Beijing is one of the most popular tourist destinations in China and there are many amazing things to do in Beijing to keep you entertained for a 3 day Beijing itinerary. Spectacular sights such as the Forbidden city and Great wall, draw in the most travellers in China. Notably, the city has a lot more to offer; such as tasty Peking duck and exotic street markets.
After living in China for 1 year, I am here to offer you the best 3 day Beijing itinerary amongst some other tips for a visit there.
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Where to Stay in Beijing
|Accommodation||Price-range||Why stay here?|
|Chinese Box Courtyard Hostel||Budget||Central location, lockers and air conditioned dormitories.|
|Beijing Jingyuan Courtyard Hotel||Mid-range||Traditional chinese or western rooms, tour booking service and central location.|
|Legendale Hotel||Luxury||On-site fitness centre, pool and spa services.|
Your 3 day Beijing Itinerary
On your first day on your 3 day Beijing itinerary, I would recommend getting an early start especially if you’re visiting on a weekend. This will help to avoid the crowds at both Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City.
Be sure to grab some bao zi for breakfast. These ‘buns of joy’ are steamed dumplings filled with meat and vegetables. To find a restaurant selling bao zi, look out for tall metal cylinders stood outside local shops (used to cook them).
The first stop is Tiananmen square. After arriving, be sure to have a wander around. The square is very famous – if not infamous for the 1989 ’incident’.
Please note, there are a number of security checkpoints prior to entering the square. If you’re a smoker, you will have to ditch your lighter at these points. This is common at most tourist attractions in China. When my dad visited Beijing, he went through around two lighters a day because of this!
Entrance to Tiananmen square is free. Take the metro line 1 to Tiananmen square Dong/Xi or metro line 2 to Qianmen Station. Alternatively, take a taxi (Chinese name: 天安门广场).
Next up on your 3 day Beijing itinerary, head to the Forbidden City (also known as the Palace Museum). Its south gate is located next to Tiananmen square making it a convenient attraction to visit next. The Forbidden City is a massive complex, full of many courtyards leading to the main tower. Allow half-a-day to visit.
Pick up a map inside or use this one. Enter through the south gate. Next turn around, and you’ll see a set of stairs leading up the gate you have just come through. First head up here for a view of Beijing, before returning down. Continue through the complex, taking your time to see all the different courtyards and temples. Exit the Forbidden City at the north gate.
Don’t forget to buy your tickets online here (if you can translate the page) or here (costs slightly more but you can book in English). Tickets cost 60 RMB (£7/$9) and are valid for half a day. Be prepared for more security checkpoints.
Next stop on our 3 day Beijing itinerary is Jingshan Park. When coming out of the north gate of the Forbidden City, you will see the park directly in front of you. To enter, turn right and follow the road for approximately 5 minutes. Then take your first left and walk straight for another 5 minutes. The park entrance will then appear on your left. Entrance costs 5RMB (£0.60/$0.70).
After a 15-minute walk up to the park’s highest point, you’ll be greeted by stunning views over the Forbidden City. This viewpoint is the perfect place to watch the sunset over Beijing.
Depending on the pollution, the smog can shroud your view… as you can see in my picture above.
Peking duck at Siji Minfu restaurant
Okay, so after a full day of tourist attractions in Beijing, head to Siji Minfu for Peking duck. This restaurant is renowned as one of the best places to eat Peking duck in Beijing. Their menu is in English and has pictures. Please note, there is often a queue, however, it’s worth the wait!
The chefs bring the roast duck out and carve it at your table for a traditional Beijing experience. I would recommend a half a duck per two people – approximately 100 RMB (£12/$15). Remember to order the pancakes and extras (e.g. cucumber, spring onion and hoisin). For four people, we ordered a whole duck and three other dishes; it was the perfect amount.
