Beijing starts a 72-hour visa-free stay policy for citizens of 45 countries

According to Beijing municipal authorities, Beijing will start a 72-hour visa-free stay policy for citizens of 45 countries from January 1, 2013. International travelers enjoy 72 hours transit visa policy based on the requirements of the Ministry of Public Security, in arriving at the Beijing Capital Airport, shall comply with the following conditions: 1) in line […]

According to Beijing municipal authorities, Beijing will start a 72-hour visa-free stay policy for citizens of 45 countries from January 1, 2013.

International travelers enjoy 72 hours transit visa policy based on the requirements of the Ministry of Public Security, in arriving at the Beijing Capital Airport, shall comply with the following conditions:

1) in line with the scope of the citizens of the country, including:

— European Schengen visa agreement countries (24), Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia , Spain, Sweden, Switzerland

Other European countries (7) Russia, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine

— American States (6) United States, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Chile

Oceania countries (2), Australia, New Zealand

Asian countries (6) South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Brunei, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar;

2)  holding valid international travel documents to prove their nationality;

3)  in line with the conditions of entry to the country or region;

4)  held by the exit from the Beijing Capital International Airport way ticket to a third country or region, or prove within 72 hours to determine the date and seat;

5) equipped with the entry and exit of airlines reporting to the border authorities.

Beijing border audited in line with the transit visa-free conditions, will be handled in accordance with the provisions of the transit procedures.

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For more information on travel to Beijing with visa free, contact us at: info@chinatraveldepot.com, or visit http://www.chinatraveldepot.com/website/beijing-transit-tour/#?utm_source=CTD&utm_medium=home&utm_campaign=72hours

 

Peking Uni

Prior to this piece, I wrote an article with the name ‘A Confucian Education’ which mentioned Beijing’s ancient Imperial Academy. Shifting away from this, the city is home to the country’s top universities which are renowned for their academic excellence. This is none more true than that of China’s first modern national university; namely, Peking […]

Prior to this piece, I wrote an article with the name ‘A Confucian Education’ which mentioned Beijing’s ancient Imperial Academy. Shifting away from this, the city is home to the country’s top universities which are renowned for their academic excellence. This is none more true than that of China’s first modern national university; namely, Peking University. Students, their families and indeed anybody can visit the university’s campus; so be sure to make room for this when you travel to Beijing. The university has its own subway station, (Peking University), which is perfect for student dashing to class albeit visitors coming from their respective Beijing hotels.  The creative comic sketches along the subway walls certainly send a fond reminder that you are entering university grounds.

Originally called Imperial University of Peking, the university was founded in 1898 to substitute the Imperial Academy. Since then, the university has gone from strength to strength and ranks especially highly in fields such as science and has had many notable figures pass through its gates such as Mao Zedong. To absorb some of the university’s culture, it would be recommended that you visit some of Peking’s fine exhibitions in its many museums. The Arthur M. Sackler Museum of Art and Archaeology, for one, presents some fascinating artifacts from excavations.

To really appreciate what the Peking campus has to offer, take some time to look at some of its magnificent architecture. One good place to enter the campus, therefore, is from the West Gate as here you will be able to experience the grandeur of the university passing through its old crimson royal gates between two might stone lions. Another attraction which (literally) cannot be missed is the Boya Pagoda which towers over Weiming Lake. The pagoda was once used as a water tower but now is simply iconic in the university’s landscape. Further on, is Yannan Garden which was built in 1998 to celebrate Peking’s centenary. This is undoubtedly a must-see section of the campus and complements to prestigious nature of its surroundings.

It is always wonderful to imagine that these universities were the very places that great thinkers also once strolled. Perhaps the very atmosphere will also inspire you in conjuring monumental ideas when wandering around the serene Weiming Lake, for instance. In any case, the campus grounds are peaceful whilst also simultaneously full of life. People can be seen mulling around the lake, families educating their children what a squirrel is (despite it being a chipmunk), whilst others cycle in the most leisurely of fashions. Indeed, if you like the sound of Beijing tours, then why not try a cycle tour to explore one of the quickest and most enjoyable way to get around the campus.

