Flights to Beijing (PEK)

Flights to Beijing will leave you wanting more of China's cuisine, history, and modern bustle. There’s almost too much to take in.

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Flights to Beijing

Beijing thrust itself into the world’s consciousness in 2008, when it hosted a spectacular Olympic Games. China, the sleeping dragon, had awoken, and its capital announced that it was open for business.

The Olympics brought with it sweeping cultural and physical change to the city. Dizzying architectural heights were reached in the form of the Bird’s Nest stadium, the Water Cube, and the Beijing Opera House. These contrast with the traditional courtyard homes, or hutongs, that still remain, thanks largely to the city’s emerging middle classes, who saw the opportunity these beautiful properties presented and converted them into restaurants, hotels, and high-end private properties.

The Games also rendered Beijing a far more accessible travel destination than it was before. For example, taking a taxi ride used to be an exercise in skillful diplomacy, innovative communication techniques, a lot of pointing, and seeing parts of the city you never intended to. Now, most cabbies speak some English and are used to sharing their cars with tourists. Furthermore, swathes of luxury hotels have been built, along with high-end restaurants that complement the city’s already excellent (and affordable) restaurant scene.

Happily, Beijing’s relentless renovation has spared the Forbidden City, which is as awe-inspiring as ever; the Drum and Bell Towers; and the Summer Palace, which sits just outside the city. These magnificent sites offer a reminder of Beijing’s rich imperial history. Meanwhile, the austere government buildings, the vastness of Tiananmen Square, and the wide boulevards serve as testimony to China’s modern-day might.

And while Beijing may be the capital of the People's Republic of China (PRC), the city has always maintained a mischievous undercurrent, which is embodied in the locals’ dry wit as well as in the exciting, often subversive, art and music scene and pulsating nightlife.

Escape to the Summer Palace

If you would rather not fight through throngs of tourists at the Forbidden City, jump into a taxi and head to the Summer Palace. This was the emperor’s summer retreat and it’s easy to see why: beautiful grounds, the stunning Kunming Lake, and breathtaking architecture.

19 Xin Jian Gong Men Lu
Haidian District
+86 10 6288 1144

See Beijing a little differently

Since Beijing is so vast and full of history, it’s almost impossible to decide what to see during your stay. Beijing Sideways remedies this by offering citywide tours in classic China Chang Jiang 750 motorcycle sidecars. The tour guides are local residents, proficient in a multitude of languages, and skilled at dodging traffic.

Xingfu Cun Zhonglu
Chao Yang District
+86 139 1133 4947

Beijing 798 Art Zone

It may come as a surprise that Beijing boasts such an expressive and outspoken art scene. The 798 District has long been home to many of China’s top artists, including Jiang Yousheng, Wang Ziwei, and Su Jinyuan. The area is full of galleries, as well as cafes and bars.

No. 4 Jiuxianqiao Road
Chaoyang District
+86 10 5978 9798

Stroll down Nanluoguxiang

A perfect introduction to Beijing’s hutongs (and some great independent shops). Visitors can snap up fantastic souvenirs from Plastered, where T-shirt designs riff on communist propaganda posters, and visit the street’s abundant cafes and restaurants. Half the fun of Nanluoguxiang is exploring its side streets, one of which leads to the Drum and Bell Towers.

Plastered T-shirts
61 South Luogu Alley
+86 136 8339 4452

Get lost in the Forbidden City

Brave the throngs of local tourists to experience the Forbidden City. However, you can lose the crowds by ducking into one of the many throne rooms or courtyards, all of which are fascinating. The on-site Palace Museum is home to an important collection of paintings and ceramics.

4 Jing Shan Qian Jie
+86 10 8500 7428

Scale the Great Wall

A visit to Beijing isn’t complete without a visit to the Great Wall of China. Even today, there are still huge lengths that remain relatively untouched and wonderful to explore. One such section lies between Jinshanling (2 hours northeast of Beijing) and Simatai; it's a 6 km hike that affords wonderful views of the wall winding its way through the hills.

+86 314 883 0222

Okra (Japanese)

Max Levy’s restaurant serves up supreme sushi and traditional Japanese drinks in a smart, sophisticated setting. Attentive waitstaff are on hand to guide you to a table set in a partitioned booth before serving up dishes such as red tofu soup and excellent sushi and sashimi cuts.

