11 Free Things to Do in Beijing 🆓 (for 2022)

Free Things to Do in Beijing – Your Ultimate Guide to Save Money

Everyone loves free stuff and we’re no exception to that, so we were inspired to bring you the best free things to do in Beijing this year!

This is an amazing city; there are tonnes of things to do in Beijing in your free time away from learning mandarin and working.

Student common area
Our students in Beijing

If you’re on a tight budget this will be especially useful, and if not then hopefully we can encourage you to try something new.

Free things for during the day:

Free Things in Beijing – Check out the Beijing Skylines

Free Things in Beijing – Take a Stroll in a Park

Free Things in Beijing – Explore the Hutongs and Houhai

Free Things in Beijing – Learn Something New at a Museum

Free Things in Beijing – Window Shop at an Antique Market

Free Things in Beijing – Get Cultural at 798 Art District

Free things for during the evening:

Free Things in Beijing – Enjoy Free Drinks at Ladies Night

Free Things in Beijing – Try Something New at Modernista

Free Things in Beijing – Listen to Live Music at a Hotel Bar

Free Things in Beijing – Dancing at Migas Mercado

Bonus – Take Advantage of Daily Deals

Free Things in Beijing – Check out the Beijing Skylines

Beijing Skyline's with All The Rooms
Beijing Skyline’s with All The Rooms

Beijing is a huge city, there are endless sights to see and many of them you can enjoy for free.

So no matter what the day, or the weather there is always something to take your breath away!

Rather than us give you a list, we’ll hand over to our friends at All The Rooms who have given their favourite Beijing Skyline’s you must see!

Free Things in Beijing – Take a Stroll in a Park

If there is one thing Beijing has a lot of, it’s parks and a lot of them are actually free!

There are quite a few small, local parks that are free such as Tunjiehu Park (团结湖公园 tuánjié hú gōngyuán) or Ritan Park (日坛公园 rì tán gōngyuán).

These are great places to go for a quiet stroll or to take in some Chinese culture. Parks like these are always popular with locals so they’re an ideal spot for some people watching.

However, it’s not only the smaller parks that are free, in fact Beijing’s biggest park the Olympic Forest Park (奥林匹克森林公园 àolínpǐkè sēnlín gōngyuán) is also completely free!

As the name suggests, the beautiful forest scenery make this one of the best parks to come to escape the city and get back to nature 🌲.

Our guide to the best 15 parks in Beijing is actually broken down by price, starting with the free ones so make sure to check it out!

Free Things in Beijing – Explore the Hutongs and Houhai

One of the things that Beijing is most famous for is its traditional Hutongs (胡同 hútòng) and courtyards (四合院 sìhéyuàn).

Free-things-to-do-in-Beijing

In case you didn’t know Hutong is the name given to narrow alleys, lanes or streets that link courtyards which were the traditional homes of Beijingers in the past.

The hutongs are a great place to experience and see some traditional Beijing culture and being completely free to explore makes them even better!

In central Beijing there are two main hutong areas, one is the area north of the Forbidden City which is Shichahai and Gulou.

The other area is south of the Forbidden City which is Qianmen and Dashilar.

My personal favourite area is Gulou, which includes Houhai as well. Wandering around the hutongs and Houhai is a great free way to spend the afternoon.

If you do want to spend a bit of money there are plenty of great hutong bars, or another great option is renting a boat on Houhai. Or if it’s winter skating on Houhai is also pretty cheap!

Free Things in Beijing – Learn Something New at a Museum

In Beijing there are quite a few museum which are completely free so why not take the opportunity to learn something new!

Free-things-to-do-in-Beijing

A definite must visit on the list of free museums is the National Museum of China. This museum is formed of two separate museums: the Museum of the Chinese Revolution and the National Museum of Chinese History.

Any history buffs out there will love this museum and could easily spend half a day exploring the exhibitions.

The museum is located on the east side of Tiananmen Square and just across of the Great Hall of People.

However, if history isn’t really your thing there are plenty of other free museums you can visit too:

  • Military Museum of the Chinese People’s Revolution
  • Lao She Memorial Hall
  • Capital Museum
  • Beijing Museum of Natural History
  • National Art Museum of China
  • China National Film Museum

Important reminder: Although these museums are all free some require you to book a free ticket online in advance and most of them require you to bring your passport with you to be allowed entry.

