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Beijing

Country
China
State
Hebei Sheng
City
Beijing
Type of Location
Multiple
About Location

Beijing, an autonomous city with the status of a province, is not only the political center of the country, it also plays an outstanding part in the nation's cultural, economic, scientific and academic life. Many trading and industrial firms are situated here. The most important educational and cultural institution include: nine colleges for the various sciences, the Academica Sinica, several universities (including the University of Peking founded in 1898; the University of Qinghua founded in 1911, and the People's University founded in 1950), technological universities, numerous colleges and institutes (in particular the Central Institute for Nationalities and the College for Foreign Languages), and research establishments, as well as museums and libraries (including the Beijing University library with its ten million volumes and 22,000 periodicals), also the planetarium and the zoological and botanical gardens.

About 97 per cent of Beijing's population belong to the Han race, but also included are Hui, Manchurians, Mongolians; other ethnic minorities also live here.

From the point of view of the tourist, Beijing is China's most interesting city. Among the city's historical and cultural monuments are the Imperial Palace, the Beihai Park, the Coal Hill Park and the Heavenly Temple.



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How to Reach

By Air

Most people fly into Beijing to Capital International Airport, which is located north of the city centre and serves 200 international and domestic airlines. Flights come in from dozens of cities all over the world and from most major Chinese cities with major carriers.

There are only two real options for getting to the city and hotels from the airport; airport bus or taxi. The shuttle bus offers a number of routes into Beijing to the city centre, central railway stations and major hotels and departs from Arrivals every 30 minutes. Metered taxis cost about five to eight times more than the bus, although taxis are the best bet for convenience and for those staying out of town.

By Rail

Trains come into Beijing from all directions, with services from Kowloon in Hong Kong direct to West Station in Beijing every other day, and weekly from Moscow via Ulaan Baatar in Mongolia. Another route from Moscow goes via Harbin (northeast China) to Beijing, while twice-weekly trains go from Hanoi in Vietnam to Beijing via Guilin. Additionally, those who have managed to get on an organised tour to North Korea can make use of the rail service from Pyongyang to Beijing.

By Ferry

Although you cannot get directly to Beijing by ferry from overseas, services do run from Shimonoseki in Kobe (Japan) and from Incheon in South Korea to Tianjin; which lies two hours drive southeast of Beijing.

By Bus

Travelling to Beijing by bus can be an arduous experience, as it is a long way from neighbouring border countries and most services are slow. The cheaper buses will keep off the expressways and stop at every town and city, making the journey time that much longer. Thankfully, deluxe services are available which will be from two to six times more expensive than standard buses but they take the expressways and are a lot more comfortable. Sleepers are available on both classes of bus.

Key places to visit
Lama Temple, Tian'anmen Square, Beijing Zoo, Summer Palace, North Lake Park


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Places to Visit

Lama Temple

The Lama Temple in the northeast of Beijing is one of the city's most attractive and best preserved temples. Built in 1744/45 by transforming a prince's residence, this was an imperial project which explains the roof tiles in imperial yellow. Its political purpose was to give Lamaism, the religion of recently annexed Tibet, an official seat in the capital. Accordingly, the complex has been built to generous proportions and equipped with valuable and monumental works of art. The entrance to the temple grounds is the south gate. On the way through the gardens is a courtyard with a drum tower (Gu Lou) on the left, and on the right a bell tower and two stele pavilions.

Tian'anmen Square

Tian'anmen Square (The Square of Heavenly Peace), situated in the city center, is considered to be the largest inner-city square in the World. It was built to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the state in 1958 in the place of an older unnamed open space in front of the Gate of Heavenly Peace and can hold up to a million people. It is the center of Socialist China.

The symbolic importance of the square goes back to May 4th 1919 when students demonstrated here against the Chinese provisions of the Versaille treaty. Following the memorial day of April 4th 1976 countless Beijing residents mourned their popular prime minister Zhou Enlai, and a demonstration against the Jiang Qing group ensued, which was forcefully suppressed. In the early summer of 1989 demonstrations for democracy and against press censorship took place here and these were also brutally suppressed.

In the middle of the Tian'anmen Square is the Monument to the People's Heroes (Renmin Yingxiong Jinianbei), a 38m (125ft) obelisk. Completed in 1958, it stands on a two-tier pedestal and consists of 17,000 pieces of granite and marble.

Beijing Zoo

Although Beijing Zoo is not highly revered, it does have some pandas and is also home to the impressive Beijing Aquarium, which is the main attraction. More impressive than the zoo’s displays is its location within ancient gardens, complete with attractive lakes and fine old buildings.

Summer Palace

Beautifully located on the shores of Kunming Lake, near Beijing, the Summer Palace features extensive gardens and palaces, built by the Qing emperors in the mid-1700s. Although the palaces were twice razed by foreign armies, they were rebuilt and have lost none of their original glory and splendour, with elaborate pavilions, walkways, bridges and gardens. The whole site is extremely grand and features many quiet areas such as the ruins and caves of the back hill area. The front hill and west bank are busier but nonetheless beautiful.

North Lake Park

The North Lake Park lies to the northwest of the Imperial Palace. It is one of the oldest imperial gardens in Beijing. The park was laid out at the beginning of the 10th C. Its name is taken from Lake Beihai (north lake) which is situated here. The name north lake was adopted because it joins the lakes Zhonghai (middle lake), and Nanhai (south lake), in the south. On the south lake is the seat of the state council and its Central Committee of the Communist Party.

When the Jin rulers dug out the Xihua Tan lake in the 12th C the Island of Exquisite Jade was created, and the Guanghan Gong Palace was built on it. The Round City, which lies at the southern point of the lake was the center of the capital Dadu in the Yuan period (1271-1368). Many of the buildings still standing today date from the time of Emperor Qianlong (reigned 1735-96).

The park, which is surrounded by a high wall, has become one of Beijing's favorite recreational venues. Access can be gained through the south, north, and east gates.

Right Time to Visit

September - October
March - May

Temperature

June - July -> 31(°C) - Summer
January - February -> 10(°C) - Spring


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