 

 

 

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Zizhuyuan Park

On May 23, 2012, in Beijing, Nature Scenery, Parks & Gardens, by Jack Li

One very special spot in amongst the busy roads of northwest Beijing is the Zizhuyuan Park (also referred to as ‘purple’ or ‘black’ bamboo park). It is easy to spend a good few hours in this beautiful location enjoying getting lost between its labyrinths of paths which weave in-between the bamboo shoots before heading back […]

One very special spot in amongst the busy roads of northwest Beijing is the Zizhuyuan Park (also referred to as ‘purple’ or ‘black’ bamboo park). It is easy to spend a good few hours in this beautiful location enjoying getting lost between its labyrinths of paths which weave in-between the bamboo shoots before heading back with peace-of-mind to one of the splendid China hotels in the area. Rated as an AAAA tourist attraction means that Zizhuyuan Park is a definite must-see for anyone who decides to travel to Beijing.

Depending on which gate you use to enter the park, depends on the subway station you get off at. Either the National Library station or the Beijing Zoo (although the latter is about a good 15 minute walk from the station) is probably the most convenient means to reach the park. On entrance to the park you will notice that there are no shortcomings on the scenic front, with approximately 50 species of bamboo inhabiting the park and three lakes crossing the 48 hectares of parkland.

As suggested earlier, the park is a welcomed retreat from the fast-paced roads surrounding it. If anything, Zizhuyuan feels like it possesses its own aura with even the normally urban-dwelling pigeons appearing as if they are gossiping casually whilst amassed on the branches dangling over the placid lake. Head towards the lakes and you may well find a few mandarin ducks with mother duck directing her brood. From here, you can sit and watch the tranquil waters as time goes by.

Spanning from the lakes are the various bamboo gardens which skirt through the park whereby you will have the pleasure of reading the tongue-twisting names of bamboo species such as ‘phyllostachys propinqua’ and ‘phyllostachys bambusoides’. A particularly magical section of the park is Yunshi Garden which includes some enchanting spots such as the waterfall at Qinglianyanxiu (Bright Scene of Refreshing Elegance) and the springs of Jiangnanzhuyun (Graceful Bamboos). No trip to this park is, of course, not complete without visiting Banzhu Lane (Lane of Mottled Bamboos). Indeed, the ‘purple’ mottles of the bamboo is where the park gets its name from. The legend states that these mottles represent the tearstains of the sage-king Yao’s daughters, Ehuang and Nuying. Interpretive sculptures of the daughters are an eye-catching sight in the park. The mottled lane is clearly popular insomuch as the odd tent could be seen camouflaged in its foliage.  

Note that this park has more than bamboo – although bamboo is wonderful in its own right. Indeed, Zizhuyuan plays host to a classy store called Royal Bamboo, has a small amusement park, the usual outdoor gym, Mingyuange Teahouse and Zhuyun Restaurant and a Henhuadu (Lotus Ferry Crossing). Youxianshanguan’s (Friendship Garden) name is made evident here after seeing the enthusiastic chess players and marvellous chess-piece sculptures uniting in games of goodwill. Thus the park is multi-faceted and attracts visitors throughout the day (or night as the case may be) and is a welcomed break on any China travel tour.

The Old Summer Palace

On May 22, 2012, in Beijing, Historical Relics, Nature Scenery, by Jack Li

Many have heard of the Summer Palace, but what of Yuan Ming Yuan or the ‘Old Summer Palace’? In order to truly grasp the history of the Summer Palace, then take some time to travel to Beijing and have a sombre reflection of the once memorising formal Imperial Palace. The palace can be reached from […]

Many have heard of the Summer Palace, but what of Yuan Ming Yuan or the ‘Old Summer Palace’? In order to truly grasp the history of the Summer Palace, then take some time to travel to Beijing and have a sombre reflection of the once memorising formal Imperial Palace. The palace can be reached from exit B at Yuanmingyuan Station, subway Line 4 which means it is quite manageable to access the palace from whichever of the Beijing hotels you decide to stay in.

