Pre-Event Tourist Program

Please click HERE to download Pre-event Tourist Program in .pdf format.

Day 1 (11th September 2011): Beijing

Place 1: Forbidden City

Lying at the center of Beijing, the Forbidden City, called Gu Gong, in Chinese, was the imperial palace during the Ming and Qing dynasties. Now known as the Palace Museum, it is to the north of Tiananmen Square. Rectangular in shape, it is the world's largest palace complex and covers 74 hectares. Surrounded by a six meter deep moat and a ten meter high wall are 9,999 buildings. The wall has a gate on each side. Opposite the Tiananmen Gate, to the north is the Gate of Devine Might (Shenwumen), which faces Jingshan Park. The distance between these two gates is 960 meters, while the distance between the gates in the east and west walls is 750 meters. There are unique and delicately structured towers on each of the four corners of the curtain wall. These afford views over both the palace and the city outside. The Forbidden City is divided into two parts. The southern section, or the Outer Court was where the emperor exercised his supreme power over the nation. The northern section, or the Inner Court was where he lived with his royal family. Until 1924 when the last emperor of China was driven from the Inner Court, fourteen emperors of the Ming dynasty and ten emperors of the Qing dynasty had reigned here. Having been the imperial palace for some five centuries, it houses numerous rare treasures and curiosities. Listed by UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage Site in 1987, the Palace Museum is now one of the most popular tourist attractions world wide.

Construction of the palace complex began in 1407, the 5th year of the Yongle reign of the third emperor of the Ming dynasty. It was completed fourteen years later in 1420. It was said that a million workers including one hundred thousand artisans were driven into the long-term hard labor. Stone needed was quarried from Fangshan, a suburb of Beijing. It was said a well was dug every fifty meters along the road in order to pour water onto the road in winter to slide huge stones on ice into the city. Huge amounts of timber and other materials were freighted from faraway provinces. Ancient Chinese people displayed their very considerable skills in building the Forbidden City. Take the grand red city wall for example. It has an 8.6 meters wide base reducing to 6.66 meters wide at the top. The angular shape of the wall totally frustrates attempts to climb it. The bricks were made from white lime and glutinous rice while the cement is made from glutinous rice and egg whites. These incredible materials make the wall extraordinarily strong.          

                                               

Since yellow is the symbol of the royal family, it is the dominant color in the Forbidden City. Roofs are built with yellow glazed tiles; decorations in the palace are painted yellow; even the bricks on the ground are made yellow by a special process. However, there is one exception. Wenyuange, the royal library, has a black roof. The reason is that it was believed black represented water then and could extinguish fire.

Nowadays, the Forbidden City, or the Palace Museum is open to tourists from home and abroad. Splendid painted decoration on these royal architectural wonders, the grand and deluxe halls, with their surprisingly magnificent treasures will certainly satisfy "modern civilians".

Place 2: Temple of Heaven

The Temple of Heaven is located in southern Beijing. It is included in the UNESCO world heritage list in 1998. With an area of 2.7 million square meters, it is the largest of its kind in the country. Built in 1420, the 18th year of the reign of Ming Emperor Yongle, the temple was where emperors went to worship heaven for good harvests.

The temple consists of two parts--the inner altar and outer altar. The main buildings are in the inner altar, on the north-south axis. At the southern end are the Imperial Vault of Heaven and the Circular Mound Altar. On the northern end are the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests and the Hall of Imperial Zenith. The structures at both ends are connected by a 360-meter-long walk. There is also the Hall of Abstinence inside the West Heavenly Gate in which the emperor fasted for three days and bathed before prayer.

        

The temple's main building is the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, where the emperor prayed for good harvests. The round hall, 38 meters high and 30 meters in diameter, has triple eaves and a cone-shaped deep blue tile roof crowned with a gilded knob. Surrounding the hall is a six-meter-high spacious circular stone terrace on three levels, each edged by a balustrade of carved white marble.

