We told people we were planning on visiting Beijing with kids we definitely got some funny looks as Beijing is not the first place that springs to mind when you think about family travel. However we discovered that with its unique history, culture and amazing food that Beijing had lots on offer for families. In this guide we round up our top things to do in Beijing with kids as well as give you top tips and advice for having a successful trip to Beijing with family in tow.
Tips for Visiting Beijing with Family
Now before I tell you all the things to do in Beijing with kids, and there are lots of things you can do, I thought it was a good idea to give you some tips for traveling to this mega city.
That is because although there are plenty of family friendly attractions in Beijing it takes some planning in terms of visas, visit times, and transportation planning to ensure your trip is a successful one.
We will cover all these things and more to make sure you are prepped for traveling to Beijing with families.
Important Information for Visiting Beijing
First when you are planning your trip to Beijing you need to make sure you have the right type of Visa for your travels and you leave adequate time for processing.
There are two main types of Visas for traveling to China generally:
- the 10 year visa
- the 72 hour visa
10 Year Visa
This is the longest visa but also the most expensive visa type and takes some time to get processed.
We were in Beijing for 5 days so this was the visa type we went for.
This visa only really makes sense if your trip to Beijing is longer than 72 hours or you are planning to visit other cities on your trip or plan to return to China.
72 Hour Visa
This visa is perfect for people going to Beijing as a stopover on part of a longer journey.
It is also the best option for those visiting Beijing on a budget.
Best Time to Visit Beijing with Family
Beijing is a city that experiences all 4 seasons, and has extremes of weather in these seasons.
We visited Beijing in Winter and let me tell you, it was COLD! Most people count Winter in Beijing as starting in November and this is the month when the first snow usually falls.
The average temperatures in Beijing between November and February are average high between 2-10°C / 33-51°F and average lows 0 to -8°C and 17 – 33°C with January being the coldest month overall.
If you plan on visiting in Winter you need to pack lots of layers and warm clothes and good hiking boots if you plan to head out to the Great Wall of China (more of that later).
It is also worth noting that the air pollution tends to be worse in China in Winter so if you can avoid traveling during this time it may be prudent, especially if you are traveling to Beijing with toddlers or infants.
Similarly, Beijing can get very hot in summer. July and August tend to the hottest months in Beijing. Also June, July and August tend to be quite rainy so it can be quote humid in summers in Beijing which smaller children may struggle with.
Therefore, for this reason the shoulder seasons of Spring and Fall/Autumn may be the best time to visit Beijing for families both for weather and air quality.
Best Places to Stay in Beijing with Kids
When we were looking for the best places to stay in Beijing with kids we knew we wanted to stay somewhere relatively central and somewhere with a bit of luxury and space.
The reason we wanted this was because we were traveling during winter and knew we may have to spend more time in the hotel due to air quality.
For this reason we decided to stay at Grand Hyatt Beijing. This hotel is very centrally located, is over a mall which was great for cheap eats and shopping as well as having its own indoor swimming pool which came in very handy one the couple of days we had really severe air pollution.
Other great choices in Beijing for families included:
- Intercontinental Beijing Sanlitun – another luxury Beijing hotel for families that has an indoor swimming pool for guest use.
- NUO Hotel Building – another family friendly luxury hotel in Beijing with an infoor pool.
- The St Regis Beijing – this is located next to the airport so better for families coming for a short stay rather than extended vacation in Beijing. This is another Beijing hotel with an indoor pool that is great for if there is bad pollution.
How To Get Around Beijing with Kids
There are lots of ways of exploring the city with kids. We chose our hotel so we could explore a lot of the city by foot and took a private excursion out to the Wall. However if you want to use public transport you can use
The Beijing Metro covers the whole city but doesn’t cut down on walking too much. Not all stations are accessible if you are planning on using a stroller in Beijing. New stations and lines have elevators but not the older ones.
Also, the Metro can get VERY busy. It serves 10 million people a day and can feel like it. If you are travelling with young children to Beijing it may be quite overwhelming for these.
But on the plus side using the Metro is very cheap.
When I travel I always take a car seat with me. For this reason we didn’t use the taxi when we were sightseeing in Beijing.
I had read online before we went to Beijing that not all taxis would be set up to take car seats so rather than risk this we organised private transfers via Black Lane to get us to and from the airport which I was pleased we did.
What to Eat in Beijing with Kids
One of the things that concerned me when we were traveling to Beijing with our toddler was the food. I knoew Chinese food in China was not like Westernised China food you find in Europe and USA.
For instance you don’t get staples such as Orange Chicken and General Tao’s Chicken like you would get at PF Changs and Panda Express etc.
Therefore it is worth researching some food options and preparing your children for the food that they can expect.
Some of the things that we ate and recommend eating with kids in Beijing include:
Peking Duck is perhaps the dish that Beijing is most famous for. There are many places to eat this all around the city and some restaurants that just serve this one dish.
We ate in the restaurant of our hotel and it really has spoiled Peking Duck for me at home as it was amazing.
Note: if you are only used to eating Peking Duck in the West the thing that may surprise you in BEijing is that it is served with sugar. Just try it once, trust me I think you will be converted.
Famous places that serve Peking Duck include:
- Da Dong Duck Restaurant
We find these quite an easy sell for children.
This is great for those traveling to China with toddlers or infants. Our guide requested this at a Great Wall restaurant without soy sauce to reduce sodium for our little one and she absolutely loved it.
Is Beijing stroller friendly
In answer to is Beijing stroller friendly I would have to say yes and no. We didn’t find the Metro stations that accessible and tourist attractions are hit and miss in terms of stroller friendliness.
The Great Wall definitely isn’t a stroller friendly place due to the uneven surfaces and steps. Therefore if you go to the Great Wall of China with a baby or toddler you will want a carrier with you.
