15 amazing things to do in Beijing, from helicopter rides to palace picnics

The Great Wall of China
A local helicopter operator offers 30-minute flights over the Mutianyu section of Great Wall, a rambling stretch of Ming-era brick and stone Credit: liu fuyu

More insider guides for planning a trip to Beijing

Thanks to the 24 emperors who have called Beijing home since the Ming Dynasty, there’s more to see in the capital than any other Chinese city. The Forbidden City, the world’s largest palace complex, is just the start. Throw in the Summer Palace, the cosmologically aligned Temple of Heaven, the magisterial Drum and Bell Towers, the pleasure lakes of Beihai and Shichahai, and protecting it all from the barbarians beyond, the Great Wall snaking through the city’s northern mountains. Since 1949 you can add Tiananmen Square, the Great Hall of the People, and umpteen other socialist monuments.


Walk the walls of the Forbidden City

Since 2015, sections of the Forbidden City’s eight-meter-high...

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