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The Best Day Trips from Beijing

Beijing Zhengyang Gate Jianlou in Qianmen street in Beijing city China.

With its unstructured traffic and crowded streets filled with everything from strange vehicles to food vendors, the Chinese capital might seem overwhelming, and it is not uncommon to experience a cultural shock when arriving in Beijing. This metropolis is also full of significant cultural and historical sites, beautiful parks and stunning examples of traditional and contemporary architecture though! Read our guide to learn more about what sites not to miss – in and out of Beijing with our guide to the best day trips from Beijing!

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Day trip from Beijing to The Great Wall of China 

The Great Wall of China is a connected set of smaller fortifications, some of which date back to the 7th century BC. The first time the stretches were joined together was by Qin She Huang, the first Emperor of China, but only little of the Qin walls remain. The parts of the Great Wall mostly well known to us now were raised during the Ming Dynasty (the 14th through the 17th century). The Great Wall of China served as a defence fortification (with troop barracks and stations), but also as border control for goods transport along the Silk Road.

The Great Wall can be visited at multiple locations, and the experience will be different from site to site. Some of the spots, like Badaling (located about 70 km from Beijing), are easily accessible to tourists, and hence more crowded. In general, tourists must be careful when choosing the date for their visit, we do not recommend going to the Great Wall during Chinese National holidays like The Spring Festival (Chinese New Year; the festivities usually start in late January and last for 2 weeks).

Great wall day trips from Beijing are the most popular ones among tourists, and also some the easiest ones to arrange. Your hostel or hotel will for sure be able to help you with tour booking, but it is also possible to arrange the trip on your own. Depending on your budget, from Beijing, you can take a train or a bus to Badaling. Bus no. 877 to Badaling departs from Deshengmen and goes directly to Badaling Great Wall for a price of 12 Yuan (approx. 1,7 USD). The journey takes 1 hour 40 minutes. Entry ticket to the Badaling Great Wall is 35 CNY (approx. 5 USD) in the fall/winter season (Nov. 1st to Mar. 31st) and 40 CNY (around 5,5 USD) in the summer season (Apr. 1st to Oct. 31st).

For a faster and more convenient ride, you can hire a taxi or a driver for the day and go to Mutianyu Section of the Great Wall of China (due to the lack of public transport connection, this section is less crowded than Badaling). 

Day trip from Beijing to The Great Wall of China 

Great Wall of China at Mutianyu (Beijing)

Day trip from Beijing to Ming Tombs 

Covering an area of 40 square kilometres in the Changping District north of Beijing, the Ming Tombs are another popular historical site that should be added to your Beijing day trip itinerary. The Ming Tombs are a burial place of the 13 Ming Emperors, over 20 empresses, other members of the imperial family, but also many of the royal concubines! It is a unique cultural landscape, with many stunning pieces of classical architecture.

The Ming Tombs have been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2003. Only parts of the Ming Tomb Complex are currently open to visitors. Those include: the Changling Tomb (built in 1413 which serves as the burial place of the 3rd Ming emperor, Zhu Di), the Dingling Tomb of the 13th Ming emperor and his two queens, the Zhaoling Tomb tomb of the 12th emperor and his three queens and “The Sacred Path”, which is a passage that leads to the tombs.

If you decide to book a tour from Beijing to Badaling Great Wall, a visit to the Ming Tombs will most likely be included in your excursion. However, you can also easily arrange a tour to the Ming Tombs on your own; it is one of the most popular and easiest short trips from Beijing. 

Since only parts of the Ming Tomb complex are open to visitors, there are only 2 bus stops for tourists to disembark: Changling stop and Dingling stop. Pubic buses no. 872 run daily every 10 minutes from Deshengmen, Beijing. The ticket fare is 10 CNY (approx. 1,5 USD). The bus trip takes only one hour, and we recommend you visit the site in the forenoon, as the bus service from Changling stops back to Beijing ends at 3 PM. 

Day trip from Beijing to Ming Tombs 

Changling Tomb of Ming Dynasty Tombs Shisanling at beijing City China.China - A UNESCO World Heritage Site

Day trip to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City

Beijing topography is very interesting; the city is built around the so-called ring-roads, and within the first ring road, we find the (ancient as well as modern) core of the capital; the Forbidden City with the old Imperial Palace and the Tiananmen Square (originally designed and built in 1651, since then it has been enlarged by four times its initial size in the 1950s). Both Beijing attractions are frequented by tourists and locals alike, so make sure you plan your visit to the city centre in the morning/forenoon to avoid crowds.

