7 Unusual Things to Do in Beijing Especially for Return Visitors

As a hot tourism destination in China, Beijing has a lot to see and one trips may only cover some of the most popular and usual attractions. It is necessary to make return trips to visit some unusual and non-touristy sites.  This will help you to know the city like an insider. Below are 7 unusual things to do in Beijing especially for return visitors.

Forbidden City is a must for first-time visitors to Beijing. But for a return visitor, spending time in Jingshan Park is definitely one of the amazing things to do in Beijing. Jingshan Park is adjacent to the Forbidden City in the south. It used to be the highest point of the Beijing city center and a royal garden, so there are many ancient buildings in the park such as temples, halls and pavilions. The Wanchun Pavilion is the best place to enjoy the panoramic view of the Forbidden City. Also, appreciating peonies in Jingshan Park is one of the unusual things to do in Beijing if you go there in late April to Middle May, when 20,000 peonies of 200 varieties are in full bloom.

 Book a Jingshan Park Ticket
Maybe you have visited the famous Badaling Great Wall or Mutianyu Great Wall and want to hike to another section with less crowds, the precipitous and magnificent Simatai Great Wall is worth a visit. The Simatai Great Wall is built on the extremely steep mountain ridges with dense watchtowers. Tourists can easily take the cable car to enjoy its grand beauty. Also, as it is the only Great Wall section open at night.  A night tour to Simatai has been one of the unique things to do in Beijing.

 Recommended Tour:  One Day Simatai Hiking and Gubei Water Town from $124
 Book a Simatai Great Wall ticket

Mao'er Hutong

Maoe’er literally means hat and the Mao'er Hutong gets its name because there was a hat making workshop here in Qing Dynasty (1636 - 1912). Compared with the famous Nanluoguxiang and Yandaixie Street, it is less touristy and less commercialized, but full of the old Beijing courtyards as well. No.9 and No.11 courtyards of the Mao’er Hutong are Ke Garden, one of the most representative private gardens in the capital Beijing. The last empress of China, Wan Rong once lived in the No. 35 and No. 37 courtyards.  

Shijia Hutong Museum & Zhihua Temple 

Shijia Hutong Museum located in a delicate courtyard is the first Hutong Museum in Beijing. Learning the history and culture about Beijing hutongs and courtyards thoroughly here is one of the unique things to do in Beijing. Many articles of daily use with the characteristics of old Beijing are displayed, including copies of employment documents in 1920s and 1930s, shallow baskets and bus tickets. There are two houses in the museum specially arranged according to the living styles of Beijing families from 1950s to 1980s. The Hutong Sound Exhibition is also one of the most distinctive exhibitions. As long as you select the Hutong on the screen, you will hear different sounds, such as hawking and sounds of bicycle.

The Zhihua Temple is about 900 meters (990 yards) to the east of the Shijia Hutong Museum. It is one of the most complete wood structure buildings of Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644) in Beijing. The roofs of the main buildings are paved with black tiles. Although it has been repaired for many times, the beam frame, bucket arch and color painting still maintain the characteristics of the early Ming Dynasty. There are more than 1,500 collections in the exhibition hall, including Buddha statues, scripture plates, murals and Zhuanlunzang (a revolving Buddhist scripture bookshelf).

Niujie Street

Niujie Street is a unique residential area of Hui nationality and visiting it is one of the unusual things to do in Beijing. It is especially famous as Beijing’s largest and oldest mosque - Niujie Mosque. The concentrated and symmetrical buildings have Islamic style domes and are decorated with Arabic and various floral patterns. On the day of the Festival of Fast-breaking, all Hui people gather here to listen to the preaching of the priest. The beef in Niujie Street is very delicious, and there are all kinds of halal snacks such as Lamb Spine, Seasoned Millet Mush, Fried Cake and Meat Cake.

Cloisonne Art Museum

Located in the courtyard of Beijing Enamel Factory Co., Ltd, the Cloisonne Art Museum collects highly imitated enamel wares of Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties and displays some classic works since the foundation of the company, works of old artists and masters. A visit is definitely one of the amazing things to do in Beijing. You will see all kinds of exquisite cloisonne including the imitated bronze chariots and horses of Terracotta Army, writing brush, ink stick, ink slab and paper, censers and cranes. Also, you can learn how to make cloisonne in the museum and try your hands under the guidance of the craftsmen.
It sounds like a weird thing to do in Beijing to visit a small village in the suburbs, but it’s really worthwhile. Cuandixia Village is an old village with a history of more than 400 years. Its 74 quadrangular dwellings are spread and leaning against the mountain slope while the sizes and layout of the yards change with the terrain. The whole village unfolds in a fan shape, both for flood control and bandit prevention. All the old buildings in the village can be visited, including the rich man's courtyard, Wudao Temple and Guandi Temple. Nowadays, there are a lot of farmhouses in the village offering accommodation and dining service. Sleeping overnight on the earthen bed and trying the wild vegetables and farm dishes are favored unusual things to do in Beijing for many insiders.
  Further Reading:
10 Fun Things to Do in Beijing with Family
Beijing Night Tours – 8 Things to Do at Night
- Last updated on Apr. 14, 2023 by Catherine He -
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