Tiananmen Square (literally "Square of the Gate of Heavenly Peace") is one of the largest public squares in the world. It lies at the center of the historical north-south axis that runs through the Temple of Heaven and the Forbidden City. The Square is in front of the Forbidden City and has a number of sights of its own, including the Monument to the People's Heroes, the Great Hall of the People, the National Museum of China, and the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong. The history, cultural, and political significance of the square makes it a must-visit sight in Beijing.
Located at the very center of downtown Beijing, Tiananmen Square can be reached on Subway line 1 via Tiananmen East and Tiananmen West stations.
A vast landscape of paving stones, Tiananmen Square can hold over one million people. In addition to the simply awe-inspiring space, the square is an ideal place to take pictures of Tiananmen Gate (the "Gate of Heavenly Peace"), one of the most symbolic buildings in China.
Other highlights of a trip to Tiananmen Square include the flag raising and lowering ceremonies at sunrise and sunset, respectively, as well as the changing of the guard at specific times throughout. Be aware that these ceremonies are incredibly popular with domestic Chinese tourists and it is often difficult to secure a really good position to view the ceremony.
Chinese tourists from around the country descend on Tiananmen Square to take their photos in front of the portrait of Chairman Mao. Some of these tourists are from distant rural areas and may rarely see non-Asian faces in their hometown, so be prepared that some of them may take photos of you without asking or ask you to take photos with them. Nevertheless, people are generally very friendly and respectful.
Note that walking around the square can be extremely hot during the summer as there are no trees and no shade. So remember to wear a hat, apply sunscreen, and bring a bottle of water. There are shops and toilets around the perimeter of the square. If you need to buy a bottle of water or go to the bathroom, do so before entering the square.
All visitors to Tiananmen Square must enter from one of several specific entry points, all of which have airport-level security, including metal detectors and x-ray machines. You may be asked for ID, so it is advisable to bring your passport. There is also a high police presence, which makes the square feel very safe.
Most people visit Tiananmen Square on their way to the Forbidden City, and the two sights can be done together in a morning or afternoon.
Opening hours: 05:00-10:00
Average time needed for this activity: 1 hour
The best time to visit Tiananmen Square are at sunrise or sunset, when the guards raise and lower the national flag. During holidays like National Day or May Day, Tiananmen Square is decorated with beautiful flower beds, which makes for a good photo opportunity. However, the square will also be very crowded at this time of year. The square is also very impressive at night time when the surrounding buildings are illuminated.