Siji Minfu is walking distance from Jingshan park. Alternatively, grab a taxi or DiDi there, using the addresses below:
- Chinese: 北京市东城区东单灯市口西街32号 邮政编码: 100006
- English: 32 Dengshikou W St, Dong Dan, Dongcheng Qu, Beijing Shi, China, 100006
For me, day two of this 3 day Beijing itinerary is arguably the best day. It is the day we visited the Great Wall of China and Ming Tombs. I advise hiring a driver for the day. You will be able to do this through your hotel when you check in. Your hotel may ask if you also want a guide. Personally, I don’t think it’s worth paying extra for a guide providing you have a good translator on your phone (check out Microsoft translator).
It’s worth mentioning here most people in China do not speak English. I’d expect to pay around 1000 RMB (£113/$147) per car, per day. Tell your driver you will visit the Great wall and Ming tombs.
Great Wall of China
Now for your most important day of your 3 day Beijing itinerary. Three parts of the Great Wall are accessible for a day-trip. These are:
I recommend visiting Mutianyu. It tends to be less busy and you can still use a cable car . You can, also, enjoy the toboggan ride on your way down the mountain.
To get there: leave at 6:30 AM from your hotel. You will arrive just before the ticket office opens at 8 AM. Here, buy your entrance ticket (40RMB/£5/$6), return bus ticket (10RMB/£1/$1), and either return cable car or cable car up and toboggan down (120RMB/£14/$17). This has to be paid for in cash.
To get to the cable car station you will need to take a bus. To get to the bus station, walk through the village and follow the signs to the end of the village. We took the first bus to the wall. We were that early, that the bus was mostly full of workers!
After arriving, hop on the cable car and you’ll arrive at the wall. We had the first hour to ourselves; making it 100% worth the early start.
On the wall itself: I recommend walking to the left first, then up the steep part of the wall to get a brilliant view. We then hiked back over to the toboggan run. We were on the wall for around 4 hours.
Before leaving the village at the bottom, grab some lunch. There’s a subway if you’re missing home. Otherwise, there’s some local places where you can get Chinese food.
If you do have more time in Beijing, think about taking an overnight trip. You can choose to camp on the Great Wall which is an amazing experience!
Next stop after the Great Wall is the Ming tombs. There are three different tombs you can visit; Changling, Dingling and Zhaoling.
These tombs are all meant to be similar. Depending on time, I recommend choosing one to visit. We visited Changling Tomb. Entrance is 60 RMB (£7/$9)
After this, be sure to visit the Sacred Way. This is a 2km stretch with many animal statues and a tower at the end. Your driver should be able to drop you at one end and pick you up at the other end. Ticket cost is 20 RMB (£2/$3).
Return back to your hotel for around 5PM.
Donghuamen Night Market
If you’re not too tired from day 2 of your 3 day Beijing itinerary, then head to the night market in Wangfujing:
Take the metro to Wangfujing. Alternatively, take a taxi to the following address:
- Address: Dong Hua Men Avenue, West of Wang Fu Jing Avenue, Beijing 100005, China
- Chinese name: 东华门夜市
Donghuamen night market is famous for lots of different street foods. I’m talking rabbit head, intestines, squid and noodles. It is meant to be a really cool experience. Unfortunately, the market was closed when I visited due to Chinese new year!
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The Summer Palace is another famous attraction in Beijing. So for the last day of this 3 day Beijing itinerary, I again recommend visiting as early as possible as it does get busy. I’d advise buying the access-all-areas ticket as it’s only marginally more expensive than the limited-access ticket. It costs 60 RMB (£7/$9).
We headed straight up through the four regions and into the tower of Buddhist Incense. From here, follow the complex down and out next to the lake. The views on the way down are very beautiful.
The main attractions in the Summer Palace are the 17 arch bridge, the marble boat and the jade belt bridge. However, it covers a large area with over 25 different parts to it. A walk around the lake will allow you to visit most of these, but could take a full day. Check out this map here.
Please note, the food options are limited. When we visited there was two extremes; either fancy hotel food or a pot noodle. We went for the self-heating rice meals…. Which come with a chemical part to heat up the rice! It was very overpriced at 50 RMB (£6/$7).
