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北京Beijing has a long history. Ignoring its prehistoric beginnings, its prominence within Chinese civilization can be traced back about 3000 years to the 春秋战国Spring and Autumn Warring States Era (about 770BCE - 221BCE), where the state of Ji established itself on present Beijing. Later, the the well-known state of 燕国Yan took over and it became its capital, then known as 燕京Yanjing or 燕都Yandu. From the first dynasty 秦朝Qin (221BCE - 206BCE) onward it was treated with importance.  But it wasn't until the 元朝Yuan dynasty (1271-1368) that the Mongols made it a capital (then called 大都Dadu) of an empire. When 明朝Ming dynasty (1368-1644) drove out the Mongols, the chosen capital was 南京Nanjing (South Capital), and the Mongol capital was renamed 北平Beiping. But after 朱棣Zhudi (the fourth son of the Ming founder) took over the throne by force, he had Beiping renamed to 北京Beijing (North Capital), and moved his court there inside the new palace, which is the present 故宫Gugong (Palace Museum or Forbidden City). Beijing remained the capital through the 清朝Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). However, during the latter half of the 民国Republican Era (1912-1949), Nanjing became the capital again while Beijing was reverted back to its early Ming name, Beiping. With the establishment of 中华人民共和国People's Republic Of China, Beijing regain its long-standing position.

With the rare luck of being the host of successive emperors and more than 700 years of imperial heritage, Beijing easily surpasses others as the political and cultural hub of China.  The ancient city has alot to offer: the great imperial palace and gardens, the magnificent temples, the large square, the Great Wall, the operas, the museums, the hutongs, the hills and lakes, the food and many others. All of which are world-class. The several times I had returned to China, I had visited this city. It is a big diverse place that takes time to know.

NEW -- July 21, 2010

The beautiful city of Suzhou crisscrossed with narrow water canals

北京图片Beijing Pictures

trucks on the desert road

Pictures I took while on a bus traveling through the sandy deserts of 甘肃Gansu on my way to 嘉峪关Jiayuguan.

Travel Information

Getting There:

Beijing City map detail
* See larger map below *
1. 故宫Gugong Palace (Forbidden Palace)
2. 天安门广场Tiananmen Square
3. 北京站Beijing Railway Station
4. 国际饭店International Hotel 5. 王府井Wangfujing
6. 天坛Tiantan (Temple of Heaven)
北京Beijing is the capital of China, all major airlines can get you here. The 首都国际机场Capital International Airport is about a 45 minutes ride from the city center. (See maps) Once you arrive at the airport, go down one level and take the Airport Shuttle Bus to the city (ticket: 16 Yuan). There are several shuttles stopping in different areas of the big city, such as the main 北京站Beijing Railway Station, and the 东直门长途汽车站Dongzhimen Bus Terminal. I always stop at Beijing Railway Station, which is closer to the city center. If you are in the city, you can take the Airport Shuttle Bus to the airport as well. To do this, go to 国际饭店International Hotel, located just northeast of Beijing Railway Station on 建国门内大街Jianguomennei Avenue.(See map below) This is a big street, and 王府井Wangfujing, the popular shopping center, is about a 15 minutes walk west from the hotel. The Airport Shuttle Bus is on the west side of Beijing International Hotel, right outside the parking lot of the hotel. Get the ticket (16Y) at the parking lot booth. The bus comes around every 15 minutes on so, but there are no signs outside on the small street. Just wait outside the booth. I am not sure if the shuttle bus from the airport stops here; if it does stop somewhere near here, then this may be a good stop to get off, as there are a number of 150Y/room hotels (not the Beijing International Hotels, of course) near here. See below for more information.


Just north of 北京站Beijing Railway Station, on 建国门内外大街Jianguomennei and Jianguowai Avenues (Jianguo Inner Ave. and Jianguo Outter Ave.) are several big fancy hotels, such as the 国际饭店International Hotel, 建国饭店Jianguo Hotel, 京伦饭店Jinglun Hotel, and the 长富宫饭店Changfugong Hotel. I don't know how many stars they are, but if it's on the map, it's not 3. For those who don't want to wipe out their entire budget in a couple of nights, you can just walk several blocks west to 东单大街Dongdan Avenue and find a good hotel room for about 150 yuan. In this area is also a number of good restaurants, so you don't have to travel far if you need a quick meal. In the past (before 2009), I used a hotel inside one of the 胡同Hutongs in 崇文门Chongwenmen Gate area, but unfortunately the hotel and much of the hutong are destroyed to make room for something. I like the hutong because I can eat and shop easily. And it is good to give the needed business to the locals. Many tourist groups zipped through the hutong, but it's unlikely they will stop for food or products. If you are in a hutong, try out their food, or buy their bottled drinks. Also, you will likely find an international phone here as well, and with better rates.


The worst time to come to Beijing, if you are me, is during the National Holiday month: October. Everything will be inconvenient: moving around the city; seeing the sights; renting hotels; and getting tickets. You will regret it. Although after you see the spectacular displays in 天安门广场Tiananmen Square, you will not.

  1. 首都国际机场Capital International Airport
  2. 东直门长途汽车站Dongzhimen Bus Terminal
  3. 北京站Beijing Railway Station
  4. 故宫Gugong Palace (Forbidden Palace)
  5. 建国门内外大街Jianguomennei and Jianguowai Avenues (Jianguo Inner Ave. and Jianguo Outter Ave.)