Archive for the ‘Beijing Tour Reviews’ Category

Tips for Visiting the Temple of Heaven

Monday, November 11th, 2019
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Map of the Temple of Heaven from www.willgoto.com

Plan your Beijing tour? Temple of Heaven is a big draw in Beijing. The name of the Temple of Heaven is a little misleading. It is more than just a temple, it is a huge park as well.

Inside the huge park, there is a lovely temple complex, which is composed of three main parts – Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, the Imperial Vault of Heaven and Circular Mound Altar sitting along an axis from south to north.

Temple of Heaven is called “Tiantan Park” in Chinese, literally meaning “Temple of Heaven Park”. It was first constructed in 1420, the 18th year of the reign of Ming emperor Yongle. It was the place where the emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties would worship the god of heaven and pray for good harvest.

Tip # 01: Get up early to see and feel the locals in the park
Though everyday the temple and historical buildings within the park are open to the public from 8:00 till 17:00, the park itself opens at 6:00 till 22:00. Many local people have yearly tickets for easy access to the park. Get there about 7:00 or 7:30am, especially on a Sunday morning.

You will see local people, most of them are middle-aged or older people doing various kinds of light physical activity you can imagine, like singing, dancing, playing instruments, playing chess, practicing kung fu, tai chi… After 9:30 a.m. it will be slammed with group tourists and is barely worth the subway trip.

Practicing Sword, in Temple of Heaven Park,

Practicing Sword, in Temple of Heaven Park,

 
Tip # 02: Acquaint yourself with the historical buildings in the park
Be prepared for a guidebook or hire a Beijing Tour Guide for your life long trip to the temple complex in the park.Three historical buildings are not missed from north to south, namely the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, the Imperial Vault of Heaven and Circular Mound Altar.

The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests
:
where the emperors sacrificed animals and burned incense sticks to pray for good weather for the crops

the Hall of Pray for Harvest above the Wall

the Hall of Pray for Harvest above the Wall

The Red Stairway Bridge:
The historical buildings are connected by a 360 metre long raised walk called the Red Step Bridge (Danbiqiao), are arranged in a line forming a north south axis 1,200 meters long, and flanked by century-old cypresses in a spacious area.

The Imperial Vault of Heaven: A single gabled circular building, built on a single level of marble stone base. It is located south of the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest. Inside the compound, a circular wall, an echo wall. where you can whisper something from one end and the voice will transmit to the other end.

Imperial Vault of Heaven under the sunset glow

Imperial Vault of Heaven under the sunset glow

Circular Mound Altar: Used to worship Heaven at the winter solstice where the principal construction is a large round marble terrace named the Circular Mound.

The distant view of the Circular Mound Altar under the sunset glow

The distant view of the Circular Mound Altar under the sunset glow

Tip # 03: Don’t miss the Cypress Grove
Always keep in mind that here is a huge park, a huge garden. Old cypress trees are worth having a close look.

Some of the cypresses are more than 600 years old. Dr Henry Kissinger, when he visited the temple, stated that while the USA could recreate the Temple of Heaven if it desired, it could not create the trees!

the Cypress Grove

the Cypress Grove

Tip # 04: Choose the right entrance
Originally the Temple of Heaven had only one main gate, which faced west, but after it was made a public park in 1949, entrances were also opened on the northern, southern and eastern sides.
So now it mainly has four gates – East, South, West and North. Both East Gate and South Gate are highly recommended.

East Gate: If you want to see the local people engaged in all kinds of morning activities, you are advised to enter the east gate since most of the morning activities are carried out around the east gate area.The East Gate entrance is also close to the subway line 05.If you enter the east gate, then your walking itinerary would be east gate – long corridor – The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest – The Imperial Vault of Heaven – Circular Mound Altar – South Gate.

After your north – south tour of the temple, you may turn back and go out of the east gate and head to the Hongqiao Market across the road.

