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Bucket list experience:

Last updated: 29 May, 2023
Expert travel writer: Thomas O’Malley

Beijing is a great place to take your first forays into China’s traditional performing arts.

Most famous is Jingju (Peking opera), staged regularly at specialist theatres, and even with its own national TV channel. Wearing symbolic outfits and make-up, performers sing at a piercing pitch backed by a percussive ensemble of gongs, drums, and clappers.

More accessible is zaji (Chinese acrobatics), thought to be 2,000 years old. Venues like the Chaoyang Theater stage nightly shows where youthful troupes demonstrate feats of almost superhuman agility.

Touring martial arts shows are also popular, often performed by Shaolin monks.

Price from: £40
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 13+
When: All year around
Duration: 2-3 hours

Getting there & doing it

Some acrobatic shows and opera performances are targeted at tourists and tour groups – these are generally the easiest to book, either via an online agent such as Theatre Beijing or through your hotel. Prices can vary considerably for the same show so shop around for the best deal, and don’t be afraid to haggle.

One advantage of choosing a more touristy opera performance is the likelihood of having English subtitles.

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

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Our writer’s picks of the best places to stay near this experience, closest first

The Opposite House

Beijing, China[1.6 miles]

Modish design hotel combining Kengo Kuma’s architectural invention with contemporary interiors and top dining.

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The Orchid

Beijing, China[2 miles]

Easy-going boutique hideaway with an authentic hutong setting. Houhai Lake is a short walk away, and breakfasts feature artisanal, locally-sourced ingredients.

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Mandarin Oriental Wangfujing

Beijing, China[3.4 miles]

Palatial guest rooms and Forbidden City views make this Beijing’s best hotel for a special occasion splurge. Its Wangfujing location puts the city’s central sights within walking distance.

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Peninsula Beijing

Beijing, China[3.5 miles]

Enjoying a central location and huge, all-suite rooms, the long-established Peninsula is a safe bet for a holiday splurge.

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