Archive for the ‘Beijing Self-Service Tour’ Category

How to Visit Ditan Park (Tips, Photos & Map)

Friday, October 1st, 2021
Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Beijing has five royal altars left from Ming and Qing Dynasties (1368 – 1911) including Tiantan ( the Altar for the Heaven, also known as the Temple of Heaven), Ditan ( the Altar for the Earth, also known as the Temple of Earth), Ritan ( the Altar for the Sun, also known as the Temple of Sun), Yuetan (the Altar for the Moon, also known as the Temple of Moon) and Xiannongtan ( the Altar for Agriculture, also known as Temple of Agriculture).

The location of Ditan Park (Google Map)

Now four of the original altars have been extended and turned into public parks known as Tiantan Park (the Temple of Heaven), Ditan Park (the Temple of Earth), Ritan Park (the Temple of Sun), Yuetan Park (the Temple of Moon).

ABC of Ditan ( the Altar for the Earth )

Ditan, or the Altar for the Earth and the Temple of Earth, was built in 1530 during Ming Dynasty. It was the place where the emperors in Ming and Qing Dynasties who would attend the annual summer solstice ritual of sacrifices to the earth. In 1925, the Temple of Earth was built into a park open to the public. Later the park was destroyed and discarded due to the successive wars. The park was repened to the public in April, in 1957.

Ditan Park is open 24 hours a day all year around with a small entrance of 2 Yuan. But the entrance to the inner site of the Altar costs you another 5 Yuan. Each year during the Chinese Spring Festival ( Chinese new year), a grand temple fair will be held inside Ditan Park with added up entrance fee of 10 Yuan.

Ditan Park has four entrances – South, North, East and West. Its south gate is easily reached by taking the Subway line 2 and you get off at the station of Lama Temple and exit from Exit A and walk to the north for about 300m, you will get to the southern gate to Ditan Park. We recommend that you make a circular tour of the park from the south gate, to East Gate, North Gate and exit from West Gate, or back to the southern gate.

A morning stroll around Ditan Park is very much rewarding, seeing people ( most of them are seniors ) doing all kinds of morning exercises, dancing and singing. Ditan Park is also one of the best places to view autumn leaves in the downtown Beijing when the Ginkgo trees are all yellow, blanketing the major roads in the park.

Another important occasion to come to Ditan Park is Chinese Spring Festival when a large temple fair will be held here annually, attracting huge crowds of visitors. There will a plenty of vendors selling all kinds of stuff, food, entertainment, and games.

Morning Stroll around Ditan Park

First, follow me for a relaxing stroll around Ditan Park in the morning. This time I enter Ditan Park through its west gate instead of its south gate. What allures you is the grand pailou outside the west gate. Pailou, also known as Paifang, is a traditional Chinese architectural form like an archway.

Pailou ( Paifang ) is a traditional Chinese architectural form like an archway.

Pailou is a traditional Chinese architectural form like an archway.
Pailou is a traditional Chinese architectural form like an archway.
the Palace Fasting where emperors would fast
the Palace Fasting where emperors would fast
the Devine Horse Stable
the Devine Horse Stable
The Bell Tower in Ditan Park
The Bell Tower in Ditan Park

Each morning many local residents, especially senior people come to Ditan Park or the Temple of Earth for doing all kinds of exercises. T

his group of people are Tibetan dancing fans, dancing in front of the open space by the west gate to the Palace for Fasting.

This group of people are Tibetan dancing fans
This group of people are Tibetan dancing fans

Move on to the east from the Tibetan dancing group, I see another group of people learning Tai Chi.

I see another group of people learning Tai Chi.
I see another group of people learning Tai Chi.

Soon, I reach the wide paved road running from north to south leading to the North Gate. Many people are doing morning exercises on the road covered with high Ginkgo trees.

Many people are doing morning exercises on the road covered with high Ginkgo trees.
Many people are doing morning exercises on the road covered with high Ginkgo trees.
This is the northern gate to Ditan Park.
This is the northern gate to Ditan Park.

Let’s go on to make a loop tour of the park and move on to the east side of the north-south main road. Here you may find even more people doing Tai Chi, doing plentiful morning exercises.

