It is without doubt that the Great Wall is the greatest of civil engineering project of defense in ancient China. With its gigantic scale and difficulties in its construction, it is regarded as one of the great wonders in the history of mankind. The Great Wall is really the glory of the Chinese nation, which symbolizes the ancient culture and the long-standing history of China. Stretching over the mountain ranges, it proudly shows its magnificence to us. So to speak, the Great Wall has witnessed the rises and falls of innumerable dynasties and changes on the earth. At present, though the Great Wall is no longer served as a work of military defense against harassment and invasion. It still plays an important role in linking the Chinese people with the people of the rest of the world. It is one of the great bridges that build up friendship between different peoples.
The Great Wall is starting from the Old Dragon Head of the Shanhai Pass at the seaside in the east to a distance of 10,000 li (1 kilometer= 2 lis) in the west. Snaking along the north of China, it crosses three provinces, two municipalities and two autonomous regions. It is about 6,300 kilometers long, an equivalent of about 3,915 miles.
The present-day Great Wall originated from the early ancient Chinese history. During the time of Warring States Period (475-221 B.C.), in the purpose of defending themselves and against the infringement from the neighboring states, all the principal states had the walls built in the bordering areas of the territories. For example, the three states of Qin, Zhao and Yan had high walls and fortresses built along their northern frontiers to ward off the harassment by the Huns (an ancient nomadic tribe in China) from the north. In 221 B.C., the whole China was unified by the first emperor of the Qin Dynasty to defeat the six other ducal states. The emperor gave order to link up all the walls built by the former ducal states along the northern frontiers to prevent disturbing and attacking by the Huns. And these walls form the world famous “10,000-li Great Wall”. From generation to generation, the succeeding dynasties kept on the work of maintenance and repairs or having parts reconstructed time and again. Among them, the greatest project on scale in the old days of China was carried out in the Han and Ming dynasties.
Throughout history, the Great Wall is served as the traditional defensive project. It is mainly composed by passes, walls, watchtowers and beacon towers. Builders were forced to rely upon local materials for the wall inched across the Chinese wilderness. For example, some wall was built with tamped-earth, some with stone, some with tamped mixture of reed, red willow, and sands, and some with bricks outside and stuffed earth and sands inside. The walls we see today are mainly Ming walls, primary made of stone and bricks. The key parts of the military construction are Watchtowers. They are very close to each other, among which brick towers could be two or three storeys. There is a small room on the top of the tower, surrounded by battlements. The watchtower was also used to station soldiers or store food and weapons. Thousands of passes stretch along the Great Wall. Some are between the mountains, some between the mountains and rivers, and some between the mountains and sea. During the wars, passes are the strongholds by acting as the gateways of transportation. Beacon towers are used for communicating, which can deliver the emergent military messages in a very short time.
Just like the symbol of China—dragon, the Great Wall snakes from east to west on the Oriental. Nowadays, five sections of the Great Wall are opened to public in Beijing, including Badaling section, Juyong Pass section, Mutianyu section, Jinshanling section and Simatai section.
Badaling section is the outstanding part of the Great Wall. Lying in the Yanqing District, sixty kilometers northwest of Beijing, it gives vital protection for the Juyong Pass, which is one of the key passes of the Great Wall. According to its strategic importance of commanding, Badaling section is known as "giving access to every direction", which gains it the name Badaling.
Badaling was built in an early time in the ancient Chinese history. During Spring and Autumn Period and Warring States Period, defensive wall was constructed along the Yanshan Range to resist the marauding of the nomadic tribes. Since then the following dynasties continued to fortify the Badaling section. The wall we see today was constructed in Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 A.D.) along the ridges of mountains. The construction lasted about a hundred years long from 1505, the 18th year of Emperor Hongzhi, to the reign of Emperor Wanli.
The huge Badaling wall was strongly and firmly built. It was based on the foundation of granite slabs, surrounded by a facing of kiln-fired bricks, and covered with bricks on the top. All stuffed with pulverized lime, the slots could enable the wall to be smooth. The height of the wall is 8.5 meters. It is 6.5 meters wide at the bottom and 5.7 meters wide on the top, making it possible for 5 horses or 10 people march abreast on the top. Watchtowers are 0.5 or 1 kilometer apart from each other, which were full of vigor and grandeur, and orderly spotted the wall. The battlements and embrasures of the watchtower were in good condition in wartime. The wall winds its way along the ridge of the Jundu Mountain, rising abruptly to the peaks of each side of the Badaling. You will be amazed by its seemingly endlessness. It stretches far away into the remoteness. The wall of Badaling is 3, 741 meters long.
Among all the parts of the whole Great Wall, Badaling was the earliest section to be open to the tourists. Badaling has received 130 million tourists home and abroad. Among them, there are 370 foreign leaders and very important persons who have come to climb Badaling successively.
Mutianyu section is 75 kilometers northeast of Beijing. Lies in Huairou District, it links Juyong Pass in the west with Gubeikou Pass in the east. Mutianyu section is called as the Majestic Pass on Precipitous Mountains, commanding its strategic importance.
Because of its relatively gentle terrain, watchtowers of Mutianyu section were built in large numbers to strengthen its defensive functions. The closest watchtowers are less than 50 meters apart from each other. Both arms of the Mutianyu section stretch upwards along the ridges of continuous mountains. On the foundation of the Ming Dynasty wall The Mutianyu section was mainly built on precipitous mountains and 5-7 meters high. It is featured with a thick cluster of watchtowers atop, strategic passed, majestic vigor and unique structure. In this section, the gate tower is the most unique building.
Simatai Section lies in the Miyun County, 120 kilometers away from Beijing. It started from Wangjing Tower in the east and connected with Jinshanling section in the west. Without hordes of other tourists, it is a largely unrestored and more authentic section of the Great Wall.
Simatai section was constructed during the early years of Ming Emperor Hongwu. It is said that there was a renovation applying from 1569 to 1573. It was mainly built along the ridge of the mountains because of its location in the mountainous area. Featuring in uniqueness, ruggedness and trimness, it perfectly coordinates with the undulating terrain, which makes it more majestic and magnificent. Simatai reservoir is situated at the foot of the central part of the Simatai section, which is 600-700 meters long with the storage capacity of 50,000 cubic meters.
Simatai section is considered to be the most wonderful part of the Great Wall. Taking good advantage of the fluctuating terrain, the walls and watchtowers constitute the most essential part of the wall. It is famous for its precipitous cliffs, magnificent towers, suspension walls and rugged stairways. If you are looking from distance, you may find that the Great Wall is just like a flying dragon in the cloud. However, when you stand nearby, the wall stretches its arms along the ridges of mountains. All these make it the most amazing part of the Great Wall.
The Jinshanling Great Wall was initially built from 1368 to 1389 in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), and in 1567 and 1570 rebuilding of the Wall was mainly directed by General Qi Jiguang (1528-1588). Poems and tablet writings can be found on the Jinshanling Great Wall left from the time when Qi Jiguang directed the rebuilding of this section of the Great Wall. Continue to read more on the Great Wall history. Jinshanling is connected to the Simatai Great Wall in the east and the Panlongshan Great Wall in the west. Jinshanling has probably the highest frequency of towers per kilometer of any place along the Ming Dynasty Great Wall. It also has one of the greatest varieties of architectural and defensive styles of both wall and towers.
The total length of this section is about 11 kilometers (6.8 miles). The Wall is about 7 meters high and 5 meters wide, and is made of brick and stone. The Jinshanling Great Wall has an elevation of 700 meters. There are more than 100 watch towers along the Jinshanling Great Wall. ‘Watching Beijing Tower’ is on the highest point, from which you can see Beijing. The Jinshanling Great Wall is second only to the Badaling Great Wall in its completeness.
