Archive for the ‘Beijing Tour Reviews’ Category

Tips for Visiting the Temple of Heaven

Wednesday, September 8th, 2021
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Dear Travellers,

We’d like to have the following quick guide to be always updated for the benefit of new visitors visiting the Temple of Heaven ( Tiantan 天坛) in Beijing.

If you have any questions or anybody having used the piece finds necessary updates, please leave a message or feedback. Thanks!

Temple of Heaven Map 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 Imperial Vault of Heaven and Circular Mound Altar sitting along an axis from south to north.

The Temple of Heaven is called ‘Tiantan Park’ ( 天坛公园) in Chinese, literally meaning ‘Temple of Heaven Park”. It was first constructed in 1420, the 18th year of the reign of Ming Dynasty (1368–1644) emperor Yongle. It was the place where the emperors of the Ming Dynasty and and later Qing Dynasty (1644 to 1912) would worship the god of heaven and pray for good harvest.

Tip 1: Get up early to feel the local vibes in the park

Though everyday the temple and historical buildings within the park are open to the public basically from 8:00 till 17:00 ( subject to change due to different seasons), the park itself opens a bit earlier at 6:00 and closes at 22:00 ( again subject to change due to the seasons). Many local people have annual passes for easy access to the park.

An old man writing Chinese calligraphy with a big brush dipped in water

Getting there about 7:00 or 7:30am, especially on a Sunday morning, you will see local people, most of them are middle-aged or seniors 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.
Check out: Morning Stroll in Temple of Heaven for more information.

Tip 2: ABC of the historical buildings in the park

Be prepared for a guidebook or hire a Beijing Tour Guide for your lifetime 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 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

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

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

Tip 4: 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 again and head to the Hongqiao Market across the road.

South Gate:

Start your tour by entering the south gate, then walk along the central way to visit Circular Mound Altar – the Imperial Vault of Heaven, the Hall of Prayer for Harvest – Long Corridor – North Gate or East Gate (Hongqiao Market).

Tip 5: 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 (East Gate of Temple of Heaven) and then take exit A, close to the East Gate entrance to Temple of Heaven. For the public buses to the east gate, you may try bus 6, 35, 36, 39, 41, 43…

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

Address for Temple of Heaven:
No. 7, Dongli, Tiantan Nei, Dongcheng District, Beijing Zip code: 100061
Telephone: 010-67012483 (daytime)
010-67013036 (night)

Tip 6: Opening time for the buildings and the park itself

Peak season : ( April 01- October 31 each year)
Off season : ( November 01 to March 31 of the following year )

The Park opening time
Peak season opening hours: 6:00-21:00
Off-season opening hours: 6:30-21:00
Park clearance : at 22:00

Opening time for the historical buildings inside the park
(mainly the Imperial Vault of Heaven, the Circular Mound Altar, the Imperial Vault of Heaven)
Peak season opening time: 8:00-17:30
Off-season opening time: 8:00-17:00
also including the North God cook, the North slaughtering house, the Fast House and Divine Music Administration (神乐署中和韶乐)inside the park.

The sights above are closed on Mondays (except public holidays).

Tip 7: Entrance tickets at Temple of Heaven

Basically there are two kinds of entrance tickets – Entrance ticket for the park only 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 can get into the park, see local people do morning exercises and have an outside look at the historical buildings in the park as well.

Through Ticket: The ticket charges RMB 34 (April – November) and RMB 28 (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.

Notice:
1. The ticket for Divine Music Administration inside the park:10 yuan ( a separate ticket)
2. During the present pandemic period, people are requested to use Wechat App to book the tickets online. If you are not able to use Wechat, the park staff will help you use the app. If still that doesn’t work, you are still allowed to buy your tickets on the spot.

Tip 8: Self-guided audio & in-person tour guides

Self-guided audio service

  1. Location: four gate areas;
  2. Time: 8:00 — 17:00;
  3. Language: Chinese, Cantonese, English, Japanese, Korean, French, German and Spanish;
  4. Rent fee:
    A) For Chinese, the deposit is 100 yuan, which will be returned to the tourist when the machine is replaced. The rent for the machine is 10 yuan.
    B) For other languages: 100 yuan deposit, return to the tourist when returning the machine; The rent for the machine is 40 yuan.

In-person tour guides

  1. Location: South gate of the park;
  2. Time: 8:00 — 17:00;
  3. Language: Chinese and English;
  4. Fees:
    A)100 yuan for five Chinese speakers ( including few than five) ; 200 yuan for more than five people.
    B.) There will be an extra charge of 50 yuan for the English speakers.
  5. Tips: The tour guide should be booked two days in advance; Contact number: 67028866 ( Tour Guide Team)

Tip 9: 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 10: Wear Comfortable Shoes

The park is so huge.  You are advised to wear your most comfortable shoes. It’s a long walk!

