7 not-to-be-missed UNESCO sites in Beijing

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UNESCO World Heritage Centre annually selects places of special cultural or physical significance with universal value to humanity by putting them on the World Heritage List aimed at protecting them for future generations to see, touch and appreciate.

Beijing is a city with a total of 7 heritage sites listed in the UNESCO List. This is evidence of Beijing’s splendid culture and long history, an important part of the total 55 UNESCO sites in China, making Beijing one of the most visited destinations in China.

Planning your Beijing tour? Interested in knowing which are the 7 UNESCO sites in Beijing? Here is the list of the 7 UNESCO sites in Beijing.

1.Peking Man Site at Zhoukoudian 周口店北京猿人遗址
Located 42 km south-west of Beijing, Peking Man Site at Zhoukoudian is home to the remains of Sinanthropus pekinensis, who lived in the Middle Pleistocene and remains of Homo sapiens sapiens dating back to 18,000–11,000 B.C along with various objects.

The site is an essential reminder of the prehistorical human societies of the Asian continent, an testament to the process of evolution. It was added to the UNESCO List in 1987.

Peking Man Site at Zhoukoudian

Peking Man Site at Zhoukoudian

The site was discovered and explored in 1921 by the Swedish geologist J. G. Anderson. In 1926, a cave of hominid teeth and a whole skull were explored by the Chinese archaeologist Pei Wen Zhong.

Later Some 100,000 objects, including rough chipped stone tools, heat-affected stones, burnt bones, ash deposits, etc., as well as fossilized grains, were found.

Admission: 30 Yuan
Add: Zhoukoudian, Fangshan District, Beijing
Opening hours: 8:30 a.m – 4:40 p.m.(all year round)
Beijing Day Tour with Peking Man Site
How to get there
Public bus: Take Bus 917 from Tianqiao Bus Terminal and get off at Fangshan (房山), then change for the local bus 38 and alight at the site of Peking Men.

2. Great Wall of China 长城
The original section of the Great Wall of China goes back as early as 220 B.C., under China’s first Emperor Qin Shi Huang, who ordered the construction of the sections of earlier fortifications.

Later the fortifications were joined together to form a united defence project against invasions from the nomadic north. The Construction went on till the Ming dynasty (1368–1644).

The total 22,000 km long Great Wall of China was included as the site of UNESO Cultural Heritage in 1987 for its superb military architecture, technology and art of ancient China.
Check out How to Visit Great Wall of China.

Great Wall of China

Great Wall of China

The Great Wall around Beijing is an essential part of the Great Wall of China, mostly built in the Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644), and The most powerful Yuan Dynasty (1271 A.D – 1368 A.D) and the last Qing Dynasty (1644 A.D – 1911 A.D) did nothing about the building of the Great Wall since they were “barbarians” against whom the Great Wall of China had been built, supposed to keep them from invading and looting.

Now having a Great Wall Tour has become a must for visitors coming to Beijing for the first time. If you visit the Great Wall for the first time, basically you need to plan ahead to know when to visit, which section to visit and how to visit. You can either travel independently doing all the researching on your own or turn to a local travel agency.

3. Forbidden City 故宫
Located in the heart of Beijing, the north of Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City was the Chinese imperial palace from the Ming dynasty to the end of the Qing dynasty (1368 – 1911), home to 14 Ming and 10 Qing emperors over the following 505 years.

The Forbidden City, now known as the Palace Museum has about 1000 rooms and landscaped gardens, a priceless testament to Chinese civilization during the Ming and Qing dynasties.

It was declared UNESCO Heritage site in 1987 for its masterpieces in the development of imperial palace architecture in China.

Forbidden City

Forbidden City

Note: Monday is still open during Chinese Public Holidays
April 1st – October 31 ( 8:30 – 17:00 ) Admission: 6 Yuan
Last Entry at 16:10
Tickets sold until 16:00

November 1st – March 31 (8:30 – 16:30) Admission: 40 yuan
Last Entry at 15:40
Tickets sold until 15:30

By Subway ( to south gate ): Take Line 1 and get off at Tian’an men East or Tian’an men West
Check Forbidden City Travel Tips for more information.