Tian’anmen(Gate of Heavenly Peace), situated at the center of Beijing meaning in English, symbolizes the People's Republic of China. Built in 1417, it was formally called Chengtianmen (Gate of Heavenly Succession). At that time, it was the front gate of the Imperial City. By the end of the Ming Dynasty, the uprising farmers led by Li Zicheng entered the city, but later when the Qing army marched upon Beijing, the Chengtianmen was destroyed under the crossfire. In 1651, it was rebuilt and named "Tian'anmen".
The Tian'anmen Rostrum, as a place to hold ceremonies of great importance, such as promulgating an imperial edict conferring the title of a queen, or announcing a newly enthroned emperor, was made known to the public all over the country. During the Ming and Qing dynasties, it was popular to hold the Imperial Exam system for choosing high-ranking officials by way of a palace examination, which supervised by the emperor himself. If the examinees ranked the first three, they would be entitled. What’s more, they would have the honor to be granted an audience by the emperor two days after the examination. On that day they would be called in to see the emperor in turn in the Tian'anmen Rostrum.
There is a square running 880 meters from south to north and 500 meters from east to west in front of the Tian'anmen Rostrum. It is the Tian'anmen Square – the very center of Beijing. Tian'anmen Square is the largest city square in the world with an area of 44 hectares.
During the Ming and Qing dynasties, the Tian'anmen Square was a piece of land in front of the Imperial Palace, an open space jetting out towards the south from the Tian'anmen Gate. It had a meaning of embodying the outstanding importance of the Tian'anmen Gate and the Imperial City. In the early days of the Ming Dynasty, a gate of brick and stone was built, which is right on the site of the present Memorial Hall of Chairman Mao Zedong, called Damingmen (Gate of the Great Ming). In the Qing Dynasty it was renamed as Daqingmen (Gate of Great Qing) and after 1911 Zhonghuamen (Gate of China). Later on, another two gates of brick and stone structure were built on each site of the avenue in front the gate. Surrounded by a newly built red wall, the area within the three gates formed a small square of only 11 hectares-- Tian'anmen Square.
During the Ming and Qing dynasties, common people were forbidden to enter the Tian'anmen Square. And for the officials, when they entered the gate, they had to get off horses and proceed on foot into the palace. The government offices were lined outside the wall on the east and west. According to the traditional system, the civil service organizations were set in the eastern part of the square, and the military organizations in the west.
Old buildings in the Tian'anmen Square were put down after the collapse of the Qing Dynasty in 1911. In 1957, the square expanded with an area of 44 hectares, which may hold 1 million people at a time. With Chairman Mao's Memorial Hall right behind, the Monument to the People's Heroes towered in the center of the square. To the east of the Square, there is the National Museum of China and to the west the Great Hall of People (National People's Congress building).
The Monument to the People's Heroes is the largest monument in China's history which was built in 1952. On this monument, you can see the words--"The People's Heroes are Immortal", which were written by Chairman Mao. The development of Chinese modern history and those who contributed their lives to the democratic progress are shown by the eight unusually large relief sculptures. The monument is enclosed by two rows of white marble railings. It seems very simple and beautiful.
At the south side of the Square is the Memorial Hall of Chairman Mao Zedong. This Hall is consisted by three halls, among which our dear Chairman Mao's body lies in a crystal coffin in the halls surrounded by fresh bouquets of various famous flowers and grasses.
The Great Hall of the People is in the west of the Square. Constructed in 1959, this building is the site of the China National People's Congress meetings, which also provides an impressive site for other political and diplomatic activities. With twelve marble posts, the Hall includes three parts--the Central Hall, the Great Auditorium and a Banqueting Hall. The ceiling of the Central Hall is decorated with crystal lamps and the floor paved with marble. The Great Auditorium behind the Central Hall can hold 10,000 people, while the huge Banqueting Hall can seat 5,000.
At the east side of the Square stands the China National Museum, which is another important place for you to visit. Built in 2003, it is a mergence of China History Museum and China Revolutionary Museum. This National Museum is on the opposite of the Great Hall of the People. In the China Revolutionary Museum, there are a lot of material objects, pictures, books and models, presenting the development of modern China. A large number of cultural relics are exhibited in the China History Museum, illustrating the long history and glorious culture of China from 1,700,000 years ago to 1925 when the last emperor left the throne.
The Palace Museum, the imperial palace in the Ming and Qing dynasties, is the largest and best-preserved palace complex in the world today. It is also called the Purple Forbidden City in Chinese. Its name, on one side, derives from ancient Chinese astronomers' belief that God's abode or the Purple Palace. The pivot of the celestial world, is situated in the Pole Star (the middle of the Ziwei Star), at the center of the heaven. Therefore, the son of God of Heaven--the emperor, should live in the Purple City. On the other side, without special orders of the emperor eunuchs and guards, ordinary citizens were not allowed entering the Forbidden City, except for palace maids. For this reason, palaces in the Ming and Qing dynasties are called both the Forbidden City and the Purple City.
The Construction of the magnificent palace started in 1406, and ended in 1420. It took 14 years to complete the project. One year after completion, Emperor Yongle moved his capital from Nanjing to Beijing. Since then, 24 emperors have lived at the Forbidden City, 14 during the Ming Dynasty and 10 during the Qing Dynasty.
The Forbidden City covers an area of over 720,000 square meters, 750 meters wide and 960 meters long. And it has four great gates. The fabulous city, which is surrounded by a 52-meter-wide moat, has four delicate and lovely turrets overlooking both the inside and outside.
The Forbidden City has more than 8,700 wooden rooms, most of which have yellow-glazed tiles. It is a color that only emperors were allowed to use on their roof. From the northern Drum Tower and the Bell Tower to the Southern Gate of Everlasting Stability (Yongdingmen), these colorfully painted and embellished rooms are divided symmetrically into northern and southern halves. If you walk into the city, you will see the layers of halls and palaces spreading out on either side of a central axis. As the designations of the wise architectures, the splendid buildings represent the unique features of the traditional Chinese architecture and embody the incredible creativity of the ancient Chinese people. Reconstructed after being destroyed by several fires, this pearl of Chinese cultural heritage still retains its original arrangements of the Ming dynasty. Nowadays, most of the existing buildings open to visitors were reconstructed during the early Qing Dynasty.
In many ways the Forbidden City reveals ancient Confucian ideas, as it is generally designed to the principles of the Front court, Rear Market, Ancestral Sacrifice on the left and Altar on the right. Hence, the court was located in the southern or front section of the Forbidden City, where officials discussed political affairs. A large trading market was situated in the rear part of the city, providing daily necessities for the court. On the left side was the Imperial Ancestral Temple, where the emperor offered sacrifices to his ancestors. Nowadays, it is the Working People's Cultural Palace. On the right side was the Altar to the god of Land and Grain, where the emperor displayed his reverence to the god. This is now Zhongshan Park.
There are two courts in the Forbidden City: the Inner Court and the Outer Court. They are separated across the middle between the south and north ends. The Outer court is mainly composed by the Meridian Gate and the Three Front Halls, flanked by the Hall of Literary Glory (Wenhuadian) and the Hall of Martial Spirit (Wuyingdian), which witnessed various ceremonies and political activities during the Ming and Qing dynasties. While the inner court is mainly consisted by the Three Back Halls, Imperial Garden, Hall of Mental Cultivation and Palace of Abstinence, which are flanked by the Six East Halls and the Six West Halls. This was the place where the emperor was confronted with political affairs and was the residential area for the emperor and his empresses and concubines.
Compared with other contemporary palaces, the Forbidden City stressed more on balance and independence, and embodied more cultural perspectives of the specific ethnic group. Just as what was written in the book of History of Chinese Science by Joseph Needham, each part of the Forbidden City is in well balance and independence, which is just on the contrary to other palaces in the Renaissance Age. For the city, the Palace of Versailles is just acting as an object. The palace is an organic part of the whole city, combining deep deference to nature with lofty significance. As a tin far-reaching and complicated Chinese architecture, Great overall arrangements have reached the highest level, far above any other culture.
