Archive for the ‘Beijing Attractions’ Category

The Old World Charm in Beijing

Tuesday, May 15th, 2018
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Plan your Beijing tour? If you are looking for an old world place in Beijing, Shichahai area north of Beihai Park is a must on your travel plan. Shichahai retains much of its old world charm  though with a bit gentrification.

Shichahai was once part of the starting point of the World Cultural Heritage-crowned Grand Canal in Yuan Dynasty 600 years ago.

“Shichahai” literally means “Ten Temple Lakes”. There used to be 10 Buddhist temples which surrounded today’s three lakes – Qianhai Lake, Houhai Lake ( Back Lake) and West Lake, which are generally known as Shichahai Lakes.

Shichahai is teemed with the former palaces of ministers, temples, well-kept quaint and traditional hutong lanes and siheyuan ( Chinese quadrangles) as well as residences of celebrities in the past.

Shichahai is now full of the old world air with its attractive vibe, a  lively place rife with people; chic and quaint bars and restaurants; old Beijing snacks and food; old Beijing symbols and special products; the old world charming of the Ming and Qing buildings, boating on Shichahai lakes  and the list of its old world charms is much longer.

Take subway line 6 and get off at the station of Beihai North ( 北海北) and exit from Exit B. Then walk along the sideway to the east for about 200 meters, you will see crowds of people on your left side and now you are on the entrance to Shichahai area. The entrance has a large archway engraved with the four Chinese characters “荷花市场” ( Lotus Market).

The Lotus Market entrance to Shichahai area

The lake you see on your right side is known as Qianhai, or Front Lake, one of the three connected lakes in Shichahai  area. The west bank of Qianhai Lake is flanked by rows of bars and restaurants. People go boating on the and flying kites in the sky.

Qianhai Lake ( Front Lake)

The west lakeshore of Qianhai Lake is flanked by rows of bars and restaurants. When night falls, all the buildings are neon-lit with multi-colors.

The west lakeshore of Qianhai Lake is flanked by rows of bars and restaurants

Bold enough to have a bite of a scorpion

Bold enough to have a bite of a scorpion

Try some old Beijing snacks, sugar-coated fruits, yogurt……

Try some old Beijing snacks, sugar-coated fruits, yogurt……

Two girls are walking past a stand selling old Chinese paintings and other local art products.

Two girls are walking past a stand selling old Chinese paintings

Waiting in line before a stand for a taste of candyfloss, a kind of local cotton candy in Beijing.

Waiting in line before a stand for a taste of candyfloss

Wandering in the old world lanes in Shichahai.

Wandering in the old world lanes in Shichahai.

A street cleaner is driving a cart passing through a 800-year old lane known as Yandai Byway, a well-kept world street that showcases Beijing’s past.

A street cleaner is driving a cart passing through a 800-year old lane

Shichahai is shot through with chic bars and restaurants. Hiding yourself in one of the bars and escaping the hustle and bustle of the old world temporarily.

Shichahai is shot through with chic bars and restaurants.

Shichahai is a perfect place to mix with the locals and the Chinese from other parts of China.

Shichahai is a perfect place to mix with the locals

Boating on the lakes reminds you of the past. The local boat company uses the paddle boats 7 meters in length and 1.7 meters in width. It is made in line with the old Chinese traditional painting dating to the Song Dynasty 800 years ago.

Boating on the lakes reminds you of the past

The sunset glow over Shichahai.

The sunset glow over Shichahai and the night view.

The sunset over Houhai ( Back Lake).

The sunset over Houhai ( Back Lake)

Sunset glow over Silver Ingot Bridge, a bridge linking a narrow channel connecting Qianhai Lake and the Houhai Lake, the hub of Shichhai area with surrounding quiet hutongs.

