Beijing is an immense city with almost 22 million residents, a city with a history more that started more than 3000 years ago. Beijing translates to Capital of the North (Bei means north and Jing means capital) and it has been the capital of China for more than 900 years.
You could easily spend months exploring Beijing and you will not have seen everything in this impressive and expansive city. Unfortunately, we had only three days to visit Beijing…
Nevertheless, I tried to fit in as much sightseeing as possible, while keeping our 10-month-old baby happy at the same time. In this guide, I’ll share everything you need to know about visiting Beijing with kids.
Beijing with kids: a complete guide
What is the best time to visit Beijing?
We visited Beijing at the end of May and it was already quite hot, around 30 degrees Celsius. Climbing the Chinese Wall with our baby in a baby carrier (read more below) was doable, but only just.
It was also scorching hot in the Forbidden City and old Beijing, which is why we shortened our sightseeing days a bit and spend a lot of time at the swimming pool in our wonderful hotel (more info further down in the post).
Personally, I think temperatures would have been perfect had we visited in April/start of May. Especially when you are traveling to Beijing with children, spring and autumn are the best time to visit. Winter is simply too cold and summer is way too hot.
Do I need a visa for Beijing?
That depends but most likely yes. We visited Beijing as part of our Trans Mongolia Express adventure and entered China via a land border (from Mongolia). Therefore, we needed a visa which we arranged in our home country before our departure.
Our Chinese visa were valid for 30 days and one single entry, costs were €126,55 per visa (yes, it’s expensive).
However, if you plan to visit Beijing for 144 hours or less and enter via Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK) you may qualify for the Transit Without a Visa” (TWOV) scheme. You can find more information about the (many) rules here.
Read more about planning a trip to China.
How to travel to Beijing?
As mentioned above, we traveled to Beijing by train on the Trans Mongolia Express. We started our trip in Moscow, along the way we stopped in Irkutsk and Ulan Bator. Our Trans Mongolia train trip ended at Beijing Railway Station.
However, most people arrive in Beijing by plane. Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK) is located approximately 30 km northeast of the center of Beijing.
How to get from Beijing airport to the city center?
We flew from Beijing to Jeju island in South Korea and traveled from Beijing city center to the airport with the Airport Express. Obviously you can also do this the other way around and travel with the airport express from the airport to Beijing.
The airport express is connected to the Beijing metro system, a ticket costs ¥25. Because of Beijing’s busy traffic, we preferred traveling by public transport instead of a taxi, despite the fact we had our baby in our Babyzen stroller and quite a lot of luggage.
Read more information about the Airport Express here.
How to get around Beijing?
Beijing public transport: metro
There is an extensive MRT network in Beijing that’s used by a staggering 10 million people every single day (and that number will only continue to increase).
Traveling on the Beijing metro is very cheap and this great app makes it very easy as well. However, it is also very busy.
Very. Very. Very. Busy.
Check out this article and video for an impression… It wasn’t that bad when we traveled to the airport by metro, however, it came quite close.
Important note: Beijing metro is NOT very stroller friendly. A lot of station do not have an elevator and involve riding many escalators and climbing many stairs.
To easily book a taxi without haggling or Chinese language skills, you can download the Didi app, which is similar to Uber. However, you do need a Chinese number for this to work.
The best things to do in Beijing with a baby: a 3 day itinerary
Summary of our 3 day Beijing itinerary
- Day 1: Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City
- Day 2: The Drum and Bell tower and hutongs of old Beijing
- Day 3: The Great Wall at Mutianyu
Beijing itinerary day 1
Is Tiananmen Square easy to visit with a baby?
Yes, it’s a big flat square so you can easily walk around with a stroller. However, it’s very hot in summer though and there is no shade.
Closest MRT stop: Qianmen
The Forbidden City
The Forbidden City is the largest palace complex in the world and you could easily walk around a whole day to explore everything. Because of the heat, we only spent one morning here but still managed to see several of the highlights, such as:
- The Gate of Supreme Harmony
- The Clock Exhibition Hall
- The Imperial Garden
We were also fascinated by the many amazing decorations, such as the Kneeling Elephants, the huge Water Vats and the beautiful Roof Guardians on the ornate and colorful roofs of the buildings in the Forbidden City.
Is the Forbidden City easy to visit with a baby?
Yes, it’s reasonably easy. Children smaller than 1.20m can access for free and there is a wheelchair accessible route through the Forbidden City which is also perfect for strollers.
