Things To See In Beijing: A First Timers Guide

first timers guide to Beijing

If you’re looking for things to see in Beijing don’t worry, there is plenty. There are so many things to love about Beijing that it’s hard to narrow it down to a small list.

After spending four days in this beautiful city, I’m going to tell you it didn’t feel like enough time. There are so many sights and smells and experiences to have that the time flew by. From having a luxurious lunch at TRB Bites after spending the morning exploring the Forbidden City, wandering the streets having your fill of dumplings and green onion cakes, to finding a vendor roasting up some sweet potato near the train station.. It was so easy to get caught up in Beijing that the days flew by. So to help you plan your trip there are some things to see in Beijing.

Great Wall of China

fernweh wolf Great Wall of china

the forbidden city

forbidden city

the hutongs

the hutongs

What To Do:

Jinshanling Great Wall Of China – If you choose one thing to see in Beijing it’s this gorgeous area of The Great Wall of China. Any part of The Great Wall will be fantastic but a quieter, more beautiful area of the wall is Jinshanling. You need to book a tour to get here and it’s about a 2 hour drive outside of Beijing but it is worth it. I melted when I saw The Great Wall for the first time. It was so incredible and peaceful, unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.

It was a full day trip but it was so stunning and we were the only tour on the wall! So not only did we get to be in the presence of such history but we had it all to ourselves. Image having The Great Wall of China to yourself. Do it 🙂

The Great Wall of China ❤

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Tiananmen Square – A Beijing must do. It’s really easy to get to the square. You just take the subway to Tiananmen Station and follow the crowd from there. Aaron and I had a fun time trying to beat through the crowds because the station let us off on the other side of the street so you have to go under the road to get there. It sounds confusing but follow the crowds and you’ll be fine.

Forbidden City – You’ll be amazed at how big the city is. I had no idea the Fobidden City was that grand but it was. Literally right across the street from Tiananmen Square so it’s nice and easy to get too. You can spend hours exploring here. Definitely a place for first timers.

Panjiayuan Antique Market – Out of all the things to see in Beijing this was pretty good. I’m a big trinket person, I swear I’m a fish sometimes, so I was basically running around looking at all the amazing things this market had to offer. I spent hours wandering around the stalls looking at porcelain fixtures, tea sets, traditional clothes, foods, you name it. Because it’s famous everything is over priced but it’s still a great stop! I bought a porcelain bunny because I have no self control 🙂

Huntongs – Huntong is just a word for alleys but Beijing is famous for them. Walk around the Huntongs to get a taste of what Old Beijing was like. It really was beautiful to wandering around somewhere so old!

Silk Road Market – This was on our list of things to see in Beijing but we never got the chance. If I was to go back to Beijing I would definitely check this out next time. I only hear great things about it.



trb bites

things to see in Beijing

trb bites

How amazing does our bread look? Thank god it was divided already or there would have been a fight between Aaron and I trying to get the bigger pieces. It’s once you’ve been dating for over 3 years that the whole cute “no honey, you have it.” is gone. You should see us with nachos.. anyways –

atmosphere bar

Where To Eat:

TRB Bites – If you’re looking for a luxurious meal head to TRB Bites. We were welcomed in with 5 star service, free bread and champagne (why doesn’t everyone do this?), appetizers and you have a view of the moat around the Forbidden City. So funny story.. My Google Maps said this restaurant was INSIDE the Forbidden City. So I’m dragging Aaron around trying to find this place and my GPS leads us up three flights of stairs in the Forbidden City. Clearly there is no restaurant around, but I am determined following my blinky dot. So I go up to security showing him my map but a) he doesn’t speak English b) he’s blocking this closed off area so obviously I think it’s behind there and c) I ask to go behind the door, he looks horrified at my finger pointing to the blocked off area and shakes his head. I leave with a smile but inside I’m hangry thinking he just doesn’t want us in the restaurant. So long story short I’m stupid and so is Google Maps and TRB Bites was a 20 min walk the other way.

