A Short ‘n Crisp Introduction To Beijing
The Chinese capital of Beijing is a thriving city where the country’s imperial past collides with its rapidly modernizing future. One could easily spend a week taking in the multitude of sights and experiences on offer. But if time is short, it is possible to engage a cultural tour to experience the best of Beijing in just three days, leaving you more than satisfied with this sample of Chinese culture.
Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square
Once the private residence of the Chinese emperor and his imperial household, the Forbidden City – located right smack in the center of town – is now open to the public. This sprawling enclave of massive pavilions and gardens is a showpiece of Chinese architecture and offers an insight into China’s imperial past.
A lunch break later, just through the gates, the enormous grounds of Tiananmen Square await. This massive open plaza – once the site for imperial military displays – is now home to the most important governmental buildings of the People’s Republic of China. There’s the Great Hall of the People, where the legislature meets, the Monument to the People’s Heroes – a granite obelisk depicting scenes from revolutionary events, and the Mao Zedong Mausoleum which houses the remains of this key figure in modern Chinese history.
Summer Palace and Tiantan Park
This morning, your tour guide will lead you northwest of the city center to the Summer Palace. This collection of gardens, pagodas, and bridges situated around Kunming Lake is easily a worth a half-day’s exploration if not more. You can stroll the scenic grounds and take in the ornate architecture, including over a thousand unique paintings adorning the eaves of the colorful walkways between pavilions. Also onsite are temples and structures with evocative names such as the Cloud Dispelling Hall, Wisdom Sea Temple, and the Hall of Benevolence and Longevity. You will have to do a bit of climbing to see it all, but your picture album will thank you later for it.
After you’re done exploring the Summer Palace, it’s time to head over to Tiantan Park, also known as the Temple of Heaven, which houses a remarkable structure called The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests. This wooden building is over 100 feet tall and was built without the use of nails or cement; yet another must-see for visitors to Beijing.
The Great Wall, Ming Tombs and Shopping
The Ba Da Ling section of the Great Wall is located an inconvenient 50 miles or so out of town, but a visit there is well worth it. By engaging a tour guide, not only will you have the hassles of transportation taken care of, but you will likely find your visit there more informative as well.
Draped across the hilly countryside like a sleeping dragon, the Great Wall of China is a feather in any traveler’s cap. At the Ba Da Ling section, there’s a cable car where for a nominal (and well worth it!) fee, you can take a cable car up to one of the towers, which will allow you to leisurely walk down the cascading steps as you take in the surreal scene spreading out before you. You can peer into the guard towers and peek through the ramparts, but mostly you’ll just enjoy the thrill of being on one of the most well-known and iconic structures in the world (despite ridiculous claims that it is visible from space).
If this isn’t enough history for you, ask your tour guide about the nearby Ming Tombs that will offer greater insight into the rich history of the Chinese people, and make your trip out to the outskirts of town well worth it.
Once you get back into the city, head out to the Qianmen section of town, located just south of Tiananmen Square for some great shopping opportunities to take you well into the evening and make your last night in town something to remember.
Contributed By : Ben PastoreTourHQ Experiences
This itinerary is contributed by Ben, an experienced traveler. If you request this tour, different guides will give you their versions of this itinerary. Be sure to confirm with them on what's included before booking.