In Chinese history, Beijing has been the capital for several dynasties. When the P.R.C. was founded on Oct. 1st, 1949, the city was again chosen to be the capital of the brand new China. Its symbolic value is reflected in the fact that the emblem of the 2008 Olympic Games is the Chinese character “?,” a symbol and the shorter form of Beijing.
The architecture of the city’s central area manifests the traditional cultural concept of Chinese architectural art: it faces due south and extends into a squared city (the ancient city) in the eastern, western, northern and southern directions. Tian An Men, built in 1417 and situated on the north side of the Square, was the front gate of the Forbidden City, the palace of the Imperial City. 200m west of Tian An Men is Xin Hua Men, also known as the front gate of Zhong Nan Hai, which houses China’s paramount leaders and is the country’s political center.
Beijing is also the country’s economic center. It is one of China’s biggest transportation hubs, with highways and railways extending to all parts of the country and airlines connecting it to the rest of China as well as and the world
The universities and academic institutions situated in Beijing cannot be outnumbered by any other city. It is also home to innumerable museums, exhibition halls, and libraries. Every year, Beijing hosts various international culture weeks, and music and film festivals. The 2004 Sino-French Culture and Art Festival, for instance, was held in Beijing. It is the birthplace of the Chinese hi-tech industry - Zhong Guan Cun, often called China’s Silicon Valley – as well as the headquarters of countless publishing companies and news agencies.
Peking opera, Chinese comic dialogue, traditional tea houses, sihe (squared courtyard), and festive temple fairs are some of the unique cultural elements of Beijing. The former residences of celebrities such as Lao She and Mei Lanfang are also part of it.
A tour of Beijing must include a taste of the local cuisine. However, if one finds it hard to get used to, the food of all the other countries of the world can also be easily found.
Some popular tourist sites in Beijing include:
Tian An Men Square - the grandest capital downtown square of the world; the symbol of the city and the country.
The Forbidden City - the largest and the best preserved collection of imperial palace architectures of the world; consists of 9999 buildings and halls.
The Great Wall - extending from Shan Hai Guan (Shanhai Pass) in the east to Jia Yu Guan (Jiayu Pass) in the west, covering a distance of over 6000 km (10,000 li, or as in Chinese “Wan Li”, hence the name “Wan Li Chang Cheng (Great Wall)).”
Summer Palace - the best preserved royal garden of the world.
Beihai Park - the earliest built royal garden currently now preserved in the world.
The Temple of Heaven (Tiantan) - the grandest sacrificial altar of the world.
The Ming Tombs - the world’s best preserved complex of mausoleums with the most emperors buried.
Yun Ju Temple - the temple with the most stone Buddhist scripture.
Several airlines are available for travelling from Urumqi to Beijing every day. The International Airport of Urumqi is 17km from, or a 30-minute drive to, the downtown area, and is connected with the city’s center by a highway. Taking taxi only costs about 40 yuan. The express train No. T70 from Urumqi to Beijing also provides a comfortable trip.
While staying in Urumqi, there are 102 three-star hotels available. The taximeter of Urumqi starts at 6 yuan for 3 km and charges for 1.3 yuan/km later on. The Kazakh Pingguo Zhifu Restaurant is at your service during your stay (at Da Ximen, opposite of Foreign Language Bookstore).
According to the information provided by DIY travellers, they prefer the Qianmen Home Inn (tel: 010-64785554). The hotel is situated in downtown Beijing, a ten minute walk from Tian An Men Square, and very close to the Forbidden City and the Temple of Heaven. Take the airport bus to Xidan Civil Aviation Building and take a taxi from there to Dazhalan. Then a walk of about 3 minutes will get you to your destination. The communication at this place is very convenient, making it the hotel that many foreign travelers choose to live in. At night, the evening market serves all kinds of Beijing food and desserts. Each hotel room is equipped with a map, a tour guide of transportation, and Internet.
There are many restaurants at your service near Home Inn and Dazhalan. We recommend Pianyi Fang Peking Duck, Duyichu Shaomai, and Yonghe Soybean Milk (for breakfast). Walking along the street near Dazhalan, you’ll find Lao She Tea House where you may enjoy Chinese folk music and tea simultaneously, experiencing the old Beijing life style. Remember you might need to take some snacks when visiting tourist sites.
For a 5-day tour of Beijing, the following sites are a must-see on any tourist’s itinerary:
1. Tian An Men Square: With Home Inn as the starting point, head toward Qian Men and turn right at the foot of the building; you will find the famous Square which can hold about 1 million people. Go straight ahead you will enter the Forbidden City (which will cost at least half a day for a tour). If you’re not tired, Beihai Park and a Hutong tour are waiting for you. However, since the whole tour is pretty exhausting, you might need to adjust the schedule accordingly and postpone some sites to the next day.
2. The Temple of Heaven: Walk southward (with Home Inn as the starting point) and cross the Zhusikou Street; the Temple is straight ahead. This will only take you 15 minutes. It is the place where the emperors offered sacrifices to the heaven. Its design fully manifests the theory that man is an integral part of nature.
You may choose to go shopping in Wang Fu Jing Commercial Street later that day.
3. Yuanming Yuan and Summer Palace: A tour of the Summer Palace requires a good rest before visiting.
4. The Great Wall: No.919 bus is the best choice since it doesn’t cost much and is very convenient. To visit the Great Wall and the Ming Tombs, you have two routes to choose. Route No.1 includes four sites i.e. Ju Yong Pass, Bada Ling Great Wall, the Ming Tombs, and the amusement park, which leaves each stop very limited time. In contrast, Route No.2 has only two sites --- Bada Ling and the Ming Tombs. The bus station for Route No.1 is at Diaoyu Tai, the opposite of the north side of Yonghe Soybean Milk (across the street). The bus station for Route No.2 is next to the National Museum (a Quan Ju De Peking Duck Restaurant is nearby). Bus tickets cost 12 yuan apiece.
Certain information is useful when visiting Beijing.
1. There is a two hour time difference between Beijing and Urumqi
2. Stores and public transportation close at 9:00 pm.
3. It is advisable to take the taxis on the streets instead of those waiting at stations; the price is on the taximeter. Starting price is 12 yuan/3km and 1.8 yuan/km later on (or 1.2yuan/km, according to the sign on the taxi).
4. The routes, not the travelling distance, determine the ticket price of the underground railway. For Line No.1 and No.2 it is 3 yuan, No.13 it is 5 yuan.
5. Tickets for tourist sites are only for sale before 3:00 pm. The Forbidden City does not accept visitors after 4:00 pm. Large sites may require 3 hours for a full tour while small sites require 1 hour.
6. Beijing is a very big city. A very short distance on the map might be very long for travelling.
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