 

Before entering the palace grounds, expect to be met by a showcase of en tertainment. With performers encouraging you to join in, the atmosphere in the palace courtyard is rather thrilling. The apparatus which the performers use are slightly out of the norm, with diablo
-like contraptions making whirling noises and that projects an almighty bang as if gunpowder has exploded.

In the days of the Second Opium War, the Old Summer Palace was ransacked as retaliation by French and British troops so therefore today, the palace lies in ruins. Some parts of the grounds, have, nonetheless, been restored in the 1990s; such the Jianbiting in 1993, which in turn has made the place a rather attractive location to visit. Compared to the ‘new’ Summer Palace, the grounds have a more natural and raw appearance as opposed to the pristine gardens of its successor. Additionally, in contrast to the ‘new’ palace, the ‘old’ one has (from its remains) a European appearance. Indeed, the ruins can be likened to that of classical Greco-Roman architecture with marble-like white stones.

In its heyday, as indicated by the ruins, the palace would have looked incredible. For example, the largest building at the palace, The Haiyan Hall was adorned with bronze sculptures with symbolic animal heads representing the 12-year cycle of human births would spray water. Whilst the exterior of Haiyan Hall would also have been a radiant sight with towering fountains glistening in the summer heat. Water certainly played a major role in old palace and this is made clear when observing the strange-looking structure called the Haiyantang. At first glance, the Haiyantang appears like a upturned pyramid, however, its original purpose was to act as a 160 cubic meters tin reservoir.

Without doubt, just going for a walk around the palace’s lakes is pleasing in itself. Due to the palace being abandoned most of the grounds, bar the designated ruins area; feels like you are walking in the countryside. The lakes themselves are swamped in reeds and water lilies which subsequently enhances the timeless and ancient effect of the place. As a concluding thought, a traditional boat ride would be a premium choice to finish the day off in the palace grounds on any China travel itinerary to the city. If you’re lucky enough, you may even be able to spot some of the palace’s majestic black swans!

 

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Sunny SOLANA

On May 18, 2012, in Beijing, China Travel Gossip, More Places of Interest, Shopping, by Jack Li

As discussed in the earlier China travel-related article, ‘Negotiating the Markets’, Beijing is a smashing place to strike up some excellent bargains. Yet aside from haggle-factor, the city has some superb shopping complexes throughout the city which can, per se, entice people to travel to Beijing. Essentially, for a change from the historical albeit cultural […]

As discussed in the earlier China travel-related article, ‘Negotiating the Markets’, Beijing is a smashing place to strike up some excellent bargains. Yet aside from haggle-factor, the city has some superb shopping complexes throughout the city which can, per se, entice people to travel to Beijing.

Essentially, for a change from the historical albeit cultural experiences of what Beijing has to offer, perhaps take a trip to the SOLANA Lifestyle Shopping Park. So what is so special about this shopping mall and how does it differ from any other? Well, the answer is that this mall is has a fabulous design and is set is a one of the most beautiful locations in the city. SOLANA is situated on the cusp of Chaoyang Park, (the largest urban green space in Asia) and is a few minutes’ walk from Liangmaqiao subway station. From what I have seen, most malls in Beijing open later than Western malls; SOLANA is no exception, as with normal opening hours being 11am – hence there is no rush when visiting here.

