Wall Climbing, Tea Drinking and More in Beijing

Visiting the Great Wall of China was always in my bucket list. So finally making the trip happen was an awesome experience!
I booked this family trip with Aboex travel agency and was in a group of 60 people. It was a bit of a production number at the immigration given this large headcount but we made it to Beijing just fine. We booked at the City Inn hotel which was conveniently located near fastfood restos and a supermart.

Most of Day 1 was for the travel so tours started on Day 2. The tours started out at Tinananmen Square followed by the fascinating Forbidden City (now called the Palace Museum).

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Tiananmen Square has a memorial hall of Mao Zedong, the revolutionary leader that created the Republic of China. The Square has a monument symbolizing the revolution (right) and a Luneta-style flag pole with Chinese guards at either side of it.

 

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The main attraction at Tiananmen Square is the big red building with Mao’s image.

 

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The Emperor’s entrance to Tiananmen Square is along the meridian line.

 

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The Grand Palace in the Forbidden City is the largest of the hundreds of palaces in the compound. The Emperor used to be the only to walk on the left  staircase which was along the meridian line coming from Tiananmen Square (so he just had to walk in a straight line all the way).  It is said that all his wives were each given a palace in the City, the size of which depended on her “grade”.

 

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The Emperors golden throne in the Grand Palace.

 

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The Golden River inside the Forbidden City (believed to flow from the Golden Mountain of Feng Shui belief).

 

There are interesting stories about the Forbidden City. It was closed to the public until the last Emperor was gone. No one sleeps inside the City now since there are quite a number of ghostly sightings of the Emperor’s dead wives after dark so people only do museum work there up to about 4 or 5 pm.

Afterwards, we visited Wangfujing street which reminded me of High Street in BGC. This was followed by a trip to see the Acrobatic show.

 

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Wangfujing Street where high end shops abound

 

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The Acrobatic Show

 

For Day 3, the first stop was what we all came there for – the Great Wall!

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We went up the Juyongguan side of the Wall. A lot of human traffic going up!

 

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The view from up the Wall.

 

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Ancient canons at the low side of the Wall.

 

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More views from the Wall.

 

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The Great Wall is said to be built by the first Chinese Emperor and covers 16 provinces.

After the Great Wall, we had some rest at a herbal shop before going to the Bird’s Nest and Watercube buildings for photo taking.

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The Bird’s Nest where China hosted its first Olympic Games. We were told the next Winter Olympics in 2018 will be held here as well.

 

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The Olympic mascots lined up.

 

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The Olympic Park Service Station where a lot of shopping for cheap souvenirs took place.

 

The next day, we visited another tea shop and jade store before visiting the Summer Palace and a Giant Panda place.

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The 17-arc bridge at the lake near the Summer Palace.

 

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The actual Summer Palace is in the hills in the distance.

 

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A big boat at the lake in the Summer Palace area.

 

 

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More boats near the Summer Palace.

 

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Entrance to the Giant Panda Park.

 

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The pandas we saw were really not very big and they were busy eating…
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… or sleeping. Or probably the big ones were just hidden from view (maybe).

 

We went there during Holy Week (April) so the weather was still rather cold. Best to bring a jacket or wear long sleeves.

In Beijing, people use bicycles and scooters, no motorcycles. One will see people in business attire on bicycles all day. In fact many sidewalks have bicycles that can be borrowed for a fee.

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A word of caution: As much as I enjoyed drinking the tea in Beijing shops (tasted pretty good!), be wary of them, plus the jade gemstone stores. We could not opt out of visiting them as it was part of the tour package but you can always choose not to spend any hard-earned money there.

Aside from that, my only other disappointment was that the tour did not include the Temple of Heaven. All in all- I was pretty happy with this trip!

Sharing the itinerary and expenses:

Itinerary:
• Day 1: Manila to Beijing travel
• Day 2: Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, tea shop, jade store#1, Wangfujing Street, Olympic Green, acrobatic show
• Day 3: Great Wall, Herbal shop, jade store #2, Olympic green, Bird’s Nest, Watercube, souvenir shopping
• Day 4: Tea shop, jade store, Summer Palace, Giant Panda place, souvenir shopping at mall, straight to airport
• Day 5: Travel from Beijing to Manila

Expenses:
• Aboex package (airfare, hotel, tour): P15,888
• Travel tax: P1620 per person
• Group Visa: P2,800 per person
• Tipping: P600 per person
• Out of pocket expenses: approximately P4,000 per person
TOTAL: P24,908 per person

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