After the subversion of the Qing Dynasty by the Revolution of 1911, the last emperor Pu Yi was exiled to palaces at the rear of the Forbidden City. In 1914, the Three Great Halls in the Imperial Palace was opened as exhibition hall of antiquities. Ten years later, Feng Yuxiang staged a coup in Beijing and expelled the last emperor from the palace. Oct. 10, 1925 established The Palace Museum. And in 1961, the Forbidden City was listed as a place to be given special protection by the State Council. UNESCO listed it as World Cultural Heritage site in 1987.
The Forbidden City, as one of the world-famous royal palaces, has played an important role in the world architectural history. Many tourists both from home and abroad have been attracted by the almost 1 million rare treasures and cultural relics on exhibition there.
Covering an area of 290 hectares in total, the Summer Palace spreads out some 15 kilometers away from the city center in the north western suburbs of Beijing. Three fourths of the palace is covered by a pool of water and the rest the land and hills.
The Summer Palace is the summer resort of the Qing royal family. Now it is the most intact, the best-preserved and the largest of its kind of the classical gardens in the country. Since the garden began to be built in 1153, it had undergone many a time reconstruction and renovation in the Yuan and Ming dynasties. In the period of Emperor Qianlong’s reign of the Qing Dynasty, it was still reconstructed in a large-scale. And this time was renamed the "Garden of Crystal Ripples". When it was completed in 1860, it suffered a severe destruction, led by the Anglo-French Allied Army, which brought it down to ashes. In 1886, Empress Dowager Cixi embezzled the funds allocated for the building of the navy to rebuild it and renamed it the "Summer Palace". However, in 1900, it underwent destruction again by the Eight Powers Allied Forces. Later, the1903 saw its second-time rebuild.
On the 12th of October 1911, Empress Dowager Longyu was finally forced to promulgate the abdication of the royal power. However, according to the agreement between the Qing royal family and the republic government, the Summer Palace would still be kept in the hands of the Qing royal family, while yet to be opened to outside as private property by selling admission tickets. 1924 when Puyi was ousted, the Summer Palace was taken over by the republic government and changed to be a public park.
The Qing royal family stayed in the Forbidden City in spring, autumn and winter. And when it came to summer, they went to their summer resort –Summer Palace. Hence, the Summer Palace shares the same functional quarters as that in the Forbidden City. Among these quarters, the office quarter, the living quarter and the entertainment quarter formed the magnificent scenery in Summer Palace.
Through the East Palace Gate, there is the Hall of the Benevolence and Longevity. The emperor used to handle state affairs and listen to reports by ministers and receive foreign envoys in there. It was called the Hallo of Diligent Administration by Emperor Qianlong during his reign. In 1860, it was burnt down by the Anglo-French Army. Reconstructed In 1890, it was then renamed the "Hall of the Benevolence and Longevity". During the reigns of Emperors Tongzhi and Guangxu, Empress Dowager Cixi got the real power to rule the country, and she started to handle state affairs behind the screen.
The Hall of Jade Ripples and the Hall of Happiness and Longevity are the three parts of the living quarter. Guangxu used to live in the Hall of Jade Ripples Emperor in the Summer Palace. After his failure of the Reform Movement of 1898, Emperor Guangxu was put into house arrest here. Thus, it is also regarded as an exquisitely decorated jail.
Consisting of four rooms, the Hall of Happiness and Longevity used to be the residence for Empress Dowager Cixi. The Empress moves to the Summer Palace and stays there in the hall every year on the first day of the fourth month in the lunar calendar. And she won't return until the tenth of the tenth lunar month when she had celebrated her birthday there. In the Summer Palace, there are over 1,000 people dancing attendance on the Dowager. Among them, there are 48 in the Hall of Happiness and Longevity, of whom 20 are maids-in-waiting, 20 eunuchs of importance and another 8 are the "ladies-in-waiting" by her side, normally waiting in the room behind the precious throne to attend on her.
The Long Corridor, the starting point of entertainment quarter, is at the end of the courtyard of the Hall of Happiness and Longevity. It is 728 meters long with more than 14,000 traditional Chinese paintings on the beams and rafters. The four pavilions along the corridor represent the four seasons a year. The Marble Boat can be found at the end of the Long Corridor. The original Chinese style of it was burnt down by the Anglo-French Army in 1860. In 1893, it was rebuilt into one of a western style, imitating a steam ship with two water-wheelers. In 1903 Empress Dowager Cixi built another storey of wooden structure with the decoration of colored pieces of glass. The construction of this immovable boat was to symbolize the stable and consolidated rule of the Qing regime just like a large piece of rock. It would stand still forever in the vast ocean and would, under no circumstances whatsoever be wavered or toppled.
Occupying three fourths of the total area of the Summer Palace, Kunming Lake plays important role in the adjustment of the temperature in the garden. Taking a walk in the Long Corridor and a dragon boat on the lake, you will have a wonderful feeling that you were the emperor and empress in ancient China.
Temple of Heaven
The Temple of Heaven stands in the southern part of Beijing. It was used to be the house ceremonies of emperors of worshipping heaven and praying for harvest in the Ming and Qing dynasties. This altar temple remains to be the largest existing ancient sacrificial structures across the world, more important than other three major temples, i.e. Altar to the Earth, Altar to the Sun and Altar to the Moon.
The Temple of Heaven was built in 1407 and the construction of the project took 14 years. Covering an area of 273 hectares, with two surrounding rings walls, it is four times bigger than the Forbidden City. The wall, stretching from north to south, is as long as 1,657 meters and that from east to west 1,703 meters. The outer wall is 6,553 meters in circumference while the inner wall measures 4,152 meters in perimeter.
To pray for good harvests and fine rain, emperors did regular worshipping and offered sacrifices to heaven. And the Temple of Heaven was used to the place where emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties went and worshipped the heaven twice (and sometimes three times) a year. In the past, the tradition went that sacrifices were offered to heaven and earth in one place only. But in 1530 when the Temple of Earth was built in the north of the city, the Temple of Heaven was ever since used specially for offering sacrifices to heaven alone.
The Temple of Heaven is consisted by three sections, named the Circular Mound Altar, the Imperial Vault of Heaven and the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, attached with some affiliated buildings like Dressing Platform, Long Corridor and Echo Wall.
The Circular Mound Altar was first constructed in 1530. In ancient China, to some extend, the altar was a place that even more important than the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests. The emperor would come to offer sacrifices to heaven on the altar every year on the day of the Winter Solstice. For this reason, the altar was rebuilt into a circular one in 1749. Built in the open air without shelter, the sacrificial ceremony was being held right under heaven. Therefore, it was called "Luji", or the "open air offering of sacrifices".
The Imperial Vault of Heaven was first built in 1530 as a main building in the south of the Temple of Heaven. At first, it was called "Taishendian" or the Hall for Pacifying Gods, but later changed into the present name. In 1752, the building was rebuilt into one of a single eave, which used to have double eaves. Standing 19.5 meters high and of 15.6 meters in diameter, the circular hall used to be an octagonal one in the past. The tablet of the Jade Emperor, the four stone platforms on both sides used to be for the tablets of the emperor’s ancestors of eight generations in succession, is consecrated on the central stone-platform in the Hall of Imperial Vault of Heaven.