Sunset glow over Silver Ingot Bridge

 

06611Tip:  Hassle-free Beijing Guided Tours
If you don’t want to go the do-it-yourself route and prefer the hassle-free escorted tours,  here are some options for guided tours to Beijing:

Beijing Hutong Highlight Half Day Tour  from US$49 p/p2

Beijing Hutong Highlight One Day Tour  from US$59 p/p

Beijing Highlight Day Tour from US$59 P/P
(Tiananmen + Forbidden City + Mutianyu Great Wall)
Beijing Classic City Tour from US$65 P/P
(Tiananmen + Forbidden City + Temple of Heaven + Summer Palace)
Beijing Excursion Tour from US$59 P/P
(Mutianyu Great Wall + Ming Tomb)
Beijing Hutong Highlight Tour from US$59 P/P
( Hutong + Rickshaw)

Mutianyu Great Wall Half Day Tour from US$55 p/p
Hike from Jiankou to Mutianyu Great Wall Day Tour from US$69 p/p

Mutianyu Great Wall Layover Tour from US$65 p/p
Beijing Highlight Layover Tour from US$75 p/p

Further Readings


Top 10 Attractions in Beijing
How to Visit Forbidden City
How to Visit Temple of Heaven
How to Visit Summer Palace
How to Visit Ming Tombs
How to Visit the Great Wall of China
How to Visit Tiananmen Square
How to Visit Hutongs
How to Visit Olympic Sites

Top 10 Markets in Beijing
Top 10 Shopping Malls in Beijing
Beijing Shopping

Wangfujing Night Snack Street
Qianmen Commercial Street
Beijing Huguosi Street

Any questions, just drop a line.

How to Visit Ming Tombs in Beijing

Thursday, May 3rd, 2018
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Dear Travelers

We’d like to have the following travel guide to be always updated for the benefit of new visitors coming to Ming Tombs in Beijing. If anybody having used the piece finds necessary updates, please leave a message or feedback. Thanks!
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Ming Tombs Tourist Map from www.maps-of-china.net

Before we talk about how to visit Ming Tombs, people are more interested in knowing whether Ming Tombs are worth visiting. Well, as far as I know, people are quite divided on this. Some dislike; some feel they are ok and others say they are a must see. So different people with different cultural and social backgrounds have their own different opinions on the question.

For many visitors, the visiting of Ming Tombs is not as important as that of Forbidden City, Summer Palace and the Great Wall of China. It is not worth a separate trip.

But in my opinion, generally it is quite worth having a glimpse on a combined journey to or back from the Great Wall or Summer Palace since the location of Ming Tombs is quite accessible on the way to the bits of the Great Wall of China – Juyongguan, Badaling and Mutianyu, and not far from Summer Palace.

Of course, their accessibility is not the only reason for being worth visiting. Listed as a UNESCO world cultural heritage, Ming Tombs provide people a kind of real experience. That tells why this place is a popular place for native Chinese, especially those who are attracted by its history.

If you are going to visit the Tombs, then how to visit them? What homework you should do before you come close to them? Maybe the following Ming Tombs travel tips will be useful for you:

Tip # 01: Grab some basic knowledge of the 13 Tombs in Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644)
Ming Tombs are about 13 tombs in Ming Dynasty where 13 out of 16 emperors in Ming Dynasty were buried successively there. There were totally 16 emperors in Ming Dynasty.

Why 13 emperors were buried there instead of 16?  Zhu Yuanzhang, the founder of the Ming Dynasty was buried in the Xiaoling Mausoleum in Nanjing; Zhu Yunwen, the Emperor Jianwen disappeared and Zhu Qiyu, the Emperor Jingtai was buried at Jinshan Hill in the western suburbs of Beijing. All other 13 Ming Emperors were buried in this tomb area, hence the area popularly being called the 13 Ming Tombs.

Of all the 13 Ming Tombs, at present only 3 Ming Tombs are open to the public, namely Dingling, Changling and Zhaoling ( “ling” literally means “Tomb” in Chinese). So before you are going to visit Ming Tombs, you’d better know which of the 3 tombs you should visit, which are located separately quite a distance. The three tombs are also a little different in terms of ticket prices and value.