The spaciousness of SOLANA makes the place feel airy feel and provides a safe environment. It is, therefore, a prime location to bring the family; even, would you believe, on a sunny day! The design of SOLANA is one of a European town (or as my American friend insisted, of a Californian mall). Whatever the place is meant to resemble, it is still one of the more exceptional malls I have visited in the city. The layout of the complex makes it manageable to maneuver with the place divided into thematic sections. In particular, the complex has designed a so-called ‘eight-shape route’ which allows customers to easily access all the shopping sections for convenience.

Having a Western-style, the SOLANA naturally has higher prices than the regular retail outlets in Beijing. However, if fashion is your thing, then this mall would definitely be a priority on your stay in Beijing. The Meridian Department Store at the end of the complex, for instance, is recommended for buying quality leather and jewelry. If you are staying in Beijing for some time, and you love to shop for luxury brands, then it might be worth considering investing in the SOLANA’s membership schemes to get the most out of your shopping experience.

It should be emphasised that SOLANA is not merely a paradise for shoppers. Indeed, it is also a place of entertainment, with a cinema and a chance to ice skate. Further to this, the complex is very family friendly and has a section dedicated to children called ‘Kidstown’. When I was visiting, for example, a really fun and creativity activity was going on for kids to paint huge Easter eggs. For a more mature outlook, SOLANA has a selection of classy bars and dining venues in which to choose. Dining Street and Landmark Wharf Bar Street are two notable examples. Landmark Wharf Bar Street is an especially attractive section of the complex as this is one of the few places to gaze out of the city, eat  some Western-style food, melt-away and absorb some jazz. Rest assured SOLANA is a pleasant getaway from the sometimes hectic city-life and more importantly, it location means it is nearby to an assortment of Beijing hotels.

 

 

 

 

Beijing Normal University

On May 10, 2012, in Beijing, Modern Architecture, More Places of Interest, by Jack Li

If you travel to Beijing you will certainly pass more than one university on your way and sometimes you might not even realize it. Not all universities are as big and famous as Beijing Daxue or Tsinghua University but there are lots of bigger and smaller universities in the city that are worth stopping by […]

If you travel to Beijing you will certainly pass more than one university on your way and sometimes you might not even realize it. Not all universities are as big and famous as Beijing Daxue or Tsinghua University but there are lots of bigger and smaller universities in the city that are worth stopping by for a short visit on your Beijing Tours. Even if you’re not that interested in seeing the inside of the buildings you can walk around on the campus and take the opportunity to sit down in a quiet spot and enjoy a little snack and a drink or have a look at what’s going on around you. On the weekends universities are places where not only students spend their free time but also visitors because during the day they are in general open to the public.

When you look at the main building you wouldn’t think that its history goes back over a hundred years. It was founded in 1902 as one of the earliest established institutions of higher education in the country. After several changes it was named Beijing Normal University in 1923 and it is today one of the nation’s first ten key universities, situated northwest of Beijing’s center. In contrast to its past the architecture of the university is modern rather than traditional. Especially the entrance of the main building with its particular design the fountain in front of it offers a great opportunity to take some nice pictures. When you enter the main hall you’ll find a model of Normal University which gives you an impression on how big the grounds really are. At present, BNU has 22 schools, 6 departments, 14 research institutes and a number of research centers. Currently over 16,000 full time students are enrolled including 8,000 undergraduate students and over 7,000 master’s degree and doctoral candidates.

The university’s main subjects include Chinese Language and Culture, Historical Studies, Psychology, Pedagogy, Pre-school Education and Studies of Educational Techniques. With a growing number of foreign students coming to Chinese universities BNU also offers different Chinese language programs and cooperates with numerous foreign universities. One reason why over 2,000 students from other countries are currently enrolled at BNU is China’s fast growing economy and with that the demand for Chinese speaking employees in foreign countries.

In 2011 BNU had the honor of welcoming Premier Wen Jiabao to the graduation ceremony at the university. The reason for this important visit was the first year of tuition free normal graduates. Nearly everywhere in the world education is an important element of a country’s culture and therefore it’s interesting to see some differences and common points between different universities. Many big and well-known universities are not far from the city center. For that reason you can easily stop by on your China Tours for a short visit.

