Beijing is a vibrant city of contrast, between old and new. With a wealth of history dating back of 3,000 years and countless historical monuments, the Chinese capital has grown into a economical powerhouse with skyscrapers and impressive cityscapes whilst maintaining its distinctive culture and traditions.
The essence of China can still be uncovered in the hidden corners of Beijing, in Hutongs, public alleyways with a view into what life was like in China’s past, a living museum. Culture and tradition can be seen in the parks where you can observe groups of elders practicing Tai Chi, playing Chinese instruments or whiling away the day playing Chinese checkers. The rich and diverse flavours of China can be found in its markets, a window into the culture and traditions of its people.
With a booming economy, Beijing has grown to cater for luxury tourism and business travellers, which make up part of the 141 million tourists that visit China per year, drawn to the symbiotic fusion of history and modernity that will be sure to captivate your imagination.
Beijing is the perfect destination for the elite traveller, here you can experience world-class restaurants, hotels, a lively nightlife scene, designer shopping and the world’s largest concentration of tourist attractions including the Forbidden Palace and the Great Wall.
Discover Beijing through our guide which provides you with a five-star luxury experience of the city and you will be sure to fall in love and want to return to explore more of the country.
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The best time to visit Beijing
The best times to visit Beijing are outside of the summer and winter months. Summer can be hot, humid and sweltering while winter can be bitterly cold and snowy.
Travel in the months of Spring from March until May and you can appreciate the temperate climate of 12 to 25 degrees, as well as the natural spectacle of spring flowers which add beauty to the historical sites. Another period which is ideal for travel is between September and October where you can enjoy the spectacular colour of autumn leaves and temperatures around 20 degrees Celsius.
It is advisable to check that your travels don’t coincide with national holiday dates where you will encounter thousands of domestic tourists flooding into all the popular tourist attractions and prices for accommodation soar.
Luxury things to do in Beijing
Step into the Forbidden City
A visit to China would be incomplete without a visit to the Forbidden City, a palace dating back 600 years which is still the world’s biggest and most well-preserved palace and once served as the beating political heart of the country during the reign of the Ming and Qing emperors.
Walking through the pavilions and boulevards you will be stunned with the sheer size of the palace. You can visit the UNESCO Heritage Site through a half-day tour or for an in-depth experience you can have a 6-hour private guided tour with a lunch in one of the former ice-storage houses included for €140 per person.
Walk along the Great Wall of China
Another of Beijing’s star attractions is the Great Wall of China, an impressive wall that spans over 21,000 km of China. Beijing boasts some of the best-preserved sections of the wall which was constructed over a period of 2,000 years from 475 BC to the Qing Dynasty in 1911. Rulers of over 20 dynasties in China’s history contracted the construction of this feat of engineering with the hard labour of soldiers, slaves, criminals and workers.
The wall was built as a defence structure during the Warring States Period, later when the kingdom of China was unified by Emperor Qin Shi Huang all the different sections of the wall were joined together and became a unified border against invading nomads from the North. Experience the Great Wall in luxury on a tour of the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall and Summer Palace.
A private guided tour to the Mutianyu section ensures a quieter visit to the wall as this section is often less visited. On this full-day tour you can even visit the Great Wall by ski lift, toboggan or cable car. Price for the tour starts from only €186 per person.
Experience old China in the Hutongs
For a slice of history take a stroll of Beijing’s Hutongs. These alleyways, established in the 13th century, connected courtyards surrounding Beijing’s Forbidden City. These narrow streets are a glimpse into how Chinese society once lived, with interconnected houses where neighbours formed communities, the lanes are filled with shops and stalls including authentic local cuisine.
For a taste of the real China, take a foodie tour and savour some of the local foods as you wind your way through the myriad of alleyways with an expert local guide. You can try local snacks such as mantou bread, red bean dessert and dim sum. On the four-hour private tour, you will learn about China’s culture and history as you weave your way past some famous sights. Prices start from €74 per person.
Visit the temples
Beijing is home to some stunning temples. If you want to visit the most iconic temples, take a private tour to visit the Confucius and Lama Temples with an English-speaking guide. Learn about Confucianism, the beliefs established on social values that shaped traditional and modern Chinese society.
Visit the towering Sandalwood Buddha that stands at 54 feet tall and enjoy dim sum either for lunch or if you choose an afternoon visit, you can taste some delicious Chinese cuisine. The price of the tour starts from €90 including pick up and drop off at your hotel.
Visit the 798 Art Zone
If you are an art lover, head to this attraction of over 60 hectares of art galleries and Bauhaus-inspired buildings hidden in the North-eastern part of Beijing. Today it is a thriving area of the city full of bars, galleries, artists’ studios, exhibition spaces and is the base of over 400 cultural organisations from all over the world.