We took a DiDi (taxi) to the Summer Palace. It’s also accessible by public transport. Take the metro to Beigongmen Station at the end of line 4.
4 day Beijing itinerary
Wanting to spend more than three days in Beijing? Head to some of Beijing’s other attractions on your fourth day.
Temple of Heaven
Located in South of Beijing, this park is home to a number of temples. Most people will visit here on their trip to Beijing… However, sadly we ran out of time. I’ve heard it’s a great way to spend a few hours. Take metro line 5 to Tiantan Dongmen. Entrance costs 35 RMB (£4/$5).
If you find yourself with more time after visitng Jingshan Park head to Beihai to wander by it’s lake. Take metro line 6 and exit at Beihai Bei. Ticket cost is 20 RMB (£2/$3).
Lama temple is a Tibetan Buddhist temple with beautiful architecture. Take metro line 2 or 5 to Yonghegong Lama Temple. Ticket cost is 25 RMB (£2/$3).
National Museum of China
This is the most popular museum in Beijing. The museum is located on the edge of Tianmen Square and offers an overview of China itself. Take metro line 1 to Tianmen East or metro line 2 to Qianmen. Entrance is free.
How to get around Beijing
The ease of travelling around the city makes it easy to fit in this perfect 3 day Beijing itinerary. However, due to Beijing’s large size, it’s inevitable that you will need to take public transport to get around.
Metro: this is the cheapest option, starting at just 3 RMB per journey. The network is extensive with over 20 lines. I recommend apple maps for getting around – or google maps if you have a working VPN!
Taxi: This is also a cheap option. Show the driver a picture of the attraction you want to visit and they will take you there.
Didi: There are many good apps for China but the best has to be DiDi – Chinese Uber. Change your app store location to China and download the English version. You can add your foreign card to it. By doing so, you can order taxi’s and input the address in English. Didi will also auto-translate your messages to the driver, allowing you to communicate with ease.
The ease of travelling around the city makes it easy to fit in this perfect 3 day Beijing itinerary.
How to get to Beijing
The main airport serving Beijing is the Beijing Capital Airport (PEK). Many international flights land each day. There is also a domestic terminal for flights within China.
Alternatively, you can arrive by high speed train or sleeper train from neighbouring cities. You can also arrive by bus; however, given the large size of China, I highly recommend their train network.
When to visit Beijing
Beijing is very cold during the winter – regularly hitting minus degrees centigrade. However, this is a quieter time of year to visit, and will mean you will avoid the crowds. But make sure to pack a proper winter coat!
On the other side, the summer is often sticky, hot and humid. Other places in China become completely unbearable during August. Therefore, I recommend visiting in either Autumn or spring for the best weather.
Try to avoid the Chinese holidays, especially Chinese new year. Many restaurants shut and tourist attractions become very busy. Check the holiday dates here.
Where to eat in Beijing
Below is a list of excellent restaurants in Beijing. You can use the Chinese address to take a taxi to the restaurant. Food in China is the best in the world – so don’t forget to step out of your comfort zone!
Siji Minfu Restarant
- Go here for: Peking Duck
- Address: 32 Dengshikou W St, Dong Dan, Dongcheng Qu, Beijing Shi, China, 100006
- Chinese: 北京市东城区东单灯市口西街32号 邮政编码: 100006
Jubaoyan Hot Pot Restaurant
- Go here for: Hotpot – From Sichuan; a big boiling pot of oil, chillies and peppercorns where you cook your own meat.