South Gate: Start your tour by entering the south gate, then walk along Danbiqiao raised way to visit Circular Mound Altar – The Imperial Vault of Heaven, The Hall of Prayer for Harvest – Long Corridor – East Gate – Hongqiao Market.

Tip # 05: How to get to the Temple of Heaven
If you visit the Temple of Heaven through the east gate, you take subway line 5 to Tiantan Dongmen Station and take exit A. The East Gate entrance is right there. For the public buses to the east gate, you may try bus 6, 35, 36, 39, 41, 43…

If you use south gate, you take a taxi or take bus 36, 120, 122, 800, 803, 958

Tip # 06: Aware of the daily opening time both for the historical buildings and the park itself

The park opens at 6am and closes at 8pm.
The historical buildings opens 8am and closes around 5:00pm like The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, The Imperial Vault of Heaven and the Circular Mound Altar. For the exact opening time in different seasons are listed below:

Gate:6:00-22:00
The main buildings inside the park
From March 1 to June 30: 8:00 – 17:30
From July 1 to October 31: 8:- 18:00
From November 1 to February 28: 8:00 – 17:00
Kindly reminder: Through tickets selling is stopped at 16:00

Tip #07 Two kinds of entrance tickets at Temple of Heaven
There are two kinds of entrance tickets – Entrance ticket for the park and through tickets for entering the park as well the three main historical buildings within the park.

Entrance Ticket:  An entrance ticket charges RMB 15 (April – November) and RMB 10 (December – March). With the ticket, you to get into the park, see local people do morning exercises.

Through Ticket: The ticket charges RMB 35 (April – November) and RMB 30 (December – March). With a through ticket, you can enter the park and go to visit the three areas in the park – Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, The Imperial Vault of Heaven and the Circular Mound Altar.

Ticket Type Prices
  Entrance Ticket RMB 10 (December to March), RMB 15 ( April  to November)
   Half Price Ticket RMB 5 (December to March), RMB 8 ( April  to November) (students and seniors over 70)
Through Ticket RMB 30 (December to March), RMB 35 ( April  to November)(including the entries to the three areas – Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, The Imperial Vault of Heaven and the Circular Mound Altar)
 Kids under 1.2 meters high  Free of Charge
Tip # 08: Dress for the Hot Weather
Though there are many trees in the park. all the trees are lined on the both sides of the north-south axis. So no single tree on your axis trip – Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, the Imperial Vault of Heaven and the Circular Mound.

For summer time, be ready to bring an umbrella for sun protection, bottles of water, and comfy walking shoes. Check Beijing Climate for more information.Tip # 9 Wear Comfortable Shoes
The park is so huge.  You are advised to wear your most comfortable shoes. It’s a long walk!

Tip # 10  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 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


Tips for Visiting Tiananmen Square
Tips for visiting Summer Palace
Forbidden City Travel Tips – The Palace Museum Travel Tips

How to visit Beijing in One Day

Monday, November 4th, 2019
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If you only have one full day in Beijing and would like to feel, touch and see the essential Beijing, you may check out the quick guide to Beijing one-day itinerary below, my suggested self-guide itinerary to plan your own memorable Beijing Day Tours.

This itinerary takes you for a walk along Beijing axis from south to north and appreciate the harmony of the city design which took its form in Yuan (1279-1368) and Ming ( 1368-1644) Dynasties.

For Beijing airport layover day tours or airport transit short tours, please check out Beijing layover tours.

Temple of Heaven
Get up early and have a fast breakfast, and get to the east gate by taking the subway line 5 or to the south gate to Temple of Heaven by taking Beijing taxi.

Walking from the south gate ( or east gate ) through the north gate, visit the 500-year-old temple within a huge park, hence the official name for Temple of Heaven: Temple of Heaven Park ( Tiantan Park).

Temple of Heaven was constructed in 1420 AD during the Ming Dynasty as a site for the emperors to offer sacrifices to heaven.

