Best of Beijing: The Best Places for Actively Exploring the Capital City!

It’s often said that spring is the best time to visit Beijing and see everything the city has to offer. While getting out and about and experiencing everything isn’t exactly possible at the moment, that doesn’t mean you can’t start to make plans!

To that end, we have started our Best of Beijing series, in association with some of the best companies that help you experience Beijing, and the rest of China, better. Each week, our partners will introduce you to the best that the Chinese capital has to offer, from food to flowers and from classical architecture to useful words and phrases especially for Beijing! 

Today we bring you part 2 of our series: the most interesting places to actively explore around Beijing, brought to you by the travel gurus at Expats Holidays!

Best of Beijing Part 1: The Most Beautiful Places to See this Spring!

Discover the Wild Great Wall | 野长城

At the top of your bucket list of things to do in Beijing is to visit the Great Wall of China. The walk on top of this historic world wonder is considered a highlight of every Beijing trip. The Great Wall has different sections which offer different kind of activities. In order to get a truly authentic and enjoyable Great Wall experience, away from the crowds, we recommend getting off the beaten track.

Wild Great Wall, like the Jiankou section (箭扣), is an unrestored and almost original section of the Wall and offers a great hike to the Mutianyu section with many exclusive panoramas along the way.

CK says: Wild wall can be very dangerous; always go with an experienced guide and do your research before you go. Some sections are extremely steep and may require climbing experience to traverse. Please keep in mind that by walking on the original wall you may be contributing to the wear and tear of an important historical site. Climb alongside rather than on the wall, if you can. 

Getting there on public transportation :Take bus 916快 from Dongzhimen bus station (next to Dongzhimen subway station) and get off at Huairou North Avenue (怀柔北大街). Change to bus H36 to Tianxianyu 天仙峪 and then walk to the entrance of Jiankou Great Wall. 

Wander the 798 Art District | 798 艺术区

After these factories were closed, artists started to move in and gave all the abandoned structures a new meaning. Today it has transitioned into an inspiring art zone brimming with edgy galleries, hip dance schools, cute cafes, and audacious shops. Since the 798 Art District is constantly evolving, it is always worth a visit.

This area offers the perfect activity for everyone: you can buy unique souvenirs, get inspired by the cool street art, sip a local craft beer or check out Beijing’s cutting-edge Design Week.

Getting there by public transport: Take subway line 14 to Wangjing South and take exit B1. Then take bus 403 and get off at Dashanzi Lukou Dong Station, or walk about 15 minutes northeast to the art district. 

Cycle around Shichahai | 什刹海

Shichahai is a lovely area around Qianhai Lake, Houhai Lake and Xihai Lake, often simply known as Houhai by English speakers. A sunny day is perfect for a bike ride to admire the stunning lake views as well as some places of historic interest and old Beijing-style residences along the way.

As soon as the sun sets, the recreational local life turns into bustling nightlife with happy hours and live music. A lot of the traditional hutongs and courtyard houses have been turned into cozy little bars or restaurants with pleasing lake views.

Getting there by public transport: Take subway line 8 to Shichahai station. 

Get lost in a hutong | 胡同

As one of the oldest cities in the world, Beijing retains a wealth of historical sites while also achieving rapid modernization. Escape the modernity of the capital city for an interesting experience by walking through one of the hutongs.

These narrow alleys are formed by the walls of traditional courtyard homes, called siheyuan 四合院, and represent the social center of life for many locals. It’s easy to lose track of time while you enjoy the old Beijing lifestyle, the historic architecture and the local street food along your way.

Getting there by public transport: Hutongs can be found all over the city, but there are large clusters around the Forbidden City (Tiananmen East or West stations on subway line 1); Nanluoguxiang (subway line 6) and the Lama Temple (Yonghegong station on subway line 2/5).  

Embrace nature at Jingshan Park | 景山公园

North of the Forbidden City, Jingshan Park served once as a private imperial garden. The man-made Jingshan Hill in the center used to be the highest point in Beijing and the Wanchun Pavilion on the summit offers an exceptional view of the entire city.

The short hike up is especially rewarding at sunset, when you can see a beautifully-lit panorama of the magnificent Forbidden City.

Getting there by public transport: Walk west 15 minutes from Art Museum station on subway line 8. 

Expats Holidays opened in 2014. They are a team of young and diverse travel experts dedicated to providing travel consultations and customer service.

They specialize in tailor-made tours for individuals, couples, families or groups of friends both inside and outside China.

Email: [email protected]
Phone: +86 187 2197 8867
WeChat: ExpatsHolidays111

Cultural Keys is very grateful to the team at Expats Holidays for taking the time to share their suggestions with us on the best places to actively explore around Beijing!

What do you think of their choices? Are these places you have added to your to-do list, or have you seen better suggestions elsewhere? Let us know in the comments below, or on Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn. We always love hearing from you!

Photo Credits
Cultural Keys, CGTN, China Daily, Unsplash, Pinterest, The China Guide, Go Live Go Travel, Ivan Herman. Expats Holidays

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. No company or individual whose articles we share are paid, nor is Cultural Keys paid to share their contributions. Some of the organisations whose articles and information we post are partners of Cultural Keys, some are not. All contributions are assumed to be the original work of the submitting company or organisation. Neither Cultural Keys nor any of our staff, partners or associates accept any liability for the opinions, information or advice shared in these articles. Articles may have been lightly edited for length and clarity.

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