CHINA TRAVEL SPECIALIST 020 3750 1655 click for opening times

Contact Us

Our friendly and experienced team are ready to take your call today. Call us at the number below, our phone lines are open:



China Travel Guide: 9 Must-see hidden attractions in Beijing


  • Travel to China
  • China
  • China Tours

Our Expert



CTS Horizons is the UK's number one operator for China and beyond. We offer superb private journeys and tailor-made holidays to the world's most fascinating destinations!

Beijing is the first city that tourists visit when they first travel to China. Many already know or have visited its main attractions, so with this in-depth look we decided to suggest a few unusual ones that are often overlooked but should not be missed!

Beijing is the capital of China and its third most populous city. Every year it attracts a huge number of tourists, and it is among the most visited cities in China. Just in the first half of 2016, almost 2 million overseas tourists visited it.
Such a powerful attractiveness comes from its mix of rich, ancient culture and its astonishingly fast modernisation. On the one hand, Chinese Empire's power is still testified by a number of breathtaking Imperial residences and temples, on the other hand, Beijing offers a wide variety of leisure activities to match even the pickiest visitors.
Apart from the well-known locations like Tiananmen Square or The Forbidden City though, this city has a lot more to offer to more adventurous and imaginative visitors. Let's discover the less travelled paths hidden in the capital:
1. The Old Summer Palace (圆明园 Yuánmíngyuán)
Haidian District
The Old Summer Palace, despite being situated nearby the widely known Summer Palace, is a far less visited location.
By Shizhao - Own work, CC BY-SA 2.5,
The Emperor Kangxi built it for his son around 1700. The Palace expansion continued until 1860 when during the Second Opium War the British destroyed it as a retaliation action against the Chinese.
The Old Summer Palace was never restored, and just its ruins remain nowadays. Unlike other monuments and ancient buildings that are being continuously restored though, this offers the rare occasion to see the original, untouched remainings of the old Chinese society. Entrance fee is just CNY 10.
By 颐园新居 - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,                             
2. Ancient Observatory (古观象台Gǔ guānxiàngtái)
2 Dongbiaobei Hutong, JianWai DaJie, Dongcheng District
Built during the Ming Dynasty, this astronomical observatory is one of the oldest in the whole world. The site includes eight star-gazing instruments located on the top of the building that were also used to calculate stellar distances and cartography. Inside there is also an indoor exhibition dedicated to Chinese astronomy history for just CNY 20.
By User:Vmenkov - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,
For a brief but enlightening trip and a look at Chinese science from almost 600 years ago, the Ancient Observatory offers an amazing opportunity that any traveller keen on Chinese culture cannot miss.
By user: kallgan - Own work, Public Domain,
3. Baigongfang (百工坊Bǎi gōng fāng)
B12, Guangming Road, Dongcheng District, Beijing
Baigongfang roughly translated as “100 Handicraftsmen Workshop” is a place that was set up by Beijing Municipal in Dongcheng District and aimed at preserving and developing Chinese traditional handicrafts.
The main art forms preserved here are the “Eight Unique Skills of Yanjing”: engraved lacquer, ivory carving, cloisonne, jade sculpture, inlaid filigree, inlaid gold lacquer, palace carpets and palace embroidery. Besides these historic crafting skills, there are studios working with glass, clay and paper arts as well.
In the classroom, visitors have the opportunity to study too with real masters of such ancient arts. Beijing Baigongfang is a proper Chinese traditional handicrafts museum. Just spare some time here to see and feel the China traditional culture living within this modern and fast developing city.
4. Grand View Garden (大观园 Dàguānyuán)
12 Nancaiyuan Street, Xicheng District
The garden was built between 1984 and 1989 from the description of the Grand View Garden in the Chinese classic novel Dream of the Red Chamber.
It is full of picturesque scenic spots and it includes also replicas of the residences of the member of Jia family from the book. Each building and courtyard is decorated to match a different character personality in order to allow visitors to fully dive into the novel's atmosphere.
