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24 Hours

Beijing’s history spans three millennia, and while it’s impossible to take in its complex history in one day, you can certainly get a taste of what makes China’s capital city great. Focus on the heart of Beijing, including Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City, making sure to pause and revel in the flurry of activity around you. Finish the day with an unparalleled dining experience in a 600-year-old temple complex, and plot your return to this dynamic city.

Day

1

Morning
  • Get a Good Start.

    Before setting out on an ambitious day, fuel up at Greenfish with a tempting array of dishes from the colorful breakfast buffet.

  • Divine Morning.

    Arrive as early as possible at Temple of Heaven to walk the peaceful park with fewer people. The complex of religious structures includes the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, the magnificent circular building measuring 38 meters high and 36 in diameter (125 feet high, 118 feet wide), remarkably constructed with wood, using no nails.  

MIDDAY
  • Wander the Hutongs.

    In between Temple of Heaven and your next destination, stop on the way to explore the city’s famous hutongs — narrow alleys and courtyards. Right off the main street of Dashilar, find Zhu Jia Hutong and the small coffee shop Berry Beans for a green tea latte and an assortment of snacks. Or get a little lost and you’ll likely stumble upon one of the many noodle shops in the area.

  • Historical Walk.

    From the hutongs, it’s less than a 15-minute walk north to the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong, or Chairman Mao Memorial Hall. Spend a few minutes taking in the final resting place of the Great Helmsman, then continue north farther into Tiananmen Square. The sprawling plaza is also home to the National Museum of China, the Monument to the People’s Heroes and the Great Hall of the People, but examine the buildings’ exteriors and people watch for a bit before moving on to Tian’anmen. The iconic monument, which translates to “Gate of Heavenly Peace,” dates back to the Ming Dynasty in 1420 and was once the entrance to the Imperial City.

AFTERNOON
  • Forbidden City.

    Continue north to enter the Forbidden City via the southernmost Meridian Gate. A UNESCO World Heritage site, the staggering collection of ancient structures and relics can be as overwhelming as it is beautiful. Hire an official tour guide so as not to miss the highlights, including the Hall of Supreme Harmony and the colorful, glazed Nine Dragon Screen, spanning over 29 meters (95 feet).  

  • Shopping and Snacks.

    One of the most famous shopping streets in the city, Wangfujing features a collection of luxury shops, department stores and souvenir stands. The southern end of the mostly pedestrian-only stretch is home to Wangfujing Snack Street, with an array of food stalls dishing out delicious noodles and steamed buns.  

EVENING
  • Peaceful Fine Dining.

    Unwind after an exhilarating day at Temple Restaurant Beijing, just a short walk from the north gate of the Forbidden City. Housed in a former, 600-year-old temple complex, this elegant space serves inspired European cuisine.  

  • Final Toast.

    Before retiring to your room, savor a nightcap in the warm and refined Crystal Bar & Lounge in The Ritz-Carlton Beijing, Financial Street.