Beijing Top Ten
The Olympics has catapulted Beijing into a top destination to visit. Here is our guide to the top ten must-sees in Beijing.
Published 10 August 2008 in Travel Articles
1. Great Wall of China
The wall is crumbling and some segments have been restored with four main sites available from Beijing: Badaling, Mutianyu, Huanghua Cheng and Simatai.
Mutianyu: 56 miles (90 km) North of Beijing. Bus 6 from Xuanwu Men
Huanghua Cheng: 37 miles (60 km) North of Beijing
2. The Forbidden City - Gu Gon in Chinese - aka Palace Museum
This rectangular-shaped monument is located in the middle of Beijing, north of Tiananmen Square and is an exemplary example of traditional Chinese palatial architecture. It is laid out over a huge area of 720,000 square metres that has over 800 buildings and 9999.5 rooms (because only heaven could have 10,000 rooms).
Although this is the historic heart of the Chinese Empire dating back to the 15th century, most of the buildings now date back to the 18th century. The city wall is red, but, as yellow is the symbol of the royal family, the Fobidden City is mostly yellow. Roofs are built with yellow glazed tiles, decorations are in yellow and so is the ground.
It was declared a World Heritage Site in 1987 and is listed by UNESCO as the largest collection of preserved ancient wooden structures in the world.
Address: Jingshan Front Street, Dongcheng District
3. Ming Tomb (13 Tombs in Ming Dynasty)
Each emperor's tomb was built at the foot of a separate small hill, but they share a main road called the Sacred Way, and visitors are allowed to walk along its 7 km (4.3 miles) if they wish. Spirit Way is part of this approach and is lined with 18 pairs of giant guardians.
Getting there: Tourist bus routes 1,2,3,4,5. Bus 845 from Xizhi Men (near subway) to Zhengfa Daxue in Changping then a taxi or bus 314 to Da Gong Men.
4. Tian'anmen Square
Tian'anmen Square is circled by Tian'anmen (Gate of Heaven Peace) on its north; the Great Hall of the People on its west; on the east lies the National Museum of China. There are Monument to the People's Heroes and Chairman Mao's Mausoleum on the south.
Tourists and locals mingle here and kite fliers use it to enjoy their sport. This is also where national celebrations are held and where leaders address their people. To give you an idea of size, there are lampposts kitted with megaphones so that crowds of 10,000 people can hear. You can visit the balcony that speakers use (for a small fee) and from here you will get a lovely view over the square. At night the square is lit up giving off a lovely glow.
At sunrise and sunset, the Chine flag, located at the northern end of the square, is raised and lowered by a squad of military men of the People's Liberation Army (PLA). Traffic is halted for the occasion and many come to view, so get there early to get a pitch with a good view. You can enter the square freely until 10.30pm.
Getting There: Bus No.1, 2, 4, 5, 10, 20, 52, 57, 22, 54, 120, 802, special bus No.1 and get off Zhongshan Park stop or Tian An Men stop. Subway: Tian'anmen Xi or Tian'an Men Dong or Qian Men
5. Temple of Heaven (Tiantan)
The park has a large tower made from wood without nails and a thousand species of trees, some over 600 hundreds of years old. Locals go there to practise martial arts and play chess.
There is also an echo wall built in a complete circle. If you stand by the wall, the words are carried along the wall and can be heard on the other side.
6. Summer Palace
Pride of place is the huge lake and a promenade encircling it. There are towers, halls and temples that climb the hillside if you do to you will get a fabulous view over the lake and its environs. You can rent an electric powered boat or join a group on teh dragon boat. Boat rides stop at 4.30pm.
Entry: RNB 50 April-October, RNB 40 Novenber to March. Audio guides are available for RNB 30
7. Underground City
It was designed to house 40% of the capital's population who would have access to shops, restaurants, clinics, schools, theatres, reading rooms and even hairdressers. A mushroom cultivation farm was also installed to grow foods that require little light.
8. Wangfuijing Dajie (Street)
Shops include food stalls, department stores, Chinese art, silk, tea and souvenir shops. Don't forget to pop into the chopstick shops. At night all the neons light up the streets and some shops stay open to 9pm. The highlight is the night market offering a range of open-air food stalls.
To the north is city's most important church, the triple-domed, Baroque style St Joseph's Church. It is also known as the East Cathedral. First built in 1655 t was renovated a few times after a fire, an earthquake and destruction during the Boxing Rebellion. It's recent renovation cost over US$2million. It is approached by a gateway and piazza and beautifully lit up at night.
Getting there: Subway Wangfujing
9. CCTV Tower
Getting there: The tower is in the western suburbs of Beijing and can be reached by subway by getting off at the Gong Zhu Fen (110) Line 1 station and walking north 15 to 20 minutes. Alternatively you can get a taxi.
10. Beijing Zoo
Address: 131 Xi Zhi Men Wai Avenue, Xi cheng District, Beijing, 100044, Tel: +86 10 6831 4411
HAVE YOU BEEN TO BEIJING. DO YOU AGREE WITH OUR TOP TENS? LET US KNOW.
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