The Tiananmen Square is a historically significant location. It is where Mao Zedong proclaimed the founding of People’s Republic of China in 1949, and on June 1989 the square became the place for student-led political protests that were met with brutal reactions from the Chinese military forces. Nowadays the square contains the Great Hall of People, the Monument to the People’s Heroes, the Chinese National Museum and Mao Zedong’s Mausoleum where the mummified body of the former leader is still displayed to visitors.

Beijing’s Forbidden City indeed used to be forbidden to enter for commoners. One had to obtain special permission from the royal family to enter the imperial complex. The construction of the Forbidden City began in 1406, and it has been home to 24 Chinese emperors; each of them further rebuilt and expanded the initial structures. Today the compound is open to tourists, and you should prepare for quite a walk if you want to see the whole attraction! The site is overwhelming in its vastness, and the architectural highlights include The Outer and the Inner Court and the Defenses with a moat and fortified walls.

The entrance fee to the Forbidden is 40 CNY (approx. 5,5 USD) offseason and 60 CNY (roughly 8,5 USD) on-season. Additional small fees apply for entry to selected sites within the Forbidden City Complex, like the Treasure Gallery or the Clock and Watch Gallery. Visitor numbers are limited, so make sure you arrive in the Forbidden City early in the morning and remember to bring your passport with you; you must present it while purchasing the entry ticket!

Day trip to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City

Beijing, China - Forbidden city, Tiananmen square

Day trip from Beijing to Tanzhe Temple

Looking for short trips from Beijing? The Tanzhe Temple ranks high on our list! With a proud age of around 1700 years, it is one of the oldest established temples in Beijing. The site is a wide complex of halls, pagodas and worship altars, and most of the preserved buildings are from the Ming and Qing dynasties. Central for the temple is the Mahavira Hall where Buddhist monks still regularly perform religious ceremonies. You will see a lot of yellow glazed tiles, which is a symbol of high levels in Chinese architecture. Also, do not miss the temple’s Hall of Guanyin, Guanyin is worshipped as a “saint” and he is renowned for his goodwill, mercy and sympathy. 

From Beijing, you can easily reach the Tanzhe Temple by public transport. Jump on Beijing metro line 1 to Pingguoyuan Station (this subway station cal also be reached by bus no. 336), and from there (at the bus station in the West side) transfer to Bus 931. Get off at the last stop Tanzhe Si (Tanzhe Temple).

Tanzhe Temple admission fee is 55 CNY (around 8 USD), and the site is open from 8 AM until 4.30 PM (November through March) and 5 PM (April through October).

Day trip from Beijing to Tanzhe Temple

The Tanzhe temple under the sunset in Beijing China.

Day Trip to Shilinxia Glass Viewing Platform

Shilinxia is the name of a glass viewing platform near Beijing, especially popular among tourists who enjoy the thrill of heights. Architecture enthusiasts find this particular site very controversial – the viewing platform is a wonder of planning and engineering, but some are bothered by its almost sci-fi like features in the middle of a natural landscape. You reach the platform by cable car and steps, and it allows you to walk on glass 400 meters above the Jingdong Stone Forest Gorge and enjoy the breathtaking view!

To get the most convenient experience out of your Shilinxia Glass Viewing Platform tour, you can book a trip with an English speaking guide and organized transport from Beijing. Budget-conscious travellers do not have to worry though, the site is also easily accessible by public transportation. From Dongzhimen Station in Beijing, take bus no. 852 to the Pinggu Bus Terminal. There, you change to bus no. 25 that takes you directly to Shilinxia, or the Stone Forest Gorge. Your Beijing transport card will work for both bus connections. 

The entrance to the Stone Forest Gorge is 78 CNY (around 11 USD) The cable car fee is 100 CNY (approx. 14 USD) for a one-way single journey, and do note that you have to pay another entrance ticket of 40 CNY (5,5 USD) to access the viewing platform itself.

Day Trip to Shilinxia Glass Viewing Platform

Day trip from Beijing to the Summer Palace

Only 15 kilometres from Beijing downtown area you will find an impressive (and impressively well-preserved!) royal park – The Summer Palace, also known as Yíhé Yuán, construction of which began in the mid-18th century. The site has been featured on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1998, and it is a stunning example of Chinese Garden design, combining water features, plants, paths and alleyways, but also a cultural centre where you can experience traditional Chinese theatre performances.

