First class deals to Beijing
Summer Palace is the Ideal Retreat
Covering more than 700 acres, the Summer Palace is a good first stop after your first class flight lands. It’s rich with beautiful pavilions, inviting pagodas and incredible gardens. Its gardens are actually the Museum of Royal Gardens, offering magnificent examples of horticulture from around the country. The grounds date back to the late 18th century, built as a summer retreat for China’s imperial families.
Several areas are notable.
- The court area from Kunming Lake to the East Palace Gate was the site where royals received visiting dignitaries.
- Longevity Hill boasts marvelous temples and halls. At its peak, there’s a Buddhist temple to admire.
-Suzhou Market Street helps you imagine what it was like to shop in riverfront stalls during the Qing Dynasty.
Entertainment is also abundant here. The Beijing Opera performs frequently on site, and boating on Kunming Lake is a treat. Spend at least half a day at the Summer Palace for the most rewarding experience.
Explore Juyong Pass for its Incredible Stature
If you’re spending much time in China, you’ll probably have several opportunities to visit sections of the Great Wall. While there are many other things to do in Beijing, take a day to head out to the wall’s Juyong Pass area. It’s one of the wall’s three most famous passes, partly because of its exquisite towers and structures. Originally a military fortification, the site dates back to the Spring and Autumn Period and was the first of the wall’s three major passes.
Perhaps the most famous part of the pass is the 14th-century Cloud Platform gate. Standing more than 30 feet tall and constructed with white marble, the gate was dazzling. Although much of the structure was destroyed, the platform and many interesting elements remain. These sites include:
- a watch post,
- Buddhist carvings on the facades,
- the arch’s inner roof adornments.
The pass also offers some incredible views of the mountains and countryside. Plan to spend a day exploring the pass and the surrounding area so you don’t feel shortchanged. The region is close enough to Beijing that your first class flight departures from Beijing Airport remain convenient.
See How the Royals Lived at Prince Gong Mansion
One of the best examples of a Qing dynasty imperial residence, Prince Gong Mansion is located in Beijing’s Xicheng district. The 14-square-acre complex is full of inviting courtyards, exquisitely manicured gardens and beautiful buildings. The residences give you a glimpse of how the elite lived in 18th-century China. The gardens are even more fascinating. Covering seven acres, the gardens showcase many features, including
- ponds and
- man-made hills.
The Western-style gate is particularly noteworthy, blending Chinese and Western architectural elements. While strolling through the gardens, look for the “Fu” stele. The 16-foot rock slab is located at a small cavern entrance and bears the “Fu” insignia of Kangxi.
The Beijing Opera House is located on the grounds of the mansion complex as well. Daily operatic performances enhance the experience of visiting the mansion. Both subway and bus lines offer access near the mansion, so it’s easy to visit directly from your first class flights to Beijing Airport.
Ming Tombs Offers a Scenic Day of Exploration
A visit to the Ming Tombs about 30 miles outside of Beijing is the perfect day trip. The site is scenically located at the base of Tianshou Mountain. It’s the burial site of many leaders of Ming Dynasty emperors who ruled China from the 14th to 17th centuries. Three of the 13 Ming tombs are open to the public, each a captivating site in its own right.
You’ll approach the mausoleums along the Sacred Way, an impressive path lined with immense statues. This divine road leads through an imposing gate directly to the Changling Mausoleum. Built in 1409, Changling is the burial site of the first emperor, Yongle, to be entombed in this picturesque valley.
Throughout the site’s 46 square miles, you’ll find:
- inviting walking paths,
- interesting statues and
- appealing structures.
Some travelers enjoy pairing a visit to the Ming Tombs with a trip to the nearby Ming Emperors Wax Museum. The Badaling section of the Great Wall is also close by. Plan to spend at least a day in the area, so book your first class flight to Beijing accordingly.