Here you may find even more people doing Tai Chi
Here you may find even more people doing Tai Chi

A veteran of martial art is practicing in order to attract new students for commercial purposes.

A veteran of martial art is practicing in order to attract new students for commercial purposes.
A veteran of martial art is practicing in order to attract new students for commercial purposes.

Relying on apparatus to do exercises. Some just go to the extreme. 

Relying on apparatus to do exercises. Some just go to the extreme.
Relying on apparatus to do exercises. Some just go to the extreme.

This is the Chinese Traditional Medicine Health Cultivation Garden telling people how to keep fit and self-cultivation. The garden is located at the East gate to Ditan Park.

This is the Chinese Traditional Medicine Health Cultivation Garden
This is the Chinese Traditional Medicine Health Cultivation Garden

It is a beautiful garden immersing people into a mesmerizing environment while learning the basics of Chinese traditional medicine.

Well. let’s walk to the middle of the park – the Altar in a square pond (Fangzetan) circled by red-colored wall with yellow glazed tiles.

Fangze Tan ( The square and moated terrace), popularly known as “the Altar” was the place where the emperors in Ming and Qing Dynasty offered sacrifices to the God of the Earth. It is locked in the early morning, so I have to peep through the wooden gate and take a picture of the Altar from a distance.

peep through the wooden gate and take a picture of the Altar from a distance.
peep through the wooden gate and take a picture of the Altar from a distance.

Old pine trees and green lawn by the Altar. I happen to take a candid photo of a cute baby escorted by his grandpa.

happen to take a candid photo of a cute baby escorted by his grandpa.
happen to take a candid photo of a cute baby escorted by his grandpa.

Now I come to the southern gate, the most popular gate of the four gates in the park. In front of the gate is the House for worshipping the Earth God.

The house is also surrounded by the red-colored wall with yellow glazed tiles.

the House for Worshipping the Earth God
the House for Worshipping the Earth God
This is the exterior of the Southern Gate to Ditan Park.
This is the exterior of the Southern Gate to Ditan Park.

Just outside the southern gate, you can find one of the popular Cantonese restaurants in Beijing known as Jindingxuan Restaurant. You may have a bite of the Cantonese food.

the popular Cantonese restaurants in Beijing known as Jindingxuan Restaurant.
the popular Cantonese restaurants in Beijing known as Jindingxuan Restaurant.

Fall Foliage at Ditan Park

Beijing is at its best in autumn with blue sky, comfy sunshine and colourful leaves. The best time to see the foliage in Beijing spans about one month ranging from October 15 to November 15.

There are many places to view fall foliage in Beijing including the mountainous areas (all sections of the Great Wall) and downtown parks. Among them, Fragrant Hill is unanimously considered as the most famous place to see autumn leaves in Beijing.

If you are scared of the huge crowds of visitors at Fragrant Hill or don’t want to go to the mountains or the Great Wall outside Beijing, and would rather have a leisure time in viewing the autumn leaves in downtown Beijing, Ditan Park ( The Temple of Earth ) is definitely your best option.

Autumn Ditan 1

Ditan 1
Ditan 1
Ditan 2
Ditan 2
Autumn Ditan 3
Autumn Ditan 3
Autumn Ditan 4
Autumn Ditan 4

Ditan Temple Fair during the Chinese spring festival

As a foreign visitor, if you are in Beijing during the Spring Festival (Chinese New Year),  visiting a temple fair is definitely a good choice to experience the traditional  Beijing custom and Chinese culture.

Like elsewhere in the world, temple fairs (Miao Hui)originated and developed as groups of vendors did business near temples when many pilgrims came to pay tribute to the gods during traditional festivals.

Now there are over 10 major temple fairs held each year in Beijing during Chinese New Year. Most of them are in the parks, wide streets and other non-temple areas.

Though some commercialization is greatly reinventing the essence of the Beijing’s temple fairs, and old Beijing culture is becoming a smaller part of the fairs, going to a temple fair is still one of the opportunities to know something about our Spring Festival traditions: eating, shopping and entertaining.