The Circular Mound Altar is one of the more important buildings and is a three-tier white stone terrace enclosed by two walls. Geometrically designed, the altar has a taiji rock at the center of the top terrace. If you stand on the rock and speak in a normal voice, your voice will sound louder and more resonant to yourself than to others around you, because the sound waves reflected by the balustrades are bounced back to the center by the round wall.

                                                        

The Imperial Vault of Heaven, the place to lay the memorial tablets to the heaven is to the north of the Circular Mound Altar. It is very similar in structure to  the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests but is smaller. The Vault, made of brick and timber, is 19 meters high and 15.6 meters in diameter. It is surrounded by a circular wall of polished brick with an opening to the south. This is known as the Echo Wall and is 3.72 meters high, 61.5 meters in diameter and 193 meters in circumference. If a person whispers close to the wall at any point, his voice can be heard distinctly at any other point along the wall.

 


Around the Hall of Abstinence are two imperial ditches and they are circled by a 163-bay walkway. The Abstinence Bronze Man Pavilion and Time and Memorial Tablets Pavilion are at the Celestial Terrace of the main hall. To add the solemnity of the occasion, the bells in the two bell towers at the northeast end were struck when the emperor prayed for good harvests.

Place 3: Bird's Nest (National Stadium) & Water Cube (National Aquatics Center)

Beijing National Stadium, also known as the Bird's Nest, is a stadium in Beijing, China. The stadium was designed for use throughout the 2008 Summer Olympics and Paralympics.

                                                    

Located in the Olympic Green, the stadium cost US$423 million. The design was awarded to a submission from the Swiss architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron in April 2003 after a bidding process that included 13 final submissions. The design, which originated from the study of Chinese ceramics, implemented steel beams in order to hide supports for the retractable roof; giving the stadium the appearance of a "Bird's nest". Leading Chinese artist Ai Weiwei was the artistic consultant on the project. The retractable roof was later removed from the design after inspiring the stadium's most recognizable aspect. Ground was broken in 8 December 2003 and the stadium officially opened in 28 June 2008. A shopping mall and a hotel are planned to be constructed to increase use of the stadium, which has had trouble attracting events, football and otherwise, after the Olympics.

The Beijing National Aquatics Center, also officially known as the Water Cube, is an aquatics center that was built alongside Beijing National Stadium in the Olympic Green for the swimming competitions of the 2008 Summer Olympics. Despite its nickname, the building is not an actual cube, but a cuboid (a rectangular box). Ground was broken on December 24, 2003, and the Center was completed and handed over for use on January 28, 2008. Swimmers at the Water Cube broke 25 world records during the 2008 Olympics.

After the Olympics, the building underwent a 200 million Yuan revamp to turn half of its interior into a water park. The building officially re-opened on August 8, 2010

In July 2003, the Water Cube design was chosen from 10 proposals in an international architectural competition for the aquatic center project. The Water Cube was specially designed and built by a consortium made up of PTW Architects (an Australian architecture firm), Arup international engineering group, CSCEC (China State Construction Engineering Corporation), and CCDI (China Construction Design International) of Shanghai. The Water Cube's design was initiated by a team effort: the Chinese partners felt a square was more symbolic to Chinese culture and its relationship to the Bird's Nest stadium, while the Sydney based partners came up with the idea of covering the 'cube' with bubbles, symbolising water. Contextually the cube symbolises earth whilst the circle (represented by the stadium) represents heaven. Hence symbolically the water cube references Chinese symbolic architecture.

                                            

Comprising a steel space frame, it is the largest ETFE clad structure in the world with over 100,000 m² of ETFE pillows that are only 0.2 mm (1/125 of an inch) in total thickness. The ETFE cladding allows more light and heat penetration than traditional glass, resulting in a 30% decrease in energy costs.

                                                        

The structure had a capacity of 17,000 during the games that is being reduced to 6,000. It also has a total land surface of 65,000 square meters and will cover a total of 32,000 square metres (7.9 acres). Although called the Water Cube, the aquatic center is really a rectangular box (cuboid)- 178 metres (584 ft) square and 31 metres (102 ft) high.