Temple of Heaven

Temple of Heaven is now actually a park. Early in the morning there are a great number of retired people who come here to hang out with friends and do morning exercises, playing Taichi ball, doing ribbon dancing, ballroom dancing, playing cards and dominoes and writing calligraphy with water brush pens on the ground. There are also music and singing…

Qianmen and Hutongs
Now you exit from the north gate to the Temple of Heaven and turn left (west) along Tiantan Road for 15 minutes walking, then turn right at Qianmen Street and walk north to Qianmen Pedestrian Street.

Please notice, to get to Qianmen Pedestrian Street, you have to pass over a flyover to the east side of the Church you will see.

Use some time to explore the time-honored Qianmen Pedestrian Street full of shops and restaurants.

You may grab some local food as your lunch. Dazhalan is a must for you to walk for a while exploring the modified ancient street in Beijing.

Walking on the Qianmen Pedestrian Street

Dazhalan is a must for you to walk exploring the modified  ancient street in Beijing.

Tiananmen Square
After finishing your exploration on Qianmen Street, you head north and pass through Zhengyangmen Tower ( Arrow Tower) and then walk through a Beijing Subway tunnel to Tiananmen Square.

Take a half hour or more time taking pictures and immersing yourself in the center of Beijing or even China.

Walk through an underground tunnel again from Tiananmen Square up to the Gate of Heaven Peace (Tiananmen Tower), where  Chairman Mao declared the People’s Republic On October 01, 1949. You pass under Mao’ Portrait and enter Forbidden City .

Take a half hour or more time taking pictures and immersing yourself in the center of Beijing and China.

Forbidden City
The grandeur imperial palaces for the emperors in Ming and Qing Dynasties. The Forbidden City  is a must see highlight for every first time visitor to Beijing.

Be prepared for crowds of people like you visiting this complex. So you go from the south gate to its north gate. Your visit usually will take 2-3 hours.

The Forbidden City is a must see highlight for every first time visitor to Beijing

Jingshan Park  ( Jingshan Hill,  Coal Hill or prospect Hill).
Jingshan Park  is unmissable for your Beijing Day Tour. Jingshan just sits across the north gate to Forbidden City . After finishing your visit to Forbidden City  from south to north, you exit from Forbidden City’s north gate.

Walking out of the north gate, you raise your head, you will find a pavilion with three-layered eaves perched on a hill in Jingshan Park, a perfect place to have a panoramic view of Forbidden City and the city of Beijing.

The main road between the north gate area of Forbidden City and the south gate of Jingshan Park  is full blocked. To get across to the south gate  to Jingshan Park , you just turn left for 20 meters and take the underground pass.

Line up at the ticket window by the gate to Jingshan Park for the tickets: RMB 2 per person. Opening hours: 6am – 8pm all year round.

Jingshan Park is not to be missed a visit during your Beijing Day Tours


Beihai Park

After Jingshan Park , you are supposed to walk west to its neighbor – Beihai Park.  Beihai Park is very often neglected by many visitors.

Often dubbed as Winter Palace by westerners, Beihai Park  is the oldest imperial garden in the world as well as one of the largest in China.

Beihai Park is well-known for its beautiful gardens, the maze in the stone cave, temples and pavilions. Atop the Jade Island in Beihai Park, White Dagoba becomes an important landmark of the city.

Beihai Park is the oldest imperial garden in the world as well as one of the largest in China.

Public Bars at Shichahai
After the tour of Beihai Park, you exit from the north gate to Beihai park, then you come to the most famous night hangout in Beijing – Shichahai, where a cluster of bars and restaurants are dotted along the banks of the lake.

People mill along the bridge with weeping willows glowing with shining sunset in Shichahai

If you are fed up with the gentrification in Beijing; if you lose interest in modern Beijing; if you feel sad about the fact that Beijing is becoming less like Beijing; if you want to see a traditional Beijing,  and if you try to find a quiet place in the busy Beijing, come to Shichahai! Tired? Have a drink in one of the bars.