Visitors can also dine at the Grand View Garden Restaurant in this fascinating setting. It represents an unmissable spot for Chinese gardens tradition admirers.
5. The Prince Gong Mansion (恭王府 Gōng Wáng Fǔ)
17 Qianhai West Street, ShiChaHai, Xicheng District
This museum was originally a siheyuan-style mansion including a large garden built in 1777 for an important court official of Qianlong Emperor.
By onion83 - DSC00503, CC BY-SA 2.0,
This type of traditional residence was very common in ancient China and consist of a quadrangular courtyard surrounded by buildings
on all for sides. These Siheyuans were usually occupied by large, extended families, and such big mansions testified their wealth. 
By onion83 - DSC00495, CC BY-SA 2.0,
The entrance has a modest price of CNY 40, and it's a must-see for tourists visiting the surrounding hutongs (Beijing's traditional alleys) area and willing to experience the atmosphere of the ancient capital still alive within the modernisation.
6. The Hutong (胡同 Hútòng)
Dongcheng District
Beijing's iconic traditional alleyways definitely deserve a visit! Especially in the evening in the area surrounding the Houhai lake, where the best preserved traditional houses are located.
If you want a taste of the more traditional way of life in Beijing though, then lose yourself in the close area around Gulou street. There you will find an absolutely fascinating mixture of strongly rooted traditional culture blending with modern and accurately designed shops and bars. You'll have the opportunity to meet loads of interesting people and make a unique experience that no other place can offer.
The more you explore the more you will be attracted by this amazing and diverse microcosm.
7. 798 (七九八 Qījiǔbā)
2 Jiuxianqiao Rd, Chaoyang Qu
The 798 Art Zone takes its name from one of the factories within the old decommissioned area over which the whole artistic district has arisen. 
In the mid-1990s, Beijing's Central Academy of Fine Arts in search for cheap ample places to rent and establish their studio started to move there. A few years later, more and more artists started establishing their galleries there, commercial activities flourished and new exhibitions are set on a regular basis.
In few years it has become a huge movement and nowadays it's one of the most active and lively areas of Beijing, with its ever-changing shops and galleries hosting colourful and diverse pieces of art.
By Leeluv (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
8. Tanzhe Temple (潭柘寺 Tán Zhè Sì)
Tanzhe Mountain, Mentougou District
The temple is located outside the city to the west at 25 miles distance. It was built between 250 and 316, and with his now, over 1700 years is the oldest Buddhist temple in Beijing. People often say “First came Tanzhe Temple, then Beijing”.
Tourists can enjoy the view of buildings from Ming and Qing dynasties, other pagodas though were built throughout different historical periods Jin and Yuan. Along the main axis, the main building is called the Mahavira Hall which is 79 feet long and 108 wide. Monks still regularly hold religious ceremony.
The temple houses a great number of historic relics and right outside stands a 1000 years old Ginkgo tree making tourist sights both inside and out an unforgettable experience.
9. Yishu 8 (艺术 Yìshù)
20  East Huangchenggen North Street, Dongcheng District
Is a 100 years old building that once housed the Sino-French University. Today though is a contemporary art gallery that mix modern and academic old tradition promoting cultural exchanges between East and West.
It holds regular exhibitions of local artists and is another fine example of well preserved Chinese traditional architecture. With its countless finely decorated rooms and enchanting courtyard, it makes a perfect detour from the bustling nearby Nanluoguxiang.
This concludes our selection! Did you know all these places? If not, give it a try! If you travel to China for the first time or you have been already but never visited the Capital check our Classic Tours section to get inspiration for your tour.



Tailor Made holidays

For a more independent travel experience, our expert travel advisors will help you create your perfect holiday

Let us design your perfect trip



Feeling Inspired?

Email Us Now!

Sign up to our newsletter

1 Start 2 Complete

Get the best of what CTS Horizons has to offer, delivered right to your inbox!

Please enter a valid email address.

Interested in our Brochures?

View them here...