The 8 Best Beijing Tours of 2019

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The Rundown

Best Overall: Buy Private All-Inclusive Day Tour Tickets with Viator "The best-reviewed Beijing tour on Viator."

Best Short Tour: Buy 2-Hour Quick Explorer Tickets with Viator"With several start times to choose from, you can tailor it to fit in with your busy schedule."

Best Multi-Day: Buy 2-Day Mini Group Tour Rates with Viator "Upgrade to include an evening Kung Fu show at the Red Theater." 

Best for Romance: Buy Beijing Dinner and Boat Ride Tickets with Viator "You’ll board a chartered boat strung with lanterns for a cruise to Houhai Lake."

Best for Families: Buy Beijing Family Tour Tickets with Viator "This five-hour tour is especially designed to keep younger guests entertained."

Best for Foodies: Buy Beijing Hutong Food and Beer Tour by Tuk Tuk Tickets with Viator "Foodies can taste some of the city’s favorite dishes at authentic local restaurants."

Best Great Wall: Buy Full-Day Small-Group Tour Tickets with Viator "If you want more than a couple of hours at the Great Wall, consider joining this full-day hike."

Best for Flexibility: Buy Private Customized Beijing City Day Tour Tickets with Viator "This customizable full-day tour is completely private, allowing you to decide exactly where you want to go."

01 of 08

Best Overall: Private All-Inclusive Day Tour to Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City and Mutianyu Great Wall

Viator Great Wall of China

Viator

This private, full-day excursion is the best-reviewed Beijing tour on Viator. You’ll visit three of the city’s top attractions, with the first stop being Tiananmen Square, the site of the 1989 student protests and massacre. After learning about the square’s history, you’ll visit some of the surrounding buildings including the Great Hall of the People, the National Museum of China, and Chairman Mao’s Mausoleum. Next, it’s a short walk to the Forbidden City, a UNESCO-listed imperial palace that once housed 24 different emperors. Here, you’ll discover treasures from famous dynasties including the Ming and Qing dynasties. 

Having worked up an appetite, you’ll stop at a local restaurant for a dumpling lunch. Then, it’s a 1.5-hour drive to Mutianyu, a typically less-crowded section of the Great Wall of China. You’ll have two hours to hike along the wall and marvel at its incredible history and scenery. The tour includes private transportation, hotel pick-up and drop-off, a driver, and a professional guide. Your lunch, entrance fees, and a ticket for the round-trip cable car or toboggan ride at the Great Wall are also covered. 

02 of 08

Best Short Tour: 2-Hour Tiananmen Square and Forbidden City Quick Explorer

Forbidden City

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If you don’t have a full day to spare, opt for this Quick Explorer tour instead. It takes approximately two hours and with several start times to choose from, you can tailor it to fit in with your busy schedule. Because this tour is private, you can explore landmarks at your own pace and focus on the aspects that most interest you. You’ll start at Tiananmen Square, where your English-speaking guide will tell you about buildings and monuments like the Great Hall of the People, the National Museum of China, Chairman Mao’s Mausoleum, and the Monument to the People’s Hero. 

The next stop is the Forbidden City, where advance tickets mean you can skip the queue and spend more time discovering the fascinating stories of China’s most influential imperial dynasties. This tour includes a private guide, hotel pick-up, and a private transfer to Tiananmen Square. Your entrance fees and bottled water are also included. However, you will have to find a way back to your hotel from the North Gate of the Forbidden City. Ask your guide for advice on the best way to do so. 

If you're looking for a place to stay, see our reviews of the best Beijing Hotels.

03 of 08

Best Multi-Day: 2-Day Mini Group Tour to Mutianyu Great Wall and Imperial Heritages in Beijing

Viator Beijing Tour

 Viator 

On the first day of this two-day tour, you’ll drive directly to the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall, arriving early enough to avoid the crowds. After two hours of exploring, you’ll have lunch at a local restaurant before driving back to the city via the Olympic Stadium. The afternoon is devoted to admiring the beautiful Summer Palace, where the highlight is an imperial ferry boat trip across Kunming Lake. Day two starts at Tiananmen Square, followed by a tour of the Forbidden City. 

In the afternoon, your English-speaking guide will take you deep into the city’s historic hutong area. After a 20-minute rickshaw ride, you’ll pay a visit to the home of a local family. Your tour ends with a walk around the Temple of Heaven, an important place of worship for the emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties. The tour has space for up to six people and includes transportation in an air-conditioned vehicle, hotel pick-up and drop-off, entrance fees, two lunches, and your rickshaw and boat rides. Upgrade to include an evening Kung Fu show at the Red Theater. 

04 of 08

Best for Romance: Beijing Hutong Night Tour with Dinner and Chartered Boat Ride

Houhai Lake

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If you’re visiting Beijing with your loved one and have already ticked off major sights like Tiananmen Square and the Summer Palace, this private evening excursion is an excellent addition to your trip. It lasts approximately four hours and starts with a pick-up from your hotel lobby. You’ll be driven to Little Yunnan Restaurant, a cozy, romantic courtyard eatery tucked away in the hutongs near the Forbidden City. After feasting on traditional cuisine, your guide will take you to Lotus Lane, where you’ll board a chartered boat strung with lanterns for a cruise to Houhai Lake. 