Of the 3 Ming Tombs opened to the public, only Dingling ( often called Underground Palace) has been excavated. There is down a long staircase into a chamber with some stone thrones and a few large plain red boxes which are the burial caskets in the so called underground palace.

Tip # 02: Of the 3 tombs, which one you should visit?
Because all the 3 tombs are located separately quite a distance, usually you only have time to visit one of the three tombs. So which one? If you have no problem with your knees and feet, and are fairly good at walking, you are advised to visit Dingling – the underground Palace.

The Exhibition Building at Dingling Tomb

 

The tower at Dingling

 

The stela in the tower at Dingling.

You have a long walk from the Dingling Entrance before you get to the Tomb itself, where you walk 8 flights of stairs down. The walk to the tomb can be hard and long during high season, but normally takes about 15 minutes.

If you are wheelchair users or have some difficulty in walking, just forget Dingling, and choose Changling instead. Changling is the largest tomb of all the 13 Ming Tombs.

Changling is the tomb where buried the Third Emperor Zhu Di with his queen Nee Xu. Changling is not excavated. But its grand hall on the ground is worth visiting. The construction of the hall started in 1409 and finished in 1427. As for Zhaoling, you can simply skip it since it is almost  renovated.

Tip # 03: Sacred Way is highly recommended

For me, the best part of Ming Tombs tour is the walk down Sacred Way which is lined with large statues that are several hundred years old. These are huge statues of lions, camels, elephants, etc, and they are located on both sides of the walkway.

The Sacred Way

 

The Sacred Road and the Statue of an Elephant

 

The Sacred Way and the Statue of an Official

The Sacred Way is part of the Ming Tombs complex. Sacred Way means the road leading to heaven. The Emperor, known as the Son of the Heaven, who descended from Heaven to his country through the Sacred Road, also would return to Heaven through this way.

Tip # 04: How to get there and admission fees
Sacred and Ming Tombs are located in Changping District, about 50km north of Beijing.

Entrance Fees:
Changling Tomb: RMB 30 (November.01 – March. 31); RMB 45 (April. 01 – October. 31)  Dingling Tomb:  RMB 40 (November.01 – March. 31); RMB 60 (April. 01 – October. 31)  Zhaoling Tombe: RMB 20 (November.01 – Machr. 31); RMB 30 (April. 01 – Oct. 31)

Sacred Way: RMB 20/30)
Opening Hours:
Changling Tomb: 08:30 – 17:30  Dingling Tomb: 08:30 – 18:00  Zhaoling Tomb  8:30 – 17:30
Sacred Way: 8:30 – 18:00
Tickets stop selling about half an hour before the tombs are closed.

Tip # 05  Bus 872  Deshengmen Bus Terminal scheduled for Ming Tombs
The Bus 872 starts from Deshengmen Bus Station which is located on the north square of Deshengmen Arrow Tower (德胜们箭楼) lying on the mid-way of the northern second ring road. It is worth getting up earlier to catch an early morning Bus 872 for Ming Tombs.

How to  go to Deshengmen Bus Terminal
Several buses can bring you to the Deshengmen Bus Station. But the bus system in Beijing could be daunting even for the local Beijingers. It is advisable to take the Subway Line 2 to reach Deshengmen Bus Station. The the closest subway station to Deshengmen Bus Station is Jishuitan (积水潭) of the loop-type Subway Line 2.

You get off at the station of Jishuitan (积水潭), exit from the Exit A. Then walk along the sidewalk in the east direction for about 450 meters, soon you will see a high tower – the Deshengmen Arrow Tower. Deshengmen Bus Station is just below the northern side of the tower.

The compound of Deshengmen Arrow Tower is within a roundabout. So you have to cross a road to reach the bus station. You have to be careful crossing the road since the road has no traffic light at the time of my writing.

By the way, on your 450-meter walk from the subway station of Jishuitan to the Deshengmen Arrow Tower, you will pass alongside the Deshengmenxi Bus Station (different from Deshengmen Bus Station) and you just ignore it!