Courtyard 4
1949–The Hidden City
Gongti Bei Lu
+86 10 6593 5087

Din Tai Fung (Chinese)

This glimmering, modern Taiwanese restaurant chain serves some of the tastiest dim sum you’re likely to sample. Armies of staff attend to a sea of tables, and while prices are higher than at other dim sum joints, the food is consistently excellent. Try the hand-rolled xiaolongbao.

24 Xinyuan Xili Zhongjie
+86 10 6462 4502

The Den (International)

This popular restaurant-bar off Gongti Bei Lu offers visitors a taste of expat history. The Den, one of Beijing’s oldest establishments, is always busy. Locals, visitors, and expats feast on consistently good comfort food (served 24 hours a day), while live sports play on multiple big screens.

4 Gongti Bei Lu
+86 10 6592 6290

Temple Restaurant Beijing (French-Asian)

Australian firm Hassell designed this television factory turned restaurant, where modern design elements mix with traditional Chinese accents to great effect. The menu is similarly sleek, thanks to the experience of owner Ignace Lecleir, whose impressive gastronomic resume spans the USA and Europe.

23 Song Zhu Shi
Shatan Beijie
+86 10 8400 2232

Da Dong Roast Duck (Chinese)

With four restaurants to his name, Mr. Da Dong is the undisputed authority on Beijing's specialty roast duck. Pick one of the locations and get ready to feast on succulent sweet duck, fragrant pancakes, plum sauce, and plenty of mouth-watering sides.

22 Dongsi 10th Alley
+86 10 5169 0329

Mercante (Italian)

Hailing from the Parma region of Italy, owner Omar Maseroli runs this intimate restaurant with his Chinese girlfriend and two other Italians (one of whom is the chef). The result is an unforgettable candlelit dining experience fueled by handmade pasta and other authentic Italian dishes.

4 Fangzhuanchang Hutong
+86 10 8402 5098

Commune by the Great Wall

What started as an architectural project featuring 12 different self-contained villas, each designed by a prominent Asian architect, has grown into a unique resort. There are now 40 villas with 175 suites, 11 Presidential Suites, 3 restaurants, and an outdoor pool and tennis court—all a stone’s throw from the Great Wall of China.

The Great Wall
Exit 53
Shuiguan G6 Jingzang Highway
+86 10 8118 1888

Peninsula Beijing

Located close to Tiananmen Square, the Peninsula epitomizes the luxury and opulence that the upper echelons of Chinese society have become accustomed to. You can enjoy supreme spa facilities, dine at Jing Restaurant or Cantonese eatery Huang Ting, or unwind in Yun Lounge.

8 Goldfish Lane
+86 10 8516 2888

Opposite House

One of Beijing’s first boutique hotels, Opposite House retains its startling originality. The design concept turns traditional courtyard living on its head; every room offers a surprise. There are also four options for eating and drinking: Sureno, Mesh, Village Café, and Jing Yaa Tang.

Building 1
Taikoo Li Sanlitun Bei Lu
11 Sanlitun
+86 10 6417 6688

St. Regis Beijing

The St. Regis is steeped in history. Richard Nixon’s famous Ping Pong Diplomacy team stayed here in the 1970s, and the hotel continues to draw the world’s power brokers. For everyone else, the St. Regis is wonderfully located; more or less all of Beijing’s attractions are just a walk away.

21 Jianguomenwai Dajie
Near Ritan Road
+86 10 6460 6688

Aman at Summer Palace

You'll find this luxurious hotel at the East Gate of the majestic Summer Palace. This serene establishment offers guest rooms complete with courtyards, Ming Dynasty–inspired deluxe suites, and an Imperial Suite that comprises three separate pavilions.

1 Gongmenqian Street
Summer Palace
+86 10 5987 9999

Red Wall Garden Hotel

With a design based on a traditional Beijing courtyard, Red Wall offers a tranquil oasis in a bustling city. Situated in the enchanting Shijia Hutong, walking distance from the Forbidden City, the hotel boasts one of the best locations in Beijing.

41 Shijia Hutong
+86 10 5169 2222

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Flights from United States to Beijing12 destinations