TRIP 1: The Great Wall
Whichever section of the Great Wall you choose to traverse, prepare to take ample breaks to soak in romantic, sweeping views from this 5,500-mile-long, ancient world wonder.
- Energizing Breakfast.
Fuel up for an active day by dining at Aroma, the all-day restaurant at The Ritz-Carlton, Beijing offering a range of international cuisine.
- Wonder of the World.
The staggering Great Wall of China runs from east to west and has myriad worthwhile sections to explore. Seasoned hikers can start at the restored Jinshanling section, about a two-hour drive northeast of the Beijing. Traverse the sometimes-steep 7.5 miles to Simatai, passing watchtowers, rocky barrier walls and breathtaking vistas on the way. The more challenging terrain draws fewer tourists, so the trek is a little less crowded. For an easier walk, head to Badaling, less than 50 miles northwest of Beijing. Stroll the popular 2-mile, handrail-equipped section of the wall to take in equally stunning views.
- Ming Dynasty Tombs.
If you opt to see the Great Wall at Badaling, spend the rest of the afternoon visiting the Ming dynasty tombs before returning to Beijing. The collection of mausoleums
is the final resting place for 13 emperors. Spirit Way, the 4-mile road that leads into the complex, is lined with stone statues of “guardian” animals.
- Italian Dinner.
Refuel and relax over an indulgent, traditional Italian meal and a glass of red at Barolo in The Ritz-Carlton, Beijing.
TRIP 2: Fragrant Hills Park and the Summer Palace
Once a seasonal haven for royals fleeing the crowded city, the Summer Palace and surrounding areas entice visitors with acres of verdant gardens, peaceful mountains, ancient temples, and other natural and man-made treasures.
- Vivid, Fragrant Hills.
Situated in the Haidian District, northwest of the city center, Fragrant Hills is an imperial park at the base of the Western Mountains. In fall, locals come to see the landscape turn a vibrant red, thanks to the maple trees that blanket the mountainside. But in any season visitors can hike or take a chairlift to Incense Burner Peak, the park’s highest, and explore its many ancient temples, towers and halls.
- The Summer Palace.
Much like the Forbidden City and the Great Wall, the Summer Palace, about 5 miles (8 km) from Fragrant Hills, is also considered one of Beijing’s must-see attractions. This UNESCO World Heritage site dates back to the Jin Dynasty (1153), serving as a retreat for royalty. Today, amble around the acres of gardens, palaces, temples and pavilions and the vast man-made Kunming Lake. The excavated soil from the lake was used to build Longevity Hill — climb to the top for panoramic views of the Summer Palace and the pastoral landscape beyond before moving on to your next destination.
- Tea Time.
Retreat back to the city to enjoy traditional afternoon tea service in the Lobby Lounge at The Ritz-Carlton, Beijing. Inspired by an English manor home, the lounge provides a blissful getaway from the haste of the city.
- Courtyard Dining.
Back in the city center, make your way to Dali Courtyard for a one-of-a-kind dining experience. Wend your way down a historic hutong (narrow alley) and settle in at the charming courtyard for delicious Yunnan cuisine. There’s no menu — instead have faith in the chef, who whips up dishes based on the freshest finds at the market.
TRIP 3: Western Qing Tombs, Peking Man, Marco Polo Bridge
Take a jaunt southwest of Beijing to travel back in time, from the early 18th century to some half a million years ago, examining ancient tombs and the fossils of the Peking Man.
- The Western Qing Tombs.
A collection of four ancient mausoleums about 87 miles (140 km) southwest of Beijing, the Western Qing Tombs encompass the final resting place of 78 royal members, beginning with Emperor Yongzheng. Explore all four tombs, including the first to be built, Tai Ling, completed in 1737, as well as Chang Ling, with its curved walls and whisper chamber.
- Peking Man.
Head back toward Beijing and stop at the Zhoukoudian archaeological site, a UNESCO World Heritage site, to see Peking Man, the human fossils discovered in the caves here that date back more than a half million years. The site museum showcases ancient fish and animal fossils and man-made tools.
- Marco Polo Bridge.
Before returning to the city center, see the Marco Polo Bridge (or Lugou Bridge), spanning the Yongding River about 9 miles (15 km) southwest. The beautiful stone bridge, with its 11 stone arches and carved lions lining both sides, was originally constructed in 1192 and was praised by the famed Venetian traveler.
- Peking Duck.
Inside the gleaming Parkview Green shopping center, find the sophisticated Taste of Dadong, an outpost of Beijing’s popular roast duck restaurant. The menu includes noodle dishes, salads and salmon, but the famously crispy, tender Peking duck is what draws the crowds. Complimentary clouds of pink cotton candy add a sweet finish to the meal.