4. Summer Palace 颐和园
Located 10km in the northwest of Beijing, Summer Palace was once the largest imperial garden in Beijing. It is a vast expanse of lakes, gardens and palaces dominated by Longevity Hill and the Kunming Lake.

It was originally built in 1750, largely destroyed in the war of 1860 and restored on its original foundations in 1886.

It was inscribed as UNESCO Heritage site in 1998 for its masterpiece of Chinese landscape garden design, a harmonious ensemble of outstanding aesthetic value.
Check How to Visit Summer Palace for more information.

Summer Palace

Summer Palace

High Season (From April 1 to Oct. 31) Admission: 30 Yuan
Open: 6:30
Tickets stop selling at 18:00;
Close: 20:00

Low Season (From Nov. 1 to Mar. 31 next year) Admission: 20 Yuan
Open: 7:00
Tickets stop selling at 17:00;
Close: 19:00

How to get to Summer Palace by subway

1. Subway Line 4:
Take subway line 4 to the northwest direction and get off at the last but one of Beigongmen (北宫门) and exit from Exit D and walk to the west, soon you will see the north gate ( Beigongmen Gate )to Summer Palace 颐和园 (entrance fee:RMB30) on your left side.

2. Subway Line 10
Take subway line 10 to Bagou station at the end of Line 10, and then get a taxi from outside the station to the New Palace Gate (新建宫门). Or you may just walk for about 1.5km from Bagou Station to the New Palace Gate.

Get off Bagou Station, follow your nose, you will meet a river, then turn right and walk along the river bank till the New Palace Gate of Summer Palace. If confused upon which way to go upon leaving the subway, just follow the crowd.

5. Temple of Heaven 天坛
The Temple of Heaven (Tiantan) is located in the southeast of central Beijing. It was an imperial Sacrificial Altar in Beijing visited by the emperors in Ming and Qing dynasties for praying for good harvest annually.

It was originally built from 1406 to 1420 during the reign of the Yongle Emperor, who had the construction of the Forbidden City in Beijing. Check How to Visit Temple of Heaven for more information.

Temple of Heaven

Temple of Heaven

It is an ensemble of religious buildings and landscape gardens. The Temple of Heaven was listed as UNESCO World Heritage in 1998 for its masterpiece of architecture and landscape design which simply and graphically illustrates a cosmogony of great importance for the evolution of one of the world’s great civilizations.

The main buildings inside the park
From March 1 to June 30: 8:00 – 17:30
From July 1 to October 31: 8:- 18:00
From November 1 to February 28: 8:00 – 17:00
Entrance Fee: 15 yuan ( high season ) and 15 yuan (low season)
Kindly reminder: Through tickets selling is stopped at 16:00

Get to Temple of Heaven by subway: Take subway line 5 and get off at East Temple of Heaven Station (Tiantan Dongmen Station ) and take exit A. The East Gate entrance is right there. For the public buses to the east gate, you may try bus 6, 35, 36, 39, 41, 43.

6. Ming Tombs 明十三陵
Located around 43km northwest of central Beijing, the Ming tombs are a group of mausoleums built in Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644). The Ming Tombs in Beijing are collectively known as the Thirteen Tombs of the Ming Dynasty since there are totally thirteen Ming emperors buried here.

Dingling ( One of the Mng Tombs)

After the construction of the Imperial Palace (Forbidden City) in 1420, the Yongle Emperor, the third emperor in Ming Dynasty started to chooset his burial site and built his own mausoleum.

His successive emperors had their tombs in the same place. The site of Ming Tombs is added to UNESCO World Heritage in 2003 for their cultural and architectural tradition and their integration into the natural environment.
Check out How to Visit the Ming Tombs for more information.

