7 Quintessential Beijing Winter Experiences You Can’t Miss
Winter in Beijing can be truly magical. During the cold months, the city comes alive for several holidays. Despite this, it feels decidedly less crowded, as tourists tend to be surprisingly scarce. No, the weather isn’t perfect, but with proper preparation, you can easily visit both indoor and outdoor attractions. Don’t hesitate to add the following essentials to your winter itinerary:
Explore the Summer Palace
Despite its name, the Summer Palace is the perfect place to spend a winter day in Beijing. The attraction’s trees and lakes may not be scenic in the same way they are during the warm season, but they present their own unique kind of beauty when the cold weather takes over. If you’re lucky, you will visit when the area is covered in a lovely layer of snow.
Dress in layers so you feel perfectly comfortable as you stroll around the complex and observe its many temples and pavilions. If you need to warm up quickly, take the stunning — but strenuous — hike up Longevity Hill, which will have you sweating in no time.
Visit a Christmas Market
Christmas is more widely celebrated in Beijing than many visitors anticipate. This is evidenced by the prominence of Christmas markets throughout the city. Hit up a few to check out the surprising variety of products on display.
Several of the city’s best markets can be found at its embassies. The markets at the British, German, and Polish embassies are particularly impressive. Beyond these locations, you’ll also want to check out the Christmas edition of the Beijing Flea Market, as well as the Rumble in the Jumble. Depending on which markets you visit, you may encounter antiques, crafts, clothing, foods, or beverages.
Visit the Imperial Palace
The Forbidden City is home to Beijing’s famed Imperial Palace — the largest structure of its kind in the entire world. This impressive palace is worth a visit any time of the year. Cold weather may have you reluctant to explore the Forbidden City in-depth, but you’re still welcome to stop in at the Palace Museum, where you’ll encounter a wide array of galleries and exhibits.
Soak Your Troubles Away at the Hot Springs
Beijing is home to many hot springs, which deliver warmth and relaxation on a year-round basis. Locals largely regard these waters as therapeutic, with a simple soak believed to be capable of resolving a variety of aches and pains.
Several hot spring resorts can be found in and around Beijing, with many offering indoor areas that allow you to immerse yourself in wonderful warmth. The outdoor springs are just as appealing, however, as they provide remarkable views to accompany your soaking experience.
Embrace the Cold With Some Open-Air Ice Skating
Sometimes, it’s better to embrace the cold than fight it. After all, winter delivers a variety of enjoyable activities that are not available during the warmer months. One of the most charming? Ice skating.
Beijing is home to multiple open-air facilities, where you can glide to your heart’s delight. Local favorites include the Shichahai Skating Rink, the Beihai Park Skating Field, and even ice skating near the Summer Palace. Many local rinks offer helpful amenities such as ice bikes and wagons.
Head Indoors and Enjoy One of the Many Museums
If you’re not willing to brave the cold, you can still enjoy yourself while spending much of your trip inside. Beijing boasts a variety of excellent museums, which provide insight on everything from the city’s history to local art and even science and industry. The National Museum of China is a wise addition to your itinerary, as is the Beijing Folklore Museum and the China Science and Technology Museum.
Eat Hotpot to Combat the Cold
The right cuisine will quickly have you feeling warm on a chilly day. Hotpot is an especially enticing option after you’ve conquered the cold. This simmering meal will quickly warm you from the inside out while also delivering memorable flavors that you’ll be eager to try again.
With the right itinerary and wardrobe, you can enjoy every moment of your winter adventure in Beijing. You’ll quickly come to appreciate all of the unique offerings of winter, including reduced crowds, special events, and gorgeous scenery that will take your breath away.