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The Perfect Weekend (2 Days)

Much like China’s dynamic capital city itself, the perfect weekend in Beijing is all about contrast. Dine on contemporary European cuisine in a 600-year-old temple, zip through the city’s teeming hutongs (narrow alleys) and amble around serene spiritual gardens, examine ancient relics and browse design shops for sleek souvenirs. Spend two inspiring days balancing adventure and relaxation in beautiful, exhilarating Beijing.

Day

1

MORNING
  • Flag Raising Ceremony.

    Rise before dawn and make your way to Tiananmen Square for China’s national flag raising ceremony, which takes place at sunrise every day. After the dignified ritual, stay for a stroll around the sprawling square — one of the largest in the world — before the crowds descend.

MIDDAY
  • The Forbidden City.

    From Tiananmen Square, continue on to Tian’anmen, which translates to Gate of Heavenly Peace. Note the iconic portrait of Mao Zedong before passing through to the main entrance of the Forbidden City, the Meridian Gate. First-time visitors might want to stay on the central path, which is more crowded but showcases some of the city’s most popular sites, like the Hall of Supreme Harmony. The history of this sprawling palace complex dates back to the Ming Dynasty, with construction beginning in 1406. With 980 red and yellow structures, housing almost 2 million artifacts and spanning 180 acres, even if this isn’t your first time in Beijing, there’s likely something left to explore in the beautiful, enigmatic Forbidden City.

AFTERNOON
  • Buddhist Temple.

    Lama Temple, or Yonghe Temple, is a complex of Tibetan Buddhist temples built in 1694. Despite the crowds, the temples remain serene and meditative, and feature incense burners, bronze statues and a 59-foot statue of Maitreya carved from a single piece of sandalwood.

  • Invigorating Afternoon.

    Return to the hotel for a visit to the spa and afternoon tea. The Ritz-Carlton Spa, Beijing melds innovative techniques with traditional therapies. Opt for a purifying bamboo massage, with warm bamboo rolled over the muscles, and afterward retire to the Lounge for a quiet, refreshing afternoon tea.

EVENING
  • Capital Fine Dining.

    Savor an exquisite meal in an ancient temple. Temple Restaurant Beijing specializes in European cuisine — the chef’s tasting menu, paired with a bottle of Bordeaux or Burgundy from the French-focused wine list, will make for a memorable meal.

  • Beijing’s Craft Brewery Scene.

    After an elegant dinner, stop in at Great Leap Brewing, a lively microbrewery known for brewing beer with traditional Chinese ingredients like oolong tea or Sichuan pepper.

A dimly lit lounge area with elegant seating

Day

2

MORNING
  • Serene Start.

    Ease into your day at Temple of Heaven, the peaceful oasis south of the Forbidden City. The park is home to three main altars: the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, the Imperial Vault of Heaven and the Circular Mound Altar, as well as a beautiful bridge and gardens.

MIDDAY
  • Lunch at Lost Heaven.

    Enjoy a leisurely lunch of Yunnan cuisine at Lost Heaven, set inside a sophisticated dining room in the former American Embassy.

  • Design Shop and Hutongs.

    A short walk from the restaurant, find the Ubi Gallery, stocked with exquisite jewelry and ceramics from local artists. Continue on to the adjacent hutongs and wander around the maze of narrow, bustling alleyways.

AFTERNOON
  • China’s Art and History.

    The epic, 2.2-million-square-foot National Museum of China houses over 1 million items that tell the story of China’s long and rich history. Don’t miss the Ancient China exhibit, or Ancient Chinese Jades, with pieces on display from Neolithic times to the Qing Dynasty.

  • Ancient Stargazing.

    Built during the Ming Dynasty in 1442, the Beijing Ancient Observatory houses a collection of bronze astronomical instruments. Climb up to the roof terrace to examine the ornate tools used to study celestial objects nearly 600 years ago and, before leaving, visit the quiet garden for a respite from the city’s bustling crowds.

EVENING
  • Art and Antiques.

    Take a pre-dinner spin through Pop-Up Beijing, the award-winning design and home shop adored by locals and visitors alike. Peruse an expertly curated selection of goods, from vintage ceramics, maps and tea sets to new works by emerging Chinese artists, and stay for a glass of wine at the shop’s inviting little wine bar.

  • Beijing Duck.

    Taste one of Beijing’s most quintessential dishes at what many consider to be the best restaurant in the city. Duck de Chine serves crispy-skinned, tender Peking duck in glamorous, intimate surroundings.

  • A Luxurious Lounge.

    Return to The Ritz-Carlton, Beijing and unwind with a glass of champagne or a cigar to the melody of live music at the lavish Davidoff Lounge.