The highlights in the Summer Palace Complex include the Kunming Lake, with the unique, rainbow-looking 17-hole bridge (we recommend you take the boat and try a short sail on the lake, it’s a beautiful and relaxed experience, but note that the boat fee is not included in the main ticket price), the “Longevity Hill” with a Buddhist Temple on top and Suzhou Market Street that is a recreation of traditional riverside shops, only possible to reach by boat.

From downtown Beijing, the Summer Palace can be easily reached by public transportation. Take metro Line 4 to Beigongmen, take exit D, and the North Palace Gate is only 3 minutes away on foot! To reach the East Palace Gate, you can either go to Yiheyuan Station or Poshangcun; both stops can be reached by bus, and there are several, frequently-departing daily connections.

Day trip from Beijing to the Summer Palace

Imperial Summer Palace in Beijing, China. Longevity Hill on the Kunming Lake, Summer Palace complex, an Imperial Garden in Beijing. UNESCO World Heritage site

Day trip from Beijing to Eastern Qing Tombs

125 kilometres northeast of the Chinese capital we find Eastern Qing Tombs – an impressive imperial mausoleum complex and a designated UNESCO world heritage site. Altogether, the building took almost 250 years, the process began in the mid-17th century and was not finished until 1908 All the mausolea follow a similar building pattern, they consist of a spirit way (a path leading to a tomb, often lined with statues or symbols on both sides), palaces and “offering kitchens”. The Spirit Way in the Xiaoling Mausoleum in the Eastern Qing Tombs Complex (the burial place of Emperor Shunzi, the first ruler of the Qing dynasty) is the most elaborate, and hence the most famous one. It contains several ornamented gates, multiple bridges as well as sculptures and pavilions. Another remarkable tomb within the complex is the Yuling Mausoleum. It is abundantly ornamented and the gates and ceilings are carved and decorated with Buddhist figures and symbols as well as Tibetan and Sanskrit scriptures.

The Eastern Qing Tombs are located in Zunhua district, and from Beijing, you can get there by coach, and then take a taxi directly to the tomb complex. From April through October is the peak season with ticket prices of 122 CNY (approx. 17,5 USD) and from November through March the fees go down to 82 CNY (around 11,5 USD). We recommend you double-check the opening hours before you go!

Day trip from Beijing to Eastern Qing Tombs

ZUNHUA - : Ancient architecture scenery in the Eastern Royal Tombs of the Qing Dynasty. Zunhua Hebei Province china.

Day trip from Beijing to Shanghai

Despite the distance of more than 1200 kilometres between the two cities, it is possible to take a day trip from the Chinese capital to the bustling metropolis, Shanghai. It is interesting to observe the cultural differences between the two cities, and the calmer, historical atmosphere of Beijing stands in clear contrast to Shanghai’s modern, hip vibe.

Dedicate one day to exploring Shanghai with the scenic skyline wit the impressive towers of Jin Mao, Shanghai World Financial Center and Oriental Pearl Tower. Meander around the Old French Concession, explore small galleries and design shops and make sure to stop for a meal at Din Tai Fung, and eatery popular among locals and tourists alike, where you can taste the famous Chinese steamed buns or Shanghainese noodle dishes.

There are several daily departures of budget domestic airlines that will fly you from Beijing airport to either Pudong or Hongqiao airport in Shanghai. Both airports are connected to the city with the metro, so getting to downtown Shanghai will be unproblematic. You can also book a day tour to Shanghai from Beijing, it will include a hotel pickup, flight fares, English speaking guide service and a meal!

Day trip from Beijing to Shanghai

Shanghai, China - View of Oriental Pearl Tower in Shanghai. It is a landmark and popular tourist attraction in Shanghai located at Lujiazui, the CBD of Shanghai.

Recommended Best Day Trips from Beijing

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The Best Day Trips from Beijing

The Best Day Trips from Beijing

The Best Day Trips from Beijing

Article written by:

Hi, my name is Samantha, Finance Managing Guru by day, Travel Blogging Enthusiast by... well... day too! Haha! Travelling King is the destination hotspot for the wannabe traveller! Showcasing affordable, luxurious getaways for the budget conscious! With the combination of my financial knowledge and travelling experiences I aim to show you, with a little planning, the right budget and a realistic goal you can fulfil your travel fantasies and explore the world whatever your budget or desires may be!