Eating and drinking at Ditan Temple fair. Shopping at Ditan Temple Fair

Shopping at Ditan Temple Fair
Shopping at Ditan Temple Fair
Entertaining at Ditan Temple Fair
Entertaining at Ditan Temple Fair

Major attractions near Ditan Park

If you are going to visit Ditan Park, you are highly recommended to visit the nearby attractions listed below:

Confucian Temple and the Imperial College Museum
Lama Temple
Shichahai
Beihai Park
Forbidden City

Tip:  Hassle-free Beijing Guided Tours

If you don’t want to go the do-it-yourself route and prefer the hassle-free escorted tours,  here are some options for guided tours to Beijing:

Car Rental in Beijing
Beijing Day Tour
Beijing Tour Packages
Great Wall Tour
Beijing Winter Tour
China City Tours
China Tour

Further Readings


How to Plan a Trip to Beijing
Best Time to Visit Beijing

Top 10 Attractions in Beijing
Top 10 Tourist Scams Beijing
How to Visit Tiananmen Square
How to Visit Forbidden City
How to Visit Temple of Heaven
How to Visit Summer Palace
How to Visit Ming Tombs
How to Visit the Great Wall of China
How to Visit Shichahai
How to Visit Lama Temple
How to Visit Olympic Sites

Top 10 Markets in Beijing
Top 10 Shopping Malls in Beijing
Beijing Shopping

Wangfujing Snack Street
Qianmen Commercial Street
Beijing Huguosi Street

Any questions, just drop a line.

How to Visit Lama Temple (Tips, Photos & Map)

Wednesday, August 18th, 2021
Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Dear Travelers,

We’d like to have the following quick guide to be always updated for the benefit of new visitors coming to Lama Temple.

If you have any questions or anybody having used the piece finds necessary updates, please leave a message or feedback. Thanks!
———

Plan your Beijing Tour? If you are interested in Chinese Lamaism or Chinese Buddhism, Beijing Lama Temple is not to be missed.

ABC of Lama Temple

Beijing Lamasery Temple is called “Yonghegong” (雍和宫) in Chinese which literally means” Harmony and Peace”. “Yonghegong” is a romanization form (pinyin) of the Chinese characters – 雍和宫 (Lama Temple).

Lama Temple Location

Pinyin is quite useful in China, especially on people’s names, shop fronts, street names and place names etc. When Chinese people write their own names in English, they use Pinyin. All the bus stops and subway stops for Lama Temple are named “Yonghegong” in English instead of Lama Temple.

For many foreign travelers coming to Beijing, Yonghegong (Lama Temple) is a very important attraction just after Forbidden City and Temple of Heaven in the city center. Yonghegong Lama Temple was originally built as the residence of Emperor Yongzheng when he was still a prince.

After he came to the throne (Emperor Yongzheng), he changed his old residence into a temporary palace called “Yonghegong” in 1725. In 1744, his successor, Emperor Qianlong turned the palace into a lama temple. This Tietan Buddhist Lama Temple is still popularly called Yonghegong.

Built along a central axis from north to south, the Lama Temple’s compound is mainly composed of six major halls, which make seven courtyards. The six halls include Yonghe Gate Hall, Yonghegong Hall, Yongyou Hall, Falun Hall, Wanfuge Pavilion and Suicheng Hall.

There are also many side buildings built on the both sides of the central axis. Before you visit the six halls and seven courtyards, you will first see the Memorial archway.

How to get there?

Well, taking the subway is highly recommended. You either take subway line 2 or Line 5 and get off at the stop of “Yonghegong”( Lama Temple), exit from the Exit C.

From the EXIT C of Yonghegong Subway Station, you turn left and walk along the sidewalk flanked by a long red wall, inside which Lama Temple is located. The 400 meters sidewalk is teemed with front stores selling incense, fortune-tellers and so on.  Then you will get to the entrance to Lama Temple on your left hand.

Address: 12 Yonghegong Dajie, Dongcheng District, Beijing

On your left side, you will see the entrance to the compound of Lama Temple.

The entrance to the compound of Lama Temple
In the middle of the compound are the three connected Memorial archways
On the right side of the archways is the ticket office.

