A Better Guide to Běijīng

Originally published as Beijing by Cadogan Guides.

Fun but authoritative, the book is written in the strong voice of someone who loves poking around Beijing’s hutongs, buzzing with pleasure at each new find… old China hands will even learn a thing or two. And the well-worn tourist attractions like the Forbidden City are given a new spin in a refreshing break from all the been-there-seen-that guides on the shelf. TIME.

More than comprehensive. Holiday Asia.

This vastly expanded and comprehensively updated second edition is now becoming available on-line via Medium. New contents will be added regularly until the entire book is available, and further updated and revised with fresh information and research.

For moderated on-line discussion of travel in China, join The Oriental-List.

Contents and Index

Background: History and background essays, stories, navigation aids, tables of emperors, etc.
Travel: Visas, entry formalities, public transport, departure—essential information about travel to and around Běijīng
Practical A–Z: Practical advice from books through laundry to wildlife
Gazetteer: All the sights worth seeing in central Běijīng
Běijīng Suburbs and Beyond: Sights beyond the Third Ring Road, Summer Palaces, Great Wall sites, day trips to remote villages and much more
Comforts: Where to stay, to eat and drink, to shop, and to play (in process)
Language: How Chinese Works, key vocabulary
Walks: Links to city and rural walks mentioned in the text
Stories: Links to 50 brief background essays from the main text

Alphabetical Directory of All Sights
Alphabetical List of Metro Stations With Links to Nearby Sights


See also Stories, below

Introduction to Běijīng
A Brief History of Běijīng, Mongolian Beginnings, Northern Barbarians, Western Ocean Barbarians, The Boxer Rebellion, The End of Imperial Běijīng, Republican Běijīng, Communist Capital, Modern Běijīng
Emperors Ruling from Yuán Dàdū or Míng and Qīng Běijīng
Hútòng Walking
Where’s the Loot?
Ancient Pastimes
World Heritage in China


Before You Leave Home
Entry Formalities, Visa Types, Visa Requirements, Visa Applications in Hong Kong, Visa Extensions, Customs
Travel to Běijīng, By Air, By Rail, By Road, By Sea
Arrival and Travel into Town, From the Airports, From the Railway Stations, From the Bus Stations, From the Port at Tánggū
Travel Around the City, Plate Spotting, Travel Smart Card or Yìkǎtōng, By Metro, By Bus, Reading Bus Routes, By Taxi, Tips for Trouble-Free Taxis, Road Kill, By Bicycle, By Boat
Exit Formalities
Getting Away, By Air, Buying Air Tickets, Travel to the Airports, Checking-in and Airport Services, By Rail, International Rail Services (including Hong Kong), At the Railway Stations, Railway Vocabulary and Reading Train Tickets, Choosing a Type of Train, By Road, By Bus, By Car/Motorbike/Bicycle, By Sea, Tour Operators

Practical A–Z

Books and Maps
Crime, Scams, and Nuisances
Embassies and Consulates
Festivals and Public Holidays, Potemkin Běijīng
Internet and Other Digital Resources, Just My Fifty Cents
Media, A Foreign Journalist in Peking
Money and Prices
Museums, Temples, and Historic Sights
Post Offices
Shopping, How to Bargain in Běijīng
Socialising and Social Niceties
Tourist Information
Wildlife and Birdwatching


Sights area by area

Alphabetical Directory of All Sights
Alphabetical List of Metro Stations With Links to Nearby Sights


Introduction to the Imperial City and Tiān’ān Mén Square
Palace Museum or ‘Forbidden City’ 故宫博物院, including Monumental Mismanagement, The Two Palace Museums, Where are They Now?, A Storm in a Coffee Cup, The End of the Emperors, The Last Occupant of the Forbidden City, Pride and a Fall, and The Ends of the Eunuchs
Jǐng Shān Park 景山公园
Tài Miào 太庙
Zhōngshān Park 中山公园
Forward to the Past (walk) including Huáng Chéng Gēn Yízhǐ Gōngyuán 皇城根遗址公园, Mahakala Temple 普渡寺, Imperial Archive 皇史宬, Chāngpú Héyán Gōngyuán 菖蒲何岩公园, and Běijīng Imperial Art Museum 北京皇城艺术馆
Tiān’ān Mén Square 天安门广场, including Square of Heavenly Discord, Tiān’ān Mén Chénglóu 天安门城楼, Monument to the People’s Heroes 人民英雄纪念碑, Chairman Máo Memorial Hall 毛主席纪念堂, Miraculous Máo, National Museum of China 中国国家博物馆, Great Hall of the People 人民大会堂, The Shock of the New, Grand National Theatre 国家大剧院, China Numismatic Museum 中国钱币博物馆, and Zhèngyáng Mén 正阳门
Legation Quarter (walk) 东交民巷 including Běijīng Police Museum
China Railway Museum (Zhèngyáng Mén Branch) 中国铁道博物馆正阳门馆
Běijīng Planning Exhibition Hall 北京市规划展览馆
Běi Hǎi Park 北海公园
In Search of the Ice Houses (walk)
Peking University Red Building 北京大学红楼


