Planning 3 days in Beijing, China to explore this amazing city? Well, I have got it for you. With 3 days in Beijing, you have enough time to visit all of the main attraction in the Chinese capital.

Beijing, Beijing. There are so many reasons to visit this historical place. The city has been China’s capital for 800 years. Beijing has provided us some of the best remains of China’s imperial past. The Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, Summer Palace are just some of the most important monuments in the world, and let us not forget the Great Wall of China. As every metropolis here you will also get tall shiny skyscrapers, lively streets and non-stop traffic.

3 Days in Beijing Itinerary: Day 1

There’s so much to do and explore here, and three days are not enough to visit everything, you’ll need at least a week. However, 3-day Beijing itinerary, taking you through the best places in the area.

Tiananmen Square

Our tour of the Chinese capital started at the historical Tiananmen Square (literal translation „Gate of Heavenly Peace“). The Tiananmen Tower, Monument to the People’s Heroes, Mausoleum of Mao Zedong, and Great Hall of the People are all located there.

3 Days in Beijing - Tiananmen Square
Tiananmen Square
Tiananmen Square
Tiananmen Square

Mao Zedong hailed the foundation of the People’s Republic of China on this square on the 1 October 1949. In the same spot, but in 1989 the student led demonstrations were held and distinguished with numerous casualties. After a careful look around the time came to see the Forbidden City.

The Forbidden City

The first thing you must know – bring your passport with you when buying tickets.

3 Days in Beijing - The Forbidden City
The Forbidden City
The Forbidden City in Beijing
The Forbidden City
3 Days in Beijing: The Perfect Itinerary - The Forbidden City
The Forbidden City

It is named this way because for 500 years the average citizen could not enter it. The place was home of the emperor and his family to 24 emperors for almost five centuries, and is the biggest and best kept imperial palace complex in the whole world. This particular complex symbolizes the heart and soul of China. Construction began in 1406, and over a million workers took part in it. The process lasted for 14 years and turned into a real architectural masterpiece. It is located on a total area of approximately 720 square metres. This created a city within a city divided from the rest of the city area by tall walls and a deep moat, behind which only the roofs of the houses were visible. It contained 980 buildings with 9999 rooms in total. The design itself is made to represent the greatness of the imperial family. There are four entrances on each side, the Meridian gate being the main one. There are four towers located in the four corners of the wall.

The Forbidden City
The Forbidden City
The Forbidden City
The Forbidden City

It’s hard to describe everything the Forbidden City is. Absolutely everything is made with precision down to the smallest detail, demonstrating the power and the strength of the imperial family. In 1987 the Forbidden City was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Jingshan Park

After visiting the Forbidden City we headed north to Jingshan Park. It is located on an artificially created hill made from the ground removed during the construction of the moat and the surrounding palaces. The park occupies an area of 230 000 square metres, and from the top you can get a complete clear view of the Forbidden City.

View towards the Forbidden City
View towards the Forbidden City
Wanchun Pavilion in Jingshan Park
Wanchun Pavilion in Jingshan Park

Beihal Park

After a short break and rest at the top we decided to head to the next park – Beihal Park. Located in the centre of the city it’s one of the oldest, biggest and best kept ancient imperial gardens in China. The story of this garden dates from the XI century and is not only a classic combination of the grandeur of the north and perfecting the south gardens in China, but also of the perfect integration of amazing imperial palaces and amazing religious constructions. One of the symbols of imperial power is also located in the park – the Nine-Dragon Wall. It was built in 1756, it is a 27 metre long, 6.65 m tall ceramic tiled wall that includes a total of 635 depictions of dragons.

The Nine Dragon Wall at the Beihai Park
The Nine Dragon Wall at the Beihai Park

More than half of the park is occupied by a lake. The Jade Flower Island is located in the middle of the lake, where one of the main attractions is located – the White Dagoba.  The tower was built in 1651 on a proposal of a famous Tibetan lama, the emperor at the time built the temple to show his faith in Buddhism and the desire to unite all different Chinese ethnical groups.

The White Dagoba in Beihai Park
The White Dagoba in Beihai Park
The Five Dragon Pavilions in Beihai Park
The Five Dragon Pavilions in Beihai Park
How to Spend 3 Days in Beijing: The Perfect Itinerary
Beihal Park

3 Days in Beijing Itinerary: Day 2

The Great Wall of China

The second day of our stay in the Chinese capital was set aside for the Great Wall. The Wall is maybe the most popular attraction in the country, it’s a must-see place for visiting. In addition, we visited the amazing Beijing Olympic Village after the trip to the Great Wall. We went to Mutianyu section which is one of the best preserved and famous parts of the wall, but you will read more about the Great Wall of China in a separate post. ↓

The Great Wall of China – One of the Wonders of the World

The Great Wall of China
The Great Wall of China

3 Days in Beijing Itinerary: Day 3

Summer Palace

On the very last day of our trip to Beijing, we visited the Summer Palace. It is a bit far away from the downtown area, but it’s definitely worth a visit. The Summer Palace is the largest and best preserved royal park in China. Its construction began in 1750, originally as the Emperor’s garden retreat in the Qing Dynasty.

