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Tiananmen Square

  • Beijing, China

Last updated: 16 April, 2024

This vast public space sits at the very heart of modern China, both literally and symbolically. It takes its name from the Gate of Heavenly Peace which divides the square in the north from the Forbidden City, and upon which Mao Zedong proclaimed the founding of the People’s Republic in 1949.

The socialist-realist Great Hall of the People, China’s most important government building, lines the western flank, facing the hulking National Museum across the square.

In the centre is Mao Zedong’s mausoleum and the Monument to the Peoples’ Heroes. Demarcating the southern boundary are the parallel Zhengyangmen and Arrow Tower city gates.

During the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s, rallies of up to a million Red Guards took place. In 1989, pro-democracy demonstrators took over the square for six weeks before the government’s brutal crackdown that sent shockwaves around the world.

While you’re there

Both the Gate of Heavenly Peace to the north of the square, and the Zhengyang Gate in the south, can be entered and climbed for sweeping views of Beijing’s grand central axis. There are historical exhibitions in both.

Who to go with: tour operators

5

Great Hall of the People

  • Beijing, China

Exterior of the Great Hall of the People building in Tiananmen Square, Beijing, lit up at night

Experience

Looking out over Tiananmen Square, this is China’s most iconic political building and the meeting place for the National People’s Congress. Inside, you can tour its vast Stalinist auditorium, complete with plexiglass red star in the ceiling. When it’s not in use, you can go in to see the vast Stalinist auditorium, complete with plexiglass red star in the ceiling.

Good for age: 18+

National Museum of China

  • Beijing, China

The National Museum of China on the east side of Tiananmen Square, one of the largest museum in the world

Experience

The National Museum of China contains a humongous cache of bronzes, ceramics, Buddhist art and jade dating back through the dynasties. The bombastic ‘Road to Rejuvenation’ exhibition traces China’s rise from the 1840-42 Opium War with Britain to the country’s 21st century space programme.

Adult price: £5

Good for age: 18+

Chairman Mao Memorial Hall

  • Beijing, China

Monument in front of Mao's Mausoleum on Tiananmen Square, China . Mao's body was embalmed and the construction of a mausoleum began shortly after his death.

Experience

Visitors line up in droves to shuffle past Mao’s embalmed corpse, on display in a mausoleum in the middle of Tiananmen Square. Guards keep the crowds moving through to the gift shop full of Mao-themed souvenirs.

Good for age: 18+

  • Beijing, China

Exterior of the palace complex

Bucket List Experience

Forbidden City

Built in the early 15th century, the Forbidden City is a vast palace complex of regal halls, ceremonial courtyards, gardens and living quarters, that served as the home of Chinese emperors and their households for 500 years. Behind its vermilion walls was a closed-off world of antique ritual and intrigue, where the ‘Son of Heaven’ was tended to by an army of servants, eunuchs and concubines.

Today the palace complex is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the world’s largest collection of heritage wooden buildings. Officially called the Palace Museum, many of the rooms have been given over to museum exhibits of imperial treasures, from priceless ceramics to Qing-dynasty furniture.

Its central location, historic importance and architectural beauty make this Beijing’s most popular site of interest for tourists.

Adult price: £6

Good for age: 13+

  • Beijing, China

North Gate and Wanchun Pavilion in Jingshan Park - Beijing, China

Bucket List Experience

Jingshan Park

Protecting the Forbidden City from icy winds and evil spirits, this 45m-high artificial hill is Beijing’s best park and a great vantage point, offering superb views over the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square beyond.

It was once part of Beijing’s imperial city, and is most famous as the site where the last Ming emperor hanged himself as peasant rebels stormed the capital in 1644.

The climb up to the ornate Wanchun Pavilion, the park’s most famous viewpoint, is relatively gentle, and on route you’re sure to pass groups of locals singing, dancing and playing music.

