An introduction to the Northern Capital.
Beijing or Northern Capital was made capital of the world’s largest ever, land-based empire by the Mongol conqueror, Kublai Khan, in 1271. What was then the quiet market town of Yanjing was promptly remodeled into a glorious city befitting the attention and tributes of the world.
After the Mongols were overthrown in the coup of 1368 however, the first Ming Emperor Hongwu (r. 1368-1398) relocated the capital elsewhere. His descendant, unnerved by the continuing threat of the Mongols to the North, returned here half a century later. Yong Le (r. 1402-1424), the third Ming emperor, cleared away the Mongols’ palaces and redesigned the capital city to reflect the greater glory of the new, ethnically Han Chinese dynasty. It was during this reign that the Forbidden city took its current form. In effect Beijing, as it was now named, was divided by perimeter walls into two cities – a rectangular Forbidden City to the North, adjoining an oblong Imperial one to the South.
When the Manchus invaded China to establish the Qing dynasty (1644-1910), they kept much of Beijing’s architecture unchanged. Indeed, the Manchus were so thoroughly sinicized that they came to embody the Ming dynasty’s most conservative values. Their most notable additions to Beijing’s architecture are the Imperial summer palaces to the city’s north.
Some of the architecture that you see today dates to the first decades of communist rule. In many cases Soviet designs, such as you’ll find all over Eastern Europe, were used to provide inexpensive structures for the incipient and penniless state. Since the mid-80s though, Beijing has seen a differently motivated construction boom. Taiwanese, Singaporean and Hong Kong business people are investing more and more money into the city’s burgeoning skyline. Like Jack and his Beanstalk, Beijingers wake up every morning to see that their city has grown even taller, as if by magic.
It may surprise you to see that so many Western shops, brands and products have preceded you here. For the most part, Chinese people do not look like they can afford a Rolex, a Ferarri or a Burberry. Yet somebody’s buying them! Since it’s not in the interest of wealthy mainland Chinese to draw attention to themselves, it’s up to you to go out and seek the new China.
5 Must-Do Things
||Discover the Great Wall from uncrowded stretches
Forget the crowded Badaling sector. Go to Mutianyu or Juyongguan instead. The Mutianyu Great Wall is known for its beautiful surroundings – dense woods and rich pastures changing colors with the seasons of a year. This section of the Great Wall is located in Huairou District 80km on the northeast of Beijing.
Surrounded by mountains, Juyongguan Pass served as a strategic military stronghold and was the site of many battles. The circular pass is complete with supporting facilities, including a city tower, watch tower and a meeting place for the emperor. Juyongguan is surrounded by lush forests and magnificent mountains. Lunch can be arranged on Great Wall upon request.
Get closer to the Forbidden City than anyone else
The Forbidden City was the seat of Imperial power for 500 years and is now a major tourist attraction in China. The total area of the complex is 183 acres. Altogether there are 9,999 1/2 rooms in the palace. The palace complex exemplifies traditional Chinese palatial architecture and has influenced cultural and architectural developments in the East. The Forbidden City was declared a World Heritage Site in 1987 and is listed by UNESCO as the largest collection of preserved ancient wooden structures in the world.
Explore the Hutong and Siheyuan
The word “hutong” means narrow lanes and was formed during the Yuan Dynasty in the 13th century. In Beijing, there are mainly two hutong areas – Shichahai area in Dongcheng District and Qianmen area in Xuanwu District, both well preserved. You may explore the narrow and curved alleys on foot, by pedicab or by bike.
Siheyuan literally means a courtyard house, a house enclosed by four walls, called a quadrangle courtyard. In Chinese history, the Siheyuan building was the basic system of the building for housing, palaces, temples, and government offices. There are three kinds of Siheyuan – small, medium and big courtyard houses. The well preserved residential quadrangles are mainly scattered over the East District, West District of the city.
Not available on weekends.
||Tastes the Old Peking Flavor
Beijing has a huge number of restaurants with different cuisines from all over China as well as from many parts of the world. There are also quite a few types of food that are unique to Beijing. If you are expecting something different, you are suggested to go to a local restaurant. You can experience how it is being a local and taste what they normally eat.
The highly recommended places include: Huguosi Snacks Restaurant(Beijing traditional food store) , Jiumen Snacks, Gui Street and Laoshe teahouse
Catch the early morning life of the locals
Beijing in the early morning is just like a huge sports ground. Every morning there are as many as about 120,000 local residents participate in various public activities in almost all Beijing parks and other gathering places such as the open places under the overpasses. The activities range from running, jogging, dancing, singing, to Chinese calligraphy written on the ground with big brushes and Taiji accompanied by classical music. Temple of Heaven is one of the most popular places. You will see the other side of the temple in the early morning beside the legend of echo and the prominent places.
A private Kong fu class available in the garden next to the Temple of Heaven. Includes an English speaking coach. Learn philosophy and also practice basic Kungfu
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5 Day Beijing Tour
Upon arrival in Beijing, you will meet your tour guide and transfer to your hotel. Touring program starts from the next day.
Visit The Forbidden City, The Tiananmen Square, The Temple of Heaven
Dinner: Peking Duck Banquet And Restaurant Tour
Visit Juyongguan Great Wall and Ming Tombs
Dinner:Imperial Cuisine (Dinner Suggestion)
Visit The Summer Palace, Take a Hutong Tour With Rickshaw Ride, Family Visit, and Visit Beihai Park
At leisure before transfer to the airport for your flight
- 4 nights accommodation at 5-star hotel Peninsula or similar
- English speaking guide
- Private car transfer
- Entrance fees as mentioned
Note: dinner is not included and at your own costs.
Events in Beijing/Things to Do
Shopping Museums Architecture 798 Art Zone the relics and monuments nightlife
Customised tours or special arrangements can be made, send your requirements to firstname.lastname@example.org.