Beijing Attractions

Although I did not like living in Beijing, there's lots to see and might be good for a short holiday. Be mentally prepared that it will most likely be crowded almost everywhere you go and you might witness some pretty appalling behaviors.

Looking for a place to eat or have a few drinks?! Click on the map and scroll down on its left menu to see the few restaurants and bars that we liked as well as areas with cool places to eat/drink. Click on the name of each restaurant on the left menu to see more info/notes. Mind you, there's a lot of Western food, in case you're tired of eating Chinese food all the time.

Forbidden City / Palace Museum ( map )
[ 紫禁城 = ZǐJīnChéng / 故宫 博物院 = GùGōng BóWùYùan ]
8:30 am - 4 pm  |  60 RMB
Gigantic old palace across from Tiananmen Square [ 天安门广场 = Tiān'ānMénGuǎngChǎng ] that will take you hours to walk through. Since it tends to be very crowded, you can climb up some stairs of Jingshan Park [ 景山 公园 = JǐngShān GōngYuán ] north of the Forbidden City instead, to get an impressive aerial view of the whole palace! Also, swing by to take a look at the egg-shaped National Centre for the Performing Arts [ 国家大剧院 = GuóJiāDàJùYuàn ] nearby.
Summer Palace [ 颐和园 = YíhéYuán ] ( map )
6:30 am – 6 pm  |  30-60 RMB
Fabulous place to spend an afternoon, with a lake, hills, and temples. Do not miss!
Qianmen [ 前门 = QiánMén ] ( map )
Giant gate leading to a shopping area. Explore the Old Beijing hutong nearby but be careful not to get lost.
Beihai Park [ 北海公园 = BěiHǎiGōngYuán ] ( map )
6:00 am - 8 pm  |  5 RMB  ( official site )
Big park with a giant white pagoda and a lovely lake you can rent little boats in the summer. Pay extra to get into little caves with bizarre statues. It's just south of Houhai near a few subway stations.
Houhai [ 后海 = HòuHǎi ] ( map )
Probably one of my favorite areas in Beijing. It's nice to walk around the lake during the day and it's dotted with bars at night.
Lama Temple [ 雍和宮 = YōngHéGōng ] ( map )
9 am - 4 pm  |  25 RMB (ticket is a mini CD-ROM!)
Very interesting temple that's definitely worth seeing! Around this area, there are many hipster bars and cool restaurants housed in Old Beijing hutongs.
Prince Gong Mansion [ 恭王府 = GōngWángFǔ ] ( map )
7:30 am - 4:30 pm  |  40 RMB
An imperial mansion with picturesque gardens that was supposedly the setting that inspired one of China's Four Great Classical Novels, Dream of the Red Chamber [ 红楼梦 = HóngLóuMèng ].
798 Art Zone [ 798 艺术区 = QīJiǔBā Yìshùqū ] ( map )
Quite a large area of cool galleries, hipster cafes, and artsy boutiques housed in old factory buildings. Accessible by taxi.
Chaoyang Theatre Acrobatics Show [ 朝阳剧场 ] ( map )
A cool performance with acrobats and motorcyclists. Sometimes they appear a bit shaky, but I guess that adds to the excitement. We used a booking site to get front center tickets at 145 RMB each. Basically we emailed a guy named Dragon Wang then paid him for the tickets outside the theater — sounds sketchy but it worked! Take Subway Line 10 to Hujialou [ 呼家楼 ] Exit C1 then walk 20 meters south.
Temple of Heaven [ 天坛 = Tiāntán ] ( map )
6 am – 8 pm  |  30-35 RMB
Although I personally don't find this place overly interesting, it's one of the main sights most people visit in Beijing.
The Olympic Green ( map )
[ 北京 奥林匹克 公园 = BěiJīng ÀoLínPǐKè GōngYuán ]
Very big empty park that houses 2008 Olympics' Bird's Nest (Beijing National Stadium) and Water Cube (Beijing National Aquatics Center). You can pay to get inside both, but it's really not worth it as there's not much inside.
Fragrant Hills [ 香山 = Xiāngshān ] ( map )
6 am - 6 pm  |  5-10 RMB
A nice park in the mountains in the northwest of Beijing. I didn't find it to be particularly spectacular in the winter, but people like to see autumn foliage here.
Drum Tower [ 鼓楼 = GǔLóu ] ( map )
Pay 20 RMB to go up the steep stairs of the Drum Tower and see a brief drum show at 9:30/10:30/11:30/13:30/14:30/15:30/16:45. I wouldn't say that the show's a must-see and the view from the top is nice but not amazing. There are lots of nice little hutong bars and restaurants around this area [ 鼓楼大街 = GǔLóuDàJiē ] that are cool to hang out at night.
Beijing World Park ( map )
[ 北京 世界 公园= BěiJīng ShìJiè GōngYuán ]
8 am – 6 pm  |  100 RMB
A hilarious tacky central with some nice models of famous sights.

Capital Museum
[ 首都博物馆 = ShǒuDūBóWùGuǎn ] ( map )
9 am – 4 pm  |  free (must pre-book)
Go there if it's raining and you can't think of anything else to do.
Badachu [ 八大处 = BāDàChǔ ] ( map )
6 am – 6 pm
A Chinese co-worker told me this place with 8 temples is very nice... I disagree. It's an afternoon I could never get back.