Adult price: £3

Good for age: 18+

Logistics

Price: Free
Minimum age: 0
Age suitable: 18+
When: All year around

Getting there & doing it

The Square itself is only accessible on foot. Take metro line 1 to either Tiananmen East or Tiananmen West stations, or metro line 2 to Qianmen station at the southern edge of the square. Alternatively, taxis will drop you approximately 150 metres from the Square on Dongchangan Dajie.

The imposing Forbidden City at the northern end is separated from the Square by the Dongchangan Dajie thoroughfare – an underground walkway connects these two attractions.

When to do it

Tiananmen Square opens every day before dawn for the flag-raising ceremony, and generally closes after the flag-lowering ceremony at sunset.

Expect security checks, and bring your passport. Note that the square may be closed without warning on politically-sensitive dates.

The biting cold winds and freezing weather from December to March are best avoided unless you are wrapped up in arctic gear.

Who to go with: organised tours

9

Our selection of the best Viator tours of this attraction or activity

  • Beijing

This private day highlight tour will show you 3 most popular and must see attractions in Beijing, including Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City and Mutianyu Great Wall. Private transfer, entrance fee, round way cable car or toboggan tickets on the Great Wall and lunch are inclusive. Come and enjoy this wonderful day trip to get to know some interesting stories about this amazing city.

Price $208

Min age 0

Rating 4.95 / 5 [616 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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  • Beijing

Join the worry-free Beijing mini group day tour with Price Beat Guarantee and No Shopping Promise. Start with a morning walk through the Tiananmen Square, and skip the ticket line to visit the 600-year-old imperial Forbidden City. Enjoy the 2 to 3 hours' hiking on the Mutianyu Great Wall. Lastly stop by the bustling Nanluoguxiang Hutong at night. · Mini group of only 1 to 6 members, with more personal service. · No shopping detours, no factory, no tea ceremony and no shopping site restaurant, which at least save you two hours today for a pure sightseeing experience. That's the reason why you can have more time at the attraction sites. This tour are running for guests' interests rather than the shopping commission. · Avoid the ticket line at the entrance of all attractions. · Professional English-speaking guide offers in-depth commentary and photography inspirations.

Price $139

Min age 0

Rating 4.94 / 5 [609 ratings]

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  • Beijing

See all of Beijing’s cultural and historical highlights on a comprehensive and captivating full-day tour of China’s capital city. Stroll amid the majestic charm of Tiananmen Square; marvel at the imaginative architecture at the Forbidden City; and see the verdant splendor that surrounds the Badaling Great Wall of China. Alongside your knowledgeable guide, gain fascinating insight into the rich history and distinctive culture of Beijing and enjoy convenient round-trip transportation from selected hotels. •Full-day tour of Beijing's essential attractions: Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City and Great Wall at Badaling •Visiting one of the best preserved sections of the Great Wall of China at Badaling •Shopping at the Longdi Jade Factory •Pickup and drop off from hotels within 4th ring circle road •Important Notice: For any bookings within 3 days prior to the tour date, you will visit Jingshan Park instead of Forbidden City if the entrance tickets of Forbidden City are fully booked.

Price $99

Min age 0

Rating 4.16 / 5 [218 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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  • Beijing

This 8-hour tour covers the most highlights in Beijing including Tian’anmen Square, Forbidden City & Mutianyu Wall. Picking up and dropping off at the downtown hotel by your personal experienced English speaking tour guide and the package tour will include the entrance tickets to the Forbidden City and Mutianyu Wall with round shuttle bus and Local Chinese Lunch and round cable car up and down the wall or chairlift up and toboggan down the wall are all inclusive.

Price $205

Min age 0

Rating 4.99 / 5 [139 ratings]

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  • Beijing

This private day tour is a comprehensive introduction to the most popular attractions in Beijing. Spend a day exploring Tian'anmen Square, Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven and enjoy a boat ride at the Summer Palace. See Beijing's famous Olympic stadiums, the Bird’s Nest and the Water Cube. The package includes transportation to and from these popular landmarks and a delicious lunch of Peking Roast Duck.

Price $185

Min age 3

Rating 4.78 / 5 [102 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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