There are some cobblestones that can be tricky to navigate, but in general, we were very happy we brought our awesome stroller as little D. slept through half his visit to the Palace Museum.
Keep in mind though that it’s very hot during the summer months. Luckily, there are shaded areas, as well as restaurants and cafes where you can but cold drinks, relax and cool off for a bit.
Strangely enough, we didn’t see a baby changing facility, despite the fact that there are many restrooms in the Forbidden City. It’s smart to bring your own portable changing pad so you only need to find an empty bench when you want to change your baby’s diaper).
Altogether, it’s very common and easy to visit the Forbidden City with kids. We saw lots of families there, from many different nationalities.
Entrance fee: ¥60 (between April and October. Between November and March, the price is ¥40. You can buy tickets online, though the website is in Chinese… We bought tickets onsite and had to wait in line for a bit at the ticket office.
Closest MRT stop: Tian’anmen East or Tian’anmen West
Beijing itinerary day 2
The Drum and Bell Tower
The Bell and Drum Towers are impressive historic buildings in the old city center of Beijing. They are located north of the Forbidden City and surrounded by hutongs (a maze of narrow streets and alleys).
The Drum Tower is 46.7 meters high and the Bell Tower is 47.9 meters high. You can access both towers, inside (as their names suggest) a huge drum and bell can be found.
Are the Bell and Drum Towers easy to visit with a baby?
Yes, however, both towers involve climbing steep steps so bring your baby carrier!
Entrance fee: ¥30 for a combination ticket which can be used to access both towers. If purchased separately, a ticket to the Bell Tower is ¥15, for the Drum Tower you pay ¥20.
Closest MRT stop: Shichahai station
Explore the Hutongs of Beijing
To get to know the old Beijing all you have to do is get ‘lost’ in the hutongs in the old city center. There are several around the Drum and Bell Tower, Beihai Park and Houhai Lake.
In the hutongs, you can find many small shops and cafes, but there are also many people living there, be careful not to accidentally stumble through someone’s yard!
Are Beijing’s hutongs easy to visit with a baby?
Yes, though sometimes the pavement is a bit rough and occasionally you’ll have to carry your baby stroller up a step or two.
Closest MRT stop: Shichahai is close to Beihai Park and from Nanluoguxiang station you can also explore a beautiful historic hutong (there is a guided walk in the China Lonely Planet.
Beijing itinerary day 3
A trip to the Great Wall at Mutianyu
A trip to the Great Wall of China is a must-do on any Beijing (family) itinerary! We choose to visit the section at Mutianyu, which is very well suited for families as there is a cable car going up to the Wall, so you don’t have to climb if your kids are too small to manage the many steps.
We did hike up (it takes approximately 30 minutes), but our 10-month-old baby boy was happy to sit in his baby carrier and point to all the green leaves (and the people around him, who invariably adored him and wanted to take a picture).
Is the Great Wall at Mutianyu easy to visit with a baby?
If you make the right preparations it’s not that difficult. I’d recommend booking a tour instead of traveling there independently as it makes the whole experience a lot easier. We were picked up from our hotel by a guide and driver.
Our guide Mr. Sunny knew his way around Mutianyu, bought our tickets, provided us with lunch and of course with lots of interesting facts about the Wall. He told us why it was built and how it became a 20.000-kilometer long construction in more than two millennia!
We saw several families with babies and small children, it’s definitely not uncommon to visit the Great Wall with kids.
Click here to book a tour to the Great Wall with Real Russia
Essential items when visiting the Great Wall with a baby
As I mentioned above, visiting the Great Wall with a baby isn’t difficult when you prepare well. There are several items I recommend you pack for your trip:
- An ergonomic baby carrier: there are lots of steps leading up to the Wall (though you can take a cable car as well). At the Wall itself there are also many steps between the watchtowers and uneven floors, so a stroller is just no good here.
- A hat and sunscreen: it was very hot when we visited, so bring a hat and sunscreen for your baby (and for yourself as well).
- Water: let your baby drink water/(breast)milk often. Again, it’s hot at the Wall.
- Your usual baby supplies: we put a couple of diapers, wet wipes and our portable changing pad in our backpack instead of the diaper bag we usually carry around. We climbed up a lot of steps and wanted to carry as little as possible (besides our baby;-).
How to get from Beijing to the Great Wall at Mutianyu?
Included in our tour was a pickup and drop off at our hotel. Despite this, our total travel time was 4 hours (2 hours to get to Mutianyu and 2 hours to get back). Traffic in Beijing is very busy, so even though Mutianyu isn’t far from Beijing (only 65km), traffic jams are common so it can take a lot of time to get to the Wall.
