While the splendor of the Forbidden City, hustle and bustle of Tiananmen Square, and the winding ancient hutongs are definitely some of Beijing’s biggest drawcards, the capital of China has plenty more to offer those with some time to spare. Whether you are a people watcher, sports lover, culture vulture, or night owl, here are some great ways to spend your spare time in the city.
For people watchers: Wander around Jingshan Park
Nestled in the heart of Beijing, just a stone’s throw away from Tiananmen Square is Jingshan Park. This is a peaceful haven that offers respite from the hubbub of the city. Here you are bound to see people of all ages and walks of life, whether it be groups going through their morning Tai Chi movements, poets reciting verse or a band of singers belting out tunes. One can easily while away the hours here wandering around the park grounds and people watching. It is definitely worthwhile to walk up one of the hills for views of the surrounding city!
For sports lovers: Visit the Olympic stadium
In August 2008 all eyes were on Beijing when it played host to the Summer Olympic Games. It was here that the world was first introduced to the Bird’s Nest Stadium at the spectacular opening ceremony. Unlike many past Olympic venues, this one was not left to rack and ruin and today remains open to the public and is often used to hold concerts and events. Once inside you can wander around the photo gallery of the opening ceremony, the games, and events since. Then take a ride up the ‘love elevator’ to the top of the stadium for a wonderful view.
For culture vultures: Go to the theatre
If you have an evening to spare in Beijing, why not head to the theatre for a showing of the Legend of Kung Fu? With a cast made up of some of the best Kung Fu practitioners in China, the performance follows the journey of a young boy who dreams of becoming a Kun Fu master, the obstacles he faces and the eventual ultimate goal of enlightenment. This world-class show has been running in Beijing since 2004. It has won numerous awards and is fantastic for a night out; a great introduction to this ancient Chinese martial art.
For night owls: Explore Beijing after dark
While Beijing is fascinating to explore during the day, come nightfall the city takes on a whole new appearance. As the hubbub of the day settles down monuments across the city become illuminated against the dark sky, night markets buzz with activity and the bars and restaurants that line Hou Hai Lake attract locals and tourists alike. Tiananmen Square is particularly pretty to visit after dark. The gate lights up with a glowing red hue and the fountains outside bathe in blue light.
Check out our range of China tours if you’d like to visit Beijing for yourself.