City Guide: Three Days in Beijing Diary + Photo Guide

Elaisha Jade Black in Beijing Great Wall

While in Shanghai for a month, I knew I had to make it out to Beijing. The sheer history of the city through architecture and food was an adventure of a lifetime. I only had a few days to take in the city so I knew I had to get it right.

From sliding down The Great Wall to eating duck in the streets, here’s my guide to how you can see Beijing in 3 days!

How to Get there

Take the train! Tickets aren’t too expensive and it’s the experience of a lifetime to take the bullet train. I used C-Trip (now named to book my ticket from Shanghai to Beijing. Remember to pick up your tickets from the booth at least 1-2 hours before! It was a bit of a scary moment for me standing in line hoping I wouldn’t be late for my train, so get there early.

How to get around

Tuk tuks, cabs and the city metro are all available at your expense. Speaking mandarin obviously is helpful. But I found the cabbies and tuk tuks drivers in Beijing much friendlier than those in Shanghai. Remember to haggle with the local drivers if you’re taking a tuk tuk. Ensure you have cash if you plan on taking cabs.

Qianmen Beijing

Day 1 - Travel in, explore Qianmen, eat at QUANJUDE and visit the National Museum

I stayed at the Emperor Hotel Qianmen right at the edge of Qianmen. I highly recommend selecting your hotel based on what you plan on getting up to in the city. This hotel made it super easy to tour one of the most famous parts of Beijing! After checking in and resting up from the early train ride, it was time for dinner. I highly recommend eating at the night market. The best thing I got that night was duck. I also took home a bunch of souvenirs from the night market. I got the best deals after haggling with the local merchants. If you need any essentials you can always swing into one of the Mini-So stores there and grab whatever you need. If you have time earlier in the day, you can also take a 20-minute walk to the National Museum of China. I ate the best duck of my life at QUANJUDE. From flaky duck skin to duck liver and duck head I really dove in. I also ate duck on the street in Qianmen too! There is a Zara and other popular European stores there too.

Day 2 - Great Wall Mu Tian Yu Tour, the Sacred Way and The Ming Tomb.

After a good night’s rest you can head out on a trip to the Great Wall. I highly recommend booking a guide in advance instead of roughing it on your own. You can either go on an epic hike up The Great Wall or take the princess route like me. I wrote a complete review of my experience here. My tour included visiting the Great Wall, the Sacred Way and the Ming Tomb.


Day 3 - Visit the Forbidden City

I was there on a hot day, so don’t recommend you visit during summer. From viewing where the Emperor slept to learning ancient traditions. I was floored at how much there was to see in the forbidden city. It’s located in the heart of Beijing to protect the Emperor if there was ever a siege. I recommend getting the audio guide so as you walk through you’ll be able to learn about each spot you’re visiting. It was really cool to see Chinese people as the biggest tourists visiting. Unlike other tourist attractions where locals take it for granted. This is ok even if you have a flight or a train ride that night. You’ll be able to get through a full day at the Forbidden city and make it to the station or airport.

If you only have a few days in Beijing and need to make the most of it this guide is for you. Let me know in the comments below if I missed something!