Anyways, reserve ahead of time to make sure you have a good seat. Read more here

Atmosphere Bar – Located in the Shangri-La hotel you’ll find a lovely bar on the 80th floor called Atmosphere. They have beautiful drinks, high tea and such a healthy menu it was crazy. If I was a millionaire I would have gone crazy with all their health tonics. I tried this tea cocktail with lavender, hazelnut and pur’er tea which was the best thing I’ve ever had. I’m not kidding. And it came with a cookie. You also get free peanuts.. Yes I am a child 😀

Vegetarian Restaurant – There’s a restaurant called the Vegetarian Restaurant outside of the Hutongs. This is all the information I can give you because it had no other name. But there is plenty of veggie options in Beijing so if you’re a vegetarian don’t worry, Beijing is very vegetarian friendly. Worse come to worse head to the 7/11 and they have fruit platters.

Street Food – This has to be on your list for things to see in Beijing. China is famous for their street food and seeing all the carts everywhere is so cool. Dumplings, steam buns, onion cakes, you name it. It smells amazing as you walk by and you can’t wait to try the carby goodness. Definitely give it a try. Aim for busy vendors though or you won’t know how long the food has been sitting there.


things to see in Beijing

the forbidden city

Essential tips:

The subway is cheap and easy to navigate. If you’re a first timer to Beijing you’ll have no problem navigating. You’ll find Mandarin and English on the subway map so take a photo of the train station you want to go to with your phone and show the person at the help desk. This is the most stress-free way because you probably won’t get the pronunciation right

One of the things to see in Beijing is the pollution. I mean you don’t want to see it but you won’t understand until you do. The pollution is crazy. There were some days we couldn’t see 20 feet ahead of us. I actually forgot about blue skies the majority of time I was in China. It was only in Kunming that I realized I hadn’t seen blue skies or breathed fresh air. Crazy. Take extra precaution to protect your skin. This is my favourite anti-pollution spray. Face masks are available but if you’re only there a few days I wouldn’t worry. Blow your nose lots..

Lastly be patient with security. Trying to get on a train at peak hours is crazy because you have to funnel though a security scanner. Now picture hundreds of people at once. People will bud and push and squish their way ahead of you so just be patient. Or avoid peak times.



Hope you enjoyed this guide to Beijing! Are you planning a trip to China? Where you headed next?

I’d love it if you followed Fernweh on Bloglovin or Instagram to stay in touch!

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  • Reply
    Cristina - Memories of the Pacific
    December 15, 2017 at 12:48 pm

    Beautiful photos and such a complete guide! I’d love to go to Asia someday, it must be so beautiful and different from what I’m used to seeing.
    Have a lovely weekend, gorgeous!

    • Reply
      The Fernweh Wolf
      January 8, 2019 at 10:31 am

      Thanks so much! It is veryyy different, especially when you start to travel through rural China. I hope you get to see it soon! IF you stay out of the bigger cities it’s very affordable once you get the flight <3

  • Reply
    Ana V
    December 15, 2017 at 8:07 am

    Thanks for this article. My family is thinking of visiting Beijing and this helps a lot.

    • Reply
      The Fernweh Wolf
      January 8, 2019 at 10:32 am

      Oh awesome! When are you planning on going? I hope you guys have a lot of fun on your trip!

  • Reply
    December 10, 2017 at 2:21 am

    Hi, can you recommend any affordable accommodation options?

    • Reply
      The Fernweh Wolf
      December 15, 2017 at 5:56 am

      Hi! Hope I’m not to late to reply! We stayed at the Happy Dragon Courtyard and it was super cute and affordable. It’s in the hutongs, really close to food and train stations and you can arrange for a tour of the Jinshanling area of the Great Wall which is what I recommend. There’s another happy dragon courtyard on the same street but the courtyard is in traditional style and less busy 🙂
      Let me know if you need any more suggestions!

  • Reply
    April 28, 2017 at 10:20 am

    Such a pretty blog. I love your pictures and article about Beijing !


    • Reply
      The Fernweh Wolf
      May 25, 2017 at 7:47 pm

      Thanks so much for saying that! I’m glad you liked the piece <3

  • Reply
    April 28, 2017 at 8:31 am

    I’m not sure when I’ll go to Beijing, but I am definitely bookmarking your blog post for the future! If you’re looking for anything to do in Paris, feel free to check out my blog 🙂

  • Reply
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    April 11, 2017 at 8:49 pm

    […] A First Timers Guide To Beijing […]


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