Historic Beijing has been at the heart of Chinese culture for more than a thousand years. And today's massive capital city is home to an endless array of palaces, pagodas, tombs, temples, and museums. Most ships will call here for several days, docking about an hour away in Tianjin. You'll need every minute in order to see even just a portion of the historic sites.
What We Love
798 Art District: Also known as the Dashanzi Art District, the area is a series of 50-year-old decommissioned military factory buildings built by the East Germans. Today, it houses studios, galleries, and events by the country's current artists including such internationally lauded masters as Ai Weiwei.
Great Wall of China: Beijing is the port for excursions to see parts of China’s famous 2,500-mile-long wall. Dating back more than 2,000 years, it was built to keep out invading Mongols. Today, it's a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Best Known For
Forbidden City: Beijing’s sprawling 15th-century palace compound is the city's marquee site. The largest royal residence in the world, the moat-ringed complex was home to the Ming and Qing dynasties. Guided tours visit the city highlights.
Tiananmen Square: This is the world's largest public square, and the site of the deadly pro-democracy protests of 1989. The architecture includes the grand Gate of Heavenly Peace and a granite obelisk known as the Monument to the People's Heroes.
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Who It's Best For
Asia-philes: Couples and singles of all ages interested in Asian history, art, culture, and food won’t be disappointed with Beijing and environs. The history here is multilayered and fascinating. And the antiquing is impressive.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Pollution: The air quality is often so poor that it can obstruct visibility. Pack a mask and check the pollution levels before disembarking.
Long Drives: Beijing is about 100 miles from the port of Tianjin where ships dock. Bus or taxi transfers to the city's main sights can take several hours.
Heidi Sarna is a Singapore-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has also written for Condé Nast Traveler and USA Today.