Beijing is China’s capital city, and one of the great ancient capitals of the world. It is a treasure chest of China’s historical majesty. While the culture of China is defined throughout Beijing’s monuments, palaces and tombs, the beauty of this modern city perfectly illustrates its economic power. Beijing is one of the most popular tourist destinations around the world.
Beijing’s Leading Attractions
The Great Wall of China
The Great Wall of China is a historical wall that has proven to be one of the most toured areas of China. Built of stone slabs and granite stone, the great wall was constructed over 2,000 years ago to protect China’s empire against intrusions. The wall protected over 4,000 miles of its border and was once manned by as many as two million soldiers. Although time has taken a toll on a large part of the Great Wall, tourist sections north of Beijing have been preserved and some areas have undergone reconstruction. The most popularly toured section is Badaling Great Wall. This area is one of the best preserved and functional remains of the Great Wall.
Allow at least 2 ½ hours to tour and wear comfortable shoes.
The Forbidden City
The Forbidden City was an inner city composed of palaces, courtyards and structures for the imperials. It is the finest of China’s imperial palaces in regards to preservation. The Forbidden City consists of 90 palaces and courtyards, and is the largest ancient structure in the world. The “city” renders 980 buildings and over 8,700 rooms. Extensive brick walkways guide you through the outer court and to the inner palaces.
The outer court is made up of three primary buildings: The Hall of Supreme Harmony, the Hall of Central Harmony, and the Hall of Preserving Harmony. These three halls were used mainly for grand ceremonies and state affairs of the emperors. The Hall of Supreme Harmony is the largest building in The Forbidden City.
The inner court is also comprised of three main buildings: The Palace of Heavenly Peace, the Palace of the Union, and Peace and the Palace of Terrestrial Tranquility. Most of the remaining palaces inside the inner court were once the living and working quarters of the emperors and concubines.
Set aside at least one day to tour The Forbidden City and wear comfortable shoes.
The Imperial Garden
The lavish Imperial Garden is a haven for tourists as it contains more than 20 different structures composed of pavilions, terraces, rockeries, towers and flower beds that offer a colorful foray of photographic memories. The garden was a private retreat for the imperial family, thus the “Imperial Garden”. It’s serves as a beautiful resting spot for tourists.
Plan to spend anywhere from one hour to several hours at the Imperial Garden. Wear comfortable shoes.
Prepare yourself for the enchantment of The Summer Palace. It is located northwest of central Beijing and is one of the most preserved imperial gardens in the world. This beautiful garden is an expansive expression of China’s creative artwork. The Summer Palace has a blend of natural landscape combined with artificial features such as pavilions, halls, palaces, temples and bridges. The natural and artificial characteristics were designed to achieve a sense of peace and harmony.
Allow at least one-half day for touring and wear comfortable shoes.
Temple of Heaven
The Temple of Heaven is a sacred temple and the most holy of Beijing Imperial temples. Each year during winter solstice, the Emperor would come to the Temple of Heaven to worship heaven and pray for a good harvest. Several design features, such as a circle and square were used to represent and reflect the connection of heaven and earth.
Allow at least 2 to 2 ½ hours to tour and wear comfortable shoes.
Shopping in Beijing
Beijing offers a metropolis of outdoor markets that provides every item of the imagination and more; from jewelry and antiques, to clothing and art. If you are intent on genuine articles, beware as many items are imitation.
Expect winters to be cold and dry (October – March). Summers are typically hot, humid and wet (June – August). June through August is considered the best time to visit Beijing, although September – November has the best weather and fewer tourists.
In autumn, jeans and long sleeves or a sweater should keep you comfortable. In the warmer months, T-shirts and light pants or shorts are the best, along with rain wear and an umbrella. During the summer be sure to have sunscreen and protective eyewear, such as sunglasses. During the colder months, dress in layers to help keep you warm.
Beijing being the nation’s capital, transportation is not an issue. You’re options are open as you can travel by bus, train, taxi, and subway, to name a few. There are numerous buses used for sightseeing only and are often included in many travel packages.
Special for 2009
July 22, 2009 there will be a total solar eclipse in China. This will be the longest eclipse of the 21st century, estimated at 6 minutes and 39 seconds!