Free Things in Beijing – Window Shop at an Antique Market

It should come as no surprise that Beijing has a number of antique markets where you can see everything from traditional Chinese porcelain, copies of Mao’s red book or a lucky cat toy.

Free-things-to-do-in-Beijing

If you are able to resist the temptation of buying something and are happy just to window shop then one of Beijing’s antique markets is a great free activity for you!

My personal favourite has to be Panjiayuan (潘家园旧货市场 pān jiāyuán jiù huò shìchǎng). This huge market has over 3,000 dealers who pedal wares from all over China.

There are so many different antiques and displays of traditional Chinese handicrafts that walking round you’ll feel like you’re in a museum.

If you’re looking for somewhere a bit smaller and less busy here are a few other recommendations:

  • Liulichang Antiques Street
  • Baoguosi Cultural Market
  • Beijing Curio City
  • Liangma Antique Market

Free Things in Beijing – Get Cultural at 798 Art District

For any expats living in Beijing a great free way to spend a day of is by culturally enlightening yourself by visiting the many Art Galleries in 798.

Beijing 798 Art District
Beijing 798 Art District

The area also has lots of nice cafes, restaurants and shops.

Most of the galleries are free of charge or cost 2-10 RMB to enter, which makes it great if you’re looking to do some sightseeing on a budget.

If art galleries aren’t really your thing, then that’s no problem you can just enjoy a stroll around the area.

One of the best things about the 798 Art District is that the art isn’t just limited to galleries but is part of the area itself. Numerous eye catching sculptures, graffiti and murals will greet you as you walk around.

Free Things in Beijing – Enjoy Free Drinks at Ladies Night

Sorry to any men out there, but this one is only free for ladies!

Free-things-to-do-in-Beijing

There are numerous bars in Beijing that will do a special ladies night once a week when women can drink for free.

Normally this only applies to certain drinks and each night will only run for a certain time, however there are so many options I’m sure you’ll find the perfect one for you!

Here are a few of the best deals to be had:

Beersmith

  • Day: Every Wednesday
  • Time: 17:00 – 21:00
  • Deal: Free flow beer and cider
  • Location: The ground floor of Hotel Jen, (by the China World Mall), 1 Jianguomenwai Dajie, Chaoyang District

XL

  • Day: Every Wednesday
  • Time: 21:00 – 00:00
  • Deal: Free flow wine and signature cocktails
  • Location: 1-022 Bo Jun South, Shoukai Real Estate in Xindong Lu, Chaoyang District
Free-things-to-do-in-Beijing
El Barrio rooftop

El Barrio

  • Day: Every Thursday
  • Time: 17:30 – 22:30
  • Deal: Free flow prosecco
  • Location: 2nd Floor, Nali Patio, 81 Sanlitun Road, Chaoyang District (only available on the roof)

Top Tapas

  • Day: Every Thursday
  • Time: 18:00 – 22:00
  • Deal: Free flow margaritas
  • Location: 3rd floor of the InterContinental, 1 Sanlitun Nanlu, Chaoyang District

MEI Bar

  • Day: Every Thursday
  • Time: 21:00 – 23:00
  • Deal: Free flow champagne and signature cocktails
  • Location: 5th floor of the Rosewood Hotel, Jing Guang Centre, Hujialou, Chaoyang District

Atmosphere

  • Day: Every Thursday
  • Time: 18:00 – 20:00
  • Deal: Free flow cosmopolitans
  • Location: 80th floor of the China World Tower, inside the Shangrila Hotel, 1 Jianguomenwai Dajie, Chaoyang District

Free Things in Beijing – Try Something New at Modernista

Modernista is a great bar and music venue nestled away in the hutongs.

Its hutong location gives it a real China feel. I’d call it a real Beijing hutong gem.

Throughout the week they have a variety of free classes and events which you can join:

Drinks in Beijing after studying Chinese
Drinks at Modernista after studying Chinese

Sunday: Jazz Night – If you’re an expat working here and you’re looking for some fun evening things to do in Beijing then you might want to spend a quiet Sunday listening to some live jazz.

Monday: Salsa – Now this one isn’t actually 100% free, entrance is 50 RMB, however it does include a free drink so it’s not a bad deal! They have a beginners class and intermediate class every week with a Latin Night afterwards.

