Beijing

Beijing Winter Travel: Things To Do and Where To Go

Beijing is a great destination to visit during the wintertime! While it is does get cold in northern China where Beijing is located, the cold weather should’t deter you from having a great trip. There are lots of great festivals to attend and fun activities to do in winter months, as well as the traditional Beijing attractions to see like the Great Wall and the Forbidden City.

If you’re planning to travel to Beijing during wintertime around November-February,  here are some of the best tips to know before you travel.

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What To Bring To Beijing in Winter

Beijing can gets very cold in the winter, with temperatures ranging from 20-30 F and dropping to the 10s on especially cold days. It’ll feel even colder if you’re outside all day or hiking the Great Wall. You’ll definitely want to bring:

  • Gloves
  • Hat
  • Scarf
  • Multiple layers
  • Thick outdoor coat
  • Fleece lined leggings (I love mine!)
  • Tissue paper (for public bathrooms, as always in China)

If you do forget anything, you can always pop by a Miniso, which is a Japanese shop found in most Chinese malls. They sell everything from gloves, scarves, and hats, to phone chargers, makeup, toiletries, and many other things.

If it’s your first time to travel in China, you’ll also want to check out 10 Tips For Your First Trip to China!

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Tips for Traveling to Beijing in Winter

1. Beijing Has Central Heating

There is central heating in most buildings in northern China that is facilitated by the government. While the outside will be cold, inside of buildings will usually have the heat running and you’ll be quite warm. This is very different than when I lived in southern China – if you live below a certain latitude in China, there is no central heating so buildings will be much colder inside,

2. Check the Spring Festival Dates

The Chinese Spring festival usually occurs during January/February time in China. Some people will go back to their hometowns for this holiday but many others will travel, and Beijing is always a big tourist destination! Before planning your trip in the winter time you should check the spring festival dates.

My first year in China I traveled to Beijing during the spring festival, and while it’s a big city with lots to do, places like the Forbidden City will be more crowded and harder to get tickets for.  If you plan to visit the Forbidden City, check out my Guide To Visiting the Forbidden City

3. Buy Your Train/Plane Tickets in Advance

If you are planning to travel to Beijing and to other cities during the Spring Festival, buy your train and plane tickets ahead of time to make sure they are not sold out.

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Things to Do in Beijing During Winter

1. Ice Skating on Shichahai Lake

In the winter time many lakes in Beijing will freeze over. You can go to Shichahai Lake (next to Shichahai Metro Station on Line 8) and rent skates for ice skating, or ride the ice bikes across the lake! Check the schedule first, but usually it’s open December – February. I went last year and plan to go ahead this year! Alternatively you can also go skating at the Summer Palace!

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2. Go To A Beijing Temple Fair

There are many temple fairs that happening in Beijing during the winter months, especially around the Spring Festival Time. A few popular temple fairs include the Ditan Temple Fair, the Dongyue Temple Fair, and the Old Summer Palace Temple Fair. At these Temple Fairs many people will come to pray and write down wishes, give offerings, watch performance, and try traditional snacks.

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3. Hike the Great Wall

The Great Wall is still amazing to see during the wintertime, especially if you’re lucky enough to catch it after a snowfall! Just take precaution when hiking if it’s snowy or icy, as it will be more slippery. I hiked the Jinshanling Section at sunrise this past year after a snowfall and it was unbelievably gorgeous.

I’ve been to 6 different sections of the Great Wall! If you’re not sure where to go, check out my guide for  Which Section of the Great Wall Is Best To Visit

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4. Eat Hot Pot in Beijing

The best way to combat the cold is to eat some warm hot pot with friends! It’s a fun Chinese experience you must try no matter what season you visit in, but it is especially nice during winter months. Haidilao is always a classic go-to hotpot chain in China, but you’ll find many other local Hot Pot restaurants, especially on Ghost Street.

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5. Watch an Acrobatic, Kungfu, or Opera Show

On a chilly Beijing night when you don’t feel like walking around, you can check out an acrobatic or Kungfu show in Beijing. If you need a contact you can add on May Zhang on Wechat.

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6. Go Skiing in Beijing

There are several great ski resorts close to Beijing. Many of them are very affordable and have a great equipment rental so you don’t need to worry about bringing your own. I have yet to try it, but have had many Beijing friends go during the winter time!

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7. Walk Around the Hutongs 

The hutongs are a local kind of Beijing housing style you must see in Beijing! In wintertime the hutongs are especially lovely. You can stroll around the streets and then stop in a coffee shops or local restaurant to warm up. If you’re lucky you’ll catch the hutongs after a snow fall! I recommend walking around Wudaoying Hutong, as it’s close to the Lama Temple and has many shops and cafes to stop inside. It’s also right next to very traditional hutong neighborhoods where you can walk and see where many local Beijing people live.

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8. Other Beijing Activities

There are many more activities and things to do in Beijing that are fun no matter what time of year you visit. Whether it’s the Temple of Heaven, walking around one of the many parks, visiting a cat cafe, trying Beijing local food, there are plenty of options!

For more things to do in Beijing, check out my list of the 25 Best Things To Do In Beijing.

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Beijing Winter Travel Guide

Winter time in Beijing is a fun and festive time where you can enjoy many special activities! For more information about traveling in Beijing and China check out my other posts:

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