You can also reach Mutianyu by public transport, read more here.
More things to see and do in Beijing
If you have more time, there are lots of other things to do in Beijing, with or without kids, such as:
- The Summer Palace
- Jingshan Park
- The Lama Temple and the Confucius Temple
- The CCTV Headquarters Building
- Beijing Olympic Park (to check out the Birds Nest and Water Cube)
Where to stay in Beijing with a baby?
After our final leg on the Trans Mongolian Express, we were thrilled to check in to the Zhaolin Grand Hotel, a five-star hotel in Beijing.
We were all tired and sweaty from our journey, but as soon as we arrived at the Zhaolin Grand Hotel we felt like royals. This feeling lasted throughout our entire stay, just thinking back about our wonderful time at the Zhaolin makes me want to return…
Upon arrival, we were warmly welcomed by the staff and given a refreshment towel and freshly made watermelon juice. We were escorted to our room by Patrick, who answered every imaginable question we had during our stay (from ‘where can we buy a SIM card’ to ‘can we flush the toilet paper in the fancy automatic toilet’).
Patrick explained all the features of our beautiful and spacious room. My husband was immediately taken with the fact that everything in the room could be operated with one single remote (the curtains, lights, radio, tv, and air-conditioning).
Little D. quickly started roaming around and playing with the brightly colored unicorn he got as a gift from the hotel. And I admired the great view from our room while sipping on a cold beverage from our complimentary minibar.
As it had been a long day little D. was very tired and after a bath (in the provided baby bath with baby toiletries) he quickly fell asleep, so we ordered room service. The food was delicious and it wasn’t long after we finished our dinner that we fell asleep as well.
The next day we were in for another surprise: the amazing breakfast buffet! There was so much to choose from, I must have walked around for 10 minutes before I had seen all the options.
After installing baby D. in a baby highchair Frank and I took turns getting breakfast. And more breakfast. And more breakfast. Until we couldn’t possibly eat more. And still, we had only tried out a small section of the buffet. Luckily, we could try out more the next morning!
The Zhaolin Grand Hotel is a fantastic hotel for family travelers, everything you need for your kid(s) is provided. Amenities include:
- A baby crib
- A baby bath and baby toiletries
- A baby high chair in the restaurant
- A kids swimming pool (which has a temperature of 32 degrees and is very shallow)
- A kids play area
- A kids cinema
Baby D. couldn’t get enough of the swimming pool and the play area, there were so many toys he had never seen before!
For business travelers the hotel is perfect as well: on the top floor, there is a spacious executive lounge with conference facilities, a restaurant and a beautiful rooftop garden.
Interesting fact: more than 200 of the 500 largest companies worldwide have an office in the area surrounding the Zhaolin Grand Hotel.
After exploring the Forbidden City and walking around Beijing, we finally burned off our breakfast calories so it was time to enjoy more delicious food.
The All-Day Dining Restaurant in the Zhaolin Grand Hotel is one of the highest-rated buffet restaurants in Beijing and rightly so. If we felt like breakfast was extensive, dinner was even more lavish…
There was Thai food, Vietnamese food, Japanese food, Indian food, Chinese food (from different areas), a salad bar, an ice-cream bar, a chocolate fountain, a dessert bar and an entire section with freshly cooked seafood. In fact, 80% of the food was freshly prepared upon request and beautifully presented when it was brought to our table.
Our longtime dream to eat lobster finally came true, we had lobster with cheese well as grilled garlic lobster. I honestly can’t tell you which one I preferred as they were both insanely good.
I absolutely loved our stay at the Zhaolin Grand Hotel, not just because of the amazing facilities but also because of the wonderful staff. They all went out of their way to accommodate us and they adored little D.
Beijing with a baby: in conclusion
Altogether we had three wonderful days and I’d love to return for another family holiday in Beijing, there is so much more to see!
And even though the metro isn’t stroller approved, the rest of the city is very kid-friendly, especially the Chinese people themselves. They adore children and little D. was continuously the center of attention, smiling and waving his way through Beijing.
I hope you enjoyed this guide to Beijing with kids/a baby! If you have any questions, leave a comment or send me a message.
Also check out my other post about traveling the Trans Mongolian Express as a family:
- St. Petersburg with a baby
- Irkutsk and Lake Baikal itinerary with a baby
- What to do in Ulaanbaatar
- What to pack for a baby’s first trip
This post was updated in December 2020.