How to Spend Your Time During an Evening Layover in Beijing

Best Things to Do On an Evening Layover at Beijing Airport


Flights arrive and take off from the Beijing Capital International Airport at all hours of the night, leaving many travelers with lengthy layovers. There’s no need to limit yourself to the airport; your layover presents the perfect opportunity to explore a vibrant city you might otherwise miss — even at night. The following evening opportunities will make the time fly by:

Night Tour on the Great Wall at Simatai

Open for night visits, Simatai offers a unique experience you won’t easily find elsewhere. It’s worth checking out both when the sun is up and down, as each experience offers a completely different view.

This portion of the Great Wall is unique in that it retains its original appearance and is considered one of the structure’s most visually impressive areas. 


Tiananmen Square

Beijing’s famed Tiananmen Square is open until midnight, so don’t hesitate to stop by later in the evening. After dark, the square lights up to become a multi-colored spectacle. Feel free to enjoy a leisurely stroll as you take it all in.

Beijing National Stadium

Also known as the Bird’s Nest, the Beijing National Stadium was designed for use in the 2008 Summer Olympics. Since then, it has become a top tourist attraction — in part because it is one of the world’s largest steel structures. It’s particularly beautiful at night, when the lighting highlights the stadium’s intricate design. 

Beijing National Aquatics Center

Commonly referred to as the Water Cube, the Beijing National Aquatics Center sits adjacent to the Beijing National Stadium. Like the Bird’s Nest, the Water Cube is best viewed at night, when strategic lighting sets off its most distinctive features. 

Sanlitun Bar Street

If you’re hoping to make the most of Beijing’s nightlife, don’t hesitate to stop by Sanlitun Bar Street. Often referred to as the center of the city’s nightlife scene, Sanlitun Bar Street is home to a wide variety of bars.

The street once featured a “dirty street” consisting of dive bars and hole-in-the-wall restaurants, but it has since been cleaned up. Still, the area retains much of its original gritty charm.

Houhai Bar Street

A unique display of eastern and western tradition can be found at Houhai Bar Street, where you’ll find a variety of drinks and entertainment options. This popular nightlife destination is also situated near Beijing’s famed hutongs.


Old Hutong–Nanluoguxiang Area

Hutongs are also abundant in the Nanluoguxiang area, where you’ll find a vast array of intriguing shops. Several of these sell decidedly chic items, while others stores are kitschy and designed to please tourists. Stop by for an evening of retail therapy or people-watching.

Qianmen Street and Dashilan 

As one of Beijing’s most famous pedestrian walkways, Qianmen Street beckons travelers both day and night. In the evening, this area features glowing lights, which highlight decorative archways and a variety of other beautiful features.

Don’t forget to stop by the famous commercial alley known as Dashilan — this shopping street is home to some truly impressive structures worth checking out.

Final Thought

Whether your idea of a dream evening in Beijing includes a Great Wall expedition or exploring the area’s finest shopping streets, you’ll have no trouble finding fun ways to keep occupied during the entirety of your layover. You’ll return to the airport ready to continue on your journey — but also eager to make a return trip to Beijing.


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