You will be also distracted by some privately owned buses or mini-buses operated in the name of official Badaling-bound buses. We strongly suggest you take the official buses within the Deshengmen Bus Station for safety and reasonable price.

Don’t be surprised if you find the queue in front of the bus 872, especially on the weekends or national public holidays.

Bus 872 is below the west side of Deshengmen Tower

Bus 872 going between Deshengmen  and  Ming Tombs ( Dingling Tomb and Changling Tomb) : 
First Bus and last bus from Deshengmen to Ming Tombs: 09:15-16:15
First Bus and last bus from  Ming Tombs to Deshengmen: 08:00-15:00
Bus Fare: 8 yuan
The Bus 872 leaves every 10  minutes
The Bus 872 has 15 bus stops,  Dingling (last but two stop) and Changling ( last stop), taking about one hour.

Bus 772 for Ming Tombs

Bus 872 for Ming Tombs

Tip # 06 How to plan your Ming Tombs Tour?
It is better to incorporate your Ming Tombs into a journey covering other tourist attractions also. How to incorporate? Usually Summer Palace can be combined with Ming Tombs trip on a one day tour in Beijing.

The most common is blended with the trip to one of the sections of Great Wall of China – Juyongguan Great Wall, Badaling Great Wall or Mutuanyu Great Wall on an a day trip in Beijing.

Tip # 06: Avoid Public Holiday and Weekend
For local Chinese, Ming Tombs are just as important as Forbidden City and Summer Palace, never missed on their trip to Beijing. On weekend, especially during the public holidays, Ming Tombs can be very crowded!

Take greater precaution when you go down the 8 staircases to the underground palace at Dingling Tomb.

Tip # 07:  Bus 879 Between Dingling (Ming Tombs) and Badaling Great Wall
If you’d like to go from Ming Tombs ( Dingling ) and Badaling or vice versa, you can take the Bus 879 listed below:

1) Dingling Tomb ( Ming Tombs) to Badaling Great Wall

Fist Bus:8:00 am
Last Bus: 4:00 pm
Bus Fare: 9 yuan
The Bus 879 leaves every half an hour
The Bus 879 has 25 bus stops from Dingling (Ming Tombs) to Badaling Great Wall ( the last but the third ) taking about one and half hours, about 40km.

1) Badaling to Dingling ( 定陵):
Fist Bus:9:30 am
Last Bus: 5:30 pm
Bus Fare: 9 yuan
The Bus 879 leaves every half an hour
The Bus 879 has 25 bus stops from Badaling to Dingling ( Ming Tombs ), taking about one and half hours from Badaling to Dingling (定陵), the last bus stop ( about 40 km ).

If you’d like to go to directly from Deshengmen to Badaling Great Wall,  take the Bus 877 ( see the link: Badaling Bus 877).

Tip # 8:  Hassle-free Beijing Guided Tours
If you don’t want to go the do-it-yourself route and prefer the hassle-free escorted tours,  here are some options for Beijing guided tours:

Beijing Highlight Day Tourfrom US$59 P/P
(Tiananmen + Forbidden City + Mutianyu Great Wall)
Beijing Classic City Tourfrom US$65 P/P
(Tiananmen + Forbidden City + Temple of Heaven + Summer Palace)
Beijing Excursion Tourfrom US$59 P/P
(Mutianyu Great Wall + Ming Tomb)
Beijing Hutong Highlight Tourfrom US$59 P/P
( Hutong + Rickshaw)

Mutianyu Great Wall Half Day Tourfrom US$55 p/p
Hike from Jiankou to Mutianyu Great Wall Day Tourfrom US$69 p/p

Mutianyu Great Wall Layover Tourfrom US$65 p/p
Beijing Highlight Layover Tourfrom US$75 p/p

Any questions, just drop line.

The Best Place to View Peach Flowers in Beijing

Friday, April 20th, 2018
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Approx. 80 km northeast of Beijing city center, Pinggu District is home to the world’s largest peach orchard with about 11,000 hectares of peach trees. Pinggu features totally 218 kinds of peach trees with 4 species of yellow peach, white peach, nectarine and peento.