Being of 32.72 meters in diameter, built on a three-tired platform, the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests towers 38 meters' high with its eaves fanning out on three tiers, of which the upper one has a gold-plated knob on it. You will be amazed to see that such a heavy building was supported only by 28 wooden pillars with no single piece of reinforced concrete at all. The whole building was built by mortise and tenon joints without using a single nail. With each pillar in height of 19.2 meters, the four pillars in the center of the hall are called "Longjingzhu"--the Dragon Well Pillar. Only by joining hands together by two and half persons, can it be embraced. These four pillars indicate the four seasons of a year. You may find it more interesting that all pillars have their special meanings: the outside 12 pillars suggest 12 months in a year and another 12 pillars in the round wall symbolize the 12 two-hour periods of a day. And when you put the two 12 pillars together, the number you get is 24, which represents the 24 solar terms of a year. And when you add the four in the center of the hall to 24, you will get 28, which represents the 28 lunar mansions in the heaven above.
Since its first construction in 1420, the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests has gone through several times of changes. At that moment, the hall was called "Dasidian"--the Hall of Grand Sacrifices, which was rectangular in shape. But in 1529, it was reconstructed into a round one with a roof of three tiers. And this time it was named "Daxiangdian"--the Hall of Grand Treatment to Heaven. Three different colors were painted in these roofs of three tiers. From the upper tier to the lower one, the colors are respectively blue, yellow and green. In 1752, these three colors were all changed into glazed tiles of dark blue. However, they were destroyed by lightning in 1889. And later in 1890, it was restored according to the original. In 2006, the whole building was renovated with all its paintings according to the same style as they done last time. The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests has become the symbol of Beijing.
At present, the Temple of Heaven is very popular with tourist home and abroad. It is also an entertainment center for local people. If you go to the temple early in the morning, you will find many local people practicing Taiji, playing cards and Chinese chess and singing folk songs there.
Covering an area of 40 square kilometers with 13 Ming emperors buried, the Ming Tombs is situated at the southern foot of the Tianshou Mountain in Changping District in the north western suburban areas of Beijing. The construction of the imperial tombs had been going on ceaselessly from the year 1409 when Emperor Zhu Di started building his tomb to the fall of the Ming Dynasty in 1644, lasting a period over 200 years.
As many people know, there are 16 emperors in the Ming Dynasty. Among the 16 Ming emperors, 13 of them were buried in this tomb area, except for Zhu Yuanzhang, the founder of the Ming Dynasty who was buried in the Xiaoling Mausoleum in Nanjing, Zhu Yunwen, who disappeared and Zhu Qiyu, who was buried at Jinshan Hill in the western suburbs of Beijing, all other. Therefore, this area was called the 13 Ming Tombs.
It was originally built only for Emperor Zhu Di and his empress, named Changling, which is the most magnificent tomb. The succeeding twelve emperors had their tombs built around Changling. At present, the two tombs opened to the public are Changling and Dingling.
Changling is the first Ming tomb built in this area. Hence, the axle line of Changling naturally became the axle line of the whole Ming Tombs. Along with the various tombs, the Stone Tablet House come together overall as a structurally and visually unified architectural accomplishment. Though these tombs were built in different periods, they were strategically planed and built in different stages. Each tomb has its own distinct adornments. However, the entire tomb area has a unified layout and style.
Zhu Di was the third emperor in the Ming Dynasty, who was buried together with his empress in Changling. During his 22-year of reign, he was, relatively speaking, an emperor who had made quite some achievements. For example, he determined to move the capital from Nanjing to Beijing in 1421. To some extend, the move itself was an expression of far-sightedness, for it was very important to strengthen the national defense and guard frontier areas. During the period from 1405 to 1424, Zheng He, also called Eunuch Sanbao, was sent by the emperor to fulfill a diplomatic mission which was on an ever larger and broader scale in Chinese history. He went six times on board across the sea to over 30 countries in Asia and Africa.
Completed in 1416, as the place for worshipping tablets of the emperor and empress and offering sacrifices to ancestors, the Hall of Eminent Favor is situated within the second compound of Changling. The Hall of Eminent Favor in Changling is the best-preserved among the ones of the 13 tombs, which duplicated the Hall of Supreme Harmony in the Forbidden City. It is a very precious relic of ancient China's wooden structures.
Dingling is the tomb for Emperor Zhu Yijun, named the tomb of Stability. It is said that he was buried together with his two empresses—Xiaoduan and Xiaojing. Ascending the throne at the age of 10, Zhu Yijun was died at 58 with a reign span of 48 years. Therefore he became the emperor with the longest time in power for in the Ming Dynasty. The construction of the Dingling tomb started in 1584. It took 6 years to bring the project to finish in 1590, covering an area of 180,000 square meters and costing 8 million taels of silver.
The Dingling began to be excavated in May 1956, which brought to light the mystery of the underground palaces of the Ming Tombs. Constructed with hard stone-slabs, with a total floor space of 1,195 square meters, the underground palace is composed by five beamless vaults, called the front, the middle, the rear and the two annexes on the right and the left. Carved out of white marble and the rear hall with the bier holding three coffins for the emperor and his two queens, three thrones were laid out in the middle vault. There are over 3,000 pieces of archeological findings unearthed from the tomb.
Yonghegong Lamasery is a well-known lama temple of the Yellow Hat Sect of Lamaism, which is located at the northeast part of Beijing. It was originally built in 1694 as the residence of Emperor Yongzheng of Qing (1644-1911 A.D.) before his ascent of the throne. And after his death, it was renamed Yonghegong. His successor Emperor Qianlong then rebuilt Yonghegong into an imperial palace with its turquoise tiles replaced by yellow tiles (yellow was the imperial color in the Qing Dynasty). In 1744, it became a lamasery. From then on, large numbers of monks from Mongolia and Tibet and national center of lama administration live in there.
As an imperial palace, the layout of the temple differentiated from other temples. The main gate faces to the south. There are five main halls and annex connected by courtyards on its 480-meter-long north-south axis, including a glaze-tiled arch, Gate of Peace (Zhaotaimen), Buddha's Warrior Hall (Tianwangdian), which was formerly the entrance to Yongzheng's imperial palace, Hall of Harmony and Peace (Yonghegong), Hall of Everlasting Protection (Yongyoudian), Hall of the Wheel of the Law (Falundian) and Pavilion of Eternal Happiness (Wanfuge).
When you are walking through the grand glaze-tile arch patterned with decorative dragons and flowers in the first court, you will reach a three-arch gate - the Gate of Peace. In ancient times, the central passageway was for emperors. On each side of the second court next to the Gate of Peace stand the Bell Tower and the Drum Tower. Two pavilions stand symmetrically on opposite to the north. If you want to know more about the temple's history, you can have a look at the inscriptions of Chinese, Manchu, Mongolian and Tibetan engraved on steles.
The Buddha's Warrior Hall, also known as the Hall of Heavenly Kings, is the former entrance to Yongzheng's imperial palace. The hall Maitreya (Happy Buddha) was always used to greet visitors, which has a smiling face with a sandalwood pagoda on each side. Many small Buddhist images, symbolizing longevity, stand on the pagoda. Therefore, the pagoda is the Longevity Pagoda. There are four fearsome-looking Heavenly Kings or Celestial Guardians on both sides of Maitreya's shrine.
On the way to the Hall of Harmony and Peace stands a marble-based bronze incense-burner. With decorations of two dragons playing with a pearl on its six opens, it is 4.2 meters in height. Afterwards there is the Mount Sumeru, a bronze sculpture of Ming (1368-1644A.D.), representing the center of the world. On the top of it there lies a legendary paradise where Sakyamuni and men of moral integrity live after death; in the middle the dwellings of humans and below devils abide in hell.
The Hall of Harmony and Peace is formerly a place for the emperor Yongzheng to hold meetings. It was also called Mahavira Hall or Daxiongbaodian in Buddhism. Mahavira here is an honorable title of Sakyamuni in Chinese. Sakyamuni is on the altar, with Buddha of the Present in the middle with Buddha of the Past Yeja and the Buddha of the Future Maitreya on each side. On each side of the hall stand Statues of 18 Arhats. It is said that 18 Arhats were the disciples of Samkyamuni to diffuse Buddhism. The painting that you can find on the western wall is a Bodhisattva.
