72 Hours in Central Beijing
We had visited the Great Wall of China the day before, but today is our big tour around the city! Jet lag was still hitting us hard, an early start was not a problem! We were up and ready to go by 8am and hopped on the subway, our first stop was to Yonghegong Lama Temple (Line 5). We were slightly confused with the signage coming out of the subway, but if you get off at the Lama Temple station, follow signs for the Lama Temple exit, you should be standing with your back to it when you exit the subway, in other words, the subway drives right under the temple. It is a fairly long building and you will walk about 1km to the entrance which is quite grand, but also not labeled too well. We got confused with signs that were point to the Confusious Temple, do not follow those signs! Once through security and inside, we wandered through the garden and into the temple. The temple was originally built as an imperial palace and was later converted into the Tibetan Buddhist temple. It is the largest Tibetan Buddhist Temple.
It was hard for me to capture the full beauty as you could not take pictures in certain areas, but here is a little snippit!
After the Lama Temple we hopped back on the train to head to the Beijing Olympic Park. There are two subway stations that you can get off at Olympic Sports Park (Line 8) and Olympic Green(Line 8 & Line15), both will get you there, but as we were coming up from Lama Temple, we simply took Line 2 and transferred to go north on Line 5 and got off at Olympic Sports Park. Once we exited the station, we came across an entry gate, when we tried to enter, they insisted we needed a ticket. We walked over to the ticket booth and told them we just wanted to walk through the park, they told us that we did not need a ticket. We went back over to the security gate and they let us through without a ticket. We had our bags checked and then entered the Olympic Park to see the Beijing Bird’s Nest to the right and the shimmer aquatic center to our left.
We walked north through the park in order to catch the subway train from Olympic Green in order to take Line 15 and transfer at Datunld East to go south transfer to Line 1. We got off at Tian’anmen West Station. This was the furthest distance we have had to go on the subway and it cost us RMB 6 ($1.17 CAD). Once we exited the station we followed the crowd through a security gate, we were very confused as to what the gate was for, but we think it is a check point simply to enter into the Tian’anmen Square area. We kept walking toward the large red building to our left, the Forbidden City! The building turned out to be part of the wall of the Forbidden City. We entered into the entrance way and bought tickets, went through another security check point and were on our way inside! After serving as an imperial palace for 500 years, in 1925 the Forbidden City became a museum called the Palace Museum. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.
We finished our day as we watched the sunset over the walls of the forbidden city, hopped on the train back to our hostel in desperate need of some food. We wandered the streets near our hostel until we found a hot pot restaurant, we were so tired and hungry I did not get a chance to take many pictures, but boy was it delicious! Hot pot is a Chinese soup containing variety of East Asian food. You choose your food and you cook the ingredients at the table. We opted to cook some chicken while munching on a Bibimbap dish (a cast iron or stone bowl filled with ingredients similar to a salad usually with an egg and topped with seaweed). These kind of restaurants are a little bit more expensive in China as you are supposed to order about 4 dishes for two people. We spent about RMB75-80, but it was certainly worth it for the experience!
To see the streets, malls, shopping, Beijing at night, and my overall opinion of Beijing, click the video below!