If you find yourself with only 24 hours in Beijing (the no visa layover has always been popular) and no idea how to make the most of it, here is our guide to exploring the Chinese capital with the limited time that you have:
This itinerary was planned based on our arrival/departure time. Hence, we started our day from brunch. Feel free to adapt this itinerary to your own travel plans.
Peking Duck for brunch
This may seem odd but hey, you only have 24 hours in the city and you definitely have to fit a Peking duck in there somehow. There are many places in the city that offer Peking duck but we recommend eating at the Country Kitchen inside the Rosewood Hotel. Yes the price might be a little on the high side but you can expect quality food and there'll be tons of ways to save money later on!
Their chef will especially slice the duck in front of you and the first few slices are just the skin. Don't worry about it being oily though because through the process of roasting it in the fire, most of the oil has already been dripped out. Eat these pieces with the sugar that's provided. The rest of the slices you can eat regularly by wrapping it in the dough skin.
Tiananmen Square/Forbidden City
After brunch, you can either take the subway to Tiananmen Square (get off at Tiananmen Square East station) or take a taxi there. After going through the security check, take as many pictures as you wish and enter through the first "gate". You'll see many communist guards keeping watch while many visitors are busily taking selfies with Mao Ze Dong. Keep walking and marveling at the traditional Chinese architecture until you reach the area where you have to pay to enter. I recommend stopping here and walking the perimeter of the Forbidden City instead of paying to visit the entirety of the Forbidden City - it really depends how interested you are in Chinese history I guess.
If you choose the option of walking the perimeter, turn left (towards Zhongshan Park) and you'll encounter a moat that runs along the Palace. Keep walking and eventually you'll be walking along Beichang Street which keeps its charm of a traditional Chinese street.
As you continue north, you'll reach Jingshan Park- a former, private imperial garden. For the price of 2 yuan (or approximately 30 cents), you can enter the park and climb to the highest point which will give you a fantastic view of the Forbidden City from up top (on a good, clear day). Take some time to stroll around in the park as well as it is quite peaceful despite being a popular tourist attraction.
After touring the Forbidden City and Jingshan Park, you might be feeling hungry from all that walking so why not go for hotpot? Traditional style hotpot uses coal in the middle of the pot to heat up. A popular place is Dong Lai Shun (near Wangfujing). and they are also well known for their thinly sliced pieces of lamb.
After dinner, take an evening stroll through Wangfujing street- an iconic night market in Beijing that also sells an interesting array of street food. By interesting I mean, you have to be quite the adventurer to try what they have to offer (scorpions, silk worms, centipedes, spiders etc. to name a few) Even if you're not up for it (I wasn't either, I didn't even want to take pictures of it) it's still worth walking through and seeing what other things Chinese people like to eat (there's also regular lamb skewers, sugar coated fruits).
Depending on when your flight out of the city is, here are a few more places that are also worth checking out:
Temple of Heaven- It is another popular tourist attraction just south of the Forbidden City. If you have enough time, you can start your day here and then work your way up.
The Great Wall- The Great Wall is actually an hour's drive away from Beijing so you would need to rent a driver for this trip. Might not be feasible if you only have 24hrs but if you have a bit more time, it's definitely worth visiting!
San Li Tun- This is the "Soho" area of Beijing. It's a young and uprising area and if you are a Nick Tse fan or know about his Chef Nic show, his restaurant is located here so you can go check that out.