The Hall of Everlasting Protection (Yongyoudian) and the Hall of the Wheel of the Law (Falundian) are right behind the Hall of the Harmony and Peace, where enshrines a bronze image of Tsong Kapa -- founder of the Yellow Hat Sect. With 5 gold-plating pagodas, the golden-roofed Falundian was the place where lamas assemble to have religious activities. There is a 6-meter-high gilded bronze statue of Tsong Kapa on a lotus seat in the center of the hall.
Now there are nearly 70 lamas living in this temple. If you go there, you will find that regular religious activities are still practiced. More lamas can be seen coming here in the festival for lamas or Lamaism.
Old Beijing Hutongs
The numerous old hutongs are the distinguished features of Beijing. They symbolize the traditional community with small lanes, alleys and Siheyuan (quadrangle). The life of local people in these old hutongs makes this ancient capital look more charming. Wandering along these small lanes, you can see many quadrangles, called Siheyuan in Chinese, which are the residential quarters of natives. No one knows the exact number of these hutongs there are in Beijing.
Butterfly Spring derived its present name from a romantic legend. A beauty and an honest but poor boy (they were in deep love of each other) jumped together into the spring to escape the persecution of a rich man, and the next day, a couple of butterflies was flying around the spring.
Butterfly Spring seems like a miracle. On the arrival of the lunar April, thousands of butterflies assemble around the spring on time to have a fixed butterfly meeting. Colorful butterflies of various sizes and shapes are flying in the skies over the spring, which seems only can be seen in the movie. Some naughty butterflies fly hand in hand to make a string of butterflies and then hang themselves up on the trees. The clear spring bleeding out from the stone crevices will assemble to form peaceful pools. The pools assembling the fresh and sweet spring are as large as 6,500 m2, which are the outstanding sceneries in the park.
In addition to the butterflies and the springs, the flourishing trees act as the indispensable decorations. Towering old pines, green palms, gorgeous bamboos and other kinds of trees cover the entire park. In the early summer, graceful butterflies fly over the blooming flowers, making people hard to tell apart the flowers from the butterflies.
This spectacular sight has given rise to a local festival ---"Butterfly Meet" on April 15th. On that day, the young Bai dress up and come to the Butterfly Spring to attend it. The young men play instruments and sing for the girls they loved. The romantic spectacle of the butterflies as they feed and mate in such abundance has become a symbol of true love in the heart of the Bai people.
Butterflies are not flying around the spring all the year round, but only a few days, so the best time to make a tour in Butterfly Spring is the 15th in lunar April
Opening Hours: 8:30 -- 17:00
Ticket Price: 45 CNY
Location: North side of the Zhou Town, Dali City
Transportation: Shuttle bus from the ancient town in Dali can bring you here (40 minutes / 4 CNY).
As the second largest freshwater lake in Yunnan province, Erhai Lake, covering 260 square kilometer and spanning 9 kilometer, is praised as the Mother Lake of the Bai Minority. With an average depth of 10 and the high visibility, the peaceful and clear Erhai Lake looks like a pure jade inlaying among the mountains.
The Three Pagodas
The Three Pagodas, which have experienced for 1,800 years’ history, were once parts of an old temple. In the years of 1925, almost the entire temple was ruined in a destructive earthquake, while these three pagodas stood there surprisingly intact. They are the symbols of the history of Dali City and historical witnesses of the development of Buddhism in the area. As its name implies, Three Pagodas are made of three ancient independent pagodas forming a symmetrical triangle. They are one of the most significant and majestic wonders in Dali and look magnificent.
Standing by the peaceful Erhai Lake, Three Pagodas look more mysterious in the reflections on the lake. Locate at the foot of the Cangshan Mountain, the white pagodas look more outstanding and gorgeous. The 70-meter-tall main pagoda, Qianxun Pagoda, is one of the tallest pagodas of the Tang Dynasty (618 - 907). Inside the Qianxun Pagoda, there was a wood ladder for climbing to the top, which now is broken. Three Pagodas, Zhaozhou Bridge of Hebei Province and Big Wild Goose Pagoda in Xi’an are three curiosities of Chinese ancient architecture.
In the Qianxun Pagoda, there are many sculptures of Buddha made of silver, wood or crystal, Buddhist classics, and more than 600 various medicinal ingredients. These cultural relics play an important role in explaining the ancient history of Dali City. When the night falls, the pagodas are lighted up, shinning the whole sky. Reflections on the lake make the night more gorgeous.
Opening Hours: 8:00 -- 19:00
Ticket Price: 121 CNY
Location: 13 kilometers away from Xiaguan City, Dali
From Xiaguan city, tour bus will bring you here (3 CNY)
From the Ancient Town in Dali you can come here on foot (30 minutes)
Facing the Erhai Lake in the east and close to the Heihui River in the west, the Cangshan Mountain embraces many marvelous landscapes, among which the sceneries of clouds, springs, snow and marble are the top four charming.
Standing at the peak of the mountain, you can enjoy the beautiful varied clouds over the Cangshan Mountain, which will be as thin as a veil and then as dark as ink. The most magical and beautiful clouds are called Yudai Cloud that looks like a fairy dancing with a ribbon made of jade and the Wangfu Cloud that looks like a lady waiting for her husband with great eagerness.
Springs bleeding out from the rocks form many gorgeous landscapes. Apart from the eighteen streams, there are still many lakes over the altitude of over 3,800 meters, along the shores of which valuable medicine materials, trees of rare species and various flowers can be seen.
Amazingly, the 4100-meter-high Cangshan Mountain is covered with snow all the year. When the sun rises, it is very dazzling and splendid, especially in March. On the moonlight night, the snow reflects off the mountain, which will form a picture of a crystal world.
The last thing worth us to pay special attention to is a smooth marble named Cangshan Stone. Cangshan Mountain is a famous manufacture center of such a stone. The Caihua Stone distinguish itself by its unique patterns. Natural scenes of mountains, flowers, birds or people appear once it is polished.
Come to experience the roaring stream rushing down from the peak along the valley of the Cangshan Mountain, come to experience the special customs of the Bai Minority and come to experience the scenic spot group around the Cangshan Mountain and come for the discovery of more distinctive sceneries.
Opening Hours: 9:00 -- 18:00
Ticket Price: 90 CNY
Location: Cable car and horse can bring you here.
Dali Ancient Town
Delaying on the Cangshan Mountain, Dali Ancient Town, laying in the hug of the Erhai Lake, has experienced 1200 years’ history. Along the Ancient Town, the customs and ancient architectures with the original designs are well reserved. Potted plants can be commonly seen in the old houses, ancient wells are still shared among neighbors and clear streams are flowing through the town.
Jizu Mountain is a member of the five mountains famous for the Buddhism in China and the others are Emei Mt., Wutai Mt., Jiuhua Mt. and Putuo Mt. With 13 splendid peaks, 34 steep cliffs, 40 hills of various sceneries, 45 mysterious caves, more than 100 marvelous spring pools, Jizu Mountain is a good place for adventure for extraordinary sights.
Standing at the peak of the 3240-meter-high Jizu Mountain, you will be amazed by the wonderful landscapes. At the east, the fantastic sunrise is waiting for you. At the south, the various caprice clouds will make you busy to tell what they are like. At the north, the snow mountain covered with white shinning coat is a feast of eyes. At the west, you can have a bird’s eye view of the peaceful and beautiful Erhai Lake.
