Obama is due to meet new Indonesian President Joko Widodo during the morning, and then address an Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) meeting in the Chinese capital.
The president descended from Air Force One on an Air China staircase and was met by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, before walking briskly past a Chinese honour guard and being driven away.
In Beijing, Obama will seek to reassure Asian nations of America’s commitment to the region at a time when China’s rising profile creates economic opportunity for its neighbours, but also trepidation about Beijing’s desire to exert more influence abroad.
After a formal meeting with leaders of the 21-member APEC on Tuesday, Obama will stay on for a state visit to China including talks with President Xi Jinping amid a range of tensions.
He will then travel to Myanmar to attend the East Asia Summit, held on the sidelines of a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), before heading for G20 talks in Brisbane, Australia.
Obama will also meet regional allies including Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Japanese premier Shinzo Abe during the tour.
The president comes fresh from a major election setback at home and assailed on all sides by global crises, from Islamic militants in Iraq and Syria to the conflict in Ukraine and the deadly spread of the Ebola virus.
Russian President Vladimir Putin will be present in Beijing and Brisbane, but the Kremlin said last week that no meeting between him and Obama had yet been scheduled.
Relations are at the lowest since the Cold War, with Russia under US-backed Western sanctions over its seizure of the Crimea this year and its role in the separatist war in eastern Ukraine-AFP