There Are so Many Bucket List Things to Do in Beijing.
Beijing is an incredible place to visit. There is history dating back thousands of years. Going to Beijing is like taking a trip in a time machine back to days when walls were built more solidly and emperors ruled the world. Beijing has a similar system to that of the European royalty days, but possibly even more extravagant. With their royalty, the way they ran their kingdoms, their summer vacation spots and theatres for entertainment. It's amazing to learn about all the things this culture has done and all the lasting impact they have on the world through their history. China is an incredible place to visit and there are so many worthwhile sits to see here.
1. Great Wall of China
Great Wall of China
It is crazy that this first “tourist attraction” on our list is actually about 2,700 years old. The Great Wall of China is one of the most famous wonders of the world. It was actually given a place in the World Heritage by the UNESCO in 1987. The great wall is 12,170 miles long. The Ming Dynasty part of the wall is 5,500 miles of that and it is the part that is best preserved and has avoided the most ruins over the years. You can imagine that the wall being this long means various dynasties of all types were part of the building of this wall. There are sections in all varieties of terrain that you can imagine, and in all types of regions. The wall is laid out over about 15 different provinces and regions.
The Great Wall is on our Beijing list because Beijing is on the list of places the wall is built in at the strong request of many dedicated emperors over the years. It is documented that about a third of the wall has disappeared over the many years of its existence. Tons of people have walked on it as well as torn it down to build newer things over the past almost 3,000 years. Naturally, over time, this kind of material erodes.
The true mystery is truly how it has stayed up for this long. Some people have even taken bricks to use for their personal building! They probably knew the magic this wall contained and wanted a piece of it. Since 2006, there has been some protection against humans tearing it up, thankfully. But it will continue to erode, as all things do over time. There has been building and restoration of the wall in recent years, which is an amazing thing to do in order to preserve this beauty. It is also proof of how beloved and treasured this piece of history is.
History & Culture
The original purpose of this wall being built was actually to serve as a military defensive line. As you can imagine, building the wall meant people from all over the nation needed to work together in order to defend it from other nations. This brought people together and promoted the integration of the nation. It also helped the economy during it's building project! This wall gained global popularity in the 4th-century when there was documentation of the wall being built with material from Rome. It became popular again in the late 1900s when a book was written about it.
This wall is most famous for being the longest building in the world. It was built completely with bare human hands, which is the true kicker. Nonstop, this wall was worked on from day to night in the dynasties as it was being built. The wall is said to look like a dragon, swaying its scaly body from side to side. Beijing, our beloved place of exploration in this article, is said to be the best place to see the wall.
Beijing had some of the best protective military strategy. There are a variety of ways to get to the Great Wall from Beijing. There is plenty of public transportation, as well as other types of private transportation like Ubers and cabs. The three best places to visit the wall in Beijing are Bafaling, Mutianyu, and Juyongguan.
There are endless tours you can take here, even down to choosing your most fitting Beijing Great Wall Day Trip. You can check out the whole day's itinerary here for the various tours as well as the prices and what the tour includes. This wall is an absolute bucket list must-see historical attraction!
2. Summer Palace
With the label of “the best preserved imperial garden in the world”, this Palace is truly a wonder. It is a short trip out of the hustle and bustle of Beijing, but you will never expect what you'll find. Coming here is like stepping through the Narnia wardrobe doors and into an alternate world, one very different from the rest of Beijing. Make sure to plan a decent amount of time here in your Beijing trip itinerary. Our Palace and Garden are much younger than our last Great Wall, aging at 286 years old. Still, she is no baby! This palace has so much history.
The Chinese translation of this garden is “Nourishing Peace Garden”, which is exactly the truth of what this garden does. If you are needing a getaway from all the commotion of life and to just unwind and breathe, this is the ideal place to do it. When the Imperial Family vacationed here, they were looking to do this exact thing. Just like the Great Wall, the Summer Palace was noted as a World Heritage by the UNESCO in 1998. This is fitting given the incredible history as well as the fact that it is still standing and enjoyed today by many.
First commissioned by an emperor in 1750, the first of its kind was named ‘the Garden of Clear Ripples'. This was destroyed in 1860 and rebuilt 26 years later. In 1888 it got its current name and then it was destroyed again 12 years later. Rebuilt in another 12 years, and then opened as a tourist attraction in 1924. The next great move of the Summer Palace was in 1998 when it was added to the World Heritage List. This historical attraction has gone through the wringer but came out a champion. it is in tip-top shape for you to visit and enjoy today! The Palace spans over a mile long, so naturally, there are many sections to visit, and there are so many you can't miss!
Consider seeing the Island Temple by taking a boat ride on Kunming Lake. You can watch a traditional show in the theatre, one of the only three traditional theatres left in the country. The theatre is called the garden of virtue and harmony. It is made out of wood and is three stories tall, taking the place of the largest in China. Experience all the gardens, courtyards, and architecture around the palace.
If you are looking to visit the summer palace, it is best to do so in, well, summer. Be sure to come dressed to walk and excited to experience all the palace has to offer! If you are looking to learn more about the palace and imperial garden, there is no better place to do so than UNESCO. You can check out their site and page about this addition to their list here. Be sure to check out tours that you can take around this attraction. At the very least, make sure you plan enough time here to take a ride on the lake and see a show in the theatre. You will leave blown away and feeling like a modern-day imperial family member.