In the mid of the Ming Dynasty, Jizu Mountain enjoyed the same fame as Ermei Mountain, Wutai Mountain, Jiuhua Mountain, and Putuo Mountain, with old trees touching the sky, smoke raising upwards, lots of old temples around the mountain, masters of monk coming out generations after generations, and visitors and scholars coming and going frequently. This mountain has been prosperous over thousand years, known as "A Mountain with Spirit, Capital of Buddhism".
Jizu Mountain has a long history and a bright culture. It is said that Kasyapa once performed Buddhist rites there. The existing structures on the mountain include the Zhusheng, Jingding, and Fota temples, the Kasyapa Hall, Huashou Gate and the Huideng and Muni convents. Jizu Mountain features a magnificent landscape and various animals and plants. It is a nature reserve in Yunnan Province.
March and April are the months when traditional festivals are celebrated, which is the best time for experiencing the pure local customs and culture.
Opening Hours: 8:30 -- 17:30
Ticket Price: 60 CNY
Location: Binchuan County, Dali City
Transportation: Shuttle bus from the county center will bring you to the foot of the mountain. To the peak, you can take the cable car or ride the horse.
Owing to the erosion of the wind and the water, marvelous and interesting landscapes can be seen in the flourishing forests in Shibao Mountain. Huge stones are shaped by the wind and water into a ball, a bell or other kinds of bizarre appearances. Mysterious grottoes with precious cultural relics will be a special experience. Ancient temple with hundreds years of history has more amazing scenes for discovery.
Shibao Mountain is 25 kilometers southwest of the Jianchuan County. The most attractive sceneries in the mountain are the grottoes of Nanzhao and Dali states. There are 16 grottoes housing 139 unique stone statues, including religious figures, the royal family of Nanzhao State and the Persians, which are the most valuable art in the culture of the Bai Minority. The danxia landform that spreads all over the mountain adds an excellent touch to the scenery.
In the Shibao Mountain, the annual traditional folk song festival has been being held in March for centuries, which is the most solemn festival of the Bai Minority that reflects the pure and plain customs.
Opening Hours: 7:00 -- 20:00
Ticket Price: 50 CNY
Location: Jianchuan County, Dali City
Transportation: Shuttle bus will bring you here (15 CNY).
The Iron Pillar
The Iron Pillar is actually a pillar made of iron in the Tiezhu Temple in Midu County. With a tallness of 3.3 meters, a circumference of 1 meter and weight of 2 tons, the iron pillar, has witnessed 1100 years of changes, is the oldest and famous historic relic in Midu County. The Iron Pillar is said to be cast by using the confiscated weapons at the order of Zhuge Liang, the most brilliant military consular in Three Kingdoms period (220-280).
The Iron Pillar Temple, decorated with the exquisite carvings and gorgeous paintings, is full of the antique style. The special designs of the entire temple architecture together with the towering ancient banyans, the graceful plum trees, the blooming azalea, the fragrant Osmanthus, the adorable bamboos and the pathways paved with ancient bluestones forms a peaceful and pleasant environment, making the ancient temple more holy and mysterious.
On 15th of lunar January, the Yi Minority will get together in the temple to hold the annual solemn Pillar-worship ceremony here.
Opening Hours: 9:00 -- 20:00
Ticket Price: 10 CNY
Location: Midu County, Dali City
The Ancient Town of Lijiang
In the vast China, there are four intact-preserved ancient towns, and the ancient town of Lijiang is a shinning member of it. Unlike the other ancient towns, the Lijiang ancient town is open without any town walls that will make the town more mysterious, while the blue marble stone pathways winding along the town would bring you back to the history.
Tiger Leaping Gorge
Hailed as the Oriental Grand Canyon, the Tiger Leaping Gorge (Hutiaoxia) is, to some extent, more attractive than the Grand Canyon. It is the most precipitous gorge in the vast China with an altitude difference of 3000 meters that is 600 meters more than that of the Grand Canyon. Therefore, the waterfalls here are amazingly marvelous, the stones here are surprisingly bizarre and landscapes on the cliffs here are spectacularly wonderful, all of which make Tiger Leaping Gorge a good place for adventure, photography and expedition.
Tiger Leaping Gorge with a splendid view of the swift turbulent current of the Golden River is formed through constant cutting by the waters between Jade Dragon Mountain and Haba Mountain. Spanning 17 kilometers long, the gorge, consists of the Upper Gorge, the Middle Gorge and the Lower Gorge, drops about 300 meters in a series of 18 rapids. The Lower Gorge is the most awe - inspiring part of all. The gorge, where the Golden Sand River pounds furiously at its rocky shores in an awesome fashion, sending up skilful of white froth, is a dream place for adventurers.
Seen from the bridge, the marvelous geological wonder, two huge mountains leaning close to each other and a large volume of fast moving water between them cutting deeper and deeper into the bottom of the gorge, will be more splendid. In addition, there is a drop of 3000 meters to the water, a beautiful and surprising place to go for photography.
Embraced by the arms of the picturesque Cangshan Mountain and guarded by an 8-meter-tall and 3.5-kilometer-long wall, the 600-year-old city of Dali was first built in 1683 and is characterized by the ancient stonewalls, grey tiled roofs, doors and windows carved with dragon and phoenix partners and gardens of varying sizes. The entire city is covered by a maze of streams, fed by runoffs from the Cangshan Mountain. Hence, the saying the gurgling of water can be heard in every house and flowers are planted in every family.
Opening Hours: 9:00 -- 18:00
Ticket Price: 50 CNY
Location: Naxi County, Lijiang City
Transportation: Bus from Lijiang Bus Station and taxi will bring you here.
Lying in the flourishing forests far away from the pollution, Lugu Lake, covers 50 square kilometers with thousands square kilometers of lawns, is like a pearl inlayed in the plateau. With seven islands on the lake, the largest freshwater lake in Sichuan, seen from a bird’s eye of view, looks like a flying eagle with wings spreading.
Yufeng Monastery (Yufeng Si )
Built at the foot of the Yufeng Mountain in Qing Dynasty (1644-1912), the Yufeng Monastery has experienced more than 400 years of history. What may amaze you most is the huge old camellia that planted in Ming Dynasty (1364-1644), 100 years earlier than the construction of the monastery. This camellia is praised as the King of the Camellia for the marvelous size of it.
From the beginning of the spring to the beginning of summer, the camellia will be fully blooming for 20 times without breaking off just like a peacock showing off her tail, and the amount of the flowers blooming at each time is more than 1000, therefore there are surprisingly 20,000 flowers blooming every year. This magic camellia is said to be improved through grafting, so the flowers blooming on this 2-meter-tall camellia are as large as a plate.
On the arrival of the spring, people will come all the way from near and far to have a close look at this huge camellia blooming under the reflecting of the gorgeous Yulong Mountain with the snow as the coat.
Opening Hours: 8:00 -- 18:00
Ticket Price: 20 CNY
Location: Yulong Mt., Lijiang City
Transportation: Taxi from Lijiang will bring you here.
Jade Dragon Snow Mountain (Yulong Xue Shan )
With an average altitude of 4000, the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain (yu long xue shan) is the wonderful place with marvelous spectacles in the challenging environment. Ganhaizi is a piece of vast grassland in the east with beautiful sceneries that provides a good angle for people to enjoy the entire sight of the Jade Dragon Snow Mt. White River, originates from the Jade Dragon Snow Mt., is a crystal-like river flowing along the Mt.. Yunshanping, a virgin forest with abundant rare natural resources, is the holy land of the Naxi people. All of them make Jade Dragon Snow Mountain a good place for adventure, photography and expedition.
The mountains western flanks drop steeply to the Upper Yangtze River (Jinsha Jiang), helping to form magnificent, deep gorges, and the highest peak is Shanzidou. The summit, Shanzidou, is 5596 meters above sea level. Viewed from afar, the snow-capped range resembles a silver dragon with snow curling up its middle. Rich forest, herb and animal resources thrive on the mountain and a giant tram cart up here is one of the highest of its kind in China.
