5 Days in Beijing

Hopefully by now you’ve realized that three days just isn’t enough in Beijing. As such, here are two more to bring your visit up to five:

 Day 4:

  • 798

  • Afternoon in a park

  • Dinner in the Village

  • Kung fu show/Peking opera

  • Drinks in CBD

  • KTV

Get artsy in 798.
Get artsy in 798.

To kick off your 4th day in Beijing, head out to the city’s hip and trendy art district – 798. Here, you’ll find a wide variety of exhibitions, galleries, shops, cafes, and more. Spend the whole morning wandering around, dropping in to any gallery that looks interesting, snapping photos, sipping coffee, and eating lunch in one of the many restaurants.

Take in the local culture.
Take in the local culture.

As it’s been a busy few days and you’ve seen most of the big sights, it’s time to relax like a local. To do this, head to one of Beijing’s many parks, such as: Chaoyang Park, the Temple of the Earth (Ditan), or the Temple of the Sun (Ritan). Aside from the bitter cold winters, you’ll always find crowds of locals gathered here taking part in a variety of activities – group dancing, doing tai chi, practicing water calligraphy, playing Chinese chess, or jamming out on traditional instruments. An afternoon in a Beijing park is probably the best way to really take in the local culture.

One of Beijing's hippest places to hangout.
One of Beijing’s hippest places to hang out.

Seeing as how you’ll be nice and relaxed, it’s time to go out for a night on the town. Head to the Village (now known as Tai Koo Li) in Sanlitun, where you can find a wide variety of restaurants to satisfy any taste buds. Great Western food can be found at Union, Blue Frog, or Flamme. Keep an eye out for special deals, such as Blue Frog’s buy-one-get-one burger Mondays and Flamme’s similar deal on steaks on Tuesday. Of course, there are also plenty of Chinese spots such as Karaiya Spice House or Spice Spirit. Since you’ve already experienced the Sanlitun nightlife, it’s best to head elsewhere after dinner.

Buy one get one burgers? Don't mind if I do!
Buy one get one burgers? Don’t mind if I do!

If you want to catch another show before you leave, now’s your chance. At the Red Theater, there’s a nightly performance called “The Legend of Kung Fu” that mixes the traditional martial art with acrobatics and dance. Another option is Peking opera, perhaps the most famous aspect of Beijing culture. Although we always planned on seeing both, truth be told in 4+ years we never made it to either!

Get fancy in the CBD.
Get fancy in the CBD.

After the show, head down to the CBD for cocktails in one of the many swanky bars there. For stunning views of the city, you can head to the 80th floor of the China World Summit and the highest bar in town, Atmosphere. Another great option is Centro, a bar located in the Kerry Center Hotel. Get there or call in an order before 8 to get buy-one-get-one on drinks, which are otherwise quite pricey. Every night of the week but Sunday, you’ll be able to catch the house band playing a wide variety of music that should get anyone dancing.

Sing your heart out at KTV.
Sing your heart out at KTV.

To truly experience Chinese nightlife, you’d better spend at least a few hours of your night in a KTV (karaoke) bar. Far different from the American style public humiliation of karaoke, you rent out a private room with your friends and choose the songs yourself. There are hundreds of KTV spots in Beijing, as this is a favorite nighttime activity for locals. Order up a fruit plate, mix up some whisky and green teas, and sing your heart out.

 

 

Day 5:

  • Hot spring hotel

  • Salon/spa

  • Teppanyaki dinner

  • Clubbing

Chances are you’re burned out from what’s already been an intense four days, so you can take the day to chill the F out at the Shunjing Hot Spring Hotel. For 200 RMB, you get access to the massive hot spring park for the day. Soak in the hot springs, relax in the sauna, go for a swim, and definitely try a home-brewed dark beer with some mango ice cream.

Get pampered in the 3.3 building.

Get pampered in the 3.3 building.

After relaxing all day, it’s time to get ready for your last night in town. Ladies, you can treat yourself by getting a mani-pedi. Dudes, you should probably get your nasty ass feet cleaned as well, and you can even get a shoulder massage while you do so. The 3.3 building in Sanlitun is a great place for this.

Wine and dine at a teppanyaki restaurant.
Wine and dine at a teppanyaki restaurant.

Dress to impress, and go for dinner at one of Beijing’s teppanyaki restaurants, such as Tairyo. Sure, it’s Japanese, but this is a great dining experience no matter where you are. For about 200 RMB, you can enjoy two hours of all-you-can eat steak, sashimi, lamb chops, and more, along with free flow beer and sake.

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Dance the night away in Gongti.

After such an epic meal, you’ll need to do a bit of dancing to burn off some of those calories. Luckily, Beijing has got you covered when it comes to cuttin’ a rug and gettin’ down. Around the Worker’s Stadium, you’ll find a bunch of clubs where you can rage all night. Keep an eye out on the local listings, as it’s not uncommon to find international DJs rolling through town to make a stop at one of these many clubs.

Why not stay out all night? You've come this far!
Why not stay out all night? You’ve come this far!

Should you make it until sunrise, you can return to one of the many local parks to do tai chi alongside the retired Chinese folks. Mind, body, and soul fully relaxed, you’re finally ready to go to sleep. Before you do that, you might want to request a late checkout. Hell, you might as well just go ahead and add a few days to your trip.

We stayed in Beijing for over four years and we still haven’t done everything the city has to offer! If you decide stay in the city longer, you should definitely take a day trip. To the northwest, you’ll find the Botanical Gardens and the Fragrant Hills. To the southwest, you’ll find Ba Da Chu, a scenic Buddhist site. Up in the northeast, you can hike up the hills around the Red Snail Temple. Experiencing Beijing outside of the city center is a great way to breath some fresh air and see some of China’s natural beauty. By now, you might even be asking yourself – “Should I move to China?” If you’re contemplating it, check out our page about Living in China, which features advice and tips on teaching English, finding an apartment, and dealing with culture shock.

Side notes:
  • This is more like a week in Beijing, with days number one and seven being reserved for transportation, checking in/out of a hotel, and so on. Planning for a week in Beijing ensures you can tackle this five-day plan.
  • This itinerary is totally do-able on your own. Of course, some basic Chinese skills wouldn’t hurt, but you should be able to visit all of these places without joining a tour group.
  • Most of it can be done by simply using public transportation, as both the subway and bus systems are very developed in Beijing. Of course, some rickshaw or taxi rides are inevitable.
  • If you have more time in Beijing, then this 5-day itinerary can easily be spread out across seven or even nine. There are many more temples, museums, parks, markets, and more in the city, and there are tons of options for day trips.
  • This trip would involve a fairly large budget, as it includes fancy dinners, high-class bars, and a bunch of entrance tickets. That being said, Beijing can be done very cheaply if necessary. Avoid cabs, eat in small local joints, drink street beers, and skip out on some of the expensive activities and you can enjoy five days in Beijing on a shoestring.
  • We are not affiliated with any of the restaurants, bars, or sights that we mentioned. These are just the places that we recommend after living there for over four years and doing a whole lot of sightseeing, exploring, eating out, and partying here.
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