Entrance Fee: CNY 25 per person

Opening Hours: 09:00 – 16:30 ( April – October)
09:00 – 16:00 (November – March)
Note:  You don’t have to book your ticket in advance. Just get there as early as possible,  and line up for buying your ticket on the spot.

By the way, , they have both English-speaking tour guides and English audio-guide for rent. Please contact them while you are going to purchase your entrance ticket at the ticketing booth.

Follow me into Lama Temple (Yonghegong)

Have your ticket collected at the side gate of the archway, you walk north along the imperial carriage pathway where in Qing Dynasty the straight path was used for the carriages of the emperors and their empresses during the Qing Dynasty (1644 – 1911).

You walk north along the imperial way

Zhaotai Gate 昭泰门

At the northern end of the imperial carriage pathway is the Zhaotai Gate only used for emperors.

Zhaotai Gate

Entering Zhaotai Gate, you will be in the second courtyard which has a Drum Tower on the right side and Bell Tower on the left side and more side buildings in the courtyard.

Yonghe Gate 雍和门

To the north of the courtyard is Yonghe Gate. Built in 1694, originally the main gate to the Lama Temple. Now Yonghe Gate is enshrined with the four heavenly kings and the statue of the big belly Meitraya Buddha.

Now Yonghe Gate

Yonghe Palace 雍和宫

North of the Yonghe Gate is Yonghe Palace. Yonghe Palace is the main palace in the temple.

Inside the palace, there are three bronze Buddhas – Sakyamuni (Present Buddha) in the middle, The Past Buddha on the right and Maitreya ( Future Buddha ) on the left. 18 Arhats are placed on both sides of the Hall.

Yonghe Palace

Yongyou Hall 永佑殿

North of Yonghe Palace is Yongyou Hall. The Yongyou Hall was originally the living place of Emperor Yongzheng before he was throned. When he died, his coffin was placed here in the hall.

Now inside the palace, a statue of Amitayus (Longevity Buddha), with Bhaisajyaguru ( Medicine Buddha) to the right and Simhanada (Meaning Wisdom) to the left.

Yongyou Hall.

Falun Hall 法轮殿

North of Yongyou Hall is Falun Hall. The hall was named Falun Hall in 1744 when Yonghegong was transformed into a lamasery. The Hall was originally the living place for the Emperor’s wives. Its architecture features both Chinese and Tibetans styles.

Falun Hall

A large statue of Tsong Kha-pa, the founder of Lamaism is positioned on the altar of the Hall with sacrificial offerings. Behind this statue is an Arhat Hill which has 500 Arhats. Falun Hall is the places lamas chant, read scriptures and hold Buddhist ceremonies.

Wanfu Pavilion 万福阁

North of Falun Hall is Wanfu Pavilion (The Pavilion of Pavilion of Ten Thousand Happiness). Wanfu Pavilion is the highest building in the temple.

Wanfu Pavilion

It was built between 1748 and 1750. Now it enshrines the Meitreya Buddha. The statue is 18 meters above ground and 8 meters under ground and carved from a single trunk of white sandal wood. In August 1999, it was in Guinness book of records.

Sui Cheng Building 绥成殿

The last hall is called Sui Cheng Building. Originally built in 1744, the hall now enshrines the White Tara, the Green Tara and the founders of Gelugpa sect of Lamaism in different periods.

The last hall is called Sui Cheng Building

Kids are happy to turn around the prayer wheels.

Kids are happy to turn around the prayer wheels
A foreign Buddhist

Major attractions near Lama Temple

If you are going to visit Lama Temple, you are highly recommended to visit the nearby attractions listed below:

Confucian Temple and the Imperial College Museum
Shichahai ( Houhai )
Ditan Park

Add on

Top 10 Buddhist Temples in Beijing
Top 10 Mosques in Beijing
How to Visit Lama Temple in Beijijng
Catholic Mass Times Beijing
Top 10 Religious Sites in Beijing
Beijing Religion Tour

Tip:  Hassle-free Beijing Guided Tours

If you don’t want to go the do-it-yourself route and prefer the hassle-free escorted tours,  here are some options for guided tours to Beijing:

Car Rental in Beijing
Beijing Day Tour
Beijing Tour Packages
Great Wall Tour
Beijing Winter Tour
Beijing Tours
China City Tours
China Tour