Jingshan: The Park on the Hill

On May 9, 2012, in Beijing, Nature Scenery, Parks & Gardens, by Jack Li

At nearly 50 meters, climbing to the top of Jingshan Park (also called ‘Coal Hill’) may be quite a mission; but once there, the views are astounding. Justification for walking up the steep steps to the top, (and perhaps in booking your Beijing flights), is that you will be able to gaze in awe at […]

At nearly 50 meters, climbing to the top of Jingshan Park (also called ‘Coal Hill’) may be quite a mission; but once there, the views are astounding. Justification for walking up the steep steps to the top, (and perhaps in booking your Beijing flights), is that you will be able to gaze in awe at the majestic Forbidden City. Listed as an AAAA scenery spot in Beijing and approximately covering 230,000 square meters the park is unquestionably a China travel must-see attraction. It is remarkable to think that the hill itself was created from the material dug to build the Forbidden City’s moat giving it a deep-rooted connection with the nation’s past.

The Wanchun (Everlasting Spring) Pavilion is the highest point in Beijing, most centrally located and in my opinion the most impressive of the five pavilions. Around this pavilion, merchandise is sold for tourists and there is the opportunity to dress like the Emperor (or Empress depending). Personally, I gave this a miss as the Emperor’s robes looked a bit too much on such a hot day. In light of this, the views are the best bird-eye you will ever get of the Forbidden City on the land. On a clear day, due to the pavilion’s centrality and height, you can peer over the length and breadth of the city from the greenery of Bei Hai to CCTV Tower.

Littered with evergreen foliage, the park is a scenic throughout the year. In the spring, for example, the park host a peony show whilst there is a lotus show in the summer and displays or fruit in the autumn. This park is certainly a national treasure at the very heart of the capital and which is cherished across the generations. It is therefore understandable that there is a small entrance fee to help with the upkeep of this beautiful spot and the Emperors would use the park as a place for recreational pursuits and escape. For those who may have difficulty walking to the top, the parkland surrounding the hill is a hive of activity with people, young and old playing games and singing which is great fun to watch or join in!

Getting to the park can be slight tricky. One option is to take the subway to Dongsi station on line 5 and then either walk or take the 101 bus to the Forbidden City Station. Another option is to take a bus, such as the 111 to the South Gate of Jingshan Park. Note that, if you travel to Beijing, visiting the park in the afternoon might be useful after visiting the Forbidden City in the morning. This is primarily because the exit from the Forbidden City lies on the bus route to the park.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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‘Sounds Peachy!’

On April 26, 2012, in Festivals, Nature Scenery, Tours, by Jack Li

If you are going to travel to Beijing around springtime, why not stop-off at Pinggu. Not to be fooled with the conventional botanical garden shows, the Pinggu Peach Flowers Festival is an annual springtime event which allows people to admire the blossoming local peach trees. This is an extremely popular event that spans a few […]

If you are going to travel to Beijing around springtime, why not stop-off at Pinggu. Not to be fooled with the conventional botanical garden shows, the Pinggu Peach Flowers Festival is an annual springtime event which allows people to admire the blossoming local peach trees. This is an extremely popular event that spans a few weekends in the month of April. Well-known for its peaches, Pinggu village sits in the biggest fruit-growing zone of the Beijing area. Travelling to the village takes approximately two hours from Beijing. What makes Pinngu a handy location is that it is en route to Laoxiangfeng on the 918 bus, so travellers can always combine the two in the same day. If you prefer not to travel independently, China tours can provide useful services concerning this matter.