Pinggu peaches are big in size, sweet in taste and brilliant in color. The local peaches are exported to over 10 countries with a total annual production of 1300 thousand kilograms. The harvest time falls on autumn – September and October when Pinggu will hold a festival known as “The Feast of Immortal Peaches” to celebrate the happy time for peach picking and tasting.

Another moment, no less important is Pinggu Peach Festival – the viewing of the magnificent sea of peach flowers in spring starting Mid-April through May. If you happen to visit Beijing in spring, a side trip to Pinggu for a glimpse of the “Sea of Peach Flower” is an amazing addition to your Beijing trip.

The best spot in Pinggu to see peach blossoms is Dahua Town ( 大华镇) which is home to the peach orchard dubbed as “Sea of Peach Blossoms”.  Of course, there are many separated peach orchards of big or small, sponsored by individual villagers. For entry into some of their peach orchards, you either need to pay a small sum of money or buy some of their peach products.

Many of the peach orchards are fenced, you are only allowed to see from their outside fences. In Dahua Town, the major peach orchard is fenced and circled with a long wooden walkway where you can easily have a glimpse of the peach flowers inside the fences. For small and privately owned peach orchards, you can enter either paying or buying to snap the pictures of the blooming peach flowers.

How to get to Pinggu or Dahua Town in particular?
For self-driving, just set your GPS at Dahua Town and drive along g the famous peach blossom sea road (highway No.330) and skip over the downtown Pinggu.

For public bus users, you may take the public bus 852 from Dongzhimen Transportation Hub for Pinggu District.  Arriving at Pinggu District Bus Terminal, then you change for the local small bus Dahua Town or the famous peach blossom sea road (highway No.330).

Once you are in Pinggu, you will have more interesting local attractions that bestow on you, such as Pinggu Glass Sightseeing Platform, Jingdong Krast Cave, Jinhai Lake and more.

Follow me to have a virtual tour of viewing the “Sea of Peach Blossoms” in Pinggu.

Pinggu Orchard – the largest of this kind in the world

 

Selfie in front of blooming peach flowers

 

Peach blossom selfie

 

Kissing in the sea of peach blossoms

 

Senior Peach Flower Enthusiast

 

Peach flowers against sunlights

 

Peach Flower Photography

 

Flowering Peach Trees

 

Blooming Peach branches

 

Peach blossoms

 

Old branch and new flowers

 

The major Attractions in Pinggu, Beijing
Diaowo Village is an interesting place to explore the suburban life in Beijing, having a bite of the local village food, drinking, barbecuing, fishing and more. The village is located about 35km to the southwest of the Peach Orchard in Pinggu.

More major attractions in Pinggu:

1) Flying Dragon Valley
2) Bolitai Great Wall
3) Jinhai Lake 2222
4) Pinggu Glass Sightseeing Platform
5) Jingdong Karst Cave
6) Huangsongyu Reservior
7) Diaowo Village

Hassle-Free Private Tour to Visit the Glass Sightseeing Platform
If you don’t want go the daunting do-it-yourself-route and prefer an organized hassle-free private tour to visit the glass sightseeing platform and view the peach flower orchard, no worry and we have the following options:

Beijing Family Visit Springtime Day Tour
Beijing Family Visit Summer Day Tour
Beijing Family Visit Autumn Day Tour

Further Readings


Pinggu Sightseeing Glass Sightseeing Platform.
Top 10 Attractions in Beijing

How to Visit Forbidden City
How to Visit Temple of Heaven
How to Visit Summer Palace
How to Visit Ming Tombs
How to Visit the Great Wall of China
How to Visit Tiananmen Square
How to Visit Hutongs
How to Visit Olympic Sites

Top 10 Markets in Beijing
Top 10 Shopping Malls in Beijing
Beijing Shopping

Wangfujing Night Snack Street
Qianmen Commercial Street
Beijing Huguosi Street

Any questions,  just drop a line.