Day 2 (12th September 2011): Beijing - Chengde (230km)

Place 1: Summer Palace

The Summer Palace, dominated mainly by Longevity Hill and Kunming Lake, covers an area of 2.9 square kilometers, three quarters of which is under water. Its 70,000 square meters of building space features a variety of palaces, gardens and other ancient-style architectural structures. Well known for its large and priceless collection of cultural relics, it was among the first group of historical and cultural heritage sites in China to be placed under special state protection.

                                              

The Summer Palace, originally named Qingyi Yuan or the Garden of Clear Ripples, was first constructed in 1750. It was razed to the ground by the Anglo-French Allied Forces in 1860. The Government of the Qing Dynasty started to rebuild it in 1886 with funds that it had misappropriated from the Imperial Navy and other sources. Renamed two years later as Yihe Yuan or the Garden of Health and Harmony, it was supposed to serve as a summer resort for the Empress Dowager Cixi. Known also as the Summer Palace, it was ravaged by the Allied Forces of the Eight Powers that invaded China in 1900. The damage was repaired in 1902. Since the founding of the People's Republic of China, the Summer Palace has undergone several major renovations. Its major attractions such as the Four Great Regions, Suzhou Street, the Pavilion of Bright Scenery, the Hall of Serenity, the Wenchang Galleries and the Plowing and Weaving Scenery Area have been successively restored.

The Summer Palace is a monument to classical Chinese architecture, in terms of both garden design and construction. Borrowing scenes from surrounding landscapes, it radiates not only the grandeur of an imperial garden but also the beauty of nature in a seamless combination that best illustrates the guiding principle of traditional Chinese garden design:"The works of men should match the works of Heaven". In December 1998, UNESCO included the Summer Palace on its World Heritage List with the following comments:

1) The Summer Palace in Beijing is an outstanding expression of the creative art of Chinese landscape garden design, incorporating the works of humankind and nature in a harmonious whole;

2) The Summer Palace epitomizes the philosophy and practice of Chinese garden design, which played a key role in the development of this cultural form throughout the east;

3) The imperial Chinese garden, illustrated by the Summer Palace, is a potent symbol of one of the major world civilizations.

Place 2: Prince Gong's Mansion

The Prince Gong's Mansion is located in the western part of central Beijing, China,north of the Shichahai Lake. Consisting of large mansions in the typical siheyuan laylout and gardens, Prince Gong's Mansion is known as one of the most ornate and extravagant residence compounds in all of Beijing.

Prince Gong's Mansion was constructed in 1777 for minister He Shen during the Qianlong-reign in the late Qing Dynasty. From a young age, He Shen got the trust of Emperor Qianlong, and was able to make large promotion in the imperial administration. In this way he became very wealthy. Because of accusations of corruption, He Shen was executed and the mansion was confiscated in 1799, under the reign of Emperor Jiaqing in favor of Prince Qing Junwang, the 17th and youngest son of Emperor Qianlong.

In 1851, Emperor Xianfeng assigned it to his brother Prince Gong. It is his name that is currently given to the compound. In 1921 Prince Gong's grandson had to hand over the property as a mortgage to the Catholic Church. It was bought by the Furen Catholic University for use as a university buildings, and afterwards for the Beijing Normal University and then for the Chinese Music Academy. During the Cultural Revolution the building was used by the Beijing Airconditioning Factory. In the 1980s it had a new revival. In 1982 it has been declared as one of the Chinese National Cultural Heritages in Beijing. Since November 1996 the buildings and the gardens have become a new publicly open scenic spot for tourists.

Place 3: Hu Tong

Hutongs are a type of narrow streets or alleys, most commonly associated with Beijing, China. In Beijing, hutongs are alleys formed by lines of siheyuan, traditional courtyard residences. Many neighbourhoods were formed by joining one siheyuan to another to form a hutong, and then joining one hutong to another. The word hutong is also used to refer to such neighbourhoods.

Since the mid-20th century, the number of Beijing hutongs has dropped dramatically as they are demolished to make way for new roads and buildings. More recently, some hutongs have been designated as protected areas in an attempt to preserve this aspect of Chinese cultural history.

