Itinerary: 5 Days in Beijing

This 5 day Beijing itinerary suggestion includes the key classic attractions, the scenic side, shopping, and culture.

Day 1

Get up early to watch the flag raising at Tiananmen Square and visit famous buildings such as the Great Hall of the People, the Monument to the People’s Heroes, and the Chairman Mao Memorial Hall. Afterword, visiting the Forbidden City and nearby Jingshan Park overlooking the Forbidden City. If there is physical strength, you can go to Shichahai Scenic Area at dusk, visit the market, visit the former residence of celebrities, and feel the vibrant atmosphere of Houhai Bar area in the evening.


Tiananmen Square 天安门广场

The daily flag-raising ceremony time is the same as the sunrise time. After taking a photo of the Monument to the People’s Heroes, wander and take a look at the nearby Great Hall of the People,  and the Chairman Mao Memorial Hall.

Time: 0.5-1 hour is recommended
Opening hours: Check website for flag raising times


Forbidden City 故宫博物院

Once home to China’s ancient emperors. A large-scale royal ancient architectural complex with a wide range of precious cultural relics. It is advisable to do some homework in advance before the visit, see this Forbidden City Guide. You can also rent an audio guide.

Time:  Suggested 0.5-1 day
Opening hours: Peak season (April 1st – October 31st) 8:30-17:30, The off-season (November 1 – March 31) 8:30 – 17:00. Closed on Mondays except for public holidays.
Ticket price: 60 RMB peak – 40 RMB offseason


Jingshan Park 景山公园

Jingshan Park is located on the back hill of the Forbidden City and comes from Shenwumen. Crossing the road can directly enter the south gate of the park. The “Wanchun Pavilion” on the top of the hill is the best place to overlook and photograph the panorama of the Forbidden City.

Time: 1-2 hours recommended
Opening hours: April – October: 6:30-21:00, November – March: 6:30-20:00
Ticket price: 12 RMB


Shichahai 什刹海

Beijing’s famous historic district, where many celebrities’ former residences and palace sites were scattered. If you have enough strength, you can go for a stroll. Houhai Bar Street is the heart of nightlife in Beijing.

Time:  2-4 hours recommended
Opening hours: open all day
Ticket price: free


Day 2

Starting from the Temple of Heaven in the morning, visit the place where the ancient emperor worshiped. Then go to the ancient commercial streets, Qianmen Street and Dashilan. If you still have time, you can continue west to Xidan, a bustling commercial district in Beijing, and enjoy shopping.


Temple of Heaven 天坛

Touring is usually enter via the South Gate and exit the West Gate, visiting the key sites inc Circular Mound Altar →  → Echo Wall → Imperial Vault of Heaven → Danbi Bridge → Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests → Palace of Abstinence. Going there early enables you to admire many locals enjoying daily socializing rituals.

Time:  2-3 hours recommended
Opening hours: Gates open: peak season (April 1st – October 31st) 6:00-22:00, off-season (November 1 – March 31st) 6:30-22:00. Park attractions open: peak season 8:00-17:30, off-season 8:00-17:00.
Ticket price: 68 RMB


Qianmen Street 前门大街

Beijing’s ancient commercial street, Beijing’s old restaurant gathering place, you can eat roast duck, mutton, and other traditional cuisines. Nearby Hutong also has old shops and old buildings like Rui Haoxiang, Beijing Camera Factory, China Hat Culture Museum, and so on. Read more about Qianmen Street. While here you can also visit Dashilan Street, another ancient commercial street. Also note, there are a lot of Hutongs in this area, and you may choose to explore more. Here is a guide to Beijing Hutongs.

Time:  1-2 hours recommended
Opening hours: open all day – shops from 10 am to 10 pm


National Theatre Arts 国家大剧院

Asia’s largest theater, the unique shape of the drop-like, every year from April to July during the opera festival, but also in the public range to enjoy the wonderful opera. Hop off the metro at Tian’anmen West Station and grab a great photo

Time:  20 min recommended


Xidan Commercial Street 西单商业街

There are many department stores and major malls located along Xidan Commercial Street including Xidan Joy City, Galeries Lafayette Department Store, Grand Pacific Department Store and Xidan Shopping Mall. Not just shopping, you can also find an endless range of eateries and entertainment options.

Time: 2 hours +
Opening hours: Commercial Street is open throughout the day, shops and malls generally open from 10 am to 10 pm.


Day 3

Today is the day to climb the Great Wall. If you are not worn out by the climb, you can visit the Ming Tomb by bus.