Introduction to South of Qián Mén—The Old Chinese City
Taking Pleasure from the Weather
Máo’s Maze
Temple of Heaven Park 天坛公园
Altars for all Seasons
Altar of Agriculture 先农坛
Běijīng Natural History Museum 自然博物馆
Táorán Tíng Park 陶然亭公园
An Early Bar Street
Húguǎng Guildhall 湖管会馆
Joining the Club
Out Clubbing (walk)
Former Residence of Jì Xiǎolán 纪晓岚故居
Cháng Chūn Sì 长春寺
Bàoguó Sì 报国寺
Ox Street Mosque 牛街清真寺
Islam in China
Fǎyuán Sì 法源寺
Grand View Garden 大观园
Museum of Ancient Pottery Civilisation 古陶文明博物馆
Yuán Chónghuàn Ancestral Temple and Tomb 袁崇焕祠和墓
Today Art Museum 今日博物馆


Introduction to North, Around the Back Lakes
Guō Mòruò Museum 郭沫若纪念馆
Prince Gōng’s Mansion 恭王府
Princely Privileges
East Bank of the Hòu Hǎi (walk), including Former Residence of Soong Ching-ling 宋庆龄故居, Guǎnghuà Sì 广化寺, Guǎngfú Guān 广福观, Huǒ Dé Zhēn Jūn Miào 火德真君庙, Guō Shǒujìng Memorial Hall 郭守敬纪念馆
Drum and Bell Towers 鼓楼, 钟楼
Déshèng Mén Arrow Tower 德胜门箭楼
Xú Bēihóng Memorial Hall (closed) 徐悲鸿纪念馆
In the Depths of Many Flowers (walk), Méi Lánfāng Memorial Hall 梅兰芳纪念馆


Introduction to North and East of the Imperial City
Wángfǔ Jǐng Dàjiē 王府井大街, including Wángfǔ Jǐng Paleolithic Museum 北京王府井古人类文化遗址博物馆, East Church 东堂, Lǎo Shě Memorial Hall 老舍纪念馆, Theatre Museum of Běijīng People’s Art Theatre 北京人艺戏剧博物馆
National Art Museum of China 中国美术馆
Dōng Sì Mosque 东四清真寺
Lama Temple 雍和宫
Buddhism and Lamaism
Sōngtāng Zhāi 松堂斋
Confucius Temple and Imperial College 孔庙和国子监
Civil Service Examinations
Dì Tán Park 地坛公园
Tōngjiào Sì 通教寺
The Dormition Church 圣母安息教堂
Dōng Yuè Miào 东岳庙
Rì Tán Park 日坛公园
Zhìhuà Sì 智化寺
Poly Art Museum 保利艺术博物馆
Losing Their Heads
Imperial Granary 南新仓
Míng City Wall Ruins Park 明诚墙遗址公园
Ancestral Temple of Wén Tiānxiáng 于谦祠
Three Small Temples for Three Big Heroes
Ancestral Temple of Yú Qiān 于谦祠
Ancient Observatory 古观象台
CCTV Headquarters 中国中央电视台广播部
Former Residence of Máo Dùn 茅盾故居
China Agriculture Museum 中国农业博物馆


Introduction to West of the Imperial City
Guǎngjì Sì 广济寺
Temple of Ancient Monarchs 历代帝王庙
Sex and the Citizen
White Dagoba Temple 白塔寺
Stupa, Dagoba, Chorten, or Pagoda?
Lǔ Xùn Museum 鲁迅博物馆
Altar of the Moon 月坛
Jesuit Cemetery 利玛窦墓
Línglóng Gōngyuán 玲珑公园
Capital Museum 首都博物馆
Military Museum of the Chinese People’s Revolution 中国人民革命军事博物馆
Běijīng World Art Museum 中华世纪坛世界艺术馆, Yùyuān Tán Park 玉渊潭公园
South Church 南堂
Christianity in China
Báiyún Guàn 白云观
Tiānníng Sì Pagoda 天宁寺塔


Introduction to Northwest Beyond the Zoo
Educating Emigrants
Běijīng Zoo 北京动物园
Běijīng Planetarium 北京天文馆
Paleozoological Museum of China 中国古动物馆
Five Padoga Temple 五塔寺
Purple Bamboo Park 紫竹院公园
Wànshòu Sì 万寿寺
Great Bell Temple 大钟寺

Běijīng Suburbs and Beyond



Summer Palace 颐和园
Gate of Good Luck
Construction and Corruption
‘Old’ Summer Palace 圆明园
Architecture and Xenophobia