The festival is a laidback affair with people of all ages enjoying themselves; making it an excellent place to bring the family. Across the road from the peach trees, there are some stalls where you can buy local farm produce and also where the toilets are situated. Interestingly, the festival has gained recognition throughout the community with the local television channel, BTV, hosting range of acts through the proceedings. ‘Community’ is certainly a key word because at the festival this is where you will discover the real warmth of northern hospitality. Indeed, from a foreigner’s viewpoint, visiting the festival gives a chance to really engage with local life with all its similarities and contrasts to your own homeland. Along one of the lanes which intersect through the peach-tree field, you can find a number of stalls which sell, make and cook various products. A couple of venders, in particular, create some unbelievably life-like bugs (such as butterflies and crickets) out of reeds which are a must-see. In any case, with lots of fairground-style games, the Pinggu Festival is again a great place to have a fun day out with friends and family alike.

Transportation costs notwithstanding, the visit to the festival can be relatively cost-effective when there. You do not need to purchase anything, for example, plus you can just wander around and admire the wonderful flowery setting which has an outstanding mountainous backdrop. Unfortunately, you may not be able to eat any fresh peaches picked from the local field as the peach harvest occurs towards August/September time. The fields have, nevertheless, a typically Chinese appearance with working stilted-huts dotted throughout. In addition to the peach trees, the fields also comprise of other crops such as onions which in itself demonstrates the resourcefulness of the sector which feeds the nation as a whole. After visiting the festival, it does feel somewhat of a treat to see rural life in China as opposed to the everyday city existence. Subsequently, it is highly recommended that if booking China flights in the near future, to contemplate what else the country offers besides the more famous touristic highlights.

 

 

 

Zhongshan Park (Beijing)

On April 24, 2012, in Beijing, Historical Relics, Parks & Gardens, by Jack Li

Over the past week, Beijing certainly has experienced its fair share of rain which in turn has provided the city’s parks with a well-deserved drink. Combined with this replenishment and the warm springtime weather, it makes sense to visit one of the city’s green gems; namely, Zhongshan Park. The park is conveniently located next to the Forbidden […]

Over the past week, Beijing certainly has experienced its fair share of rain which in turn has provided the city’s parks with a well-deserved drink. Combined with this replenishment and the warm springtime weather, it makes sense to visit one of the city’s green gems; namely, Zhongshan Park. The park is conveniently located next to the Forbidden City with the nearest subway station being Tiananmen West on Line 1. If you intend to see the other more renowned sights on your travel to Beijing or have gone on Beijing tours in the area, it would also be an idea to have a glimpse of this treasure in the city center.

On the surface, the park has changed quite a lot. Once, the park was ironically called ‘Central Park’ and then issued the name Zhongshan Park. While in terms of its purpose, the park formerly facilitated different temples going back as far as 1,000 years ago. In spite of its names and purpose changing over the ages, admiration and popularity for the park has still remained constant. Even though this is a park for the public, like many of the famous parks in China anyone visiting will be required to pay a small entrance fee. There are also additional costs for entering some gardens and buildings within the grounds.

Historically, the site was where the emperor would be involved in ceremonies at the Temple of National Prosperity (which became the Temple of Longevity and National Prosperity). The only real reminders of these days are the ancient (and spectacular) cypress trees which parade the vicinity. The centrepiece of the park is, nonetheless, the Altar of Earth and Harvests (built in 1421) which, despite it appearing somewhat empty, held great importance to its Confucian practitioners. The altar’s platform contained five different soils which in turn symbolized five elements (or ‘Wuxing’).

Throughout the country, there are many parks commemorating Zhongshan (or commonly known as Sun-Yat-Sen); China’s first revolutionary leader. This park indeed places much significance on Zhongshan. In particular, when entering the park, you will be able to see an impressive statute of the man himself. To learn more about this man who was instrumental in changing modern China, Zhongshan Hall (just behind the Altar of Earth and Harvests), provides information on his life and works.