3. Temple of Heaven
Temple of Heaven
The Temple of Heaven is the place the Heaven Worship Ceremony was held hundreds of years ago during the Ming and Qing Dynasty. As far as a building that gives a clear picture of their faith, this is one of the biggest and most telling ones. It was built in the early 1400s and then opened in the late 1900s as a place of exploration for tourists. Here you will find all kinds of history of their culture and religion. The beauty of the architecture is incredible when we think of when it was built. When looking for the truth about the philosophy and faith practices and culture of this day, this is one of the best ways to learn.
There is a wall protecting this building that contains symbolism of the Chinese belief. In the center there is an axis and alter that is called the Imperial Vault of Heaven. This is where their God's tablets were which were used during the ceremony. The knowledge and wisdom possessed by builders in this ancient time was incredible. The stones prove their knowledge of the theory of sound, even so long ago, by their placement and functions. There are so many other areas such as the Altar of Prayer for Good Harvests where the emperor prayed for exactly that, good harvests. The Palace of Abstinence is another sacred and important place, the one where the emperor abstained from food prior to the ceremony.
There Is More
There is even the Divine Music Administration that you must admire on your visit here. It is one of the 5 buildings with grand meanings (some named and others not). Music is important to every culture, especially during religious ceremonial practices. This fact is no different here. Today, this temple is still a central but more laidback place for the locals. They engage in all sorts of activities while surrounded by an incredibly wide varieties of trees. These recreational activities include things like singing, flying kits, and dancing. There is so much nearby this temple that will make this trip even more worthwhile than it already was.
You can visit the Beijing Ancient Architecture museum which is only a few blocks away, or the Ming Dynasty City Wall Relics park which is nearby as well. As one of the largest temple complexes in the entire country of China, you will want to be sure to take part in all there is to explore here. You will be walking on 15th-century ground and experiencing one of the oldest religious pinnacles for the Chinese culture in existence. T
he architecture alone is worth a visit. There are plenty of tours to book if you are interested in having a guide take you on a journey, and there is even the option of a private independent tour. If other religions intrigue you or you simply desire to pay tribute to one of the most ancient and important religious historical sites in the world, this is the perfect place for you to visit.
4. The Palace Museum
The Palace Museum
Our last awe-inspiring thing to do on the list is to visit The Palace Museum. Originally in use during the Ming and Qing dynasties, this museum is well known and greatly loved all over the world. Another term used for this huge museum is the Forbidden City, which is a much more fun way to say Palace Museum for our adventure seekers. This museum is yet another UNESCO World Heritage Site, which came to be in 1987.
The astronomers of ancient times may have had a much better grasp of the cosmos than we do today, or they may not. Regardless, it is a fact that they determined much of their daily living based on the stars, and this was just as important for the emperor's life, if not more. They advised the alignment of the emperor's place to line up with the Polar Star, and that is why you will find this museum at the center of Beijing. it is truly in the heart of the city, and you have the astronomers of old to thank for that.
Everything about the Forbidden City screamed restricted to the average person, and this was for a purpose. This palace was created to keep all others out except for the Imperial family. In the early 1900s when the reign of the last emperor ended, the treasures left behind by the imperial family added up to over 1,800,000 in total. Every beautiful and valuable thing you can imagine was left behind. This is how the museum came about and it was founded in 1925. Their treasures were divided up into collections and so much research came out of these findings.
This museum soon became a place that the public was intrigued by. What was once a fortress to keep average people out is now a museum that welcomes all people in. With over 600 years of history about the Forbidden City, and 5,000 years of Chinese culture as a whole, this museum is breathtaking and once in a lifetime to explore. it preserves the significant history of China and sets a high standard for all other museums in the world.
Visit, See, and Do
Be sure to check online for times and to buy your tickets beforehand. Visiting this museum is a great experience for more than just the obvious. Because The Palace Museum is situated directly in the heart of Beijing, you will find so many things to do in the same location. Things from parks, places to shop, theatres, and other museums galore. It is even perfectly close to public transportation if this is the mode you choose to get around while traveling in Beijing. On the Palace Museums site, you can check out a variety of tours ranging from one-day tours to a half day, to a two-hour tour. Take your pick depending on what time you have to explore this museum. But remember to prioritize this one!
Prepare to see everything from ancient ceramics, paintings, calligraphy, textiles, timepieces, instruments, and so much more. You will get to take in incredible sights such as the Palace of Longevity and Health or the Garden of Compassion and Tranquility. There are so many exhibitions to see and they do come and go frequently. But you can currently see the Chinese Zodiac Art Exhibition which is only here for a short time in 2019. Another great exhibition is the Spring Festival in the Forbidden City, which is only here for spring. Both are stunning displays. Be sure to check back regularly on their site to see what exhibitions are taking place during your trip.
If you are looking to explore specific things in the museum, you can start with the Ming and Qing woman painters who begun an art movement by expressing themselves through painting. It is truly out of this world to get to experience all this museum has to offer. most museums have a few hundred years worth of history at most, but here you will find 5,000 years to look back on. This museum is a storyteller of all China has offered the world throughout the ages.
Reach New Heights in Beijing.
There is no question that the things to do in Beijing reach new heights for the adventure seeker. Some of the most jaw-dropping historical events and structures came from here. How did they build this incredible wall that is still standing today? What was it truly like to be part of such a committed religion that built the structures they built? The questions are endless and the places are timeless. You cannot find architecture or beauty like this anywhere else other than in Beijing. This is truly a life-changing trip to take, so be sure to take it and then check it off that bucket list!
Related Article: 23 Fun and Interesting Facts about China