                                           

Day 3 (13th September 2011): Chengde - Beijing (230km)

Place: Chengde Mountain Resort & Little Potala Palace

The Mountain Resort in Chengde (the Qing Dynasty's summer palace) situated in the city of Chengde in Hebei Province, China, is the world's largest existing imperial garden.

Built between 1703 and 1792, the Mountain Resort took 89 years to complete. It covers a total area of 5.6 km², almost half of Chengde's urban area. It is a vast complex of palaces and administrative and ceremonial buildings. Temples of various architectural styles and imperial gardens blend harmoniously into a landscape of lakes, pastureland and forests.

The Kangxi, Qianlong and Jiaqing Emperors often spent several months a year here to escape the summer heat in the capital city of Beijing and the palace zone in the southern part of the resort was therefore designed to resemble the Forbidden City in Beijing. It consists of two parts: a court in front, where the emperor received high officials, nobles of various minority nationalities, and foreign envoys; and bed chambers in the rear, which were the imperial family's living quarters. Emperor Jiaqing and Xianfeng both died while staying at Chengde in 1820 and 1861 respectively.

                                                        

The Mountain Resort is most famous for the 72 scenic spots which were named by the Kangxi and Qianlong Emperors. Many of the scenic spots around the resort's lake area were copied from famous landscaped gardens in Southern China. For instance, the main building on Green Lotus Island, "Tower of Mist and Rain," is a copy of a tower in Nanhu Lake at Jiaxing in Zhejiang Province. The resort's plain area also possesses characteristics of the scenery of the Mongolian grasslands. Forested mountains and valleys are dotted with various buildings. This includes a 70 m tall stone Chinese pagoda, one of the tallest in China, built in the year 1751 during the reign of the Qianlong Emperor. The pagoda is shaped with an octagonal base, while the pagoda's nine stories are decorated with colorful glazed tiles and the steeple is crowned with a gilded round spire.

In December 1994 the Mountain Resort was listed by UNESCO on its list of World Heritage Sites. On May 8, 2007, the Mountain Resort and its Outlying Temples, Chengde was approved by the China National Tourism Administration as one of the "5A-class tourist attractions" which represents the highest standards for China's tourist attractions.

Day 4 (14th September 2011): Beijing - Datong (335km)

Place 1: Sakyamuni Pagoda of Fogong Temple (Ying County Timber Pagoda)

The Sakyamuni Pagoda of Fogong Temple of Ying County, Shanxi province,   is a wooden Chinese pagoda built in 1056, during the Khitan-led Liao Dynasty. The pagoda was built by Emperor Daozong of Liao (Hongji) at the site of his grandmother's family home.The pagoda, which has survived several large earthquakes throughout the centuries, reached a level of such fame within China that it was given the generic nickname of the "Muta" (literally "Timber Pagoda").

                                                     

The pagoda stands on a 4 m (13 ft) tall stone platform, has a 10 m (33 ft) tall steeple, and reaches a total height of 67.31 m (220.83 ft) tall; it is the oldest existent fully-wooden pagoda still standing in China. Although it is the oldest fully-wooden pagoda in China, the oldest existent pagoda is the 6th century Songyue Pagoda made of brick and the oldest existent wooden buildings in China date back to the mid Tang Dynasty (618-907), which are Buddhist temple halls found at Mount Wutai.

Place 2: Suspended Temple

Located at the foot of Mt. Hengshan in China's Shanxi Province, the Suspended Temple is nestled in the steep precipices and cliffs of Cuiping Peak west of Jinlong Gorge. The temple was built among the cliffs, suspended in midair. It is arguably the No. 1 spectacle of Mountain Hengshan.

                                                            

The Suspended Temple was built in the late years of the Northern Wei Dynasty (around 471-523 AD), some 1,400 years ago. It was repeatedly renovated in later dynasties, but the original structure remained unchanged. The existing building is the ruins of the renovations carried out in the Ming and Qing dynasties. The temple is the only existing one featuring the integration Buddhist, Taoist and Confucian cultures. Completely built on the mountain cliff, the wood-structure temple is supported by the beams inserted into the chiseled holes in the cliff. The temple is suspended in the air, with precipices on the top and chasms at the bottom. Looked from afar, the temple is like an exquisite relief sculpture; looked at close quarters, the temple is on the point of flying into the sky. There are over 40 halls in the temple and more than 80 Buddhist sculptures made of bronze, iron, stone and mud.

