A Busy Three Days in Beijing

In this exclusive excerpt, author and guidebook writer Simon Foster profiles the best way to utterly exhaust and inspire yourself while in Beijing for 72 hours as he takes you from the Great Wall to the market to the opera.
Beijing street scene
Beijing street scene (Galen Frysinger)

Day 1: Start in the center and head straight to Tian'anmen Square and onto the Forbidden City. Take your time soaking up the imperial splendor and exploring its manifold courtyards, gardens and museums as well as the grand halls themselves. Emerge at the northern exit and continue to Jingshan (Daily 7 am-10 pm; ¥2; bus #5 from Qianmen) or Beihai Park (Daily 6 am-10 pm; ¥10 or ¥20 for access to all sites; bus #5 from Qianmen), and then take some lunch at the Courtyard or Fangshan (+6401-1879; daily 11 am-1:30 pm & 5-8 pm; bus #5 from Qianmen). Take a taxi up to Shichahai (an area that features a popular chain of lakes) and hire a rickshaw to take you around the local hutong, then enjoy a lakeside dinner, or if you're feeling super romantic, eat aboard a gondola courtesy of Kaorouji (+6404-2554; daily 11 am-2 pm & 5-11 pm; Gulou Dajie subway).

Day 2: Rise early for a trip to the Great Wall and the stunning hike between Jinshanling and Simatai (or from the section of the wall at Jiankou to Mutianyu), stopping for a picnic and a cheeky glug of Great Wall red along the way. Return shattered and drag yourself out to for a Beijing duck dinner at Li Qun (+6705-5578; daily 10:30 am-1:30 pm & 4:30-10 pm; Chongwenmen subway).

Day 3: Start with an early morning trip to the exquisite Temple of Heaven, maybe even catching the last of the sunrise tai chi brigade's morning exercises and then take a taxi to Panjiayuan Market for some great souvenir shopping. From here take a long taxi ride to the Summer Palace and enjoy a boat ride after checking out the palace buildings. To round off your trip, enjoy dinner at the love-or-hate-but-must-try-once experience of the Beijing opera, or, if this is too shrill, be astounded by the Beijing Acrobats.

End of Day 3: Remind yourself to come back to Beijing because there are hundreds of other sights waiting for your next trip…


Best Hotels in Beijing

$177-$195
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The Regent Beijing
$171
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The Peninsula Beijing
$129
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Park Plaza Beijing Wangfujing
$189-$281
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Raffles Beijing Hotel

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