The Forbidden Palace is a buit hit and miss with a stroller. There is an accessible wheel chair route which you can use with a stroller too, however there are steps in some buildings so it may be easier to use a carrier.
Again Hutongs are hit and miss with a stroller as you may find steps and uneven surfaces.
When we traveled around China with our daughter she got a lot of attention with her blonde curly hair and big blue eyes. If you are traveling in China outside of the cities especially you may get some attention so it is good to try and prepare them for this.
As alluded to above the main concern for lots of people – parents or not – travelling to Beijing is the air pollution. Travelling with an asthmatic and a child this was our biggest concern. There are lots of apps that can tell you about the pollution hourly which we recommend downloading!
For full information check out our post on dealing with Beijing air pollution
Top Things to do In Beijing with Kids
So now you have all our top tips for visiting Beijing with kids we will turn our attention to the best things to do in Beijing with kids.
The Great Wall of China
One of the reasons I think many people decide to go to China is to visit the Great Wall of China. This was certainly the impetus for us when we were booking our trip to Beijing. The Great Wall of China is easy to reach from Beijing (depending on which part of the wall you are travelling to).
We decided to visit the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall when we visited Beijing with kids. One of the reasons we decided to visit this section of the wall is because it is quite close to Beijing – only about a 90 minute drive – obviously traffic dependent but it isn’t quite as busy as the other close section to Beijing – Badaling. We were also visiting the Great Wall of China in Winter so definitely wanted a more accessible location.
But on top of that there are loads of family friendly things to do at Mutianyu such as being able to take a cable car up the wall and take a toboggan ride back down.
Please note that while there aren’t toilets on the wall there are in the town below as well as Western dining options – who would have thought there would be a Burger King at the bottom of the Great Wall of China!
For a full guide on how to visit the Great Wall of China with kids check out our post.
Although visiting the Great Wall of China can be on your own I would personally advise taking a guided tour. We used Great Wall Hiking when we went to Mutianyu and our guide was fantastic with our toddler. However there are plenty of options for group yours and private tours depending on your budget.
Visit The Forbidden City With Kids
Probably the second thing on people’s Beijing China Bucket List after the Great Wall is visiting the Forbidden City. But what is it like visiting the Forbidden City with Kids?
Now I am going to be honest, the Forbidden City isn’t the most family friendly thing you can do in Beijing. One of the main reasons being the size. The Forbidden City is absolutely huge and little legs will tire very quickly touring the Forbidden City. If you are contemplating bringing a stroller or carrier and are on the fence I would say definitely bring it.
I would say there isn’t anything specifically for kids at Beijing Forbidden Palace so you may need to think about how you are going to engage your kids here.
A highlight of the Forbidden City is the Imperial Garden.
The other thing to be aware of when visiting the forbidden city with kids is that the queues here can be HUGE. I have never seen a queue the size of the one we saw at the forbidden city on a public holiday in China. So my top tip for visiting the Forbidden city with kids is be sure to book your tickets online in advance.
Note about visiting Forbidden City Beijing with a baby: If you are visiting Beijing with a baby please note that the Forbidden City/Palace Museum is cobbled so make sure your stroller can handle cobbles or take a carrier with you.
What is there in Tiananmen Square for kids?
I will be honest there is not much in Tiananmen Square for kids and it can get busy and is very large. It is close to the Forbidden City so geographically it can be combined with it however the distances you will be walking might make small kids very tired.
Top Tip: Don’t take a big bag with you as it isn’t allowed and remember to bring along your passport
If you are looking for things to with kids in Beijing then you must put Chaoyang Park on your Beijing itinerary. Whenever I travel with my little one I always want to find a good park to let her go play and blow off some steam. One of the best parks in central Beijing is Chaoyang Park. There is a lot of space here for kids to run which Beijing can be otherwise lacking and it is also a popular place to go and fly a kite.
If you are visiting Beijing in summer then you can also rent boats here which is another sure fire win with kids.
Jingshan Park – one of the best things in Beijing for kids
Another park you may want to consider adding to your Beijing itinerary with kids is Jingshan Park. Jingshan Park is just north of the Forbidden City and if your legs aren’t too tired can be visited after your trip to the Forbidden city and is another great place to blow off steam with kids in Beijing. This is probably one of the best places Beijing for kids in particular.
Explore Hutongs –
Hutongs are a must whenever you visit Beijing but I will be honest they can be a bit confusing. If you have chance I recommend getting a guide to find the best family places in the Hutongs.
Visit the Zoo
If you are looking for what to do in Beijing with kids then the zoo definitely has to be on your list. Before having kids visiting a zoo was not my idea of a good travel day however now I have a toddler zoos are always high on our travel list. Beijing Zoo is a sure fire hit with kids especially to see the pandas that it is famous for. This has to be one of the best things to do in Beijing for kids of any ages but toddlers will particularly love this.
Eat Peking Duck
Eating Peking Duck is a must for any China Bucket List especially if you are travelling to Beijing. There are loads of Peking Duck restaurants around the city that offer a great experience and tradition. As we were limited on town and it had such a good reputation we decided to eat Peking Duck at our hotel restaurant – Made in China at the Grand Hyatt Beijing and I have to say it did not disappoint. My little girl also really enjoyed the spectacle of the meal. The only problem is now I am not sure I can go back to eating Western takeaway Peking Duck!
This in my opinion is one of the best things to do in Beijing with family as it is one of the best food and drink experiences in Beijing that the whole family will enjoy.
What to do in Beijing with kids if you have more time
- Visit the Summer Palace
- Visit the Drum and Bell Tower
- Temple of Heaven
What are your top tips and recommendations for visiting Beijing with kids? What are your top things to do in Beijing with kids?