In a few months’ time the 2012 London Olympics will be in motion. To get into the Olympic spirit, why not travel to Beijing and venture to the city’s National Stadium which hosted the Beijing Olympics in 2008. Nowadays, the stadium is a must-see tourist attraction and has some 20,000 visitors stepping through the entrance daily. For a standard adult ticket, expect to pay 50RMB to enter the stadium. To reach the stadium, visitors can use Line 10 of the subway to Beitucheng and then change to Line 8 to the Olympic Sports Centre Station. There are also many Beijing Tours which cover this attraction, if wanting a more structured visit.

The stadium is an impressive sight both inside and out. It has a seating a capacity of 91,000 people and reaches a height of over 68 meters. The initial construction of the stadium started nearly a decade ago and cost around a whopping 33 million dollars. The ingenious architecture giving the stadium its unofficial name, the ‘Bird’s Nest’ after its appearance, has a characteristically Chinese feel with an influence of the country’s ceramic designs. Whilst the interior of the stadium embraces the country’s favorite color (red), which subsequently gives the place a warm sensation. After issues with incorporating a retractable roof in the initial design of the construction; instead, an inspirational semi-transparent air bubble film has been adopted which simply adds the organic depiction of the place.

Even before entering the Olympic Green (i.e. the surrounding grounds of the stadium); there is a hive of activity. Amongst the mass of tourists you can find many kite-sellers encouraging you to buy –  these kites are a great souvenir kids by the way. Around the Olympic Green there is also the chance to go to the National Aquatics Centre (also called the ‘Water Cube’. Again, this building epitomises Chinese design in that it embodies the Chinese concept of a square earth and circular heaven. There are different admissions fees for the Water Cube depending on the activity (as part of it is now a waterpark for the public). General admission to the Water Cube cost 30RMB.

A trip around the Olympic Green is an excellent way to view one of China’s recent developmental accomplishments. In addition, the grounds provide an enjoyable couple of hours for all the family. One activity, which can be done, for instance, is being able to use a Segway on the Stadium’s track – however, these can be quite expensive. The stadium has an informative exhibition area with a showcase of some of the actual equipment used to facilitate the 2008 Olympic ceremonies (such as displaying the Olympic torch!). Despite the conclusion of the Beijing Olympics, plans are underway to redevelop the area and build a shopping mall and hotel within the Olympic Green. This in turn should attract more tourists to the vicinity and encourage more Beijing flights and demonstrating that the city’s Olympic Spirit is certainly living on. Finally, take a chance to go to the Olympic Green at night and without a shadow of a doubt will be in awe of vibrancy of the place.

 

 

 

Jack Li

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