China · 5 Days · 11 Moments · April 2013

Exploring Beijing

10 April 2013

The Temple of Heaven The Temple of Heaven is located in the Temple of Heaven Park and consists of religious buildings situated in the southeastern part of central Beijing. The complex was visited by the Emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties for annual ceremonies of prayer to Heaven for good harvest. Surrounded by a huge park, you feel like being in the country, although you are in the middle of a 22 million metropolis. You can join for some Taiqi, watch people playing card games, mahjong or drawing calligraphy made of water on the asphalt.
The Drum and the Bell Tower The Drum Tower of Beijing, is situated at the northern end of the central axis of the Inner City to the north of Di'anmen Street. Originally built for musical reasons, it was later used to announce the time and is now a tourist attraction. Every full hour, you can witness a drum performance and enjoy the view from the tower. The Bell Tower stands closely behind the drum tower. Together with the drum tower, they provide an overview of central Beijing and before the modern era, they both dominated Beijing's ancient skyline.

9 April 2013

Beijing Temple of Confucius If you have some time left after your trip to the Summer Palace, you can (or at least you should, for he is THE Chinese celebrity) visit the Beijing Temple of Confucius. You can go there by subway Line 2, where you get off at Yonghegong Station, take Exit C (Southwest Exit), and walk south about 600 meters, then you'll find Guozijian Street where the Temple of Confucius is located. Or you take subway Line 5, get off at Yonghegong Station, and get out of the station from Exit D (Southwest Exit). For those who don't know him: Confucius (551–479 BC) was a Chinese teacher, politician and philosopher of the Spring and Autumn period of Chinese history. The Temple of Confucius at Beijing is the second largest Confucian Temple in China and it also contains a museum, which tells us more about the life of Confucius. Be sure to take a good look at your surrounding, for the temple is near some Hutongs with many nice shops and café in it.
The Summer Palace The best way to access it is via the East Gate at Tongqing St. and Yiheyuan St. (subway Xiyuan Station - Line 4) or the North Gate at Yiheyuan Rd. and Qinglongqiao East St. (subway Beigongmen Station - Line 4). The Summer Palace is a vast ensemble of lakes, gardens and palaces. It is mainly surrounded by the Kunming Lake and built on Longevity Hill. Take your time to enjoy the beatuiful buildings: The Cloud-Dispelling Hall, the Temple of Buddhist Virtue, and the Sea of Wisdom Temple and walk around the huge area to discover pavilions, halls, palaces, temples and bridges.

8 April 2013

The Beihai Park After your exhausting journey to the Great Wall, you can relax in the middle of the beautiful Beihai Park. You can take the subway Line 4 and get off at Ping'anli Station. Leave from Southeast Exit and walk along Dianmen Xi Dajie to the east for 20 minutes to the north gate. Trust me, the walk is worth it, because you will pass many interesting shops and streets on your way. The Beihai Park was an imperial garden and is now a public park located to the northwest of the Forbidden City in Beijing. It is one of the largest of all Chinese gardens and contains palaces and temples. If it is warm enough, you can hear the lovely voices of Chinese hobby-singers and musicians, feed some ducks
Climbing China's Great Wall Early morning in Beijing, the weather is nice and you are full of motivation to climb China's Great Wall. I would reccomend you take the exit called Badaling, which is the most visited section of the Great Wall of China. Visitors can take buses at Deshengmen Arrow Tower to get there. The nearest subway station to Deshengmen is Jishuitan Station (subway line 2, Exit A), which is about 450 meters away. Be sure to find the bus station, because if you ask one of the taxi drivers at this stop, they will tell you that the bus is not existing or not leaving anymore. As often in China: don't trust them! They just want to take you there, far more expensive (of course still cheap compared to Austria) than the bus. When you arrive at Badaling, you can't miss the entrance. Now you can enjoy your day, climbing the creat wall with a great view and many, many steps.

7 April 2013

The Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City After you filled your stomach with a nice, soft duck, you are ready to go sightseeing. And therefore, the Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City should defenitely be on your list (and the best thing is: they are at the same place). You can go there with the subway Line 1 (stop Tiananmen) and you can't miss it. At the Tinanmen Square, you can find for example the MAOsoleum, where the body of Mao Zedong lies in a sarcophagus made of glass. Thousands of Chinese visit it every day. Well, a visit it is more or less, for you will be pushed through the room very quickly and everyone has about 10-15 seconds to look at their great chairman. Of course the security is very strict too and you are not allowed to bring even a lighter with you. After that, you can enter the Forbidden City on the opposite side and this is really worth a visit, because old Chinese architecture is really impressive. Be sure to bring enough time, for you can loose yourself very easily in the huge area.
The world most famous duck (after Donald) One of the most delightful dishes I was able to taste in China, was the famous Beijing Duck. But be careful, not every Beijing Duck is as good as the other. The best of all ducks can be found in one of Beijings Hutongs, a type of narrow streets or alleys very famous for Beijing. The Li Qun Roast Duck Restaurant, which can be find in the Beixiangfeng Hutong, has not only an authentic atmosphere (be aware that the only toilet is a whole somewhere in a dark yard in front of the restaurant), but also the Beijing Duck is simple delicious.

6 April 2013

The Beer Street in Sanlitun There is no better place to enjoy the nightlife in Beijing than in Sanlitun. Sanlitun is one of the best known and most popular bar streets in Beijing and is located in Eastern Beijing in the Chaoyang District. So if you say to your taxi driver "Sanlitun", he will know where to bring you. When you arrive at Sanlitun, just walk down the famous Sanlitun Road, and you will find one bar after another. Sanlitun is an area, where Chinese and Western people meet, eat and drink together.
From iPhones to Scorpions Wangfuqing Street is one of the Chinese capital's most famous shopping streets. The majority of the main shopping area is pedestrianised and is very popular for shopping for both tourists and residents of the capital. There you can wander around, searching for Chinese souvenirs, specialities or (expensive) Western luxury. For me, this street combines China's tradtition with the fast-developing China we know today. Don't hesitate to take a look into the small back roads, because most of the time the best things are waiting there for you. And don't be afraid to taste some strange things you find on your way, I mean, when will you have the chance to do it again?
The Jinjiang Inn The Jinjiang Inn is the biggest tourism enterprise in mainland China. Although it is the biggest one in China, it offers nice and comfortable rooms for a good price. When I was travelling around China, I tried to get in one of the Jinjiang Inns, if there was one available. The one I chose when I was in Beijing, was the one near the Tiantan Park's (Temple of Heaven Park) east gate. This Beijing hotel offers single, standard and business rooms equipped with 24-hour hot water, air conditioning, and free broadband internet access. And if you take the standard room, you have a bigger and a smaller bed in there, which means it is also big enough for three people (as you can see on the picture, I tried it myself).