Amongst other things, the park is an ideal place for anyone to potter on a sunny day. The plant life is abundant and this is emphasized with the springtime bloom. Nowadays, the park hosts a beautiful array of flowers, (like tulips which were given to the park by the Princess of Holland in 1977). Hence a visit to the park’s greenhouse and its garden bursting with bamboo is an excellent choice for plant-lovers. Throughout the park there are also lots of pavilions, ponds (with unusual fish) and rockeries to admire while you sit and soak up the sun. If you desire a bit more activity, the park has paddle-boats which can be steered around the moat of the Forbidden City (plus, this is a good opportunity to see the Forbidden City at a different angles for those interested in photography!) In short, when booking your Beijing flights, this lesser-known Chinese attraction with all its appealing features should definitely not be overlooked.

 

 

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Beijing Millennium Monument

On April 23, 2012, in Beijing, Modern Architecture, More Places of Interest, by Jack Li

When you travel to Beijing there are more than enough things to do and see. Beijing’s Millennium Monument itself is a great place to see for its unique architectural structure and the interesting exhibitions inside it. But because of its proximity to other cool places you can easily plan one of  your Beijing tours in this […]

When you travel to Beijing there are more than enough things to do and see. Beijing’s Millennium Monument itself is a great place to see for its unique architectural structure and the interesting exhibitions inside it. But because of its proximity to other cool places you can easily plan one of  your Beijing tours in this area and spend half a day or more there. It is easy to find the monument, it’s just around the corner north west of the Military Museum, an interesting museum which can be pretty crowded on the weekend with long lines at the ticket booths. The closest subway station is right in front of the museum (Military Museum station, line 1) and from there it’s not more than a few minutes to walk. The monument is at the south entrance of the really nice Yuyuantan Parkwhere you can go for a walk or rent a boat and if you walk through it to the west gate you are very close to the CCTV tower from where you have a great view over the city on clear days.

The Millennium Monument has a very unique and modern architecture and was built to welcome the year 2000. The monument includes the main stone building in the north and an open space south of it. The main part is a composition of two elements, the three storey immovable foundation with a two story body on top which is designed to rotate 19 degrees. On top of this rotary element is a 27 feet long pointer in a 45 degree angle. It symbolizes China’s people’s spirit of creation and the attitude never to give up. With a weight of 3200 tons this rotating altar is the largest and most important of its kind in the world.

The monument serves more purposes than welcoming the new millennium. It also contains the Beijing World Art Museum wich researches and exhibits foreign art and shows temporary as well as permanent exhibitions, and it also serves as a center for patriotism and art education as well as cultural communication. The temporary exhibitions which are on the first floor are very interesting. It is unfortunate for foreign visitors that all the information provided is in Chinese, so for people who don’t speak Chinese it’s hard to learn anything from the descriptions and additional information.

When you walk up you can get to the center of the foundation holding the ‘masterpiece’ which is the circular Millennium Hall. It contains a great 360 degree frieze showing the past, present and future of Chinese history. The center of the hall consists of a very bright and detailed golden construction and the darker ceiling is decorated with stars. This creates the impression of a complete cosmos inside this circular hall, with the sun in the center and the stars in the dark sky at the same time.

One level above, on top of the foundation, there is a long hallway going once around the rotary construction. It contains 40 bronze statues of important personalities of Chinese history with a short explication in English and in Chinese. The statues lining one side of the hallway were unveiled in 2011 and give a great overview over personalities and milestones in the country’s history. Opposite of the figures there are numerous pictures showing the 56 national minorities of China.

South of the monument is the so called ‘Plaza of Holy Fire’ which is paved with 960 pieces of granite, a symbolic number since China’s territory is in total 9,600,000 square kilometers. It also holds a bronze tunnel inscribed with China’s history, from very early times to the year 2000. There is a large open-air stage for performances and several thousand people can be seated at the monument for events. Even if your Beijing hotel is not in the vicinity of the monument there is no reason not to see it, especially if the weather is good. And if you’re lucky there might even be an event at the Millennium Monument while you’re in Beijing. So, maybe you can take the opportunity to turn a memorable visit into an unforgettable experience.

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