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Jun 28

May 2016: Beijing Trip Report

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Day 1:

We arrived at Beijing Capital International Airport early evening. After a fairly quick immigration and customs check, we made our way to the airport taxi line. Our taxi driver did not speak any English at all but luckily I had requested our hotel concierge to email me a spelling of the hotel name and address in email which came very handy.

After checking into the hotel, being very tired we went straight to bed. All the sightseeing was going to have to wait till next day !!

Day 2:

I had researched beforehand and found all the subway stations closest to the tourist attractions in Beijing. Other than the Great Wall, we used the subway to get to all the Beijing tourist attractions.

Our two itinerary stops for the day was Summer Palace and Yonghe Temple (popularly known as Lama Temple). After breakfast we walked to the nearest subway station from our hotel (Dengshikou, Line 5). From there we switched subway lines to Xiyuan station (Line 4). To get to the Summer Palace you can use either the Xiyuan station or Beigongmen station on Line 4. After reaching Xiyuan station, its about a 10 minutes walk to the Summer Palace gate.

Main gate to Summer Palace

After securing entrance tickets () we made our way through the gate to the main courtyard.

One of the picturesque spots in Summer Palace

The summer palace also has a huge lake in its property where tourists were doing boating.

Karen @ Kunming Lake beside Summer Palace

Me and my parents by Kunming Lake beside Summer Palace

Karen in front of Tower of Buddhist Incense

Yunhui Yuyu Archway

3 hours later we exited the Summer Palace and made our way back to the subway station. Close to the subway station there was a food court with a variety of fast food and sitdown restaurants where we had our lunch.

Bus Stop near Summer Palace

Karen & mom on a rickshaw statue outside food court near the Summer Palace

Food court near Summer Palace

From Xiyuan subway station we switched subway lines to Yonghegong subway station (Line 4) which lies very close 5 minute walk to Lama Temple.

Lama Temple Entrance

Lama Temple Main Courtyard

Lama Temple is a huge complex of temples each of which houses different Buddha statues. This is an active worship temple and we saw several locals offering prayers along with just visitors and tourists.

One of many temples housing Buddha Statues

Lama Temple – Interesting Architecture

There are several Buddha statues in different temples inside the complex.

One of the many Buddha Statues in Lama Temple

Day 3: 

We had decided to go see the Great Wall this day. There are several sections of the Great Wall that tourists visit while in Beijing. The two that are most popular are the Badaling section and the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall. The Badaling section is closer to Beijing but it is also much more crowded. After reading the tripadvisor reviews and other travel websites we had opted to see the Mutianyu section instead. To get to the Mutianyu section most websites recommend hiring a taxi or private transport. Reading many tripadvisor reviews, I found such a private company which would provide me a van and driver for 8 hours for 700 RMB.

We started out from our hotel early in the morning so we would beat the traffic and took us close to 2 hours to reach the Mutianyu Great Wall. After paying for tickets which included the short round trip shuttle bus to the cable car station and the round trip cable car transport to the top of the wall.

Mutianyu Great Wall Entrance

The shuttle bus drops tourists off in the parking lot from where there is about a half-mile uphill walk to the cable car station.

Some uphill walk from Bus parking lot to Cable car station

Cable car to Mutianyu Great Wall

Getting close to the Great Wall

Mutianyu Great Wall

It was such an exhilarating experience to be on top of one of the man-made wonders.

Obligatory Selfie @ Mutianyu Great Wall

 

My parents at the Great Wall

We walked between 4 watchtowers on the wall

An important reminder is to bring good walking shoes in order to be able to walk and enjoy the views from the Great wall. We walked between 4 different watch towers and took some breaks to enjoy the scenery and the views.

Must bring some energy and great walking shoes to enjoy this wonder

After spending about 3 hours on the Great Wall we got back down in the cable car again and after doing some souvenir shopping on site came back to the city. We were checking out from our previous hotel (Park Plaza Wangfujing) that day and had our driver drop us off at Renaissance Wangfujing hotel where we were staying for 2 nights.

In the evening while Karen was still tired from our long day, me and my parents decided to head out to the famous Wangfujing Street.

Wangfujing Street

Dad along with other tourists and locals @ Wangfujing Street

Clockwise from top left – snakes, snakes, more snakes, tarantula spiders, centipedes, centipedes, tarantula spiders, “dont know what that is” , silkworms

No I did not try any of these snakes !!

After seeing all the various critters and bugs being grilled and fried, we still had our appetite to have dinner at a nearby KFC and made our way back to the hotel.

Day 4:

After breakfast we decided to visit the Forbidden city & Tiananmen Square (which are located next to each other).

Gate of Supreme Harmony @ Forbidden City

Forbidden city is the palace where 24 Ming and Qing dynasty emperors lived during their reign so obviously there is a lot of history attached to this place. It was one of the most crowded tourist spot during our visit in Beijing.

Hall of Supreme Harmony

Legendary Turtle @ Forbidden City

Bronze Vat by Hall of Great Harmony

Taking some rest in between all this walking @ Forbidden City

After seeing Forbidden City, we took a local bus (#1) to get to Tiananmen Square entrance. I remember the famous tank man (unknown rebel) picture from the Tiananmen Square massacre growing up and I always wanted to visit this place.

My parents @ Tiananmen Square

The whole gang selfie @ Tiananmen Square

Day 5:

This was our last day in Beijing and we were supposed to check out and head for the airport early afternoon. Our only stop for this day was the Temple of Heaven. The closest subway station is Tiantan Dongmen Station on Line 5 and the East gate entrance is right next to the subway station.

Temple of Heaven

Temple of Heaven

Walking the grounds of Temple of Heaven, we saw older people doing tai chi exercises, knitting sweaters, playing some sort of chinese board games, playing cards etc. It seemed like a very popular place to socialize for older generation.

Older people doing some taichi exercises @ Temple of Heaven complex

Well maintained garden inside Temple of Heaven gates

Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests @ Temple of Heaven

The most popular spot in the Temple of Heaven complex was the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest. As the name suggests, this is where the emperor would offer sacrifices to pray for good weather and harvest.

After spending a couple of hours in Temple of Heaven we got back on the subway and back at our hotel. We had a quick lunch and took a cab to the airport for our flight to Tokyo.

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