Best Day Trips from Beijing

The 10 Best Day Trips from Beijing, China

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Beijing is one of my favorite cities to visit. I often plan a long layover in Beijing on my way from Korea home to Germany. There is just so much to see! Besides the many amazing attractions within the city itself (The Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven, and the hutongs, etc.), there are also a lot of great options for day trips from Beijing! Here are 10 of my personal favorite day trips from Beijing.

Don’t forget to check out some of my other Beijing content:

Hike Around the Great Wall 萬里長城

A visit to the Great Wall of China is one of the best day trips from Beijing and an absolute must for anyone visiting Beijing – even if you only have limited time in Beijing or during a Beijing layover.

The two best sections to visit are the Mutianyu Great Wall Section and the Jinshanling section of the Great Wall.

Mutianyu is around 1.5 hours from Beijing and the longest fully restored Great Wall section open to tourists. It’s also a highly convenient section to visit as it has a chairlift, and a cable car taking you up to the wall. From there, you can walk around at your own pace and appreciate the beautiful scenery and take photos.

Those who are looking for a more in-depth tour at the Great Wall and want to see an original section, Jinshanling  is the best choice. This section is around 2.5 hours from Beijing. Hiking here will lead you over centuries-old bricks and through ancient watchtower ruins – perfect for taking amazing photos and enjoying the fabulous mountain scenery.

How to get there

I highly recommend this Mutianyu day tour with pick-up and this private charter to Jinshangling.

Tianjin 天津

Only a 25-minute bullet train ride from Beijing away, Tianjin makes for a perfect day trip destination from Beijing.

Tianjin is one of China’s four municipalities (along with Beijing, Shanghai and Chongqing) and there’s a lot to do in Tianjin.

A beautiful attraction to visit in Tianjin is the Great Wall section at Huangya Pass. It’s a lot less touristy compared to the Great Wall sections in Beijing and offers a unique zigzag-layout unlike anywhere else.

Back in Tianjin city, you should also check out the ferris wheel “Eye of Tianjin” and take a 30-minute ride offering beautiful 360-degree views of the city. This is also the only ferris wheel in the world that is built on a bridge.

How to get there

You can easily reach Tianjin from Beijing with the 30-50-minute intercity high-speed train, the 2-hour long-distance bus, or take a taxi for around 1.5 hours.

The Tianjin Eye

Gubei Water Town 古北水镇

If you are looking to escape the hustle and bustle of busy Beijing, Gubei Water Town is the perfect place to do so. Located around 130 kilometers from Beijing, you can easily reach the water town within 1.5 hours.

Gubei looks like a Qing Dynasty-era (1644–1912) town near the Great Wall at Simatai.

There’s lots to do at Gubei Water Town:

  • Chinese cultural experience: tie-dyeing, kite making, or Buddhist text tracing
  • Acrobatic shows, traditional Chinese music performances, dancing and fountain performances.
  • Hot spring spas: The hot springs are a major attraction. Most hotels will give you free vouchers for one of the springs.
  • Visit the Great Wall at Simatai: Gubei Water Town is close to the Simatai section of the Great Wall. You can take a cable car ride to visit it.

How to get there

For a low-stress trip, I recommend taking this Gubei Water Town tour with a stop at the Simatai Great Wall section.

If you decide to head to Gubei yourself, you can take the bus or the subway.

By bus

Take the tourist bus bound for Gubei Water Town from Dongzhimen Outside at 9:00, 12:00, or 15:30. On Saturday and Sunday, there is an extra bus departing at 14:00. It takes about two hours and the ticket price is CNY 48 per person.

By subway

Take Subway Line 2 or Line 13 to Dongzhimen Station. Next, take bus 980 or 980 Express from Dongzhimen Transit Hub to Miyun Bus Station and then transfer to bus Mi 37, Mi 50, or Mi 51 to Simatai Village. From there, you only have to walk for about ten minutes to the entrance.

Gubei Water Town

The Eastern Qing Tombs 清東陵

One of the most interesting day trips from Beijing is a visit to the Eastern Royal Tombs of the Qing Dynasty. These tombs are located in Tangshan around 125 kilometers from Beijing.

The tomb complex covers an immense area of 80 square kilometers. This makes it the largest existing imperial mausoleum complex in all of China.

The tombs were built in 1661 and extended over the next 247 years. In total, there are five emperors, 15 queens, 136 concubines, three princes, and two princesses buried there.

The most famous attractions include the mausoleums of Emperor Kangxi, Emperor Qianlong, and Empress Dowager Cixi.

How to get there

Take a bus from Tongsha Long Distance Bus Station to Zunhua at 09:30 or 11:30. The fare is CNY 54. Then take a bus or taxi to the mausoleums. From mid-March to mid-November, there are tour buses running from Tianjin City to Huangyaguan Great Wall and Eastern Qing Tombs on weekends and holidays.

Qing Tombs

Qinglongxia Scenic Resort 青龙峡

Outdoor enthusiasts are going to love a day trip to Qinglongxia Scenic Resort. From there, visitors have an array of sightseeing opportunities: from mountains, rivers, valleys, and even amazing views of the Great Wall of China.

Panoramic views from the vast dam at the reservoir are waiting for you. Another great option is to hike your way up to picturesque waterfalls, providing ample photo opportunities.

If you’re not into hiking, you can also take a cable car up to the top of the mountains, affording views of the surrounding country and the Great Wall winding along the ridge.

Adventure lovers shouldn’t miss the change of the bungee jumping and climbing wall activities available here.

