Beijing, one of the oldest cities in the world, has a three millennia-long legacy and progressed far beyond beginnings as an ancient walled capital. Today, it is a city filled with architectural wonders like the Bird’s Nest, The Olympic Park, The National Grand Theater, and seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites. To top it all off, hospitable Beijingers will make any traveller feel at home when he’s there. With all its nooks and crannies, Beijing has much to explore whether one is a first-timer there or a seasoned visitor. Here’s AUGUSTMAN’s definitive Beijing travel guide to help you round out your itinerary.
Accommodation: Aman Summer Palace
This is where guests are treated like the royalty of yore. All 51 rooms in this Aman property are generously laden with amenities and furnished with Ming-inspired furniture. What more, there’s a 25-metre infinity pool, a spa accompanied by two squash courts, a gym, and even a 35-seat cinema. Should guests decide to spend a relaxing day in, there’s a library bar that offers afternoon tea and delectable pastries.
Address: 1 Gongmenqian Street, Haidian District, Bejing, China
Accommodation: Cours et PavilLons
Cours et Pavillons is an intimate five-star boutique hotel fashioned from a collection of hutong homes in China. It is located in the Wangfujing Street and Forbidden City area of Beijing. Despite its Asian heritage, residents will find its interior filled with chinoiserie and modern Italian aesthetics instead – a curious departure, but a refreshing one for sure. Its rooms also have sprightly-hued latticed doors complete with high ceilings and luxurious marbled bathrooms.
Address: 26 Weijia Hutong, Dongcheng District, Beijing, China
Accommodation: Red Capital Residence
For those wondering what Beijing looked like during its Liberation-era, look no further than Red Capital Residence. The property is decorated with memorabilia, antiques, and curios from the past; even the staff are dressed in Red Guard uniforms like those in history books. While there are only five rooms available here, two of them are inspired by opium dens, another two named after revolutionary writers Han Suyin and Edgar Snow, and one, the Chairman’s Suite, named in honour of Mao Zedong.
Address: No 9 Dongsi Liutiao, Dongcheng District, Dong Zhi Men, Beijing, China
indulgence: Duck de Chine
Peking duck is Beijing’s signature dish, and naturally deserves a spot in any definitive Beijing travel guide. Located inside 1949 – The Hidden City (a factory that has been transformed into a dining and nightlife complex) in Sanlitun, Duck de Chine uses Jujube wood during the roasting process to give the duck’s skin a crispy and caramelised finish while its meat remains juicy and exceptionally tender.
Opening hours: Lunch: 11.00 am – 2.30 pm; Dinner: 5.00 pm – 10.30 pm (Last Order 10.15 pm)
Address: 98 Jinbao Street, Dong Cheng District, Beijing, China
Indulgence: Huguosi Hutong Snack Street
This is a traditional snack street with a history that spans centuries. Located in the east of Beijing, this it is home to an impressive number of restaurants and stalls offering everything from steamed rice cakes and miancha (a local breakfast porridge), to cold noodles and local pancakes.
Address: 68 Huguosi Street, Xicheng District, Beijing, China
Indulgence: Country Kitchen
At Rosewood Hotel’s Country Kitchen, Chef de cuisine Leo Chai prepares Northern Chinese dishes from lost recipes — dating back to before the 1950s — that he had unearthed in Beijing’s countryside. Patrons can expect a menu that includes knife-cut noodles, koushuiji (Sichuan chicken in chilli oil), and Liu Gou Village tofu.
Opening hours: Lunch: 11. 30 am – 2.30 pm; Dinner: 5.30 pm – 10.30 pm
Address: 3F Rosewood Hotel, Jing Guang Centre, Hujialou, Chaoyang District, Beijing, China
Arch owns an intimate space with a slew of surprises on the cocktail front. Sous-vide banana-infused rum and truffle oil bourbon are just two of the many exotic liquors it offers. Its concoctions have been known to also pack quite a punch. Visitors should be prepared for a hefty bill here though.
Opening hours: Daily: 7 pm – 1 am
Address: 3 Zhangzizhong Road, Ping’an Avenue, Dongcheng District, Beijing, China
Indulgence: Li Qun Roast Duck Restaurant
Established in 1902, Li Jun Roast Duck Restaurant is a small, family-run, courtyard eatery that’s nestled within a Beijing hutong house. Each duck is carefully roasted over fruit woods, giving it a fragrant skin that’s crisp, light, and savoury. Other dishes worth ordering include the crispy duck bone with salt and pepper, salted duck liver, and the dry-fried four delicacies.
Opening hours: Daily: 10 am – 8.30 pm
Address: 11 Beixiangfeng Hutong, Qianmen Dongdajie, Chongwen District
Indulgence: Wangfujing Snack Street
Located to the south of Haoyou World Mall — one of the street’s most popular shopping centres — is the Wangfujing Snack Street. The streets are filled with snack stalls and stands that sell more than 500 authentic Beijing bites to both curious travellers and locals. There are opera performances and tea appreciation sessions here for those who are interested in Beijing’s culture.
Opening hours: Daily: 9.30 am – 10 pm
Address: Wangfujing Street, Chaoyang District, Beijing
Activities: The Forbidden City
The Forbidden City, constructed in 1406 during the Ming Dynasty, is the largest ancient palace complex in the world, and a staple in any Beijing travel guide. Visitors can have a walk through its impeccably-pruned traditional gardens, imperial and governing quarters while admiring the valuable art pieces and artefacts back from the past.
Opening hours: April to October 8.30 am – 5 pm; November to March: 8.30 am – 4.30 pm. Closed on Mondays, except the Chinese statutory holidays.
Admission fees: April to October: 60 yuan; November to March: 40 yuan
Address: 4 JingshanQian Street, Dongcheng District, Beijing, China
Activities: Summer Palace
Summer Palace is another site that reflects China’s historic past. Originally constructed in 1750 for the birthday ceremony of Emperor Qianlong’s mother, the Summer Palace holds a well-preserved imperial garden with temples and pavilions. In addition to sight-seeing, the area also offers a 10-minute boat ride along Kunming Lake and a restored theatre to enjoy traditional Chinese performances.
Admission fees: April 1 to October 31 (peak season): 30 yuan; November 1 to March 31 (off-peak season): 20 yuan
Opening hours: Peak season: 6.30 am – 6 pm; Off-peak season: 7 am – 5 pm
Address: 19 Xinjian Dongmen Road, Haidian District, China
Activities: Today Art Museum
The museum is a reminder of how far the contemporary art scene has come in Beijing. Located along Baiziwan Road, it is also the first museum dedicated to contemporary art in China, giving many homegrown artists a platform to showcase their works. Entry to the Today Art Museum is free for the public every first Saturday of each month, as well as on International Museum Day on 18 May.
Admission fees: 20 yuan
Opening hours: 10 am – 6 pm; closed every Monday and during Spring Festival
Address: Building 4, Pingod Community, 32 Baiziwan Rd, , Chaoyang District, Beijing, China
Activities: Beihai Park
The Summer Palace’s renown is matched by its counterpart, the Winter Palace, otherwise known as the Beihai Park – our final entry in this Beijing travel guide. Located in the northwestern part of the Imperial City, its picturesque garden is one of China’s largest. Also, its history dates back over a thousand years. Visitors will thus see various ancient temples, imperial palaces, and religious structures.
Admission fees: April to October (peak season): 10 yuan; November to March (off-peak season): 5 yuan
Opening hours: Peak season: 6.30 am – 9 pm; Off-peak season: 6.30 am – 8 pm
Address: 1 Wenjin St, Xicheng, Beijing, China