14 FREE things to do in Beijing that are PHENOMENAL

Here I’m going to share all the things you can do on a budget when you’re in Beijing. For travelers on a tight budget, Beijing has a lot of choice with so many free things to do! You could easily spend a couple of days of your itinerary doing all of these.

There’s a great mix of free things to do in Beijing – some are big-name tourist attractions, such as the National Museum of China. Others are little slices of authentic Chinese life, like the locomotive square.

Many of these are in the city centre, but some are further out. Pick the ones near your accommodation if finances are tight rather than travelling across town on a train.

There are plenty more free things to do in Beijing, especially parks, which I haven’t covered here unless they had something unusual about them. You can’t move for parks in the capital city so wander around and see what else you discover!

1. China railway museum: The outdoor aspects of this railway museum are free.

Where? Jiuxianqiao North Road, Chaoyang, Beijing.

2. Beijing Museum of Natural history – a natural history museum covering plants, fossils, animals and biology. Free entry (some exhibitions charge).

Where? Tianqiao South Street, Dongcheng, Beijing.

3. Capital Museum – owned by Sotheby’s. Free entry.

Where? 16 Fuxingmen Outer Street, Xicheng District, Beijing.

4. Beijing Capital Times Square – a street.

Where? 88 West Chang’an Avenue, Xicheng District, Beijing.

5. National Museum of China – The big one. You may have to queue a long time to get in as it’s the second most-visited museum in the world after the Louvre. Free to see main exhibit. Dress smartly and take an ID card to get in. Book in advance via WeChat during COVID.

Where? 16 East Chang’an Avenue, Dongcheng, Beijing.

6. Huangshicheng – A market where you can get an eyeful of the unique things people eat in China. Not for the faint-hearted. Don’t eat street food here if you are pregnant as diarrhea can cause miscarriage.

Where? 136 South Chizi Street, Dongcheng, Beijing.

7. Locomotive square – Out in the northeast of the city, a little square with a real 1945 steam train! Locomotive square holds monthly markets.

Where? Qixing East Street, Chaoyang, Beijing.

8. Railway culture park (Daxing district) – A cute park surrounding the subway, ideal for train spotting as there are some live above-ground tracks here.

Where? Hongkang Road, Daxing District, Beijing.

9. Zhengyang bridge – a tall and impressive monument which was part of Beijing’s city wall, found at the end of Qianmen pedestrian street (which also has trolley cars at weekends).

Where? Qianmen Street, Dongcheng, Beijing.

10. Beijing Book Building – the biggest book shop in Beijing, offering a range of books including children’s books, English-language books and new publications. Five floors of books! Free to go in, but we can’t guarantee you won’t buy anything.

Where? 17 West Chang’an Avenue, Xicheng District, Beijing.

11. Yuyuantan Park – In mid-Spring, this is the place to go to see the pink snowfall of cherry blossom. There’s a whole cherry tree orchard here. Off-the-beaten-track community park, so you’re unlikely to see many tourists, here. Across the road from the Military Museum.

Where? Yuyuantan South Road, Haidian District, Beijing.

12. Beijing World Art Museum – A free art museum where you can explore Chinese art and worldwide art. Across the lake from Central Radio and TV tower by the entrance of Yuyuantan Park.

Where? Yuyuantan South Road, Haidian District, Beijing.

13. National Art Museum of China – an enormous art gallery with work showcasing China’s culture. Free entry.

Where? 1 Wusi Street, Dongcheng, Beijing.

14. Liulichang – a street of traditional stone buildings for anyone looking to do something all atmospheric and touristy.

Where? Liulichang East Street, Xicheng District, Beijing.

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