General information about sightseeing in Beijing

Beijing, the heart of China, is always the first choice of travelers who are willing to know a time-honored and developed city of China. It has been the political, economic and cultural center of China for over 800 years from the Yuan Dynasty. The numerous royal buildings with long history endow Beijing with incomparable charm, not only the ‘Nation’s Best’ but also the ‘World’s Best’. In addition, as the host city of the 2008 Olympic Games, this oriental historic city presented her best fashion fascination to the world.

There are hundreds of tourist scenic sites in Beijing. Among them, the five major must-see scenic spots in Beijing are the Forbidden City (the Palace Museum), the Temple of Heaven (TianTan), the Summer Palace, the Ming Tombs and the Great Wall. Besides these, ivory carving, jade carving, cloisonne, carpets and other traditional arts and crafts produced in Beijing have world-class reputation.

Climate

Beijing’s climate is defined as “continental monsoon.” The four seasons are distinctly recognizable. From September to April the following year, dry and cold winter monsoons blow from Siberia and the Mongolian Plateau, resulting in cold and dry winters. From April to September, warm and humid summer monsoons blow from the seas in the east and south, resulting in overall high temperatures and plentiful rainfall.

Autumn is considered to be the best time to visit Beijing as the skies are clear and the weather is very comfortable. The congress holds at the beginning of September, the alternation time from summer to autumn. During the season, there are great temperature difference between morning and night. Mainly, long or short sleeve shirts in the morning and a light jacket or sweater in the evening are the popular clothes. It is recommended to bring a sun hat, umbrella or rain coat.

Tiananmen Square

Located at the center of Beijing City is the Tiananmen Square, where you can visit the Tiananmen Tower, the Monument to the People’s Heroes, the Great Hall of the People, the Chairman Mao Memorial Hall and see the national flag-raising ceremony. Thousands of people come to the Square every day. It is the must place to visit in Beijing City.

Summer Palace

Situated in the western outskirts of Haidian District, the Summer Palace is 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) from central Beijing. Having the largest royal park and being well preserved, it was designated in 1960 by the State Council as a key cultural relics protection site of China. Containing examples of the ancient arts, it also has graceful landscapes and magnificent constructions. The Summer Palace is the archetypal Chinese garden, and is one of the most noted and classical gardens in the world.

The Badaling Great Wall

The Great Wall is a symbol of Chinese civilization, and one of the wonders that the Chinese people have created. Badaling Great Wall, the most representative part, was promoted as a key national cultural relic and protected under the approval of the State Council in 1961. In 1988, it was enlisted in the World Cultural Heritage Directory by UNESCO. On July 7 2007, it gained the worldwide reputation again – it was listed among the New Seven Wonders of the World.

Beihai Park

With the Forbidden City and Jingshan Park to its east, Zhong Nan Hai (Central and South Seas) to its south, Beihai (North Sea) Park is one of the oldest, largest and best-preserved ancient imperial gardens in China and located in the center of Beijing. This ancient garden, with over 1,000 years’ history, is not only a classic combination of the grandiosity of the northern gardens and the refinement of the southern gardens in China, but also a perfect integration of magnificent imperial palaces and solemn religious constructions.

Hutong

People say that the real culture of Beijing is “the culture of hutong” and “the culture of courtyard”. How true that is. Often, it is Beijing’s winding hutongs that attract tourists from home and abroad rather than the high-rise buildings and large mansions. As the symbol of Beijing City, hutong has its own layout and structure which makes it a wonder in the world. When taking a bird’s eye view of Beijing, you will find the combination of hutongs and courtyards just like an orderly chessboard with delicate gardens, fine rockeries, and ancient ruins. Hutongs have witnessed the development of Beijing. Where there is a hutong, there is a story.

Forbidden City

The magnificent Forbidden City is the largest and best-preserved imperial palace complex in the world. It has 9,999 rooms in flourishing period with just a single room short of the number that ancient Chinese belief represents ‘Divine Perfection’ and is surrounded by a six-meter deep moat and ten-meter high wall. For five centuries, this palace functioned as the administrative center of the country.

Temple of Heaven

The Temple of Heaven is a worthwhile visiting place in Beijing. It is much bigger than the Forbidden City and smaller than the Summer Palace with an area of about 2,700,000 square meters. The Temple was built in 1420 A.D. during the Ming Dynasty to offer sacrifice to Heaven. As Chinese emperors called themselves ‘The Son of Heaven’ , they dared not to build their own dwelling, ‘Forbidden City’, bigger than a dwelling for Heaven.

The Ming Tombs

The Ming Tombs lies 50 kilometers northwest from Beijing City – the general name given to the mausoleums of 13 emperors of the Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644). The mausoleums have been perfectly preserved, as has the necropolis of each of the many emperors. Because of its long history and palatial and integrated architecture, the site has a high cultural and historic value. The thirteen mausoleums have similar layout and arrangement but vary in size as well as in the complexity of their structures.

Wangfujing Shopping Street

The historic shopping street of Wangfujing Daije lies to the east of the Forbidden City in Dongcheng district of Beijing. Bounded by the massive Oriental Plaza department store and Beijing Hotel at its southern end, Wangfujing Daije runs north past the Xindongan Plaza department store on the eastern side, St Joseph’s Cathedral (one of Beijing’s most important churches) and the Donghuamen Night Market and the Foreign Language Bookstore to the west. Wangfujing Daije is now largely pedestrianized and makes for an interesting experience of both modern and ancient Beijing.

Bird Nest (China National Stadium)

The National Stadium, affectionately known as Bird’s Nest, is situated in Olympic Green, Chaoyang District, Beijing. It was designed as the main stadium for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. The Olympic events of track and field, football, gavelock, weight throw and discus were held there. Since October 2008, after the Olympics, the National Stadium has been opened as a tourist attraction. Now, it’s the center of international or domestic sports competition and recreation activities.

Water Cube (The National Aquatics Centre)

The National Aquatic Centre, or Water Cube, sets next to Beijing National Stadium in the Olympic Green. The cube-shaped Aquatic Centre is a steel frame covered with a membrane composed of energy-efficient ETFE, a plastic-like material. The design of the Water Cube is based on the patterns of cells and soap bubbles. ETFE pillows create a bubble effect. The bubbles collect solar energy and help heat the swimming pools. The Aquatics Center hosted the swimming, diving and Synchronized Swimming events during the Olympics.