Tuesday: Drink and Draw – This is a free weekly drawing event, it’s not a class but more of a relaxed space for creativity. Every week there are different models and themes, and sometimes also performances.

Free things to do in Beijing - Swing Dancing
Free things to do in Beijing – Swing Dancing

Wednesday: Swing Dancing – Another event that will help you shake it up is their swing dance night.

Dancing starts at 8:30 pm and it’s the perfect opportunity to get into the 1930’s vintage atmosphere. There is also a weekly balboa class before the dancing starts, however that has to be paid for.

Address: 44 Baochao Hutong, Gulou Dongdajie, Dongcheng District

Free Things in Beijing – Listen to Live Music at a Hotel Bar

If you’re looking for an impressive place to be little bit more fancy than usual but with quality music then you might want to check out some of Beijing’s hotel bars.

For most of these bars entrance is free and they all have a house band that plays most nights.

Here are a few of the best spots:

  • Centro – located on the ground floor of the Kerry Hotel.
  • Beersmith – located on the ground floor of Hotel Jen (by the China World Mall)
  • MEI Bar – located on the 5th floor of the Rosewood Hotel
  • Atmosphere – located on the 80th floor of the China World Tower, inside the Shangrila Hotel.

Be mindful that at most of these bars the price range is pretty similar to all hotel bars, for example a cocktail will cost around 100 RMB. However, if you just want a place to wiggle your hips then these are the places for you!

Free Things in Beijing – Dancing at Migas Mercado

Migas Mercado is the newest trending restaurant in Beijing’s CBD area with a bit of a pricey menu.

CCTV Building Beijing
CCTV Building Beijing

If you’re not a fan of Spanish cuisine, then no problem as Migas offers free Kizomba lessons every Tuesday night from 9pm.

I’ve personally been to few of their classes and assure you that even if you’re not into Latin dancing it is still a lot of fun.

You’ll meet plenty of new people and will generally have a great time be it just watching or dancing with different partners all night long.

They also offer happy hour every day from 3-7 pm on cocktails and wine, just 35 RMB/glass. Nice view of the CCTV is included!

Around The World In One Afternoon: The Beijing World Park Thumbnail

Around The World In One Afternoon: The Beijing World Park

Around The World In One Afternoon: The Beijing World Park What do Stonehenge, the White House, the Taj Mahal and Neuschwanstein Castle have in common? You can find all these famous sights – just slightly smaller in size – in…

Bonus: Take Advantage of Daily Deals

Ok, so this one isn’t completely free, however many restaurants and bars have amazing daily deals which make them a great option for those on a budget.

Free-things-to-do-in-Beijing

We’ve picked out a couple of our favourite places that have regular deals for you to take advantage of:

Side Street

  • Deals:
    • Monday – 2 for 1 burgers (when you buy an alcoholic drink)
    • Tuesday – 1/2 price wings
    • Wednesday – 2.5 hours free flow wine for 129 RMB
    • Friday – 3 hours of free flow aperol spritz 180 RMB
  • Location: 113-02 Jiaodaokou Dongdajie, Dongcheng District

Q Mex

  • Deals:
    • Monday – 1/2 price burritos
    • Tuesday – 1/2 price pizzas
    • Wednesday – 1/2 price nachos
    • Thursday – 1/2 price steak, ribs and chicken
  • Location: Courtyard 4, Gongti Beilu, Chaoyang District

These are the deals for the Sanlitun location of Q Mex, each venue has different daily deals.

The Local

  • Deals:
    • Monday – 1/2 price pizzas
    • Tuesday – buy one get one free taco sets
    • Wednesday – wings 4 RMB each (with any drink order)
    • Friday – fish and side dish for 68 RMB
  • Location: Courtyard 4, Gongti Beilu, Chaoyang District

Free Things in Beijing – FAQ’s

How big is Beijing?

Pretty big! As of 2019 the area and population are as follows:

Area: 16,808 km²

Population: 21.54 million

Where do most foreigners hang out in Beijing?

Sanlitun is a common meeting ground for foreigners in Beijing, but areas also include Gulou (at night) and Shichahai (near Houhai Lake)

Can I get western food in Beijing?

Absolutely, there are a load of choices to eat western in Beijing.

Do locals speak English in Beijing?

Mostly not, but there are some who will. Your life becomes instantly easier if you speak Chinese in Beijing.

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