Further Readings


How to Plan a Trip to Beijing
Best Time to Visit Beijing

Top 10 Attractions in Beijing
Top 10 Tourist Scams Beijing
How to Visit Tiananmen Square
How to Visit Forbidden City
How to Visit Temple of Heaven
How to Visit Summer Palace
How to Visit Ming Tombs
How to Visit the Great Wall of China
How to Visit Hutongs
How to Visit Olympic Sites

Top 10 Markets in Beijing
Top 10 Shopping Malls in Beijing
Beijing Shopping

Wangfujing Snack Street
Qianmen Commercial Street
Beijing Huguosi Street

Any questions, just drop a line.

Chinese version of the travel guide:

参观雍和宫小贴士

Beijing Huguosi Street

Thursday, July 22nd, 2021
Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Plan your Beijing Tour? On their first trip to Beijing, many foreign visitors are a little disappointed when they are surrounded by modern and trendy buildings mushrooming in and around Beijing. People expect to see something more Chinese and traditional, typical of Beijing.

Then come to visit the ancient streets in Beijing. These ancient streets are full of stories, full of history and full of culture.

Today I’m going to recommend a self-guided tour of Huguosi Street. Huguosi Street is a 600m-long ancient commercial street named after the former Huguosi Temple in Xicheng District.

It starts from Xinjiekou Dajie in the west and ends at Deshengmen Neidajie in the east. Huguosi Street has a history of over 800 years when it was first formed in Yuan Dynasty.

It is now one of the most famous commercial streets in Beijing. Huguosi Street was very busy and clustered with numerous shops and restaurants. It would be very crowded and busy in spring festival when the temple fair starts. Today Huguosi Street still keeps its original culture and layout with many street-front stores and restaurants.

Along the 600m street, you find a rich choice of snacks, local flavors, antiques, boutiques and street front stores. The well known Huguosi Hotel is also along the Huguosi Street. People’s Theatre was revamped and availabe to the domestic and foreign visitors.

How to get there:
Huguosi Street is easily accessible through subway line 4. You just take subway line 4 and get off at Pinganli (平安里)and exit from EXIT B. 

Exit from EXIT B at Pinganli (Subway 1 )

When you get off at Pinganli Station of Subway 4, you will see a huge signboard posted on the street of the wall leading to the ancient street. For the most time in a year, Huguosi Street is thronged with visitors. They come here to explore the histry and culture hidden behind its traditional street.

Huguosi Street is lined with shops and restaurants to the convenince of the local people and an interesting eye-opener. 

Huguosi Street is lined with shops

Walking along Huguosi Street to feel the stores and histoy woven into a fabric of a touching female world. 

Walking along Huguosi Street

One the big reasons for coming here is enjoy local snacks! Huguosi Xiaochi ( a snack restaurant) is the most famous Beijing snack restaurant in Beijing.

Huguosi Xiaochi ( a snack restaurant).

Huguo Temple is still on the maps, but in reality, it doesn’t exist. We do find a only left over a small part of the Huguo Temple complex – Jingang Hall Huguo Temple.

Jingang Hall Huguo Temple

The buildings along the both sides of Huguosi Street are constructed in a traditional Chinese style.

Huguosi Street is constructed in a traditional Chinese style.

Tip:  Hassle-free Beijing Guided Tours

If you don’t want to go the do-it-yourself route and prefer the hassle-free escorted tours,  here are some options for guided tours to Beijing:

Car Rental in Beijing
Beijing Day Tour
Beijing Tour Packages
Great Wall Tour
China City Tours
China Tour

Further Readings


Top 10 Attractions in Beijing
Top 10 Tourist Scams Beijing
How to Visit Forbidden City
How to Visit Temple of Heaven
How to Visit Summer Palace
How to Visit Ming Tombs
How to Visit the Great Wall of China
How to Visit Tiananmen Square
How to Visit Hutongs
How to Visit Olympic Sites

Top 10 Markets in Beijing
Top 10 Shopping Malls in Beijing
Beijing Shopping

Wangfujing Snack Street
Qianmen Commercial Street
Beijing Huguosi Street

Any questions, just drop a line.