restaurant you can buy a menu for 6$. In addition, you can eat very cheap street food.
Transport and others: 55 $. Transport in Beijing is very cheap, but you have to add the cost of a souvenir.
Total per person from USA or Mexico: 1,625$
This budget for travel to Beijing includes all of the above plus entrance to the Beijing Opera, a taxi ride to and from the Great Wall and 6 nights in a 4-star hotel in downtown Beijing (based at Kapok Hotel – Forbidden City).
- Total per person (USA or Mexico): 1858$
Are there any cheap flights to Beijing? 🛫
I’m sure you’re already considering a trip to Beijing after reading most of this article. But how can you fly to Beijing cheaper? Where can I find direct flights to Beijing?
Here are some of the best comparators to find cheap flights to Beijing:
- TripAdvisor: Searching in this comparator of cheap flights I found real bargains. Roundtrip flights for a price of 700$ per person from United States.
- Skyscanner: In this other website I have come to find even cheaper, for only 500$ round trip per person from America.
Cheap hotels and accommodation in Beijing 🛌
Accommodation is also very important when travelling to Beijing or any other city in China.
As always, we show you the best offers of hotels in Beijing that we have found on the Internet:
- HotelsCombined: In this online platform you will find the cheapest ones, from 18$ per night per person.
- Booking: The cheapest is the Beijing Granary International Hostel, and the Leo Hutong Hotel. Both at almost 20$ per person per night. They are 2 and 3 stars respectively.
- Skyscanner: On this website I found the Beijing Xiaofengxian and P.Loft Youth Hostel hotels. Both at 14$ per person per night, a real bargain.
When to travel to Beijing?
Autumn is the best time to travel to Beijing. It has a pleasant temperature and the city is not overcrowded with tourists.
Spring is also a good choice when it comes to temperature, but prices are more expensive and there are more tourists due to the Chinese New Year.
What do you need to travel to Beijing? 🧳
There are several items that you must take on a trip to Beijing. Here we tell you what they are.
It depends on the country you live in and the length of your trip you will need a visa or not.
If you need a visa, consult the documentation to be provided and go to the Chinese embassy in your country. If you are from Spain, you can purchase your visa online through an agency.
Chinese Dictionary 🈲
You can buy a Chinese dictionary. This will be really handy for your trip. You can also download a dictionary application on your mobile. In China not everyone knows English or Spanish.
It is better that you bring medicines bought in your country of origin. Keep in mind that the leaflet and the name of the medicine will be in Chinese. Also, they can be more expensive than here.
Make sure you always carry a travel first aid kit and some painkillers. Of course, don’t forget to bring your medication for your treatments.
You don’t need to be vaccinated to go to China.
Transport in Beijing 🚈
There’s all kinds of transportation in Beijing. The most recommended is the subway and tuk tuk because of its low price and low risk of getting lost.
You can also go by bus to the tourist sites, but you’d better find someone to help you get off at your stop or you could end up anywhere.
Besides being varied, transportation in Beijing is very cheap. A metro ticket will cost you from 0,30$ to 0,60$.
Beijing Tours and Various Activities
There are many other activities and tours in Beijing that you can do if you have some time left on the trip.
You can go see Beijing’s famous Kung Fu Show, see panda bears and other animals at Beijing Zoo, or even take a group bike tour of the city’s alleys.
Where to eat in Beijing? 🥟
The food in Beijing is usually very cheap, being able to choose between a great variety of places in which to taste the Chinese food typical of Beijing.
The cheapest are undoubtedly the street stalls. They sell dumplings, noodles, rice, skewers, etc.
You can also eat western food in big chains like McDonalds (but beware, all their hamburgers are extra spicy).
You can take a full menu for about 4 or 5 dollars in a cheap restaurant. The menu in Beijing usually consists of a main course of meat with vegetables, a soup and a bowl of rice.
If you are a fan of cooking and like to try all the new flavors when you travel, then we recommend the gastronomic tour of Beijing.
In this gastronomic adventure in the Beijing afternoon you will learn the basic ingredients and techniques of Beijing cuisine. An entire market with hundreds of food stores.
Shopping in Beijing 👜
Depending on what you want to buy, you’ll have to go one place or another. If you want to buy imitations go to the silk market in Guomao. If you want to buy souvenirs and crafts better go to the hutongs.
Branded clothing is more expensive than in Europe, but if you still want to buy it go to shopping malls.
Melian Tao Street is ideal for buying Chinese tea and in the Panjiayuan Market you can find any antique.
Useful tips when travelling to Beijing
There are a number of precautions to take in Beijing when travelling to that city. The golden tip when travelling to Beijing is to ask the hotel receptionist to write down in Chinese the places you want to go to and the address of the hotel.
This way any Chinese citizen will be able to show you the way or the stop where you have to get off. It is also vital to take a taxi.
Plan your trip before you get your visa. You will be asked to show the flights and the hotel reservation, although the hotel may change it as long as you respect the flights.
Take the money just for the bus. In China bus drivers don’t give tickets or change.
You should take tissues wherever you go. In public restrooms there is usually no paper.
Don’t be surprised if the chinese people take pictures with you as if you were a Hollywood star. It’s very normal, they love to take pictures with westerners.
Finally, we recommend that you take out travel insurance in case anything happens, although it is not obligatory and you will not be asked for it anywhere.
If you want to know more about travelling to China check out our main travel page.