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Her Take: 5 Must-See Sights for Two Days in Beijing

For those who only have two days in Beijing, there are certain absolute must-see sights to check off before heading home. Beijing is a city filled with history and culture, and one way to dive into both is through extensive walking and testing your stomach through a off-the-beaten path food joints. Below is a general itinerary of how to make the most of your time China’s capital.

Temple of Heaven Park 

Situated to the south of Tiananmen Square, this park was once a place for the emperor to pray for good harvests and seek atonement. Being the emperor and all, a small square of land to harken in a season of abundance just wouldn’t do, so this space was transformed into an inviting park, populated with architectural wonders. You can start at either the south or north gate, then work your way through the center. Admission is 15 yuan for the entire park, and 20 yuan to see the central structures (completely worth it). After strolling through this middle section, you can wander the side, more park-like areas for a relaxing walk.

Closest subway to this stop is Tiantandongmen. 

temple of heaven park

Tiananmen Square 

A must-see sight while on your way to the Forbidden City, this massive square has quite a history. Home to both protests and Soviet-inspired buildings, Tiananmen Square is now filled with tourists and policemen on Segways. While the square is quite expansive, the most intriguing sights involve the surrounding architecture.

Closest subway to this stop is Tiananmen East or West. 

beijing

 

beijing

The Forbidden City

Depending on how much time you spend in the above two areas, you may want to save the Forbidden City for day two. Give yourself a good half day here, as it goes on for a lot longer than expected. The Forbidden City costs 60 yuan to enter, but there’s a strong chance tour guides will try to convince you of their expertise and charge you around 300 yuan per tour. If you decide not to do the tour, be sure to read up on the Forbidden City and it’s various sections ahead of time.

Closest subway to this stop is Tiananmen East or West. 

Forbidden Palace

 

Forbidden City Palace Beijing

Hutongs

Hutongs in Beijing are small side streets filled with cafes, restaurants and charm. The best hutongs to visit in Beijing are just north of Nanluoguxiang station. Avoid walking straight down the main road and be sure to veer off to the even smaller alleyways. Former mansions of certain emperors are situated along these streets (I would recommend picking up a Lonely Planet China, which gives a great outline of a suggested walking tour here).

Closest subway to this stop is Nanluoguxiang. 

Beijing Hutong

Donghuamen Night Market 

For the more adventurous eaters, this stop contains everything from scorpions to squid. Most dishes range from 5-25 yuan, and will give a whole new meaning to fast food. Careful that you don’t look too eager when approaching the stalls, as many vendors will start serving instantly (whether you ordered or not).

Closest subway to this stop is Wangfujing. 

Wanfujing Night Market

One last note when it comes to eating: don’t be afraid to stop at smaller food joints packed with locals. Kyle and I stumbled upon a hole-in-the-wall that served eight dumplings for 8 yuan (we had two orders with a beer and the total came out to just over $3). If you can see the food is pre-made, just check to make sure it’s still steaming and fresh.

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