Beijing's Sights

 

What to see/visit ?

In other places in China, most of Beijing's sights would at a minimum classify as "nice" but this is expensive and extensive Beijing so it seems fair to make a more drastic selection...

The must see (or else...) :

  • Forbidden City "Gu Gong" (6513 2255) : Y30 + Y5 jewellery + Y5 clocks' exhibition + other museums (also a Y50 all inclusive ticket but not recommended) / Part of UNESCO World Heritage List since 1987 / Open 8:30 to 17 daily  (ticket window close at 15:30) / Buses 1, 4, 10, 22, 37, 57, 203 / Quite a few people are disappointed by what they see but at least they can now talk about it...

  • Summer Palace "Yiheyuan" (6288 1144) : Y8 entrance, Y5 Grand stage, Y10 Buddhist Sea of Wisdom Temple, Y15 Suzhou street or Y25 all inclusive ticket (not recommended) / Part of UNESCO World Heritage List since 1998 / Open 7 to 18:30 / Bus 301, 203, 332, 333, 346, 374, 384, 904 or tourist minibus from zoo or, when in operation, a boat from near the zoo or Metro to Xizhimen Station (Y3) then Bus 375 (Y2) to the terminus.

  • The Great Wall at Simatai : Y20, Bus to Miyun from Dongzhimen Bus Station and then another bus or  a Tour Bus from Jinghua Hotel (60Y, dep. 8am return 6pm, around 20 peoples) / Forget about the monkeys, bears and Chinese tourists of Badaling and visit the wall where (and while) it is still relatively undisturbed (which does not mean unexploited)... See below for more info about other spots. 

The very nice sights :

  • Lama Temple (6404 3769) : Y15, open 9 to 16:30, Subway Yonghegong, Bus 2 or 116 / Very colorful, quite big and definitively spectacular with the biggest sculpture carved from a single trunk of (sandal) wood in the world : a portrait of Maitreya, Buddha of the future, 18 m visible plus 6 meters underground...

  • Jingshan Park : Y3 / Go there for the view, the relative peace and to see where the last Ming Emperor hanged himself... A much nicer (and cheaper) experience than getting up Tiananmen gate...

  • Temple of Heaven Park "Tiantan Gongyuan" (6702 2617) : Y14, open 8 to 17:30 daily, Bus 6,106 to North Entrance / Listed in the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1998 / This is now the symbol of Beijing and if you have traveled a bit in China you must have seen its picture in numerous ads or posters. Now is the time to see the original structure, on location within its nice garden, and without any products nearby (a lot are waiting for you outside however...)

The nice sights :

  • Confucius Temple (6407 3593) : 9 to 17 Tues-Sun, Bus 13,113,104,108 to Andingmennei Jie or subway to Yonghegong then walk

  • Western Fragrant Hills "Xianshan Gongyuan" (6259 1155) : Y10, open 6 to 19, Bus 318 from Pingguoyuan, 333 from Summer Palace or 360 from Dongwumen

Backpacker's Tips : Anonymous (Sept 01)
Another nice thing to do is to watch a Beijing Opera performance. There are a number of places and it is best to skip the shows designed for tourists (more expensive and not always the real stuff).

Places also worth checking if you have the time :

  • Chairman Mao Memorial Hall (6513 2277) : free, open 8:30-11:30 Mon to Sat and  14-16 Mon, Wed & Fri, except during summer

  • Old Summer Palace "Yuanmingyuan" (6255 1488) : Y10, open 6:30 to 19, Minibus 375 from Xizhimen Subway / A tourist trap for some however as very busy with Chinese tourists and therefore not quiet at all.  If you go, avoid WE !

  • Great Hall of the People (6309 6156) : Y3, open 8:30 to 14 daily

  • Beihai Park (6404 0610) : Y10, open 6 to 20, Bus 13,101,103,107,109,111

Museums :

  • Museum of Chinese History (6512 9381) : Y3 for the last 140 years + Y5 for the previous years, open 8:30 to 15:30 Tues-Sun, entrance on west side (Tiananmen square)

  • Museum of the Chinese Revolution (6526 3355) : 8:30 to 17 Tues-Sun

  • Ancient Bell Museum & Big Bell Temple (6255 0843) : 8:30 to 16:30 daily

  • Beijing Museum of Natural History (6702 4431) : 8:30 to 17 daily

  • Capital Museum and Library (6401 2799) : 9 to 17 Tues-Sun, Bus 2, 13, 42, 116, 104, 108

  • China Art Museum (6401 9833), Y4, open 9 to 17 (last ticket 16) Tues-Sund

  • China Sport Museum (6491 2233) : 3A Anding Lu, 8:30 to 16:30 daily

  • China Stamp Museum (6302 2542) : 9 to 16 Tues-Sun

  • Military Museum (6851 4441) : 8:30 to 17 daily, Subway to Military Museum Station, Bus 1,4,57

