Things to do in Beijing Part I

Few cities in the world have a history as rich and immense as Beijing. Renowned for its opulent palaces, temples, art treasures, culture and cuisine, Beijing is the capital of the People’s Republic of China. Regarded as one of the four Great Ancient Capitals of China. Beijing has a rich historical past. This city has been the ruling seat of over 20 emperors and many social and cultural revolutionaries. The Ming and Qing dynasty emperors ruled the country in a monarchical system until the formation of a republic in 1911. Today, Beijing is the political, cultural and educational epicenter of China with over 17 million people living in its 18 districts. Apart from the Great Wall ( which we covered in our last post), here are some of the things you can do in and around Beijing.

Forbidden City – Located in the heart of Beijing, the Forbidden City served as the Chinese imperial palace from the Ming Dynasty to the end of the Qing Dynasty. The Forbidden City is a translation of the Chinese name Zi Jin Cheng (literally “Purple Forbidden City”)Zi, or “Purple”, refers to the North Star. Ancient China was referred to as the Ziwei Star and the Chinese astronomers during that period believed that the North Star was in the center of heaven and it was also the abode of the Celestial Emperor, who is the heavenly father of the emperor. The Forbidden City, as the residence of the terrestrial emperor, was sacred and no one could enter or leave the palace without the emperor’s permission hence the appropriate name, ‘forbidden’. Built during the reign of Emperor Chengzu  in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), the Forbidden City saw the reign of 24 emperors. Besides being the home of the emperors and their massive households ( the emperor’s concubines, servants, maids, cooks, etc), it was also the ceremonial and political center of the Chinese government then. The emperor would hold daily/weekly/monthly court sessions with his ministers and advisers, and discuss national matters from the economy, state security to crime and taxes. The equivalent of a modern day parliament minus the democracy, the emperor would also consider petitions from various local and state officials.

Photos of Forbidden City (Imperial Palace), Beijing
This photo of Forbidden City (Imperial Palace) is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Consisting of 980 buildings and covering an impressive area of 720,000 m2 (7,800,000 sq ft), the palace is the exemplification and embodiment of traditional Chinese palatial architecture, and has served as inspiration for numerous cultural and architectural developments all over the world. Today, the Forbidden City is an UNESCO World Heritage Site and is listed as the largest collection of preserved ancient wooden structures in the world. The complex now also houses the Palace Museum which is considered one of the most popular tourist attractions in China, and features an extensive collection of artwork and artifacts from the imperial collections of the Ming and Qing dynasties. Re-live the palace life as it was back then, walk the halls and stand in the rooms where the emperor of China once lived.

Opening hours: 8:30 to 16:30 (Nov. 1 – the next Mar. 31); tickets not available after 15:30 and last entry at 15:40.8:30 to 17:00 (Apr. 1- Oct.31); tickets not available after 16:00 and last entry at 16:10.

Photos of Temple of Confucius (Kong Miao), Beijing
This photo of Temple of Confucius (Kong Miao) is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Temple of Confucius – Located on Guozijian street inside Anding Gate and just 17 minutes away from Fraser Residence Beijing, the Temple of Confucius was initially built in 1302. Today the temple occupies a total area of 22,000 square meters with earlier additions during the Ming and Qing dynasties. The temple is devoted entirely to Confucius, who is regarded as the greatest thinker and educationalist in ancient China. The second largest Confucian temple consists of four courtyards and the main structures include Xianshi Gate, Dacheng Gate, Dacheng Hall and Chongshengci. Dacheng Hall is the main building in the temple, where the memorial ceremony for Confucius was often held. Upon entering the temple, visitors can observe on either side of the courtyard, 198 stone tablets containing 51,624 names of the Jinshi (scholars) of the Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties. One of the key attractions in the temple is the 700-year-old Chujian Bai (translated as Touch Evil Cypress). Legend has it that during the Ming Dynasty, a high ranking government official, Yan Song, came to worship Confucius on behalf of the emperor. While he was passing under the tree, one of the branches of the tree caught his head wear and exposed his head. Since Yan Song was a treacherous official, people believed that the old tree could distinguish between good and evil people hence the name.

Opening hours: 08:30 – 17:00 everyday

Images of Beijing Capital Museum, Beijing
This photo of Beijing Capital Museum is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Capital Museum – Located in the Confucius Temple at 16 Fuxingmenwai Dajie, Xicheng District, the Capital Museum was formally opened in 1981 but its present building was only built in the late 1990s. Approved by Beijing Municipal Government in 1999, further approved by the State Council after being submitted by the National Development and Reform Commission in 2001, the New Capital Museum finally commenced its construction in December 2001. Today it contains over 200,000 cultural relics in its collection, only a small fraction of it are exhibited, and a significant percentage of the museum’s art collection come from artifacts unearthed in Beijing. You can learn  a lot about Chinese history, culture and Beijing folk stories at Capital Museum. The exhibits include bones of the  Peking Man,  development of Beijing as the capital, building of the Forbidden City, civil war, rise of communism, to current politics. There are also exhibits on changes that occurred as China embraced Buddhism. Ever since the establishment of Beijing Capital Museum, it has held hundreds of different exhibitions from history, cultural relics, to revolutionary history and folk custom, etc.

Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday; 09:00 – 17:00 (admission before 16:00)

Prince Gong’s Mansion – Considered as Beijing’s largest and best preserved Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) princely mansion, Prince Gong’s Mansion is a fine example of ancient Chinese architecture. Located at Qianhai Xijie to the north of Shichahai and 40 minutes away from Fraser Suites Beijing, this cultural and historical treasure allows visitors to gain an insight into the lifestyle of the privileged classes in the feudal society during that era. The particular building has a rather interesting history. It is believed that the mansion was built in 1777 and was the private residence of Heshen. A member of the Emperor’s imperial guard, the handsome and intelligent 25 years old Heshen caught the attention of the Qing Dynasty Emperor Qianlong. It wasn’t before long that Heshen was promoted to government positions normally occupied by the most experienced officials. Some of these positions involved managing finance and as well the appointment of civil servants. He amassed great wealth through corruption and taking bribes.

Photos of Gong Wang Fu, Beijing
This photo of Prince Gong’s Mansion is courtesy of TripAdvisor

The aging Qinglong turned a blind eye to Heshen’s corruption but his successor, Emperor Jiaqing (1796-1820) was not having any of it. He had Heshen executed and his property, which was assessed at over 800 million ounces of silver, was confiscated. After the property was passed around the royal family for awhile, the ownership was eventually transferred to Prince Gong by Emperor Xianfeng (1851-1862). Covering a total area of 60,000 square meters (14.9 acres), just over half of it is for residential purposes while the rest is ornamental. The residential portion consists of three sets of courtyards occupying a central, eastern and western location. The main, central section has the major hall, a rear hall and an extended pavilion that has some 40 rooms. Each of the western and eastern sections contains three smaller courtyards. Surrounded by artificial mountains, the garden (Jincui Yuan) is immaculately laid out and has a distinctive design. and is of high standing. The garden covers an area of 28,000 square meters (6.9 acres) and includes twenty scenic spots, each very different from the previous. If you want a peek into the culture and lifestyle of the Imperial China’s elites, this place is a must-see!

Opening hours: 7:30 – 16:30 (March to November); 8:30 – 16:30 (other months)

For your comfort and convenience in Beijing, consider staying at either one of our two properties: Fraser Suites Beijing and Fraser Residence Beijing.

The ultimate luxury in apartment living, Fraser Suites CBD Beijing epitomises style and comfort, that surpasses the service level of many Beijing hotels. The 357 Gold-Standard Beijing apartment features contemporary concepts designed for luxury living. Interior furnishings are international in appeal, complemented by Chinese motifs to reflect the rich heritage of the location. A complete range of facilities including meetings rooms, business centre, and an extensively-equipped gymnasium means you will always have everything you need at hand. Convenience is the buzzword for Fraser Suites CBD, Beijing. The Subway No. 1 line and Subway No. 10 line lie just a few minutes away, and the residence is situated in the inside road of trunk lines spanning different directions. A scenic park nearby ensures an idyllic balance between business and relaxation. With its comprehensive offerings and strategic locale, Fraser Suites CBD, Beijing provides the perfect home away from home making it an ideal alternative for hotel accommodation in Beijing.

With a home at Fraser Residence CBD East, Beijing, guests get beauty and luxury both inside and out. The view of the modern cityscape and beautiful landscaped gardens provide a perfect backdrop for the contemporary concepts of your stylish apartment in Beijing.
From the exclusive elevator access to the separate living room, dining and kitchen areas, from the tasteful furnishing to beautiful finishes, each detail is meticulously considered to create a comfortable and cosy haven for your family. For recreation, guests can enjoy in-house facilities such as the gymnasium with jet pool, steam and sauna, DVD movie library, all-day dining, members’ lounge and snooker lounge. The Business Centre offers a range of secretarial services and meeting spaces while round-the-clock reception, concierge and security services mean help is always at hand.

Located in the midst of Beijing’s invigorating Chaoyang district, Fraser Residence CBD East-Beijing provides easy access to a wealth of leisure and entertainment facilities. Close by is the SOHO New Town, which has a cinema, outdoor tennis courts, children’s playgrounds and a plethora of restaurants, teahouses and cafes. Sample Beijing’s delicacies or browse quality retail items at Shin Kong Place or Central Place Shopping Mall. Also within the vicinity are the Olympic Park and colourful markets like Panjiayuan Antique Market, Silk Street Market and Laitai Flowers and Plants Market. Sanlitun Street, one of Beijing’s most popular places for its vibrant nightlife, is a short distance from your apartment. Travelling in, out of and around the area is a breeze, with easy access to the 4th Ring Road (Si Huan Lu) – an express road which runs around the Beijing city. Surrounded by international schools, international clubs, foreign-related business areas and service facilities, foreign ministries and embassies, Fraser Residence CBD East-Beijing is an unmatched domicile for savvy business travellers.

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One thought on “Things to do in Beijing Part I

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