Beijing, China offers centuries of fascinating history and culture that make the city an intriguing stop on anyone’s vacation itinerary. Known for its historical attractions, such as the Forbidden City and The Great Wall of China, there are also hidden gems to explore. Set aside some time to spend in these interesting areas, which will add an extra dash of spirit and an element of surprise to your trip.
1. 798 Art Zone (Dashanzi Area)
For art enthusiasts who enjoy creativity off the beaten path, a visit to the 798 Art Zone is a cultural experience, where established and upcoming new artists display their work.
The site was the former 50-year-old compound for military factories. Once decommissioned in the 1990s, the zone became a primary gathering place for local artists and other creatives.
Today, the district is a visually exciting place to visit to absorb the many artistic styles, from photos and street art to expressive murals and outdoor sculptures.
Go on your own or take a tour. Either way, you’ll have access to trendy shops and boutiques to explore, and cafes for relaxing while absorbing the Chinese culture that permeates the zone.
2. Beijing Botanical Garden
From creative art in the zone to the colorful palette of natural art in the garden, the Beijing Botanical Garden is an oasis to explore when you’re looking for a quiet and serene setting to get away from the crowds. Choose the cherry garden, bamboo garden, Chinese rose garden, magnolia garden, and many more to snap a photo or two.
3. Ancient Observatory (Guguanxiangtai)
Step back to the Ming and Qing dynasties when visiting this ancient observatory. As one of the oldest in the world, the observatory is home to eight expansive astronomical instruments. Take a moment to ponder what it was the ancients who used these instruments were searching for and what they discovered along the way. A mystery, to be sure. The observatory is currently open to the public Sunday through Saturday.
4. Beijing Underground City
Under Beijing’s city center lies a network of tunnels covering about 33 square miles. The tunnels were ordered by Chairman Mao in 1969 and completed in the 1970s and were designed as a place of refuge in case of an attack by foreign enemies.
There is an underground complex with shops, schools, doctor’s offices, hospitals, movie theaters, factories, amusement areas, and much more. A true "city" only underground. Only a portion of the tunnels is open to the public.
5. Ritan Park
Ritan is one of Beijing’s oldest parks. Established in 1530 during the Ming dynasty, the park served as home for the Temple of the Sun. The park offers a scenic ornamental landscape filled with a variety of trees, bushes, plants, assorted flowers, and peach blossoms to enjoy a leisurely walk. Within the park are pavilions, altars, murals, and ornate red and green walls. The park is like a picture postcard that has come to life, displaying a cacophony of color, culture, and creativity.