- Address: First floor, 5-2 Niujie St, Xicheng Qu, Beijing Shi, China, 100068
- Chinese: 牛街西里商业1号楼5-2号(清真超市旁)
Xian Lao Man
- Go here for: Dumplings
- Address: No 252, Andingmen Nei Dajie, Dongcheng district
- Chinese: 东城区安定门内大街252号
Hai Wan Ju
- Go here for: Noodles and Peking shredded pork
- Address: 11 Zengguang Lu (southwest corner of Ganjiakou Department Store) Haidian District
- Chinese: 海淀区增光路11号(甘家口商场西南角)
- Go here for: Vegetarian food
- Address: 2 Wudaoying Hutong, Dongcheng district
- Chinese: 东城区雍和宫五道营胡同2号
Money saving tips in Beijing
- Eat local Chinese food. Western food in China is expensive. If you stick to local food you will save money and experience the real China.
- Don’t eat too much Peking duck. While this is a traditional dish in Beijing, it often comes at a hefty price. Try it once, and then try out the alternative dishes.
- Take the metro. The metro will save you money, especially if you are travelling alone. A one-way journey will cost around 3 RMB.
- Buy tickets for attractions online. By doing so, you will save money and time.
- Check out further tips for travelling on a budget here, and further tips for travelling to Beijing here.
Staying safe in Beijing
While petty crime is low in Beijing, it’s important to be wary of your surroundings.
- Keep your backpack on your front in crowds.
- Keep a spare bank card in a different bag.
- Ensure you have emailed a copy of your passport and visa to yourself.
- Use Didi to ensure you can’t be overcharged by taxi drivers.
As with any country, it’s essential that you get good travel insurance for your trip. I recommend True Traveller if you have any pre-existing conditions, including mental health.
If you have no pre-existing conditions – check out world nomads.
China’s whole society relies on good mobile connection. They use their phones to order taxis, food and pay for literally everything.
You can pick up a sim card for around 200 RMB ($28/£22) for a month with 20 GB of data. Just find your closest China Unicom store.
Please note: China Telecom and China mobile do not work on most foreign phones. Get China Unicom to be certain.
If you’re visiting Beijing in winter, head north afterwards to Harbin. It’s home to one of the largest ice festivals in the world. Definitely a bucket list trip! It’s located eight hours north by high speed train.
Shanghai is not famous for its traditional Chinese History. However, the fake markets, museums and skyscrapers all offer something. Don’t forget to visit the Bund. I was genuinely surprised by how beautiful Shanghai’s skyline was. Head up one of the skyscrapers for an epic view over the city. I recommend Shanghai Tower, as it’s the sixth tallest building in the world. Shanghai is located 4 and a half hours, South of Beijing by high speed train.
Suzhou is known as the ‘Venice of the Orient’. Visit here for the beautiful gardens and canals that run through the streets. Take a day trip to Tongli ancient water town, followed by a stroll through the Lingering gardens. Suzhou is typically visited by Chinese tourists, with very few foreign tourists coming here. So be prepared for the staring and the photos! Suzhou is located less than one hour from Shanghai, and four hours from Beijing by high speed train.
Hangzhou is famous for it’s west lake. This giant lake offers temples, islands and beautiful gardens. With a backdrop of the Hangzhou skyline, it’s well worth a visit. Located five hours South of Beijing and under two hours from Shanghai by high speed train.
Most people visit Xi’an to see the Terracotta army. This amazing army of over 2000 soldiers each with different faces, is on most people’s China bucket list. However, the city is so much more than this one museum. It is home to the largest Muslim quarter in the country – think amazing food, smells and trinkets. Located under five hours from Beijing by high speed train.
Chengdu is where I currently live in China. Internationally, it is known as the home of the Giant panda. There are three panda research bases here, one of which is located on the outskirts of the city. Pandas are the cutest, silliest animals – and you’ll definitely regret it if you don’t visit here! Chengdu is also home to the hotpot (read more about food here). Located eight hours from Beijing by high speed train or three hours by plane. Xi’an is located halfway between Beijing and Chengdu, making it the perfect stopping place between them.
I hope this article proves helpful for your trip to Beijing! If you have any further questions feel free to ask.
Have you had an awesome time in Beijing? It’s surprisingly easy to get a job our here teaching English. Read more about why you should give it a try here!