Beijing is a fascinating city known for its modern architecture mixed with historic sites. Beijing is an incredibly busy city and spread out so it’s best to go in with an action plan of what you plan to see. While 3 days is enough to see most of the main sights in Beijing, if you have a bit more time to spend in Beijing I would suggest staying for about 5 days to give yourself a more relaxed schedule. Here is your Beijing 3 day itinerary.
The day you arrive, depending on the time of course, you’ll probably want to take it easy. Get yourself checked into your accommodation and explore whatever area you’re staying. Later in the evening before sunset this is what I suggest:
DRUM & BELL TOWER
The Drum & Bell Towers are a unique tourist attraction that was once used to keep official time in China. It’s right next to the next places to see so it’s easy to do them all at once.
Yinding Bridge is a tiny stone foot-bridge that crosses over Shichahai Lake. The sunset here is particularly beautiful with the sun setting over the river while tiny rowboats slowly float along the river. This is a popular sunset location so be prepared for some crowds.
SHICHAHAI HISTORIC DISTRICT
The Shichahai area is a lot of fun. This was one of my favourite areas in Beijing to discover. Hang out at the Houhai Bar street and wander around the surrounding streets for a lot of small bars, street vendors and stores. Its fun to see the interesting food and items that you find here. Chill out at one of the small bars lining the river, most of them with live music playing. While you’re here also wander down Nanluoguxiang street where you’ll find drinks, shopping, snacks.
After dark head over to The Place which is a shopping mall with screen on the roof displaying mini movies lit up in neon lights. It’s a fun place to see with a lot of futuristic balls and robot like things that people are taking rides in. After being amazed by the large movie screen across the roof go shopping or stop into one of the nearby restaurants for dinner.
GREAT WALL OF CHINA
The Great Wall of China, one of the 7 world wonders, is a must see while you’re in Beijing. There are a number of areas that are approximately an hour outside of Beijing that are easy to get to. The section of the Great Wall that I went to is called Mutianyu. I haven’t been to any of the other sections of the great wall but I had a great experience at the Mutianyu area. There weren’t big crowds (I went in the afternoon), there were beautiful stretches of the wall perfect for beautiful photos, and getting up and down from the wall was a lot of fun. You can take a tour to get here but you can very easily get here without a tour and save yourself some money.
SANLITUN BAR STREET
The Sanlitun Bar Street is the most well known shopping & party district in Beijing. I skipped going here due to being too tired but if you’re looking for a fun night out, this is the place to go.
Day 3 is action packed with so many places to see. Make sure you wear very comfortable shoes if you decide to go to all these places.
TEMPLE OF HEAVEN
The Temple of Heaven was my favourite place that I went to in Beijing. The park where its located opens at 6 am, however the temple doesn’t open until 8am. There’s a required entrance fee to both the park and the temple. Get there when it opens to avoid the crowds.
YONGHE LAMA TEMPLE
Yonghe Lama Temple is a beautiful red temple and is the largest and best-preserved lamasery in Beijing. There’s lots to explore while you’re here so allow for some extra time.
Located in the centre of Beijing Tiananmen Square is not particularly all that interesting however its right next to the Forbidden City so it’s worth checking out on your way there. Remember that you need your passport to enter Tiananmen Square so make sure you have that with you when you go.
The Forbidden City was formerly a Chinese Imperial Palace and now a well preserved museum. The forbidden city a very large so allow yourself a lot of time to spend here. Keep in mind that it closes pretty early (3:30-4pm depending on the time of year). When you exit the Forbidden City check out the Turrets which is a tower surrounded by a moat. Exit from north gate, turn right for northeast turret tower or left for northwest turret tower. The northwest turret is best for taking best photos of the turret at sunrise glow and night view; the northeast turret is best for daytime, night and sunset views.
WANGFUJING NIGHT MARKET
Wangfujing Night Market is a famous snack street that hosts a variety of food stalls that offer both exotic and popular snacks. You’ll find everything from dumplings to fried starfish, stinky tofu to scorpions (still alive and wiggling on sticks!).
IF YOU HAVE MORE TIME
Some of the places that I didn’t have enough time to go to that I would have loved to check out are as follows:
-Jingshan Park – Wanchun Pavilion on top of a hill with the best view of Forbidden City
-Centre of performing Arts (sunset or night)
-Summer Palace – 17 Arch Bridge
-Hutongs – Gulou, Dashilan
-798 Art Zone
-XIU rooftop bar – strict dress code
-CCTV Headquarters – cbd
-Qianmen Street (pedestrian shopping street + Qianmen Gate tower, Archery Tower & Qianmen Archway
-Temple of Confucius (close to lama temple)
Feeling hungry? Here are some restaurants and food places to try:
Peking Duck at Guanjude
Maan coffee – cafe
Red bowl for an authentic hot pot
Hai Di Lao – famous hotpot chain
Mr Shi’s Dumplings