I really like Beijing for a few days. I reckon the perfect things to do there are:
Stay in a great hotel! Beijing is cheap with heaps of 5 star hotels virtually empty, so you can get a great rate and it will take your mind off the pollution. Go on treat yourself – you deserve it. We stayed at the Sofitel Wanda.
Eat fabulous food! including a Beijing duck, you must go to Da Dong. It’s a fantastic yummy restaurant. Try to book a table around the fish ponds and duck ovens. We had duck, delicious vegetarian dishes, champagne and cute deserts that looked like dandelions and it all came to under $60 U.S. That’s another bonus about visiting China: the food is great and cheap so, you can live like kings on workers wages. Do some web research and find other restaurants to go to before you get there. The link I made for Da Dong, has other great global and Beijing restaurants in it too. Time Out is another good resource.
Walk the wall. Stay at the Commune By The Great Wall for at least a night if you have time. They have a shuttle that can pick you up from town. They have yummy, delectable restaurants, Chinese and western. The rooms are pretty cool and they have a private access to the wall. They will organize a picnic for you and you can go early morning and use it as your step work-out. The Aman in Beijing is really nice too if you have more money to splash around. Otherwise beware, if you do an organised wall trip: there are millions of tourists traipsing it. We passed sections of it that looked more like a trip from hell covered in people looking like ants, rather than the fun experience it should be! At the Commune, you will find no one, just you and the lonely stone steps and you will find your mind tripping off into fantasies of history.
798 Art District is a must: Dashanzi 798 Art District. Even if you are not that interested in art, it’s fascinating to see the old working factory area blended together with new art galleries, shops and quirky cafes. There’s heaps to do, look at one art gallery after the other, do some shopping and buy unique alternatives gifts, have lunch… Great for a whole morning or afternoon.
Silk Market. If you have time, go and buy some funky pearls. I love the ones that are huge and colored. Make sure you bargain. Start by cutting the price in half. It is so cheap your going to be jumping with joy with your new found treasures.