Imperial seat to capital city, Beijing is the gateway to China. Magnificent remnants of bygone eras offer a glimpse into the city's opulent past, whilst surrounding the city you’ll find some incredibly scenic spots, including the Great Wall that winds through the lonely hilltops to its north.
China’s most iconic sight, the Great Wall is the top of many people’s ‘must-see’ lists. Snaking its way 3915 miles from the western desert, over mountain and plain to the coast in the east, this magnificent structure no longer keeps the marauding hordes at bay, it invites them for a closer look! There are a number of sections in easy reach of Beijing – visit our dedicated Great Wall page for information on all the sections that we would recommend for your Great Wall visit.
A monument to China’s dynasties past, this vast palace, the world’s largest palace complex, was the home of emperors for 500 years. Enter through the Gate of Supreme Harmony, watched over by a huge portrait of Chairman Mao, and enter a world of opulence and harmony. With some 800 buildings and refuted 9,999 rooms, exploring the Forbidden City can be a mammoth exploration but your guide will be able to lead you through the best bits, explaining the sights as you go. For something extra special add the Treasure Hall to your visit, a gallery that showcases all the trappings of royal life. This magnificent collection of imperial artefacts includes everything from elaborate jewellery and robes to tea services and jade.
Once the royal family’s escape from the summer heat, today the Summer Palace is Beijing’s loveliest, and most symmetrical, spot. A UNESCO World Heritage Site recognised for its exquisite landscaped gardens, a stroll around the grounds takes in the feng shui juxtaposition of Longevity Hill, complete with viewpoint at the summit, and Kunming Lake. Make sure you include the Long Corridor in your explorations. This intricately decorated covered walkway is over 700 metres in length -the longest of any traditional Chinese garden. A delightful circuit is to cross Seventeen-Arch Bridge to South Lake Island and board a boat to ride across Kunming Lake. This will take you past the opulent Marble Boat, a lakeside pavilion designed to resemble a pleasure boat. These traditional Chinese gardens are the perfect respite from the city.
Set in a huge and peaceful park just 2 kilometres from Tiananmen Square, the Temple of Heaven is a prime example of the unity of Confucian design. Built around the same time as the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven was used by emperors since 1420 to pray for a good harvest at the Winter Solstice. The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests was used for solely this purpose – standing on a three-tiered marble base, this wooden building is circular in construction and was built without the use of a single nail. Today the Temple of Heaven and its surrounding park is now open to all – if you visit early in the morning you’ll find many Beijingers here taking their morning exercise, including Tai Chi, dancing and badminton.
The Hutong districts of Beijing are the original residential areas of the city with old buildings lining narrow streets. Many of these areas have been demolished to make way for modern developments but several have been reprieved to preserve the traditional way of life. The best way to see one of the Hutongs is using a cyclo-rickshaw with a driver who will pedal you around the area at a relaxed pace. Ride around the alleyways soaking up the atmosphere of a time long past.
The Lama Temple, officially known as the Yonghe Temple, is one of the most important Tibetan Buddhist monasteries in the world. The monastery is a centre for the Gulug School (or Yellow Hat Sect) of Buddhism, which has as its head the abbot of the Ganden Monastery in Lhasa. Look out for the Maitreya Buddha statue in the Pavilion of Ten Thousand Happiness, which holds the Guinness World Record for the largest carving created from a single sandalwood tree.
Novotel Beijing Peace has a superb location right in the centre of the city. It is very close to Wangfujing Pedestrian Street with its shops and local facilities and within walking distance of Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City.
Located in the centre of the city, Raffles is within walking distance of the Forbidden City and Wangfujing shopping street. Established over 100 years ago, the hotel has a French-Orient design with sumptuous and unique guestrooms. We recommend the heritage Landmark rooms and suites which are a perfect blend of old-world charm and modern sophistication.
The centrally located Peninsula Beijing offers the superior standard of comfort and service that is expected of the city’s premier address. The hotel naturally boasts a luxury spa, indoor pool and two fine dining restaurants. The Peninsula Beijing is more than just a hotel, its long history, grand proportions and impressive setting giving it a status all of its own.
Located at the East Gate of the grounds of the Summer Palace and housed within tranquil, traditional pavilions which were once used by guests awaiting an audience with the Empress Cixi, the Aman is the luxury Beijing experience.
The Shangri-La offers elegant rooms providing a sanctuary in the busy city of Beijing. The hotel is a natural retreat with its large garden featuring Koi ponds, Chinese pavilions and soothing waterfalls. Relax and rejuvenate in the spa or 25m indoor pool and enjoy French, Cantonese and Japanese fine dining options.
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The world’s largest and most populous continent, Asia is a vibrant and rambunctious fusion of ethnicities, cultures and customs; an incomparably rich and turbulent history showcased by mindboggling feats of architecture and engineering; a geography that encompasses towering peaks, unfathomable gorges and paradisiacal beaches; and a biodiversity that is so abundant that you’ll be reaching for your wildlife guide.