Introduction Choosing which section to visit, Getting to the Wall, Alternative approaches
Wall Stories
Jūyōng Guān 居庸关长城
Shuǐ Guān 水关长城
Bā Dá Lǐng 八达岭长城, Zhān Tiānyòu Museum 詹天佑纪念馆, Great Wall Museum 中国长城博物馆
Mùtiányù 慕田峪长城
Sīmǎtái 司马台长城
Pánlóng Shān 蟠龙山长城, walk to Jīn Shān Lǐng
Jīn Shān Lǐng 金山岭长城, walk to Sīmǎtái
Jiǎnkòu 箭扣长城
Huáng Huā Chéng Shuǐ 黄花城水长城
Huáng Huā Chéng 黄花城长城


Introduction Choosing which tombs to visit and what to look for.
Míng Tombs 十三陵
Eastern Qīng Tombs 清东陵
The Legend of the Fragrant Concubine
Western Qīng Tombs 清西陵
Sleeping with an Emperor
Museum of the Western Hàn Tombs at Dàbǎotái 大葆台西汉墓博物馆
Peking Man Site Museum at Zhōukǒudiàn 周口店北京人遗址博物馆


Běijīng’s Artist Colonies
A Licence to Paint Money
Dà Shānzi 798 Art District 大山子艺术区
Cǎochǎngdì Art District 草场地艺术区
Big Character
Sòng Zhuāng Artists Village 宋庄画家村
Other Art Zones


Introduction to Villages, Rural Temples, and Scenery
Tánzhè Sì 潭柘寺
The Flight of the Beekeepers
Jiètái Sì 戒台寺
Shall We Have Dinner on the Terrace?
Tián Yì Mù 田义墓
Fǎ Hǎi Sì 法海寺
Císhàn Sì 慈善寺
Běijīng Botanical Gardens 北京植物园
Fragrant Hills Park 香山公园
Bā Dà Chù 八大处
Dà Jué Sì 大觉寺
Yúnjū Sì 云居寺
Hóngluó Sì 红螺寺
Silver Mountain Pagoda Forest 银山塔林
Cuàn Dǐxià 爨底下
Jī Míng Shān Yì 鸡鸣山驿
Tōngzhōu Pagoda 三教庙燃灯佛舍利塔


Introduction to Museums and Other Sights
China Railway Museum 中国铁道博物馆
China Film Museum 中国电影博物馆
Guānfù Classic Art Museum 观复博物馆
Central Academy of Fine Arts Gallery 中央美术学院美术馆
Marco Polo Bridge 卢沟桥
Was Polo Here?
Wǎnpíng Chéng 宛平城, Museum of the Chinese People’s Anti-Japanese War 中国人民抗日战争纪念馆
Sōng Shān Ancient Cave Dwellings 古崖居
China Aviation Museum 中国航空博物馆
Mílù Yuàn 麋鹿苑
Museum of Imperial Examination Tablets 北京励志堂科举匾额博物馆
China Red Sandalwood Museum 中国紫檀博物馆
Jiāozhuānghù Tunnel Warfare Site 焦庄户地道战遗址纪念馆
Tank Museum 坦克博物馆
Grand Epoch City 天下第一城
Olympic Green 奥林匹克公园, National Stadium 国家体育场, National Aquatics Centre 国家游泳中心
Yuán Dynasty Capital City Wall Site Park 元大都城垣遗址公园
Běijīng Auto Museum 北京汽车博物馆


In process


Elementary Mandarin for Travellers to China
How Chinese Works
A Mouthful of Stones


Forward to the Past
Legation Quarter
In Search of the Ice Houses
Out Clubbing
In the Depths of Many Flowers
East Bank of the Hòu Hǎi

Pánlóng Shān 蟠龙山长城, walk to Jīn Shān Lǐng
Jīn Shān Lǐng 金山岭长城, walk to Sīmǎtái


Civil Service Examinations
The Legend of the Fragrant Concubine
Where’s the Loot?
Hútòng Walking
Joining the Club
A Foreign Journalist in Peking
How to Bargain in Běijīng
Monumental Mismanagement
The Two Palace Museums
Where are They Now?
A Storm in a Coffee Cup
The End of the Emperors
The Last Occupant of the Forbidden City
Pride and a Fall
The Ends of the Eunuchs
Square of Heavenly Discord
Miraculous Máo
The Shock of the New
Taking Pleasure from the Weather
Máo’s Maze
Altars for all Seasons
An Early Bar Street
Islam in China
Potemkin Běijīng
Gate of Good Luck
Construction and Corruption
Architecture and Xenophobia
Princely Privileges
Wall Stories
Buddhism and Lamaism
Losing Their Heads
Three Small Temples for Three Big Heroes
Sleeping with an Emperor
Sex and the Citizen
Stupa, Dagoba, Chorten, or Pagoda?
Christianity in China
A Licence to Paint Money
Big Character
Educating Emigrants
The Flight of the Beekeepers
Shall We Have Dinner on the Terrace?
Was Polo Here?
Just My Fifty Cents
Plate Spotting
Road Kill
A Mouthful of Stones