Tiananmen Square

Price guide: Free

West Chang'an Avenue, Dongcheng District, Beijing

Price guide: Free

Waiting for the flag lowering ceremony
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By Tom O'Malley, your Beijing expert

I write for Travel and Leisure (SE .... Read more
#7 of 20
expert-rated things to do in Beijing
Expert overall rating:4.4 out of 5
Value for money:
Recommended for:
Backpackers / Students, First-time travellers, Design and architecture, History, People watching

Expert review of Tiananmen Square

Not the most welcoming of public squares, but this iconic expanse of concrete is a must-visit.

For tourists and revolutionaries, the main reason to visit Tiananmen Square is for that photo – the giant portrait of Chairman Mao on the Gate of Heavenly Peace (the entrance to the Forbidden City), flanked by two slogans that read 'Long Live the People's Republic of China' and 'Long Live the Unity of the Peoples of the World'. But the Great Helmsman isn’t the only one watching over the hordes of visitors. Hundreds of police and plain clothes security men scan the crowds for undesirables or activists, which lends the square an atmosphere of muted hostility.

On the northwest edge stands the imposing Great Hall of the People and opposite is the newly opened National Museum of China, reportedly the world’s largest museum under one roof showcasing the achievements of the PRC with all the bad bits taken out. For me, the best time to visit is around sunset to watch the flag lowering ceremony. A startling display of Communist pomp, guards apparently march at exactly 108 steps per minute, but I’m not counting.

Price advice: 

Free, but it costs 15 RMB to climb up Tiananmen Tower.

Expert tips: 
Watch out for friendly, English-speaking Chinese ‘students’ flogging over-priced art, or friendly tourists inviting you for afternoon tea. Scammers, one and all.

More information on Tiananmen Square:

Price guide:
Historic site, Square
West Chang'an Avenue, Dongcheng District, Beijing
Months open:
All year round
Opening times:
5am-8pm (changes seasonally depending on sunrise time)

Have you been to Tiananmen Square? Would you recommended it?