She is a botanist's paradise and a "kingdom of medicinal materials". Of the 13,000 kinds of plants in Yunnan, more than half of them can be found on Jade Dragon Snow Mountain as well as 400 types of trees in 20 primeval forest communities. From April to June the azaleas turn the mountain into a riot of brilliant color. In autumn, blue rough gentian flowers cover her marshlands. She is decorated with blooming flowers 10 months of the year.
The mountain is also a sanctuary for animals, many of them rare animals that live at different temperature levels. She is home to 30 kinds of animals protected by the state, such as the wild ass, the Yunnan snub-nosed monkey, the lesser panda, the forest musk deer, the clouded leopard, the blood pheasant, the silver pheasant, and the spotted, yellowish civet cat.
She has attracted the attention of many scholars and travelers. Early in 1837, the French writer Bacier introduced Jade Dragon Snow Mountain in his acclaimed book "Universe". And seven years ago the chairman of the international Mountainous Region led a team to the mountain for field work.
In Lijiang City, you can have a magnificent view of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, with the main peak thrust into the clouds, the Old Man Peak standing out on the right and Black Snow Peak on its left.
Opening Hours: 7:30 -- 16:00
80 CNY for the kids below 1.1 m
Location: 15 km away from the Lijiang city center
Transportation: Bus No. 7 (15 CNY) and taxi (100 CNY) will bring you here.
The Baisha Mural is a group of murals scattered around Lijiang City, which took 300 years to complete, therefore it is a reflection of the true life in the late Ming Dynasty and early Qing Dynasty. Having been undergone over 500 years of history, part of the Baisha mural group somewhat becomes indistinct, but a large part of which still can tell you about the culture of Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism.
The mural group consists of more than 10 small groups, the amount of mural in all of which is up to 550. Those gorgeous murals with various styles, which are telling the stories of the religious belief and social life of the local, are a blooming intelligent show that you must visit.
Located in Baisha Township, 8km north of the seat of the Lijiang Naxi Nationality Autonomous County, the mural is a rich fusion that had resulted in a tremendously powerful art, heavy in spirit and awe-inspiring in its presentation of the mystical world. Dominated by black, silver, dark green, gold and red colors, the murals in the back hall, overlaid with centuries of brown soot, are bizarre, the scenes and figures, some still vivid in detail, are largely taken from Tibetan Buddhist iconography and include the wheel of life, judges of the underworld, the damned, titans and gods, Buddha and bodhisattvas. There are trigrams, lotus flowers and even Sanskrit inscriptions on the ceiling. The deliberate damage done to the paintings is apparent and terrible, but the loss of the irreplaceable wooden statuary that filled the temple, of which there is no trace, is even more tragic.
These mural paintings, with their fine and smooth lines, bright colors, vivid pattern and balanced and harmonious composition are a wonderful sight that is not only crucial to the history of Chinese painting, but also important to cultural heritage relics.
Opening Hours: 8:30 -- 17:00
Ticket Price: 40 CNY
Location: 12 km away from Lijiang city center
Transportation: Bus No. 6 from Lijiang will bring you here.
First Bend of the Yangtze
The Yangtze River Bend, as its name indicates, is the spot where the southwards running Yangtze River turns northeastward due to the block of the mountain, which, seen from a distance, looks like the letter V. Seeing the spectacular Yangtze River roaring down from the roof of the world and then making a sharp turn will be a wonderful experience.
From the sightseeing hill, in addition to the splendid view of the entire First Bend, you can have a good angle for the sunset. Under the shining of the sunset, the river shows off the most wonderful part by turning the green mountains around into shining golden mountains. In this paradise, flowers may fully bloom in spring and corps may grow into red and yellow in autumn, making a harmonious living environment on the bank of Yangtze River for the hospitable folks.
With the gradual deposit of fertile soil at this spot, a village slowly came into being, now called Shigu Town, meaning "stone drum" in Chinese. Since ancient times, this town has been important, linking Tibet with the outside world. Here Tibetan people bring their quality hide and herbal medicine to exchange with the local tea, salt, cloth and other necessities. If your tour schedule falls on the market day, you can join into the amazingly crowded and noisy town by yourself.
Opening Hours: the whole day
Ticket Price: free
Location: Naxi County, Lijiang
Transportation: Take the shuttle bus or the tour bus from the bus stations in Lijiang to the Shigu Town and then change the bus to here.
Baoshan Stone Village
Stone village is in fact an ancient village with about 100 families living on the peak of the mountain with a mushroom shape. This mysterious village, facing the Chin-sha River, is embraced by steeps in the other sides. Therefore, there are only the North and South Gates as the access to the village. While, inside the gorgeous village the wide natural rock roads will show you around the amazingly splendid but simple stone-made architectures.
About 100km north of Lijiang, Baoshan Stone Village (baoshan shicheng) is located on a Herculean rock in the Jinsha River Valley. Virtually everything in the village is made of stone: stone ovens, stone water vats, stone beds, stone chairs and so on. The village is surrounded by cliffs on four sides with the Jinsha River flowing below and a small path leading to the outside world, one meter wide, creeps along the edge of the village.
The marvelous terraced fields created on the rocks with the clear mountain spring flowing down are a magic place where various sceneries can be seen. On the arrival of the spring, the newly transplanted corps is adorably green, while when the autumn falls, you will lose yourself at the scene that the golden rice, wheat and corns waving with the breeze. In addition, the huge stone carvings on the steep cliffs, created by the ancestors of the Naxi people, are the most spectacular scene that makes the tourists astonished.
Opening Hours: 8:00 -- 18:00
Ticket Price: 20 CNY
Location: 100 km away from Lijiang City
Transportation: Shuttle bus from Lijiang will bring you here.
Elephant Trunk Hill
Wave Subduing Hill
Reed Flute Cave
Seven Star Park
Solitary Beauty Peak and Jingjiang Princes City
Solitary Beauty Peak, also known as Purple Hill, is located in the Jingjiang Princes City with reputation of “Southern Heaven Pillar”. At the foot of Solitary Beauty Peak, there is a Longevity Palace first built in Tang Dynasty, while a Solitary Beauty Pavilion is standing at the top. You can have a bird’s view of beautiful Guilin when you climb up 396 stone steps to the top. Dushu Rock, Taiping Rock and Crescent-shape Pond are at the foot of Solitary Beauty Peak while many ancient inscriptions are on the eastern side of the peak, for example “East or west, Guilin scenery is the best”. Other famous attractions include Snow Cave and Zhongshan Monument.
Jingjiang Prices City, praised as a “city in a city”, was built in Ming Dynasty with a history of more than 630 years. During the 257 years from its completion to the collapse of Ming Dynasty, 14 seigniors had lived here. Jingjiang Princes City became the Examination Compound in the Qing Dynasty. Covering an area of 19.78 hectares, Jingjiang Princes City composes of Chengyun Gate, Chengyun Palace, Palace Harem and Imperial Garden with other 40 rooms, pavilions and chambers. Listed as “the key cultural relics of national level”, Jingjiang Princes City is an irreplaceable scenic spot in Guilin.
If you want to enjoy picturesque mountains and crystal clear waters, Solitary Beauty Peak, famous royal treasure hill is your best choice. If you want to read the history of Guilin, Jingjiang Princes City will meet your need.
1. Opening Hours: 9:30am—5:30pm
2. How to Get Here: No.1, 10, 11, 14, 100 Buses.
Folded Brocade Hill
Folded Brocade Hill, with an elevation of 73m, locates to the northeast of Guilin, facing beautiful Li River. As a beautiful and well-known hill, Folded Brocade Hill consists of Mingyue Peak, Crane Peak, Siwang Hill and Yuyue Hill, covering an area of 2km². Many amazing attractions such as Folded Brocade Pavilion, Yuyue Pavilion, Wind Cave and Wangjiang Pavilion etc. are on the hill. Besides, inscriptions on precipices carved by celebrities of all the precious dynasties are the essence of all relics.
