Extend your stay in Beijing with a Two-Night Beijing Hotel Package! Prices start at just $240 per person and include:
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- 5-Star Hotel
- Airport Transfers
- Breakfast daily!
Historical records dating back over 3,000 years confirm Beijing's prominence as a thriving community. But it was Kublai Khan – grandson of the Mongol leader Genghis Khan, conqueror of northern China in AD 1215 – who established the city as capital of the newly-declared Yuan Dynasty. During his reign the city truly blossomed; imperial palaces were built, streets were broadened, temples constructed, and canals completed.
Burgeoning trade brought unprecedented wealth to the city. The Silk Road routes, established in the first century BC, flourished once again, now bringing western gold and silver to adorn Beijing's new palaces. The "road" brought Marco Polo, too, who returned to the west with tales of the city's unimaginable scale and richness – a prosperity that strengthened during the Ming and Qing Dynasties which followed.
Today, Beijing remains as China's unrivaled political and cultural capital – a national treasure of museums, government buildings, religious temples, gardens and parks. Here, visitors are presented the often conflicting essence of modern China: glassy shopping centers abut thousand-year-old temples; itinerant workers share sidewalks with dapper entrepreneurs; fast-food outlets and punk clubs compete with teahouses and opera houses.
Beijing's major attractions include:
Featured Hotels - Essential & Adventure Series Tours: (Subject to change)
- The Forbidden City: Off-limits to the public through 24 emperors and nearly 500 years, the complex of imperial palaces, courts, museums and museums (totaling over 8,000 rooms) is Beijing's #1 attraction. A 30-foot-high wall and 20-foot-deep moat surround the city which, at 170 acres, is almost twice the size of the Kremlin and more than three times the size of Buckingham Palace. The Forbidden City's last stone was put in place in 1420 ¨C a lifetime before Christopher Columbus crossed the Atlantic.
- Jing Shan Park: For the most scenic views of the Forbidden City, this is the place to come. The park features a tall, man-made hill created from soil moved in the Ming Dynasty construction of the moat which surrounds the Forbidden City. The hill's placement was chosen for its favorable position; according to feng shui precepts, it blocks the chilling winter winds from the north while offering an auspicious link to the Ming Tombs located in the city's northern suburbs.
- Tiananmen Square:Through the years this 100-acre square has been the venue for both "staged events" (celebrations of steel production, tributes to Stalin, etc.) and "unstaged events" (1989 Tiananmen Square incident). Flanked by colossal, Soviet-era buildings and dotted with monuments, it was here in 1949 Mao Zedong proclaimed the foundation of the "People's Republic," and it's here where he was entombed 27 years later. By Beijing's timeline, Tiananmen ("Gate of Heavenly Peace") Square is a newcomer; created in the 1920s and expanded again in the late 1950s in time for the Republic's 10th anniversary.
- Temple of Heaven: Completed during the Ming Dynasty, the structure is often considered the quintessential Chinese temple as it incorporates some of the finest architectural talents found anywhere in the nation ¨C and not a nail used anywhere! The emperor was considered a son of heaven, so this is where his celestial communications took place; where prayers to ancestors and the heavens sought favorable weather and bountiful harvests.
- Summer Palace: Beijing's Summer Palace is within a park about the size of New York's Central Park but with at least one major difference: three quarters of its acreage is devoted to water. The three lakes within the Summer Palace grounds provide expansive views across to gardens, man-made hills and ceremonial halls. In the late 19th century, Dowager Empress Cixi nearly bankrupted the imperial treasury with her building (and re-building) of the park's gardens, bridges, lakes and ceremonial halls, but today all is forgiven ¨C the Summer Palace is Beijing's most beautiful retreat!
- Mansion of Prince Gong: This house and grounds, built by a high-ranking Manchu official, was visited ¨C and coveted ¨C by the late 18th century emperor, Qianlong. Appropriated by the jealous emperor for the mansion's illegal display of imperial motifs, it passed into imperial ownership. The emperor ¨C a true patron of the arts ¨C certainly had good taste. The mansion was later turned over to its namesake, one Prince Gong. Today it's recognized as one of China's most beautiful, complete and accurate depictions of Qing Dynasty design.
- Hutongs: No visit to Beijing would be complete without time to tour the city's hutongs, or "alleyways." For centuries ¨C including this one ¨C thousands of residents have occupied courtyard-style compounds lining the hutongs. Presenting relatively stark walls to the hutong, their interiors open to a central courtyard surrounded by buildings; extended families or two or more unrelated families typically reside within each compound. Entry, by feng shui guidelines, is from the southeastern corner; the most northerly buildings within the surrounding walls are customarily occupied by the eldest in the family members or the eldest family group.
- Additional Sights & Attractions: As any capital city will boast, Beijing is a city of museums. Some are included in your tour itinerary; some can be explored during your trip's free time. The China National Museum, adjacent to Tiananmen Square is one; others include the Beijing Natural History Museum, the National Art Museum of China, and the Ancient Observatory.
Centuries ago many large Chinese cities were encompassed by protective walls. Beijing had two: an outer and inner wall, each with watchtower gates. Today little of the walls remain and just three gates survive ¨C all victims of 1950s and 1960s road construction projects. But within the outer wall's gate is the excellent Red Gate Gallery featuring contemporary works of art.
The big draw at the Beijing Zoo is the Panda exhibit and an excellent salt water aquarium. And temples! Beijing's temples are striking: the Lama Temple with its 55-foot Buddha carved from a block of sandalwood; the tranquil Confucius Temple; and the Fayuan Temple, perhaps Beijing's oldest Buddhist temple.
And there's more to Beijing than meets the eye! Below ground, below the streets, temples and museums travels an immense network of passageways and rooms ¨C all bombproof sanctuaries or escape routes constructed during the not-so-friendly Sino-Soviet years of the 1960s and 1970s. Tours offer a glimpse of the labyrinth, called the "Underground City."
Featured Hotel - Luxury Series Tours: (subject to change)
- Beijing Marriott City Wall
No.7 Jian Guo Men South Avenue, Dongcheng District
Beijing, 100005 China
Tel: (86) (10) 5811 8888
Fax: (86) (10) 5811 9999
5-Star - 1,312 rooms
As the largest Marriort Hotel property outside the U.S., the Beijing Marriott City Wall presents a stunning landmark with seven excellent restaurants; a complete fitness center & spa; a heated, indoor, Olympic-size swimming pool; boutiques and shops. Accommodations feature Internet access, separate bathtubs/shower; flat-screen monitors. The Beijing Ancient Observatory & Astronomical Museum is an easy walk from the hotel. A subway/railway station is nearby, too.
For a link to the Beijing Marriott City Wall site click here.
- The Regent Beijing
No. 99 Jinbao Street, Dongcheng District
Beijing, 100005 China
Tel: (86) (10) 8522 1888
Fax: (86) (10) 8522 1338
6-Star - 500 rooms
For a link to The Regent Beijing site click here.