On the rock wall along the plank way of the temple, there are four engraved characters "Gong Shu Tian Qiao". "Gong Shu" is the name of Lu Ban, who is considered by the Chinese as the father of builders. The meaning of the four characters is that a marvelous temple like this could only be built by great masters with exceptionally superb skills like Lu Ban. A local ballad describing the breathtaking nature of the temple goes like this: "the Suspended Temple is in mid air; looks like the temple is suspended by three horsetails". The famous poet Li Bai of the Tang Dynasty wrote "zhuangguan" (which means "spectacular") on the cliff wall. And the great traveler Xu Xiake of the Ming Dynasty called the Suspended Temple "a marvelous wonder" in his travel notes.

The Suspended Temple is located in the depths of mountains, with the reservoir of Mountain Hengshan at its side. Holding 13 million cubic meters of water the rippling reservoir is crystal clear. When the spillway gate is completely open, torrents are spewing in the valley. The water and the mountain contrast nicely with each other, adding luster and beauty to the fascinating Suspended Temple.

Day 5 (15th September 2011): Datong - Beijing (335km)

Place 1: Yungang Grottoes

The Yungang Grottoes are ancient Buddhist temple grottoes near the city of Datong in the Chinese province of Shanxi. They are excellent examples of rock-cut architecture and one of the three most famous ancient sculptural sites of China. The others are Longmen and Mogao.

                                                        

The site is located about 16 km south-west of the city, in the valley of the Shi Li river at the base of the Wuzhou Shan mountains. The grottoes were mainly constructed in the period between 460-525 AD during the Northern Wei dynasty. They are an outstanding example of the Chinese stone carvings from the 5th and 6th centuries. All together the site is composed of 252 grottoes with more than 51,000 Buddha statues and statuettes. In 2001, the Yungang Grottoes were made a UNESCO World Heritage Site The Yungang Grottoes is considered by UNESCO as a "masterpiece of early Chinese Buddhist cave art and represent the successful fusion of Buddhist religious symbolic art from south and central Asia with Chinese cultural traditions, starting in the 5th century CE under Imperial auspices".

                                          

Place 2: Shopping at Beijing Silk Street (Xiushui Market)

The Silk Street (Xiushui Market) attracts approximately 20,000 visitors daily (from 9am to 9pm) on weekdays and between 50,000 and 60,000 on weekends. This 35,000-square-meter complex houses 1,700 retail vendors and over 3,000 salespeople spread over seven floors with three levels of basements. Many of the stalls have, over the years, gained local and international reputation for selling counterfeit luxury designer brands at relatively-low prices. Some have carried on this trademark despite growing pressures from the management, the Chinese government and famous brand-name companies.

                                                 

Opened on March 19, 2005, and replacing the old alley-based Xiushui Market, the current Silk Street establishment has diversified their business scope. In addition to selling fashion apparels and accessories such as hats, handbags, shoes, belts, sportswear and silk fabrics like their predecessor, the new Silk Street has introduced traditional Chinese handicrafts, antiques, calligraphy, carpets, table cloths, bed coverings, paintings, hand-knit dresses, toys, electronic gadgets, trinkets, and fine jewelry.


Price: 715euro/person, which includes:

- 4 star hotel double room for 5 nights(10th-15th September 2011) with breakfust

- One bus with a driver and an English speaking guide

- Lunch and dinner at local restaurants for 5 days

- Tickets for sightseeing places

- Travel insurance

Single room supplement: 195euro/room

Guarantee: No obligated shopping activities. Our guests won't feel hurry from one venue to another because reasonable flexibility is well considered.

Note: Please arrive in Beijing no later than 10th September 2011, you can check in your hotel in Beijing from 12:00am on 10th September 2011. The tour will begin in the morning on 11th September 2011.