Beijing is the capital of China and the third biggest city in the world based on population. The sprawling metropolis also leads the world in several regards, especially for its innovations in science and technology. While Beijing is smaller than Shanghai, it still represents the cultural and political hub of the country.
Beijing has an exciting landscape as it is one of the oldest cities in the world yet has found ways to incorporate modern designs into its infrastructure. The transportation networks (expressway, railway, high-speed rail) are innovative and very dependable to help travelers get around.
Beijing day trips offer several ways to depart from the city for a day of adventure. Mountains surround the great city on three sides with several famous palaces, temples, gardens, and tombs. After visiting iconic places like Forbidden City and Temple of Heaven, travel outside Beijing to enjoy one or more of these enriching experiences.
Great Wall of China
The Great Wall of China is the most well-known and essential landmark in the country. The impressive fortification system dates to the 7th century and is exceptionally well preserved and durable in certain sections.
There are multiple places to see the Great Wall of China. Each section offers a different perspective, especially ones that were built during different eras. The most well-known parts of the wall are from the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).
The Great Wall of China is universally recognized as one of the most beautiful architectural and engineering feats in the history of the world. Traveling to sections of the wall provide outstanding sightseeing, lessons in history, hiking opportunities, and guided tours.
Day trips from Beijing includes the Great Wall of China and its numerous sections. The length of your travel time depends on what sections you plan to visit in a day. Some of the most popular stops along the wall include Badaling, Juyongguan, Mutianyu, Simatai, Jinshanling, Huanghuacheng, and Jiankou.
Gubei Water Town
Gubei Water Town is situated in the city of Gubeikou. Gubeikou hosts a popular section of the Great Wall of China as well. Some day trips include both sights, but usually Gubei Water Town is couple with Simatai section of the Great Wall. Instead, Gubeikou section is visited hiking the Great Wall to Jinshanlin.
Gubei Water Town is famous because it is built on a river. Insted of roads and cars, there are canals and boats. The town was an ancient checkpoint to get through the Great Wall and travel to Beijing. The view of the town at night from the top of the Great Wall is really beautiful.
Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor and Terracotta Warriors
The Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor hosts the Terracotta Army. The site is the home of a collection of terracotta sculptures that depict the armies of Qin Shi Huang, who served as the first Emperor of China.
The unusual attraction is known as “funerary art” because it is buried with the emperor. The purpose of the funerary art is to protect the emperor in the afterlife. The Terracotta Warriors date to ancient times in the late third century BCE. However, the burial artifacts were not unearthed until the 1970s.
The Terracotta Army has figures that vary in heights and roles. The Terracotta Army includes reproductions of generals, warriors, chariots, and horses. It is estimated that more than 8,000 artistic figures exist at the archaeological site along with hundreds of horses and chariots.
The Mausoleum with its Terracotta Warriors is located near Xi'an and it can be visited on a 1-day or 2-day trip from Beijing.
The Sacred Way is the main road that leads up to the Ming Tombs, another ancient attraction around Beijing. The trail is seven kilometers or 4.3 miles for travelers from the west. The road features a stone memorial arch, stele pavilion, stone statues, Great Red Gate, and Dragon and Phoenix Gate.
The archaeological site is rich in history, having origins from the Ming Dynasty. The stone memorial arch has roots from 1540 AC and is known as the most extensive and oldest arch of its kind in the world. It is quite a sight to behold from up close as you admire its ancient origins.
The Dragon and Phoenix Gate mark the end of the Sacred Way. Along the slow and tedious, yet invaluable walk, you’ll find plenty to explore and walk away with a variety of photos to share with family and friends.
Cuandixia Village also has origins from the Ming Dynasty. It is in Mentougou District, about 60km from Beijing, designating another quick day trip from the city center. The popular tourist attraction remains exceptionally well preserved.
During the Ming Dynasty, Cuandixia Village represented a stronghold for settlers migrating on the way from Shan Xi to Beijing.
Today, the homes of Cuandixia Village still maintain the presence of what they resembled centuries ago. Over 500 hundred homes remain in the area with ancient bricks and stone carvings. Each house has a specific meaning, which makes the experience unlike anything else in or around Beijing.
Shilinxia Glass Platform
The Shilinxia Scenic Area represents a 12-kilometer gorge in the Diaowo Village of the Pinggu District. The glass platform that overlooks the canyon is approximately 70 kilometers northeast of downtown Beijing.
The main attraction of the gorge is the Shilinxia Glass Platform. The glass platform overhangs the gorge and is among the largest glass sightseeing platforms in the world. It has an elevation of 800 meters above sea level and 400 meters above the bottom of the canyon.
The Shilinxia Glass Platform is relatively new after construction got completed in 2016. The platform delivers not only exceptional views of the gorge that will surely raise the hairs on the back of your neck but also introduces cultural significance to travelers.
It is said that Shilinxia has an important place in many stories of Chinese mythology. One of the most popular is a love story between Xiagu and Sanlang, which you can learn more about while visiting the landmark.
The Summer Palace is a collection of beautiful lakes, gardens, and palaces in Beijing. The short day trip from downtown Beijing takes you to the marvels, which were originally the imperial garden for the Qing Dynasty. Longevity Hill and Kunming Lake are significant highlights of the Summer Palace.
Longevity Hill hosts several halls and pavilions along the two sides of the natural monument. The front hill contains more attractions, while the back hill is quieter with less modern structures. Visitors can easily spend a full day at Summer Palace touring all its wonders.
Kunming Lake, which expands to cover three-quarters of the area is a popular place to relax, sightsee, and get in touch with nature. Tour guides can take you around the facilities offering more history and details about the buildings and gardens.
The front hill highlights include Eastern Palace Gate, Hall of Benevolence, Hall of Jade Billows, and Yiyun Hill.
The Ming Tombs are mausoleums from the Ming Dynasty in China. The first emperor’s tomb is near the capital of Nanjing, while the rest of the sepulchers are in a cluster closer to Beijing. Locals refer to the Beijing collection as the “Thirteen Tombs of the Ming Dynasty”.
A short trip from the city center to northern Beijing takes you to the Ming Tombs. The mausoleums exist along the southern slope of Tianshou Mountain, which got selected as the site because of its religious values. The first emperor to build his tomb on Tianshou Mountain was the Yongle Emperor.
Several other tombs of famous Chinese emperors exist on the hill, including Xiaoling, Hongwu, Jianwen, and Jingtai. Along with its historical importance, the graves are famous for its architecture and sightseeing. Plan for a day of adventure following a knowledgeable guide around the historic site.