Badaling Great Wall 八达岭

You can get up early and take the S2 Train at Huangtudian Station and get off at Badaling Station. You can also take a bus. And then choose to climb either the north or south side, and walk up or take the cable. See a more detailed guide to visiting Badaling here.

Time:  3-4 hours recommended
Opening hours: peak season (April 1st – October 31st) 6:30-19:00 off-season ticket sales time ( November 1 – March 31) 7:30-18:00
Ticket price: 35 RMB


Ming Dynasty Tombs 明十三陵

It is recommended to visit Dingling first because it is the only mausoleum in the Ming Tombs where the underground palace was opened. If there is still time, you can see the Changling Mausoleum where Ming Chengzu and Zhu Xi were buried. A more detailed guide to the Ming Tombs and buses here.

Time: 3 hours recommended
Opening hours: All the scenic spots of Ming Tombs  8:00-17:30 (March 1st to October 31st), 8:30-17:00 ( Off-season from November 1 to March 31)
Ticket price: a Combo Ticket for all attractions here is 130 RMB peak – 100 RMB off-peak


Day 4

Today, visit the Olympic Park in Chaoyang District, the 798 art landmark, and Sanlitun, a forward-looking fashion spot. In the evening, sit at the bar in Sanlitun and experience Beijing nightlife.


Olympic Park 北京奥林匹克公园

Take a morning run to the Olympic Forest Park in the morning, then go to the Olympic Sports Center’s Bird’s Nest and Water Cube, and visit Beijing’s most iconic contemporary architecture.

Time:  2 hours recommended
Opening hours: 6:00-22:00
Ticket price: 30 RMB


798 Art District 北京798艺术区

The creative park for the transformation of the old factory buildings, Beijing’s literary youth gathering place, many galleries, exhibition halls, and many specialty shops.

Time:  Suggested 0.5 days
Opening hours: The park is open all day; galleries and exhibition halls are open from 10:00 to 18:00, and most gallery galleries are closed on Mondays.
Ticket price: free


Sanlitun 三里屯

Beijing’s hottest, most trendy and coolest shopping destination. More than 200 stores are located in stained-glass wall buildings. In addition to many brand flagship stores, there are many original designer brands that are full of personality and are in pursuit of fashion trends. You will also find many eateries and several bars.

Opening hours: The commercial area is open all day, most of which are open from 10:00 to 22:00.


Day 5

A morning stroll around the Summer Palace and the Old Summer Palace (Yuanmingyuan), and in the afternoon head to Wangfujing Street, one of China’s most famous ancient commercial areas.

Summer Palace

Imperial Palace and Gardens of the Qing Dynasty. Take your time and relax, this is beautiful traditional Chinese garden on an impressive scale. More details and visiting guide here.

Time: 3-6 hours recommended
Opening hours: peak season (April 1st – October 31st): 6:30-18:00, off-season (November 1 – March 31st a year): 7:00-17:00.
Ticket price: 56 RMB


Yuanmingyuan 圆明园遗址公园 (old summer palace)

An ancient Imperial garden left in ruin by a conflict between French British forces and the Imperial rulers of the time. It is recommended to enter the scenic spot from South Gate.

Time:  3 hours recommended
Opening hours: January-March, November, December: 7:00-17:30; April, September, October: 7:00-18:00; May-August: 7:00-19: 00.
Ticket price: 25 RMB


Hot tip: soothe those aching leg muscles and feet and get a massage before exploring Wangfujing.


Wangfujing Street 王府井大街

Beijing’s most famous commercial street and one of China’s famous ancient commercial streets. Along the pedestrian section, you can find the Malls at Oriental Plaza, numerous shops that have been in operation for hundreds of years, brand name flagship stores, and the hugely popular snack street. Read more about Wangfujing Street.

Time:  3 hours recommended
Opening hours: shops generally from 10 am to 10 pm.


Like to change a few destinations? See my picks for the top 20 things to do in Beijing, and the mega-list of attractions, sights and things to do in BJ.


Where to Stay in Beijing?

These are my four picks, based on great value, consistently good reviews, foreigner friendly, and closeness to the subway/metro system.

The four-star Novotel Xinqiao or the three-star Beijing Chong Wen Men Hotel which are both near Chongwenmen Station (line 2 and line 5) and near to Beijing Railway Station.

The four-star Ji Hotel which is steps away from Xuanwumen Station (line 2 and line 4)

The four-star Sofu Hotel is a very short walk to Ping’anli Station (line 4 and 6).

See more hotel picks here including my picks for the top 5-Star hotels in Beijing.