How to get there

1. From Dongzhimen Hub Station, take Bus 866/916 to Miaocheng Dong, and then cross the road to take Bus H58 to Qinglongxia.
2. There is also a Special Tourist Bus to Qinglongxia from Dongzhimen Outside Station at 8:30. It costs CNY30 for a single trip and returns to downtown at 16:00.

Fragrant Hills 香山公园

Fragrant Hills is a very large park made up of hills and forest covering 400 acres (162 hectares). If you need a break from the stressful concrete jungle of Beijing, people head out here to recharge their batteries.

The most spectacular scenery are the red smoke tree leaves over the mountains. That’s why this day trip from Beijing is incredibly popular in autumn season when the fiery red leaves blanket the entire mountain area.

How to get there

By Subway:
1. Take line 10 to Bagou Station. Then transfer to Western Suburban Line and get off at Xiangshan Station. Walk southwest around 900 meters to arrive at the ticket office of this park.
2. Take line 4 and get off at Beigongmen Station. Get out from Exit A and transfer to bus 563 to Xiangshan Gongyuan Dongmen (east gate of the Fragrant Hills Park) Station. Visitors can also take bus 331 from Beihongmen Subway Station to Xiangshan (Fragrant Hills) Station.

By Bus:
1. Take bus 563 to Xiangshan Gongyuan Dongmen Station.
2. Take bus 318, 331, 360, 630, or 698 and get off at Xiangshan Station.

Tanzhe Temple 潭柘寺

History buffs are going to be in awe at this 1,700-year-old Buddhist temple nestled in the hills 1-hour west of Beijing.

On over 25,000 square meters (2.5 hectares), visitors can explore a great number of historic relics and ancient trees along with many other tourist sights both inside and outdoors. This makes Tanzhe Temple one of the best day trips from Beijing.

Not-to-miss Attractions:

  • Big Bronze Pot: In front of Maitreya Hall; it was used as a cooking dish by the ancient monks.
  • Mahavira Hall: double-tiered roof hall is covered with yellow glazed tiles and glazed green adornments on both sides.
  • Emperor Tree and Empress Tree: Two famous 1,000+-year-old ginkgo trees with a height of over 30 meters (98 feet)
  • Vairochana Pavilion: The double-floored pavilion; the highest building in the entire scenic spot.
  • Stone Fish: a deep green, 1.46-meter long (1.6 yards) stone fish cut from a huge stony meteorite that contains bronze, used for creating a metallic sound for prayer, etc.

How to get there

1. Take Subway Line 1 to Pingguoyuan Station, and then transfer to Bus 931 at the bus station in the west side and get off at the last stop Tanzhe Si (Tanzhe Temple).
2. Take bus 336 and get off at Pingguoyuan Subway Station, transfer to bus 931 and get off at Tanzhe Temple.

by Johnson Wang

The Peking Man Site 周口店北京人遗址

42 kilometers south-west of Beijing lies this UNESCO site of outstanding universal value. Over the past years, researchers and archaeologists have discovered several ancient human fossils, cultural remains and animal fossils dating from 5 million years ago to 10,000 years ago in this area.

The term “Peking Man” refers to a group of fossil specimens of Homo erectus from roughly 750,000 years ago that were discovered here. The Peking Man is regarded to be the first ancestor of the Chinese people.

How to get there

1. Take bus 917or 836 from Tianqiao Bus Station to Zhoukoucun Lukou, then change to Fangshan Bus 38 to Yuanren Yizhi (Peking Man Site at Zhoukoudian).
2. Take bus 616 at the south square of Beijing West Railway Station to Liangxiang Ximen, and then change to Fangshan Bus 38.

The Ming Tombs 明十三陵

This is one of the best day trips from Beijing I’ve done. At the foot of Tianshou Mountain, around 50 kilometers (31 miles) northwest from Beijing, lies the Ming Tombs Scenic Area.

Often referred to the Thirteen Tombs of Ming Dynasty, this is the final resting place of thirteen emperors of the Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644) and an absolute highlight for Chinese history lovers.

What’s also interesting is that each mausoleum has its own independent unit. The layout and arrangement of all of the mausoleums are very similar, but vary in size as well as in the structure.

How to get there

By Bus:
1. Take bus 872 from Deshengmen Bus Station to Dingling and Changling; the bus is available from 7:00 to 20:10.
2. Take bus 345 Express or 886 from Deshengmen West Station, get off at Changping Dongguan Station, and then take bus 314 to the Sacred Way (Nanxin Village Station), Dingling and Changling.

By Subway:
Take subway Changping Line to Changping Dongguan Station, then transfer to bus 314 to Changling or Dingling.

Nanshan Ski Resort 南山滑雪场

If you are in Beijing during the winter and are into winter sports, you should definitely head to Nanshan Ski Resort. As the largest ski resort in Northern China, there are a total of 25 different slopes for all levels.

Visitors can rent ski equipment at three different locations at the resort: the Snowboarding and Freestyle Mogul Skiing Equipment Renting Hall, Nanshan Skiing Service Center Ski Equipment Renting Hall and VIP Ski Equipment Renting Hall.

How to get there

1. Visitors can take direct shuttle bus at Shaoyaoju station in Beijing from 7:45 am, Sanyuanqiao and Wudaokou stations from 8:00 am. The whole journey takes about 45-60 minutes and costs CNY 30 for a one-way and CNY 55 for a roundtrip journey.

2. Another options is bus line 985, which departs every 5 minutes at Dondzhimen Coach Station. Get off at Taiyangjiayuan, and then take a taxi to Nanshan Ski Resort directly. The taxi costs about CNY 30.

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Linda has been living in Asia since 2012 and loves sharing her travel and life experiences on her website. She currently works remotely in Online Marketing and also teaches various English classes in South Korea.

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