Day-2 Beijing Back in Yesterdays
The Forbidden City is the major highlight for today, worthy my early up at 5am. After a simple breakfast, I got on the bus to Jingshan Park, yes again. Getting into the park at its opening at 6:30am, I have the first best moments by taking sunrise photos of the Forbidden City.
Jingshan Park is facing the North Gate of the palace, but it is not accessible so I have to take another bus ride to the South Gate. After a long line of waiting, I finally get the ticket to enter.
If you look at the foundation plan of the Forbidden City, it appears as a massive rectangle with more than 30 side sites to visit. So it is actually. I have a clear idea of the parts that I want to see the most and discard some less important sites.
The Forbidden City is built on and along an invisible central axis. It runs from north to south, dotting it there are the Meridian Gate (午门), Golden Water Moat (金水桥),Gate of Supreme Harmony (太和门), Hall of Supreme Harmony (太和殿),Hall of Central Harmony (中和殿),Hall of Preserving Harmony (保和殿), Gate of the Palace of Heavenly Purity (乾清门), Palace of Heavenly Purity (乾清宫), Palace of Jiaofeng (交奉殿),Palace of Earthly Tranquility (坤宁宫), Gate of the Palace of Earthly Tranquility (坤宁门), Imperial Garden (御花园), Qin’an Hall (钦安殿), Gate of Shunzhen (顺贞门) and finally the Gate of Spiritual Valour (神武门).
The central axis is also the major route for tourist groups. In order to keep away from the crowds, I choose another route at the right side by the central axis. And when the crowds move towards the Imperial Garden, I make my way back to the three major halls: Hall of Supreme Harmony, Palace of Heavenly Purity and Palace of Earthly Tranquility.
There are two smaller sites worthy a check out: Clock House (钟表馆) and Treasure House (珍宝馆). Extra fees of 10RMB each. Clock House is a delight especially for clock fans; here you can see numerous clocks and watches that once exclusively belonged to the emperors. Accessories and daily essentials are on display in Treasure House.
I spent 3 hours at the Forbidden City and give myself one hour for lunch and break before I head to the next attraction: Summer Palace.
Summer Palace is located in Haidian District, one and a half hour away from the Forbidden City by subway. Entering from the North Palace Gate (北宫门), I walk westward to the Garden of Fullspring (赅春园). Along the westbound way, it covers some major sites: Longevity Hill (万寿山), Tower of Clouds-Retaining Eaves (宿云檐), Hall of Listening to the Orioles (听鹂馆), Long Corridor (长廊), Pavilion of the Fragrance of Buddha (佛香阁) and I take a boat trip on Kunming Lake (昆明湖).
At the other end of the lake, there is the exquisite Seventeen-Arch Bridge shining under the sun. Walking my way around the lakeshore, I pass by Wenchang Tower (文昌阁), Heralding Spring Pavilion (知春亭), Hall of the Jade Ripples (玉渊堂) and finally get to the Garden of Harmonious Virtue (德和园), where the Theater Tower is located.
It is nearly 5pm when I get out of Summer Palace at its east gate. I know I am going to have a late dinner today when I get on the bus heading to the Bird’s Nest and Water Cube in Chaoyang District.
It is true when people say the Bird’s Nest and Water Cube look prettier at nighttime. These giant constructions are the proud records of China’s Olympics memories. No need to get inside, an exterior walk suffice to admire its handsomeness.
1. The Forbidden City / Imperial Palace Museum (故宫博物院)
Highlights: Massive royal palace imprinted with Chinese architectural beauty and long history.
Address: No.4 Jingshanqian Street, Dongcheng District, Beijing
Opening Hours: 8:30am – 5:00pm (1st April to 31st October), 8:30am – 4:30pm (1st November to 31st
March). Ticket offices close one hour before the close time. Closed on Mondays.
Suggested Visiting Time: 2-3 hours
Admission: RMB60/person (extra 10RMB/person for Clock House and Treasure House)
Getting There: Bus NO.1, 20, 82, 120, 126, 203 and 728 to Tian’anmen West Station (天安门东站); Bus NO. 1, 10, 22, 37, 52, 205, 802 and 728 to Tian’anmen West Station (天安门西站); Bus NO. 101, 109, 124, 202, 211 and 846 to Gugong Station (故宫站); Subway 1 to Tian’anmen Dong Station (天安门东站) or Tian’anmen Xi Station (天安门西站).
Note: The Meridian Gate at Tian’anmen Square is the only entrance and the Gate of Marshall Valor facing
Jingshan Park is the only exit.