Tip 11: 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:

Car Rental in Beijing
Beijing Day Tour
Beijing Tour Packages
Great Wall Tour
Beijing Tour
China City Tours
China Tour

Chinese version of the travel guide

如何坐地铁去参观天坛

Further Readings


Morning Stroll in Temple of Heaven
Sunset Glow over Temple of Heaven
Zhonghe Shaoyue at Temple of Heaven
Tips for Visiting Tiananmen Square
Tips for visiting Summer Palace
Forbidden City Travel Tips – The Palace Museum Travel Tips

Tips for Visiting the Great Wall of China around Beijing
How to Visit Ming Tombs in Beijing
How to visit Beihai Park Beijing
How to visit Shichahai
How to visit Bird’s Nest and Water Cube
How to visit CCTV Tower in Beijing
How to Visit National Grand Theatre in Beijing
Top 10 Most Romantic Places in Beijing
How to Enjoy Beijing Nightlife
Top 10 Beijing Souvenirs
Top 10 Tourist Scams Beijing

Any questions, just drop a line.


How to Spend Christmas Eve in Beijing

Sunday, August 22nd, 2021
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Christmas Eve for the West is similar to the New Year’s Eve of Chinese lunar new year for the Chinese, a time for family reunion. This western religious festival is getting its popularity in China, especially in the big cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and more.

There are various reasons behind the increasing popularity of Christmas in China. The Christians and Catholics are increasing in numbers; young people seek Christmas as the time to boost their romance; smart merchants grab Christmas to promote theirs sales or images; foreign business related companies follow suit.

If you happen to spend your Christmas eve in Beijing during your Beijing winter tour, you may take some adventure going on to the streets to explore and spend a local Christmas eve.

So how will local Beijingers celebrate Christmas eve? What are things to do during Christmas eve in Beijing?  Unlike the west countries where Christmas is a time for family get-together, here in Beijing it is a time for making fun and making money.

I once drove around the busy areas in Beijing for feeling the atmosphere of Christmas eve. Here’s my run down of the interesting spots for Christmas eve.

Christmas Eve gala party

Many hotels, mainly 4 or 5 star hotels would hold Christmas eve gala parties in recent years.  A routine Christmas eve gala party would include three elements – a big dinner,  high-level performances and several rounds of exciting lucky draws.

Christmas eve party is also a channel for networking or “Guanxi” in Chinese, enhancing working relationship and friendship. Below are the two pictures taken from internet.

Performance at a Christmas eve party

Performance at Crowne Plaza Christmas Eve Party
Christmas eve party (Picture from internet )

Go to Church

There are 11 churches in Beijing, 6 Catholic churches, 5 Christian churches. My favorite is Eastern Church.Located east of central Wangfujing Street, the Catholic East Church, or Wangfujing Catholic Church, is one of the 11 best-preserved churches.

For Catholic Mass Times Beijing for more information.

The East Church was originally called Saint Joseph’s Church, and was built in the 12th year (1655) of Emperor Shunzhi during the Qing Dynast y (1644-1911). It was the second Catholic church built in Beijing after Italian preacher Matteo Ricci built the “South Church” in southern Beijing at the end of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).

The present building was rebuilt in 1904 on the ruins of the burned church. In the 1980s, large-scale repairs and maintenance were carried out by the government for East Church.

Opening Time: every morning (times may vary) Add: 74, Wangfujing Street, Dongcheng District, Beijing
Bus Lines: Take bus 103, 102, 104, 803, 814, 808 and get off at Donganmen Shichang, then walk north approx. 300 meters.
Mass Times: Weekdays 06:30 and 07:00 (Chinese), Saturday 06:30 and 07:00 (Chinese), Sunday 06:15 (Latin), 07:00 and 08:00 (Chinese)
Tel: 010-65240643

A huge crowd of fun-seekers would gather the church, taking pictures and sensing the ambiance of Christmas eve. A great number of police were on high alert for a safe Christmas eve.

A huge crowd of people circling the Church.

Police will be on high alert for a safe Christmas eve.

Police were on high alert
Wangfujing Walking Street  will see “people mountain and people sea”.

Late Night Shopping

On Christmas eve,  almost all the stores and shopping malls in Beijing will not miss this golden opportunity for sales promotion. Business hours last till small hours, even to early next morning with big discounts.

Wangfujing Walking Street will see “people mountain and people sea” .

Chriastmas eve shopping exterior decoration
Inside a shopping mall on the Wangfujing Street.

Beijing Department Store says it is open till 6am. There is something festive inside the department store.

There is something festive inside the department store.
Great discounts at a street front store on Wangfujing Street.

