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Culturally, politically, and from a tourism perspective, Beijing is the heart of China.

Sure, the outlying regions, secondary cities, and variety of attractions around the country are also impressive. But, for all intents and purposes, this is the thumping drum that keeps China going in so many ways. There is so much to do and see in the Chinese capital that you really could spend weeks and not fully explore it. However, if you’re extremely short on time, you can see the most important sites in just 24 hours. This is our guide to 24 hours in Beijing. In our travel guide for Beijing, there are really 4 must-dos.

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If you only have time for one thing in the city, make sure it’s the Forbidden City. Serving as the Imperial Court for two of China’s most important dynasties – the Ming and Qing – this is one of the most impressive historical sites in the entire world. And, what makes the Forbidden City even more impressive is the fact that it remained largely untouched and unvisited by foreign entities until only recently.

In the same part of the Beijing as the Forbidden City (Dongcheng District) you also have some other sites worthy of checking out. In particular, you should make a point to visit the National Museum. This impressive museum will walk you through the long and interesting history of the country. And, like the Forbidden City, it would be easy to spend almost an entire day here wandering through the various exhibits. But, with only 24 hours to see the entire city, you’ll want to skim the best stuff.

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Temple of Heaven Bejing


Beijing’s Summer Palace has to be on your list of things to see in the city. The park area – which was once a playground for the imperial emperors – is full of lagoons, gardens, hilltop views, and of course the beautiful buildings themselves. A great way to spend a couple of hours here at the Summer Palace is by doing the walk around the beautiful Kunming Lake, taking in the stunning views along the way. Or, for a shorter hike you can walk up to Longevity Hill which overlooks the entire lake area. Of course, like all the places in our guide, you really could spend days rather than hours here at the Palace.


Not too far from the Forbidden City, you should also find time to see the Temple of Heaven and the Lama Temple. The Temple of Heaven, in particular, is impressive and one of the most important sites in the city. The conical-shaped temple is not only beautiful, but a fun place to interact with the many local-Chinese visitors to the temple.

24 hours might not do Beijing justice, but you can squeeze a lot into your time in the city by focusing your energy on a couple of the most important attractions. 24 hours in Beijing is more than just a taste, but a visit to these attractions will certainly help to whet your appetite for a future visit, which could also include time spent at sections of the Great Wall of China, and some of the Hutong Neighbourhoods. This is a special city, and we hope you find the time to explore it.

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