If you travel in May, be sure to stop at the 798 Art Festival which is held in the area annually. In September to October, there is a Creative Arts Festival to celebrate creativity and art. A full-day tour of the district is the best way to see Beijing’s artistic heritage and includes pick up and drop off as well as a lunch at the Guanfu Museum. Prices start at €144 per person.
Smoke cigars at the Davidoff Lounge
If you want to live the Beijing high-life, head to the Davidoff Lounge at the Ritz-Carlton, a hidden den which oozes old-style class. Here you can smoke a cigar, an elicit import that comes from Cuba, accompanied by a glass of spirit or wine. Nothing is more luxurious than indulging in the forbidden.
Pampering fit for an empress
If you want to experience a truly luxurious beauty package, head to the China World Summit Wing Spa where you can indulge yourself with different treatments or massages including a Jade Facial, a massage using a jade stone to release blockages in your meridian points, minimise wrinkles and lift the skin of your face. A technique used by Empresses in the past. The 75-minute treatment costs €217.
Alternatively, if you’re looking to pull out all the stops on a romantic evening. Book the “Midnight Magic” package at the Four Seasons Hotel Spa which includes a pick up from your hotel at midnight, a private tea ceremony in a romantic garden surrounded by flickering candles, then a private dip in the 25 metre-long pool under the moonlight which is then followed by beauty treatments and massages. Finally, you will be served a glass of champagne and delicious sweets hand-crafted by the hotel chef. The cost of this opulent experience is €1,281 for a couple.
See Beijing from the sky
Take a helicopter to see the highlights of Beijing from a different perspective. For the ultimate in luxury travel, take a 15-minute helicopter tour of the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall. The tour also includes time on the ground to explore the stunning Great Wall but the helicopter flight will be sure to be the highlight of your trip.
Price for the full-day tour is €513 including a private guide, access to the toboggan or cable car at the Great Wall and transfers.
See the Temple of Heaven
The Temple of Heaven is an impressive temple complex was ordered to be built by Emperor Yongle during the Ming Dynasty in 1420 and was used until the Qing Dynasty as a place of worship for Emperors to pray to the gods for a plentiful harvest.
The complex was visited by the Emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties for annual ceremonies of prayer to Heaven for good harvest. The impressive site spans more ground than the extensive Forbidden City and has pavilions and gardens. The best way to visit is on an organised tour where you can visit the Summer Palace and Temple of Heaven in one trip with an English-speaking guide. A private tour starts at €148 per person.
Where to stay in Beijing – Luxury Hotels
Experience Beijing like an emperor or empress by booking yourself the Courtyard Suite at the Hotel Aman situated at the Summer Palace itself! This 18th century Summer Palace was built for the emperors of the Qing Dynasty. 51 rooms are built into the pavilions and decorated in traditional Ming Dynasty furniture and antiques, there is also a secret door and passageway that leads to the Summer Palace itself.
Prices per night start from €519 per night for a room with TV, sound system, heating and air-conditioning and a free-standing bathtub. The hotel also boasts an excellent restaurant and guests have a choice of American or Chinese breakfasts.
The stunning five-star Mandarin Oriental looks over the Forbidden City, only a short walk away. The rooms have four-poster beds, floor-to-ceiling windows, living rooms and all the comforts you may require. The luxury is in the details, you have BOSE speakers, Dyptique toiletries, Dyson hairdryers and sumptuous cashmere throws from a 150-year old Scottish weaving company.
The hotel terrace has incredible views of the Forbidden City and two restaurants and a bar. Other amenities include a spa, sauna, gym and indoor swimming pool. Prices for the rooms start from €463 per night.
This hotel is the only one only offering suites instead of rooms, it is situated in the centre of attractions in Beijing: Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City are within easy reach on foot. There are 232 contemporary and minimalist suites to choose from, the rooms are high-tech with tablets to control everything from the room temperature to ordering room service.
The hotel also organises tours and also hosts activities at their Peninsula Academy, where you can learn to make dim sum dumplings or try your hand at Kung Fu with a master at the Temple of Heaven. The hotel has a trendy rooftop bar, restaurant, buffet restaurant, fitness centre, business centre and an on-site spa with an indoor pool. Prices start at only €218 per night.
Situated near the lush greenery of Chaoyang Park is the Four Seasons Hotel. The hotel is located in the financial and business district of Beijing and is within easy reach of Beijing’s major attractions by metro as well as being only a thirty-minute walk to the trendy district of Sanlitun where you can find plenty of bars, shopping malls and restaurants.
This 20-storey hotel boasts a beautiful Tea Garden which serves over 30 types of Chinese tea, 4 fine-dining restaurants serving up delicious cuisine, a bar and spa with treatments, hot tub and indoor swimming pool. The rooms are decorated in the imperial colour yellow and suites have living rooms, kitchen and dining areas, terraces with private pools. Rooms start at only €196 per night.