Beijing Summer Palace painting
Beijing Summer Palace painting
Suzhou River
Suzhou River
3 Days in Beijing: The Perfect Itinerary
Summer Palace Photo Collage
Decorated paifang at the Summer Palace
Decorated paifang at the Summer Palace
How to Spend 3 Days in Beijing: The Perfect Itinerary
Summer Palace

The Summer Palace is the most elegant and beautiful in China. It has so much to offer, but the Long Corridor is the main attraction. It is a 728-meter-long walkway and is also the longest corridor in Chinese classic gardens. The Long Corridor was built from Qianlong Emperor for his mother, so that she could enjoy a walk through the gardens protected from the rain or snow. This covered corridor has paintings on the ceiling and along the entire length is individually decorated. Many Chinese just sit here playing cards or socialisings, so you can stop and admire the vast lake.

Another interesting landmark is the Tower of Buddhist Incense. It is the most recognisable symbol of the Summer Palace. This classic structure of Chinese architecture has three levels with four layers of eaves and the craftsmanship is truly awesome. This is the highest point within the park and at the top you get a great scenery over the lake and the entire park. You pay an extra fee to get into the area.

Tower of Buddhist Incense
Tower of Buddhist Incense

The Marble Boat is located in the northwest corner of Kunming Lake. It was built in 1755 with a base made from huge stones which supported a wooden structure in traditional Chinese style. This is the only western style building within the Summer Palace. The boat is not functional at all, but certainly interesting to view, and quite impressive.

Marble Boat Summer Palace
Marble Boat Summer Palace

From there, you can see the whole of the Seventeen Arch Bridge. This bridge is located at the south end of the Summer Palace and connects with an island. It is the largest bridge with a length of 150 meters. The bridge is lined with more than 500 lions.

The Seventeen Arch Bridge
The Seventeen Arch Bridge

In December 1998, UNESCO included the Summer Palace on its World Heritage List.

Temple of Heaven

This is one of the most iconic places in Beijing. The Temple of Heaven was built from 1406 to 1420 during the reign of the Yongle Emperor of Ming Dynasty as a place where emperors worshiped of prayer to Heaven for good harvest. It is one of the four temples surrounding the Chinese capital – the Temple of the Earth (north), the Temple of the Sun (east), the Temple of the Moon (west) and the Temple of Heaven (south). The Temple of Heaven covers an area of 273 hectares and includes three main round groups of constructions, because of the basic concept in the tradition of ancient Chinese geography: “Round sky and square earth”.

This is the largest and most representative existing masterpiece of ancient spiritual buildings in China. The magnificent architectural style and the deep cultural connotation give an idea of the practices of the ancient eastern civilization. The three main buildings of the Temple of Heaven are the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, The Imperial Vault of Heaven, and the Circular Mound Altar.

Temple of Heaven in Beijing
Temple of Heaven

Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests

The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests is a magnificent triple-gabled circular building, which is 32 meters in diameter and 38 meters high. It stands on a huge round white marble base and is where the Emperor prayed for good harvests. The hall is entirely made of wood. The original building was struck by lightning in 1889, but it was re-built several years after the incident without the use of a single nail. The roof of the hall is covered with blue colored glaze, symbolizing the sky.

Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests
Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests

The Imperial Vault of Heaven

After we finished up at the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests we visited the Imperial Vault of Heaven. The Imperial Vault of Heaven a circular structure with a double-eave roof sitting on a two-meter white marble platform. It was founded as a place for housing the tablets of the Gods that are used during the ritual of worshipping heaven. Around the vault are the famous Echo Wall, Three Echo Stone, and Dialogue Stone.
The building is surrounded by a smooth wall called the Echo Wall, which can transmit sounds over large distances. If one person speaks on one side of the wall or even whispers something, another person would be able to hear clearly on the opposite side.

The Imperial Vault of Heaven
The Imperial Vault of Heaven

Circular Mound Altar

The Circular Mound Altar is located south of the Imperial Vault of Heaven. It is a three-layered altar made of marble. At the center of the upper terrace is a stone called the Heaven Heart Stone, where the Emperor prayed for good weather. Thanks to the acoustical setup of the altar, the sound of the prayer will be reflected by the guardrail, creating important resonance, which was supposed to help the prayer reach the sky. The reason for this effect is the astonishingly smooth walls and floor of the altar, which cause sound waves to spread quickly in all directions and reflect back towards you. This process takes only 0.07 seconds. Thanks to the echo, the volume of the emperor’s voice being nearly doubled, symbolized that he reached the heaven.

Circular Mound Altar
Circular Mound Altar

The Temple of Heaven is a must see when in Beijing! The Temple of Heaven was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1998 with description as “a masterpiece of architecture and landscape design which simply and graphically illustrates a cosmogony of great importance for the evolution of one of the world’s great civilizations…”

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