Beijing

One city, five ways: Beijing

Home to multiple Unesco treasures such as the Forbidden City and the Great Wall, Beijing is a city bound to its past. Equally, the showpiece capital of China is forging a new legacy for itself as a centre of innovation, art, and culture. A fascinating collision of antiquity and ambition, Beijing is more accessible than ever before – whatever your interests

Coconut mango sago dessert at Cafe Zi at Mandarin Oriental Wangfujing, Beijing

The gourmand

Beijing is one of the most food-obsessed capital cities on Earth, where you can dine like an emperor on China’s lesser-known regional specialities. Sample Xinjiang-style barbecued lamb and flatbreads at Crescent Moon in Dongcheng; and wild mushroom stir-fries and Bai-style goat’s cheese from Yunnan eatery In & Out, in nearby Chaoyang Qu. For gourmet pan-Asian fare including wok-fried tiger prawn in sweet and sour sauce, Mandarin Oriental Wangfujing’s Café Zi is the hottest ticket in town, especially if you can bag a terrace table with views of the Forbidden City. If you’ve got a craving for Beijing’s signature dish, Peking duck, seek out Sheng Yong Xing, a luxe roast duck restaurant that serves the flame-licked duck skin together with tiny jewels of caviar.

Artwork at UCCA gallery, Beijing

The art lover

Beijing’s 798 Art District, a former Communist factory turned gallery complex in the Dashanzi area, is ground zero for contemporary art in China. UCCA is the district’s leading gallery, usually staging several major exhibitions at once, while next door the 798 Art Zone still has Maoist slogans emblazoned in red on the Bauhaus-influenced factory ceiling. Long March Space champions the rise of emerging Chinese painters, sculptors and video artists. For imperial art and architecture, the Forbidden City has one of the world’s richest collections, exhibiting scroll paintings, porcelain, bronzeware and much more among its hundreds of rooms. After dark, sample traditional Peking opera at the historic Huguang Guild Hall.

Architecture at the Lama Temple, Beijing

The business traveller

If you have little time to spare, you’ll need to be strategic to get the best from Beijing. Eschew the Forbidden City in favour of the much smaller but no less magnificent Lama Temple. The surrounding hutong alleyways are some of the most strollable in the city; grab an artisanal coffee to go at hip Metal Hands on Wudaoying Hutong, before an energy-boosting vegetarian lunch at King’s Joy, while you are serenaded by a live harpist. If you only have time for one sight, catch a cab to Jingshan Park in the heart of the city. Here you’ll spy locals singing, dancing, and performing t'ai chi. Climb the park’s hill to the Ten Thousand Spring Pavilion to see the Forbidden City spread out below in all its imperial majesty. End your day with a Digital Wellness Escape massage at The Spa at Mandarin Oriental Wangfujing.

Cocktails at the bar at Mandarin Oriental Wangfujing, Beijing

The night owl

Your Beijing night out begins with innovative mixology at MO Bar, a collaboration with the people behind Guangzhou speakeasy and cocktail laboratory, Hope & Sesame – who are well-known for their lab-based approach to cocktails. At Beijing’s historic Legation Quarter, the elegant former U.S. Embassy is home to Blue Note, the city’s finest jazz club. If you want to take things up a notch, Mao’s Workers’ Stadium is now surrounded by glitzy nightclubs, where the Champagne and Chivas flows nightly. For late-night bites, Jin Ding Xuan is a lantern-adorned dim-sum palace that never closes. If you’re still going strong into the wee hours, you can also head to Tiananmen Square before sunrise to catch the dawn flag-raising ceremony.

Cable car at Mutianyu, Beijing

The family traveller

Kids needn’t be bored at Beijing’s imperial sights, especially when the magnificent Summer Palace has battery-powered pleasure boats for hire on Kunming Lake. The Great Wall at Mutianyu is kitted out with cable cars and a high-octane toboggan ride, perfect for teens. Sichuan hotpot is hands-on culinary fun for all the family, and at the new AI-powered restaurant from celebrated chain Haidilao, the waitstaff are hi-tech robots. After dark, the capital takes a turn for the macabre with Newman Tours, whose interactive Beijing Ghost Tour unearths spooky stories in the hutongs around Houhai Lake. For toys and treats, the world’s biggest Hamleys toy store, complete with merry-go-round and in-store train, is a few steps from the hotel.

Mandarin Oriental Beijing - Wangfujing
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Mandarin Oriental Beijing

No. 269 Wangfujing Street , Dongcheng District Beijing 100006, China

+86 (10) 8509 8888

Where to eat in Beijing

Discover the best places to eat in Beijing, from world-beating Peking duck to lesser-known regional Chinese delights