Other places :

  • Temple of Earth Park "Ditan Gongyuan" (6421 4657) : 6 to 20:30, near Yonghegong Subway Station

  • Working People's Cultural Palace (6525 3113) : Y2, open 6 to 21

  • Altar of the moon park "Yuetan Gongyuan" (6802 0940) : 6 to 20, afternoon stamp market

  • Altar of the Sun Park "Ritan Gongyuan" (6502 1743) : 6:30 to 20:30 daily, Bus 1, 4, 9, 29, 48, 57, 103

  • Ancient Observatory (6524 2202) : 9 to 11 & 13 to 16:30 Wed-Sun

  • Drum Tower : 9 to 16:30, Subway Gulou Zhan, Bus 5,44,58,107

  • Zhongshan Park (6605 5431) : 6:30 to 20

  • Niu Jie Mosque (6353 2564) : usually 9 to 21, Bus 61

  • White Cloud Temple (6346 3531) : 8:30 to 16:30 daily

  • White Dagoba Temple (6616 0023) : 9 to 16:30

  • Honglongjin Park (6502 1385) : 6 to 21, Bus 9 to Jintailu then walk

  • Chaoyang Park, the largest in Beijing with water area 3 times larger than Beihai Park. By night a theme park for children open to 5am. Open 8am to 5am. Y0.3. Bus 115 or 43 to terminus.

Not really worth the price or the fuss :

  • Ming Tombs (6976 1424) : Y20 +Y12 Animals avenue, 8 to 17:30 daily, Tourist bus 1,2,3,4,5 / Not much to see and no photos allowed anyway

  • Eastern Qing Tombs : Y90

  • Tiananmen Gate : Y15 plus bag storage fee, open 8:30 to 16:30 / You go up and you see Tiananmen Square. Exciting ?

  • Suzhou Street at the Summer Palace : Y15 / A kistchy Chinese tourist trap

 

The Great Wall ?  Listed in the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1987

  • Badaling (6912 1235) : Y30, 6 to 18:30 Mon-Fri., 6 to 22 Sat & Sun, Tourist bus 1,2,3,4,5 from Qianmen, Beijing Railway Station, Zoo or Dongdaqiao / The most touristy part of the wall with a small restored section of the wall. Fortunately, it is also possible to reach unrebuilt sections from there...

  • Jinshanling : Y40 / 50km from city / Bus to Chengde can let you off about 5km from Jinshanling (Y16) / One of the less visited and best preserved part but tricky to reach

  • Mutianyu (6964 2022) : 6:30 to 18, Bus 916 to Huairou from Dongzhimen Long Distance Bus station then tourist bus / 90km / Very touristy /

  • Simatai (6993 1095) : 8 to 17, Bus to Miyun County from Dongzhimen Long Distance Bus station then minibus to Simatai / The wildest section / See above for more details ("the must see")

See bus schedules to the Great Wall

Backpacker's Tips : Ruth, Chinese (Nov 01)
Simatai peak at the border between Hubei-Hunan : Remote, most dangerous. A Real experience. Hiking the ruins of the one mighty great wall. Camping in towers. Seeing the best view from atop the highest peak of the great wall. Definitively not the museum-like refinished Great Wall you'd expect (ie. Badaling).

Backpacker's Tips : Anonymous (Oct 01)
There are places worth trekking.  One of those is Jiankou. You can walk one day from there to the direction of Mutianyu. There is no entrance fee and, as not yet mentioned in the guide books, little people. Another one is Huanghua, 60km from Beijing. Although interesting, this part now has a Y15 entrance fee and a few stalls are starting to appear...


Around Beijing ?

  • Chengde : (3), train No225 (0729 arr 1210), return No226 (1431 arr 1914). The Largest imperial garden with the biggest group of temples

  • Longqing Gorge

  • Tanzhe Temple (Beijing oldest temple) and Lingshan Mountain, (the highest peak). Bus No336, 326, 921, 931 to Hetan stop off Mentougou District. No931 from Pingguoyuan go directly to Lingshan Mountain & Tangzhe. Tour bus 7 from Qianmen go to Jietai Temple and Tanzhe.


Itineraries ?

  • Day 1 : Tiananmen square, Forbidden City, Jingshan Park, (Beihai Park)

  • Day 2 : Tiantan Temple, (Longtan Park), Lama Temple, (Confucius Temple)

  • Day 3 : Fragrant Hills Park, Summer Palace, Old summer palace

  • Day 4 : Great Wall at Simatai