Pubs and Bars

There are several clusters of pubs and bars around Beijing city center. My favorite is Shichahai bar area ( often known as Houhai Bar streets), walking from Lotus Market, to Yinding Bridge ( Ingot Bridge ) and finishing at Yandaixiejie.

This trail is teemed with bars and small boutiques. There is a strong festivity in the Shichahai area.

Listening to the music from inside. Having a glimpse of the music band inside a bar.

Having a glimpse of the music band inside a bar.
Hawking Christmas mask and horns
Christmas hats and Sugar-coated hawthorns
Houhai bar area north of Ingot Bridge
Christmas eve promotion
The small vendor was also in!

Add-on

Top 10 Ski Resorts in Beijing
Top 10 Ice Rinks in Beijing
Houhai Winter Ice Skating Rink
How to Visit Great Wall of China in Winter
Top 8 Things to Do in Beijing in the Winter
How to Visit Longqing Gorge Ice Lantern Festival
What to see and do at the temple fairs in Beijing
Snow and Ice at Bird’s Nest (National Stadium)
How to Spend Spring Festival in Beijing
How to Spend Christmas Eve in Beijing
Longtan Lake Park Temple Fair

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 Winter Tour
Car Rental in Beijing
Beijing Day Tour
Beijing Tour Packages
Great Wall Tour
China City Tours
China Tour

Further Readings


Best Time to Visit Beijing
How to plan a trip to Beijing

Top 10 Attractions in Beijing
Top 10 Tourist Scams 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.

Snow and Ice at Bird’s Nest Beijing (National Stadium)

Sunday, August 22nd, 2021
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Plan your Beijing winter tour? Are you coming from a hot country with little concrete concept of snow? If you are eager to play snow in Beijing, now you don’t have to bother yourself to go to the ski resorts dotted around the suburbs of Beijing ( See Top 10 Ski Resorts in Beijing ).

You are able to enjoy various snow activities inside Beijing National Stadium (Bird’s Nest) during January and February. The two-week Olympic feast has left Beijing the two world-famous Olympic sites nicknamed Bird’s Nest and Water Cube.

Beijing National Stadium faces almost the same problem as other post Olympic games countries in how to keep the their stadiums in the black. So an albatross or a fortune for Bird’s Nest? The fake fluff produced inside Beijing National Stadium since 2009 has shown that it wants a positive result.

The Happy Snow and Ice Season held by National Stadium (Bird’s Nest) generally lasts from Mid-Dec to Feb. As usual the basic snow activities include an artificial snow playground (or so-called ski resort), bumper cars, sled runs, snow castle featuring cartoon characters an ice rink.

Beijing National Stadium’s 80% of the annual income comes from the entrance tickets paid by visitors during their maiden Beijing tour, Making the good use of Bird’s Nest in winter is aimed at keeping its profit generating momentum.

People have to shell out over RMB 50 apiece just to enter the stadium, plus RMB 40 for the snow playing inside, added up to RMB 90 per person.

The Third Happy Snow and Ice Season at Bird’s Nest
Opening Time
9:00 – 17:30
Entrance ticket: RMB 50 + RMB 40
Transport:  about bus lines or the Metro Line 8
Hotline:010-84373008
Please check How to visit Bird’s Nest for more transport information.

There are various entrances leading to the compound where the Bird’s Nest is located. We enter the complex buildings from its northeast entrance. I take a whole picture of the huge Bird’s Nest thanks for Canon.

We enter the complex buildings from its northeast entrance
We are on the first floor of National Stadium with a fairly clear picture of the ski resort.
The snow castle featuring cartoon characters on the snow.
An ice rink on the man-made snow field.
Walking up to the fifth floor step by step.
On the fifth floor and about to see the whole playground.
Now we have a panoramic of the whole ski resort at Bird’s Nest
Very few people on the snow playground.

Add-on

Top 10 Ski Resorts in Beijing
Top 10 Ice Rinks in Beijing
Houhai Winter Ice Skating Rink
How to Visit Great Wall of China in Winter
Top 8 Things to Do in Beijing in the Winter
How to Visit Longqing Gorge Ice Lantern Festival
What to see and do at the temple fairs in Beijing
Snow and Ice at Bird’s Nest (National Stadium)
How to Spend Spring Festival in Beijing
How to Spend Christmas Eve in Beijing
Longtan Lake Park Temple Fair

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 Winter Tour
Car Rental in Beijing
Beijing Day Tour
Beijing Tour Packages
Great Wall Tour
China City Tours
China Tour

Further Readings


Best Time to Visit Beijing
How to plan a trip to Beijing

Top 10 Attractions in Beijing
Top 10 Tourist Scams 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.