Luxury eats in Beijing
Beijing has a thriving culinary scene and though there are new restaurants emerging catering to cuisine from all over the world, we will give you some of the best options that feature innovative modern twists as well as the more traditional style of Chinese dining. Make sure you savour the classics such as Beijing Hotpot, Peking Duck and the delicious dim sum dumplings that are a staple of Chinese cuisine.
Here is our list of the very best restaurants which will delight your tastebuds and leave you hungry for more:
Travel back in time at Mei Fu to 1930s China and enjoy the retro ambience of this restaurant, with its sumptuous velvet drapes, heavy wooden furniture and photographs of another era. The restaurant courtyard where you will dine is decorated with indoor waterfalls and you can enjoy authentic Chinese favourites such as shrimp cooked with water chestnuts or steamed fish served with lily bulbs to the notes of Mei Lanfang’s Peking opera classics.
This family restaurant began from humble roots and has grown into one of Beijing’s most well-known restaurants. They serve only Duck which is cooked to perfection, the restaurant is situated in the courtyard of a 100-year old building which dates back to the Qing Dynasty and there are only 12 tables which are high in demand.
The restaurant may lack elegance but it makes up for that with superb dishes such as the unmissable Peking Duck (which you will need to reserve a few days in advance), duck intestines served with chilli sauce or braised duck gizzards. The restaurant is situated in a Hutong and if you are feeling lost, follow the painted ducks on the walls of the alleyways until you reach the restaurant.
From the staggering heights of the 66th floor of the Park Hyatt Hotel, take in the most spectacular 360-degree view of the capital whilst you enjoy a five-star meal of Chinese classics such as minced pork with chilli and green beans and dim sum, accompanied by over 500 different wines. The restaurant also serves delicious Western cuisine if you want a break from Chinese fare.
The Diaoyutai State Guest Restaurant once only served dignitaries visiting the capital, but since the 1980s it is now open to the public and you can enjoy banquet-like Chinese dishes with dishes such as braised abalone, deep-fried king crab, pan-fried goose liver with abalone sauce and many other dishes that were reserved only for high-status guests. Enjoy a taste of China with an emphasis on flavours and healthy-cooking methods. Prices range from around €200 per head.
One of Beijing’s favourite restaurants is the famous Da Dong. This Beijing institution has restaurants across China which have won Michelin stars. The secret is the wood-fired oven to create duck with the crispiest skin. There are also other dishes such as a whole cooked fish with sweet-and-sour sauce, Kung Pao prawns and other Chinese classics and famous patrons have included Michelle Obama.
If you want to taste authentic Beijing hotpot, pay a visit to Red Bowl in the Rosewood Hotel. Hot Pot is a favourite meal for the Chinese, soup stock is heated over a fire on your table and plates of meat, vegetables, noodles and seafood of your choice are brought out for you to cook directly at your table, the meal is a social occasion with everyone dipping their chopsticks into the hot pot to fish out delicious cooked meat and vegetables.
The soup becomes flavoured with all the ingredients and makes for a rich and delicious stew. The restaurant has a contemporary feel with its exposed brick walls and bright colours but still serves up delicious Beijing comfort food and has brought this classic to another level.
Luxury tours to do in Beijing
Full-day tour of Beijing Highlights
If you’re in Beijing but you’re short of time, don’t worry! We have you covered! This private guided tour includes the Great Wall of Mutianyu, a visit to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City as well as a traditional Chinese meal. For a worry-free day in Beijing, book this all-inclusive tour with transfers included from only €192 per person.
Enjoy an Imperial Dinner
Get a taste of Old Beijing with a four-hour imperial dinner at the renowned Bai Jia Da Yuan restaurant, built in a palace which dates back to the Qing Dynasty. You will enjoy traditional dishes whilst listening to live Chinese opera followed by a tour of some of Beijing’s top attractions in the comfort of a private vehicle. All transfers, dinner and drinks are included in the tour starting from €227 per person.
Beijing foodie Tour
Learn about Chinese cuisine on a small-group tour of the Hutong with an experienced guide. On this three-hour trip you will taste 15 different and unusual foods such as donkey burgers, Mongolian hotpot, dumplings and Chinese crepes as well as some local beers and liquor. Prices start at €68 per person.
Recommended tours in Beijing
- Private Tour-Tiananmen Square,Forbidden City,Temple of Heaven with Lunch
- Mutianyu Great Wall Private Tour with Picnic and Wine
- Private Day Trip to Xi’an from Beijing including the Terracotta Warriors
- Old Beijing Dinner Tour
- Great Wall at Gubeikou and Jinshanling Private Sunset Tour
- Longqingxia Gorge Cruise and Guyaju Cave Dwellings Private Day Tour
- Private Tour: Temple of Heaven, Tiananmen Square, Summer Palace and Forbidden City
- Private Night Sightseeing Tour of Beijing
- All-Inclusive Private Day Trip to Mutianyu and Huanghuacheng Water Great Wall
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