Capital Views in Beijing

Historic neighbourhoods to modern marvels, here's how to see it all in the Chinese city. | By Eric Rosen.  
Shops, cafés, and homes line Nanluoguxiang, one of Beijing’s famed hutongs. Photo by: Kokkai/Getty/Getty Images

The 2008 Summer Olympics was Beijing’s coming-out party as one of the world’s most influential megacities. A further influx of investment and an ever-developing tourism sector make now a great time to plan a visit to the Chinese capital. Let these pro tips guide you.


Flights from Beijing to Mumbai, Delhi and Bengaluru require a layover at a Southeast Asian hub like Singapore or Hong Kong. Single entry tourist visas costs Rs3,900.

On the Move

During Chinese New Year (Feb. 5, 2019), the world’s largest human migration occurs as residents visit their hometowns. Many sites close, but you can still see vibrant temple fairs.

Top Dish

Taste a modern version of Peking duck at Opposite House’s swanky Jing Yaa Tang. Or, says the hotel’s Nick Gollner, “for old school charm, head to Liqun Roast Duck.”

Hutong Hustle

One of the best preserved hutongs (historic neighbourhoods) is Nanluoguxiang. Explore it by bicycle with Beijing Bike Rental Company, or eat in a family home with Discover Beijing Tours.

Forbidden City

Daniel Newman of Newman Tours advises: “Book your tickets in advance, since the government limits admissions to 80,000 people per day. Don’t forget your passport.”

Skyline Stunners

Beijing’s standout structures include the Galaxy Soho complex, the CCTV Headquarters, and the National Stadium (aka “Bird’s Nest”), sure to inspire Instagram envy.

Found in Translation

Most people in the tourism industry speak English, but if you plan to explore Beijing on your own and find your language skills lacking, download a translation app such as Pleco.

Raising the Bar

Gollner also suggests Botany, “an under-the-radar cocktail bar in a 12th-floor apartment where mixologist Frankie Zou whips up custom cocktails and handcrafted infusions.”

Air Aware

Although air quality has improved in recent years, pollution levels can still run high, especially in winter. On smoggy days, go to indoor sites like the National Art Museum of China.

Great Wall Walks

Newman says, “Travel to Mutianyu or Simatai to avoid crowds, or even to the recently restored Ming-era Huanghuacheng section, which offers panoramic views.”