The heartland of Chinese history, culture and politics, the city of Beijing boasts historic sights, glittering skyscrapers and modern architecture. A Beijing holiday includes exploring fascinating museums and visiting famous attractions such as Tiananmen Square, the largest central square in the world, the Forbidden City and the Summer Palace. China’s capital is also famous for its excellent shopping in a number of malls, street stores and souvenir shops. Nearby you can visit the UNESCO-listed Great Wall of China, which dates back hundreds of years, as well as the incredible Ming Tombs, the mausoleums of the Ming Dynasty.
Reasons to book your Beijing holiday
- It’s home to so many incredible treasures, including the legendary Forbidden City and the Temple of Heaven.
- The city’s history dates back more than 3,000 years and there are many well-preserved historic monuments to see.
- Its lively outdoor markets offer a glimpse into age-old Chinese traditions and way of life.
- You can visit the legendary Great Wall that dates back to the 7th Century.
- Visitors can now explore inside the Forbidden City.
- To drink the fabulous tea.
- Its modern architecture is as mind-blowing as its ancient buildings.
- It’s home to numerous parks where you can escape the bustle and smog.
- Cycling is a popular pastime here.
Beijing is a culture-rich city full of centuries-old history, incredible art, and ancient tea drinking traditions. The modern side of the city beckons, with its hectic pace, awe-inspiring architecture, hundreds of shops for retail therapy, fabulous restaurants, leafy parks and numerous attractions. Experience the perfect blend of old and new on a Beijing tour package with Thompsons Holidays.
Things to do in Beijing
You’ll never tire of all that Beijing has to offer. From famous tourist attractions such as the world’s largest central city plaza, Tiananmen Square, to historical must-sees, like the Forbidden City, the largest and best-preserved imperial palace on earth. Stroll through the vast grounds of the 15th-century Temple of Heaven ceremonial buildings, then head to the world’s architectural wonder, the Great Wall of China, to explore its ancient ramparts. Top it all off with a ride along the picturesque Sacred Way to visit the Ming Tombs, the mausoleums of 13 emperors of the Ming Dynasty. And then take a break from history and enjoy some of Beijing’s fabulous modern delights – excellent bars and restaurants, plenty of evening entertainment including acrobatic shows, pulsating bars and restaurants and a chance to enjoy great shopping options.
What to do in Beijing
- Explore the zigzag of hutongs (13th-century public alleyways).
- Discover the Summer Palace with its breathtaking lake, pagodas and pavilions.
- Take a boat ride on Kunming Lake.
- Visit world-famous museums such as the Chinese Aviation Museum and the National Art Museum of China.
- Bargain for silks, antiques and souvenirs in bustling markets.
- Sample traditional street food.
- Visit Lama Temple to view its fascinating blend of Han Chinese and Tibetan style architecture and art.
- Watch a traditional Peking opera performance at the Beijing Liyuan Theatre.
- Sample Beijing’s famous Peking Duck.
- Discover the hip 798 Art District.
- Explore the Old Summer Palace, built in the Qing dynasty and destroyed in the late 19th Century.
- Pick up hidden gems in the antique markets.
China’s capital city is full of incredible palaces, lush gardens and solemn temples to explore. With its thriving contemporary art scene and bustling markets, it also offers plenty of modern activities that are exciting and Instagram-worthy. Explore this vibrant destination in China on a travel package with Thompsons Holidays.
Know before you go...
- The best time to visit Beijing is during the temperate shoulder seasons, from March to May and from September to October. These seasons also provide colourful scenery.
- In summer, expect sweltering heat, and in winter very cold temperature and the occasional snowfall.
- Flight duration from Johannesburg to Beijing with one stopover: 17 hours, 25 minutes.
- South African passport holders require a visa to enter China.
- You can apply for a tourist China visa through the Chinese Visa Application Centre in South Africa.
- Time zone – Beijing, China is 6 hours ahead of South Africa.
- The currency used in China is the Chinese Yuan. In Beijing, it is the Yuan Renminbi.
- You may exchange your money for the Yuan Renminbi at most Beijing banks or at Foreign Exchange Bureaus.
- Credit cards are widely accepted in shopping malls, international restaurants and upmarket hotels, but be sure to carry enough cash to be on the safe side.
- Most ATMs in Beijing accept foreign credit cards.
- Tip taxi drivers, waiters, guides and porters at your discretion.
- Bartering is expected. Keep negotiations lighthearted.
- Mandarin is the main language in China and the most commonly spoken language in Beijing.
- English is fairly widely spoken in the popular tourist areas such as Chaoyang and places geared towards foreigners.
- Beijing encompasses diverse religions, including Daoism, Confucianism, Buddhism, Islam and Christianity.
- When visiting sacred sites and temples, dress conservatively. (See ‘What to pack’).
- Drinking water is not safe in China, even in big cities like Beijing and Shanghai. Bottled water is readily available.
- Some vaccinations are recommended for China and Beijing. Please check with your doctor before you travel.
What must I pack?
- Lightweight clothing in summer. The winters can get pretty icy, so be sure to pack appropriate clothing if you're visiting Beijing in the colder months.
- Dress modestly when visiting sacred sites. Legs & shoulders must be covered. In some cases, heads must be covered too.
- Comfortable walking shoes.
- Sunscreen, lip balm, hat and sunglasses.
- Mini first aid kit and regular prescription medication.
- Hand sanitiser and insect repellent.
- Travel adaptor.
- Beijing has an excellent transport system with subways, buses and taxis.
What can I do to be a responsible traveller?
- Wherever possible, buy local food and souvenirs and support local artisans.
- Instead of using plastic bags, take fabric shopping bags with you.
- Respect each other's cultures and customs and avoid imposing your beliefs.
- Be safety conscious: don’t display cash or valuables. Leave jewellery and expensive watches at home.
- Keep your belongings safe – use the hotel safe for passports and valuables and watch out for pickpockets and bag snatchers when out and about.
What do I do in an emergency?
- If passports or valuables are stolen, report the theft to the hotel/police immediately.
- Contact the Thompsons Holidays 24-hour care line to assist.
Out of season
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