From the deck, you’ll have a fantastic view of the city lights glittering on the water. The cruise lasts one hour and includes tea and snacks, too. Once you’re back on dry land, the tour continues with a wander down Yandai Xie Street, where quaint shops sell intriguing Beijing souvenirs. The tour comes with a professional guide and driver, dinner, the boat ride and snacks, all entrance fees, and hotel pick-up and drop-off. You will need to pay extra for gratuities, souvenirs, and alcoholic drinks.

Continue to 5 of 8 below.
05 of 08

Best for Families: Beijing Family Tour – Pandas at Beijing Zoo, Rickshaw, Calligraphy Lesson and Kite Flying at Olympic Park

Viator Beijing Tour

 Viator

Few kids will have the patience to trudge around Beijing’s historic sites for hours on end. Fortunately, this five-hour tour is especially designed to keep younger guests entertained. It starts with an exhilarating rickshaw ride through the hutongs, giving kids and adults alike a glimpse into life in Beijing. Next, you’ll stop at a local home for a lesson in calligraphy before heading to the Bell Tower (a landmark originally built during the Yuan Dynasty) for a tea-tasting session. The highlight for many children, however, is a visit to the giant pandas at Beijing Zoo. 

After watching the pandas being fed, your guide will take you to a local restaurant for lunch. The afternoon is spent flying kites with local families at Olympic Park. While your kids steer their kites, you’ll have a chance to admire incredible architecture of the Olympic Stadium before shopping for souvenirs at a nearby toy market. The tour includes pick-up and drop-off at your downtown hotel and an English-speaking guide. Food, drinks, and gratuities are excluded and kids must be at least 2 years old to take part.

See other things to do in the city with some of the top activities for kids in Beijing.

06 of 08

Best for Foodies: Beijing Hutong Food and Beer Tour by Tuk Tuk

Viator Beijing Tour

 Viator

Beijing is known for its cuisine and on this tour, foodies can taste some of the city’s favorite dishes at authentic local restaurants. A small-group tour with a maximum of 10 travelers, it lasts approximately four hours and focuses on the historic hutong area. You’ll explore the winding alleyways by private tuk tuk, stopping at five carefully chosen food stops along the way. Some are family-owned, hole-in-the-wall restaurants, while others are local homes. All of them are places that you’re unlikely to find by yourself. 

At each stop, you’ll sample staples including Beijing wraps, flame-grilled meats, and noodles. While you eat, your guide will explain the age-old cooking techniques behind each one. The tour includes unlimited Chinese beers and sodas, and the last stop is a visit to Arrow Factory Brewing bar. Here, you’ll enjoy a craft beer tasting and a large beer of your choice. Everything except gratuities is included, from the food and drink to private transportation, a driver, and a local guide. The tour starts and ends at Yonghegong Lama Temple and vegetarian options can be arranged in advance.

07 of 08

Best Great Wall Tour: Full-Day Small-Group Great Wall Hike, Simatai West to Jinshanling

Great Wall of China

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If you want more than a couple of hours at the Great Wall, consider joining this full-day hike. The route starts at Simatai West and ends at Jinshanling, giving you the chance to explore a section of the UNESCO World Heritage Site that reviewers describe as both visually spectacular and uncrowded. It’s also challenging with plenty of ups and downs, although there’s still time to take things slow. Along the way, you’ll see parts of the wall that have been lovingly restored — giving you a sense of how it might have looked in its heyday — and parts that have been left untouched. 

There will be lots of opportunities to stop and take photographs while listening to your guide’s fascinating commentary. After the hike, you will have lunch at a restaurant operated by local farmers. The meal is included in the tour price, as is the guide, bottled water and snacks, entrance fees, and transportation from central Beijing in an air-conditioned vehicle. You’ll also receive a certificate of completion as a lasting reminder of your Great Wall hike. The tour starts and ends at the McDonald’s in Dongzhimen.

08 of 08

Best for Flexibility: Private Customized Beijing City Day Tour with Flexible Departure Time

Tiananmen Square

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This customizable full-day tour is completely private, allowing you to decide exactly where you want to go, how much you want to fit in, and how long you want to spend at each place. Departure times are flexible too, and you’ll benefit from the expertise of a local guide and chauffeur. With the help of your guide’s insider recommendations, build your own itinerary according to your list of must-see sights. Sample stops include Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, and the National Museums. 

Alternatively, you can step off the beaten track with a rickshaw ride through the hutongs, or visit Coal Hill Park for a birds’ eye view of the Forbidden City spread out below. Cultural options range from visits to Tibetan Buddhist and Taoist temples to walking tours of local flower and fish markets. Your guide will be able to suggest the best places to stop and try local cuisine along the way. The tour includes round-trip transportation, hotel pick-up and drop-off, a fuel surcharge, and bottled water. Expect to pay extra for all food and drinks, entrance fees, and gratuities. 

Looking for more travel tips? Check out our guide on the top things to do in Beijing.

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