Entrance Fees:
Changling Tomb: RMB 30 (November.01 – March. 31); RMB 45 (April. 01 – October. 31) Dingling Tomb: RMB 40 (November.01 – March. 31); RMB 60 (April. 01 – October. 31) Zhaoling Tombe: RMB 20 (November.01 – Machr. 31); RMB 30 (April. 01 – Oct. 31)
Sacred Way: RMB 20/30)
Opening Hours:
Changling Tomb: 08:30 – 17:30 Dingling Tomb: 08:30 – 18:00 Zhaoling Tomb 8:30 – 17:30
Sacred Way: 8:30 – 18:00
Tickets stop selling about half a hours before the tombs are closed
How to get to Dingling Tomb: Take the Bus 872 from Deshengmen Bus Terminal

7. Grand Canal 大运河
The Grand Canal Hangzhou is the final section of the Grand Canal ( China ), also known as Beijing-Hangzhou (Jinghang) Grand Canal.

It is oft-lauded as the earliest and longest artificial waterway in the world starting from Beijing in the north and ending at Hangzhou in the south for a total length of 1776 km. It is the world’s largest and most extensive civil engineering project prior to the Industrial Revolution.

Grand Canal

Grand Canal

On June 22, 2014, the Grand Canal was listed as the site of UNESCO World Cultural Heritage.

It is the 46th world heritage in China including 27 sections and 58 elements of the Grand Canal with a length of 1011 km. The world heritage crowned Grand Canal covers 6 provinces, 2 municipalities and 25 prefecture-level cities.

06611Tip:  Hassle-free Beijing Guided Tours
If you don’t want to go the do-it-yourself route and prefer the hassle-free escorted tours,  here are some options for guided tours to Beijing:

Beijing Highlight Day Tour from US$59 P/P
(Tiananmen + Forbidden City + Mutianyu Great Wall)
Beijing Classic City Tour from US$65 P/P
(Tiananmen + Forbidden City + Temple of Heaven + Summer Palace)
Beijing Excursion Tour from US$59 P/P
(Mutianyu Great Wall + Ming Tomb)
Beijing Hutong Highlight Tour from US$59 P/P
( Hutong + Rickshaw)

Mutianyu Great Wall Half Day Tour from US$55 p/p
Hike from Jiankou to Mutianyu Great Wall Day Tour from US$69 p/p

Mutianyu Great Wall Layover Tour from US$65 p/p
Beijing Highlight Layover Tour from US$75 p/p

Further Readings

Top 10 Attractions in Beijing
How to Visit Forbidden City
How to Visit Temple of Heaven
How to Visit Summer Palace
How to Visit Ming Tombs
How to Visit the Great Wall of China
How to Visit Tiananmen Square
How to Visit Hutongs
How to Visit Olympic Sites

Top 10 Markets in Beijing
Top 10 Shopping Malls in Beijing
Beijing Shopping

Wangfujing Night Snack Street
Qianmen Commercial Street
Beijing Huguosi Street

Any questions, just drop a line

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2 Responses to “7 not-to-be-missed UNESCO sites in Beijing”

  1. Ejaz kareem says:

    Respected Sir/Mam

    Can you plz send me some informational martial regarding Beijing and china on my postal address


    Ejaz Kareem

    H # 1280 Sadique abad St # 10 Kaleem Shaheed Colony # 1 Kabotraan wala Chowk Narawala Road, Faisalabad. Pakistan

  2. Daniel says:

    Dear Ejaz kareem,

    Thanks for your inquiry!

    Sorry, we don’t have the official tourism material on hand. Please search online for the travel information on Beijing and China.

    Beijing tourism: https://www.tripadvisor.ca/Tourism-g294212-Beijing-Vacations.html

    China tourism: https://www.tripadvisor.ca/Tourism-g294211-China-Vacations.html

    Have a nice trip to China!

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