Folded Brocade Pavilion, with a height of 5m, length of 7.5m and width of 8.5m, is architecture with single story, 4 angles, flat rooftop, red pillars and green tiles. With Yuyue Hill to the east, Siwang Hill to the west and Bright Moon Peak to the north, Folded Brocade Pavilion is harmonious with the surroundings. Stone benches standing from east to west, the northern side is the best place to appreciate the fantastic “folded brocade” and is an ideal place for rest. To the west of the pavilion, an inscription by Yu Qing of Ming Dynasty is also worth of visiting.
Wangjiang Pavilion is halfway up the hill and built during the reign of Emperor Zhengde (1506-1521) of the Ming Dynasty. Rebuilt in the years of 1954 and 1990, Wangjiang Pavilion is a pavilion with ancient style, 6m in height and dihedral angles. On the wall, a cliff inscription was carved as “a place for seeking adventures”.
Upon your arrival in Beijing, you will be picked up at the airport and transferred to your hotel in Beijing. You can have a rest and make plenty of preparation for the exciting tour waiting for you.
Today we will visit [Tian'anmen Square], the largest city square in the world. And the [Forbidden City] is the largest imperial palace in China during the Ming and Qing dynasties with a history of around 600 years. Then visit [Jingshan Park], a picturesque royal garden and the largest garden to appreciate the peonies. Afterward, tour the idyllic [Summer Palace], once the summer retreat and playground for the imperial family and royal court during the late Qing Dynasty.
Meals included: Breakfast
We will travel to [Simatai Great Wall], one of a few originally preserved Ming Great Wall sections. Stay overnight at Gubei Water Town.
Meals included: Breakfast
Take a flight to Kunming, and you will be met by your guide and driver, transfer to the railway station for your train to Dali. Transfer to your hotel in Xizhou Village.
Meals included: Breakfast
Your driver will pick you up at your hotel, and visit [the colorful market in Xizhou village] through cobbled streets and traditional houses.
Then take you to Weishan (2hrs), On the way, visit [Donglianhua Muslim Village], it is a typical Muslim village that was built in the middle of the Ming Dynasty and has a history of more than 600 years.
After check-in at your hotel, you will stroll into [the Weishan Old Town]. Here, 6 ethnic groups have lived for generations with strong ethnic customs, especially the song and dancing of the Yi people and Islamic culture are distinctive.
Meals included: Breakfast
Your driver will pick you up at your hotel, and visit [Weibaoshan], it’s located 13 kilometers northeast of Weishan County, and its highest peak is 2509 m. You leave by mountainous roads towards the Yunlong Valley (4hrs).
Upon arrival, you climb stairs to the hotel located on the slope of the hill. You will find that you have returned to an ancient period: houses with mud walls, stones demolished by the legs of horses, slogans of the revolution, etc.
Info: As you are only spending one night in this village clinging to the hill, we suggest that you prepare a small bag to bring your belongings for the night. Please note that there are mattresses, shower towels, toothbrushes, etc. in the guest house. If you need big suitcases, please tell us in advance. We will call muleteers to ride luggage, the price is 15-20 RMB per luggage per transfer.
Meals included: Breakfast
After breakfast, you will stroll in the Nuodeng village. 180 kilometers away from Dali City, is located in the northwest of Yunlong County and retains a large number of Ming and Qing dynasty buildings. Then drive to [Shaxi village] (5hrs) along the Bijiang. During this journey, you have stopped to appreciate different bridges: the Rain and Wind Bridge, the Suspension Bridge, the Pavilion Bridge, etc. After check-in at your hotel in Shaxi, you will stroll in the Shaxi village leisure, admiring its 14th-century Ming Dynasty buildings. You’ll see vignettes of daily life.
Meals included: Breakfast
After breakfast, drive to Shibaoshan (40 mins). Explore [the Shibaoshan Caves] and [Baoxiang Temple], a striking collection of Zen temples and Buddhist sculptures carved into the rocks. After the visit, you can hike from Shibaoshan Caves to Shadengqing Valley (1h30 / 2hrs). The hiking path is beautiful and relatively easy, but it is not recommended for those with knee problems as the path consists of steep stairs. Free at leisure for the rest of the day in Shaxi village.
Meals included: Breakfast
Take a drive to [Tiger Leaping Gorge], one of the deepest canyons in the world.
Arrival, [trek from the Naxi family guesthouse to Yachajiao Manor](3hrs/3h30).
Meals included: Breakfast
After breakfast, [hike from your guesthouse to Tina’s Guesthouse] (3hrs/4hrs).
Info: A section of the road will be steep on the way, which is not suitable for tourists with a fear of heights and dizziness.
Your driver will pick you up at Tina’s Guesthouse, and take you to Lijiang (2hrs). On the way, you can visit Hutiao Rock.
Hutiao Rock View: If you would like to journey deeper into the gorge for the view from Hutiao Rock, there is a path that leads closer to the Yangtze River. From here, you can enjoy a breathtaking panoramic view. The hike down takes approximately 20 minutes, and the hike up takes about 30 minutes.
In the evening, free visit the Shuhe Ancient Town.
Meals included: Breakfast
Take a flight to Guilin. Then drive to Longsheng County to appreciate the [Longji Terraces], a minority area with magnificent terraced rice paddies. You might get a chance to try some organic food at the [Ping’an Zhuang village]. You may do some hiking around the villages.
Meals included: Breakfast
Transfer back to Guilin after lunch. Visit an old village and an arch bridge which are [Tianxin Village] and [Zhuangyuan Bridge]. Drive to your hotel in Guilin.
Meals included: Breakfast
Leave your hotel to drive to Xianei Village near Yangdi Town. We walk through the village and go uphill toward the Li River. The mountain paths are rough and narrow. When you see the Li River, walk downhill and take a right turn, walking along until you arrive at the Quanjiazhou Village. Then a 3-hour walk on the right side of the river will be followed. We will see several famous scenic spots during this part: The Apple Rock, the Xialong Scenery, the Immortal Riding on the Back of the Rooster, and the Painted Hill of Nine Horses, etc.
It’s so different to appreciate the beauty of the Li River by walking from cruising. You can stop anywhere you like, spending more time there than the other places. Your view angle will be higher and wider than on the boat. You see local people’s life in their villages and fields alone, which can sometimes bring you a nostalgic feeling of your childhood with grandparents in the country!
After going through the Laocuntou village, there comes the Lengshui Ferry. We need to cross the river by ferry boat. A 1-hour long walk on the left bank of the river (a little bit away from the river) will take us to the town of Xingping. We will pass the exact spot where they took a picture and had it printed on the back of the 20-yuan Chinese currency note. Our hiking ends at Xingping Town and we will drive to Yangshuo (40 minutes).
Meals included: Breakfast
Take a [Bamboo Raft] along the Yulong River, and enjoy the breathtaking scenery. Take a Chinese [cooking class] in the afternoon. You must enjoy your dinner today as it’s cooked on your own.
Meals included: Breakfast
Transfer to [Huangyao Ancient Town], It is distinguished by an austere and elegant style with more than 300 well-preserved traditional architectures dating back to the 14th to the 20th centuries.
Meals included: Breakfast
Take a flight to Beijing. Hotel check-in.
Meals included: Breakfast
You will be picked up and transferred to the airport for your flight home.
Meals included: Breakfast
Pricing & Accommodation
- US Dollar
- GB Pound
- CA Dollar
- AU Dollar
- HK Dollars
Inclusions / Exclusions