Guojie Food Street
Are you hungry? Take a cab to the nearby Guijie, Ghost Street ,  a 1442-meter long gourmet street, located within Dongzhimennei Dongcheng District, running from the east of Dongzhimen Bridge.

Eating seeds outside on benches and waiting for a seat in Ghost Street

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:For Beijing airport layover tours, please check out:

Beijing layover tours.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


How to Visit Beijing in Two Days.
How to Visit Beijing in Three Days.
How to Visit Beijing in 8 Days.

Forbidden City Travel Tips – The Palace Museum Travel Tips
Tips for Visiting Tiananmen Square
Tips for Visiting the Temple of Heaven
Tips for visiting Summer Palace
How to Visit Ming Tombs in Beijing
How to visit Beihai Park Beijing
How to visit Bird’s Nest and Water Cube
How to visit CCTV Tower in Beijing
How to Visit National Grand Theatre in Beijing
How to visit Shichahai

Any questions, just drop a  line.

The Best Place to See Autumn Leaves Downtown Beijing

Saturday, October 26th, 2019
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Plan your Beijing tour in Autumn? Beijing is at its best in autumn with blue sky, comfy sunshine and colorful leaves. The best time to see the foliage in Beijing spans about one month ranging from October 15 to November 15.

There are many places to view fall foliage in Beijing including the mountainous areas (all sections of the Great Wall) and downtown parks. Among them, Fragrant Hill is unanimously considered as the most ideal place to view autumn leaves in Beijing.

If you are scared of the huge crowds of domestic visitors at Fragrant Hill or don’t want to go up to the mountains or the Great Wall outside Beijing city proper, and would rather have a leisure time viewing the autumn leaves in downtown Beijing, Ditan Park ( The Temple of Earth ) is definitely your best option.

The Temple of Earth once served as the place where the emperors in Ming and Qing Dynasties offered sacrifices to the God of Earth. In 1957, the temple was turned into a public park names as “Temple of Earth Park” – Ditan Park in Chinese.

Tips for viewing autumn leaves in Ditan Park

1. Entrance Fee: RMB 2 per person
2. Opening hours: 06:00 – 21:00
3. How to get there
By Subway:
Take Subway Line 2 or Subway Line 5 to Yonghegong Station (Lama Temple Station), come out of the station at Exit A (northwest exit). You can see the entrance to the park then.

By Bus:
Take Bus No. 18, 75, 104, 108, 113, 119, 201, 328, 407, 426, 430, 558, 特2 to Ditan Ximen Stop
Take Bus No. 117, 125 to Ditan Dongmen Stop

4. Which gate for the foliage
The park is fairly large with an area of 37.4 hectars sectioned into several parts. Among them, Peony Garden is the best place to see foliage in the park. Peony Garden is by the east gate. So entry into the east gate is most convenient for you to see the autumn leaves in the park. The main gate is South Gate, just north of Lama Temple.

5. Don’t scared of the crowds outside Peony Garden
Very often the park administration would organize various kinds of events or activities during the golden autumn tim in Beijing. At the time writing, the “First Beijing Intangible Cultural Heritage Fair” is being held in the park.

Plenty of vendors sell all kinds of Beijing local stuff ranging from eating, wearing to cultural artifacts. Each event will attract huge crowds of local residents. But Peony Garden remains a quite and romantic place for you to have a low pace of life here.

Today is Oct 31, 2010, a sunny and azure day with the highest temperature 20 degree Celsius. I went to the Temple of Earth for photo taking. Below are some of the pictures taken around noon inside the Peony Garden of Ditan Park.

hopefully you would like them and help you understand a bit about the leisure life the local people as well as expats enjoy against the backdrop of the busy, cosmopolitan city.

A child with a father is happy and valuable.

A paradise in the busy Beijing

Autumn time, a play time

Talking and forgetting time

Catch the time and life

View and viewed

Playing Jianzi

Play cards

An expat family

 

Tip:  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 Autumn Tour.

Beijing by Night Illuminations Tour  from US$33 p/p

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.