The capital of China, Beijing, has only been open to tourism in the last few decades. However, China is projected to become the biggest tourism country by 2020 according to the World Tourism Organization so travel tips in Beijing are more relevant than ever.
Beijing is home to 21,150,000 people making it one of the largest cities in the world! It is China’s second largest city preceded only by Shanghai (in terms of population).
With all that in mind we present to you our list of the top five free things to do in Beijing:
5. Beijing Museum of Natural history
First of our list of free things to do in Beijing is the Beijing Museum of Natural History.
The Beijing Museum of Natural History was originally founded in 1951 and serves three main purposes. The first purpose academic research, also the collection of specimens. The final purpose is to make paleontology, botany, zoology and anthropology more socially popular, and it is this purpose that means it is free for us to visit!
There are over 200,000 items in the collection and the museum takes up a floor space of over 24,000 square metres.
798 Art Zone or Dashani Art District is an area with a series of old decommissioned military buildings with a growing artistic community.
One of the best buildings to visit here is the Space Gallery 798, it is the center piece of the district and is filled with avant-garde art that you would not be able to find anywhere else in the city.
The building is 1200 square metres and features multiple arched ceilings.
It is worth checking before you visit if any exhibitions are taking place at same time as you might be able to take part for free as well!
3. Silk Market
If you are looking for a bargain or just to practice your haggling skills then come along to number three on our list of free things to do in Beijing; the Beijing Silk Market. You can find almost anything here, from simple souvenirs to electronics to jewelry… and of course silks and clothing.
“It’s a multi-story building where each floor is dedicated to each type of item (clothes, shoes, luggage, etc.). The place is clean and well organized. Yes, the vendors bark out at you while you walk by, but didn’t find them overly aggressive compared to places like Mexico.”
A word of warning, some of the market vendors can be quite pushy to make a sale so just watch out you don’t leave with something you didn’t want!
Shichahai makes it to number two on our list of free things to do in Beijing.
The area Shichahai area takes up around 150 hectares and three huge lakes – Qianhai, Xihai, and Houhai. Around these lakes you can find ten famous Buddhist and Taoist temples.
There is a huge difference between the summer and winter in this park. In Winter a lot of tourists come to ice skate on the lakes. In Summer it is possible to rent out paddleboats to go on the lake, so bear this in mind for whatever time of year you are planning on visiting.
1. Tiananmen Square
The final activity on our list of free things to do in Beijing is the infamous Tiananmen square. If you wondering why it has become infamous in recent history or are not familiar with the history surrounding this area then follow this link to an article on wikipedia.
Tiananmen square was originally built in 1415 during China’s Ming dynasty. The square is characterized by a large flat area featuring the Mausoleum of Charmaan Mao and also the Monument to the People’s Heroes.
The square is very accessible by public transport, and you can find it in the city centre.
If you feel like you are being watched in the square it may be because of the high level of monitoring going on here. There are cameras on every lamppost in the square accompanied by plain clothes policemen.
That concludes our list of the top five free things to do in Beijing, if you have anything to add feel free to leave a comment!