2. Summer Palace (颐和园)
Highlights: Royal garden and Dragon Lady (慈禧)’s favorite spot for Peking Opera, offering a pleasant walk
in a hot day.
Address: NO.19 Xin-jian-gong-men Rd, Haidian District, Beijing
Opening Hours: 6:30am – 8:00pm (1st April to 31st October), 8:30am – 5:00pm (1st November to 31st
March). Ticket offices close one hour before the close time.
Suggested Visiting Time: 1-2 hours
Admission: RMB30/person (1st April to 31st October), RMB20/person (1st November to 31st March).
Extra fees apply for Garden of Harmonious Virtue (RMB5/person), Pavilion of the Fragrance of
Buddha (RMB10/person), Suzhou Street (RMB10/person), Wenchang Tower (RMB20/person).
Getting There: Bus NO. 209, 330, 331, 332, 346, 394, 508, 579, 584, 601, 609 and 696; Subway 4 to Summer Palace North Palace Gate Station (颐和园北宫门站)
3. Bird’s Nest and Water Cube (鸟巢，水立方)
Highlights: Postmodernism evident in architecture and holds the glorious memories of 2008 Beijing
Olympic Games. Today’s family place for summer day swimming and after dinner walk.
Address: No.11 Tianchen East Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing
Opening Hours: All-day for exterior visit
Suggested Visiting Time: 1 hour
Admission: Free for exterior visit
Getting There: Bus NO. 113, 407, 656, 660 and 689 to Beichen Bridge Xi Station (北辰桥西站); Bus NO. 328, 425, 484, 518 and 628 to Wali Nankou Station (洼里南口站); Subway 8 to Olympic Center Station (奥体中心站) or Olympic Park Station (奥林匹克公园站).
Transportation between Sites
1. Hostel to the Forbidden City: Walk 650m to Qianmen Station (前门站) and take Bus NO.5 or 82 to Xihuamen Station (西华门站) after 4 stops, walk 200m to the entrance.
2. The Forbidden City to Summer Palace: Walk 100m to Gogong Station (故宫站) to take Bus NO. 103 or 101 to Xisilukou Station (西四路口站) after 3 stops, walk 400m to Xisi Subway Station (西四地铁站) to take Subway 4 to Beigongmen Station (北宫门站) after 13 stops and exit at A1 Exit, walk 500m to Summer Palace.
3. Summer Palace to Bird’s Nest and Water Cube: Exit Summer Palace at its east gate and walk 200m to Yiheyuan Station (颐和园站) and take Bus NO.508, arrive at Chengfulukou Xi Station (成府路口西站) after 8 stops and change to Bus NO.86 to National Stadium Station (国家体育馆) after 5 stops and walk 500m.
4. Bird’s Nest and Water Cube to the hostel: Take Bus NO.82 to Qianmen Station (前门站) after 20 stops and walk 300m back to the hostel
Recommended Dinning Places
1. Yinxiang Xiao Guan (印巷小馆)
Notable Dishes: Golden Wrapped Curry Chicken (金包咖喱鸡), Sweet Shrimps (甜汁爆鲜虾), Blueberry Smashed Potatoes (蓝莓土豆泥), Kongpao Tofu Shrimps (宫保豆腐虾), Home-made Pear Soup (自制梨汤) and Yinxiang Fried Rice (印巷炒饭)
Address: NO.4 Weigongcun Street, Zhongguancun Nan Avenue, Haidian District, Beijing
Price: RMB 50-100/person
Tel: +86 010-88410598
2. Nado Spicy and Dry Hot Pot Restaurant (拿渡麻辣香锅)
Notable Dishes: Hot pot with everything you can imagine to put into
Address: NO.11 Xin’ao Mall, Hujing Dong Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing
Price: RMB 50-100/person
1. Security checks
When enter the Tian’anmen Square near its tower, there is the first security check and you need to get ride of fire lighter, matches and other flammable stuff. After getting your ticket to the Forbidden City, there is another check in front of the Meridian Gate.
Water can be brought into the Forbidden City. Designer lighters can be kept at the entrance and claimed back after the visit.
2. Supplies for long-hour walking
If you are planning on a long visit inside the Forbidden City or long walks in the city, you shall prepare yourself with enough water and quick food. Let’s face it, 10 Yuan for a bottle of water? That’s a rip-off you don’t need!
3. Extra fun at the Water Cube
Put this site as your last attraction for the day and continue the fun with a swimming inside it. Highly recommend for families with kids. There are over 100 facilities for water playing.
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