Ancient city of Yinxu, China’s first capital city – Travel Guide

Ancient city of Yinxu, China’s first capital city – Travel Guide

Lost to time and only rediscovered in the late 1800s, the ancient city remains were once China’s first capital under the Shang Dynasty which ruled from 1600 to 1046 BC.

Yinxu (or Yin Ruins) is located on both banks of the Huanhe River to the northwest of the nationally famous historic and cultural city Anyang, in Henan Province of central China. The archaeological remains of Yin are dated from 1,300 BCE and comprise two sites: the Palace and Royal Ancestral Shrines Area, and the Royal Tombs Area covering a total 414 hectares with an enclosing buffer zone of 720 hectares.

Yin has been confirmed by historic documents, oracle bone inscriptions, and archaeological excavations as the first site of a capital in Chinese history. Yin was the political, economic, cultural, and military center of the late Shang Dynasty in China.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the Yin Ruins were famous for the discovery of the oracle bones. In 1928 archaeological excavations began and a large number of architectural sites and rich cultural relics represented by oracle bones and bronzes were unearthed.

The Oracle Bones are the oldest known form of Chinese writing and the first recorded history of China under the Shang Dynasty. Around 150,000 pieces of oracle bones have been unearthed.

Highlights

Palace ancestral temple 宫殿宗庙
Ancestral palace ruins cover an area stretching 1000 meters long from north to south, east-west width of 650 meters, with a total area of 71.5 hectares. They were once government offices and homes of Shang Dynasty officials and are the most important of the Yin Ruins. There are more than 80 buildings here including the palace and temple. A large number of oracle bones were unearthed here, along with bronze and jade artifacts.

Nearby is the Fuhao Tomb which is the best preserved of the tombs in the area. The tomb is dedicated to the wife of the Shang Dynasty King, Wu Ding. The tomb dates back to 1250 BCE and was only discovered in 1976. Also located on-site is the Exhibition Hall of Chariot Pits.

Yinxu Wangling Site 王陵遗址
Located across the river from Yinxu Palace it has a total area of ​​about 11.3 hectares. Since 1934, 13 large tombs have been discovered here, with more than 2,000 burial tombs, ritual pits and chariot pits, and a large number of beautifully crafted bronzes, jade, stoneware, pottery, etc., have been unearthed here. The heaviest bronze artifact in the world was found here, namely the Simu Wufang Cauldron which weighs close to a tonne.

Yubei Plaza 洹北商城
Yubei Plaza is located in the garden of the north bank of the Weihe River in Anyang. The site is 2.15 kilometers wide from east to west, 2.2 kilometers long from north to south, with a total area of ​​about 4.7 square kilometers.

Hun tombs 匈奴墓葬
Recently in 2017, 18 tombs belonging to ancient nomads were discovered. They were built in some time around the late Eastern Han Dynasty to the Wei and Jin Dynasty era’s, about 1800 years ago.

Visiting Yinxu

For those who love history and traditional culture, the Yin Ruins is a must. The entire Yinxu landscape is divided into two parts, the Yinxu Zongmiao Palace Relics Reserve and the Yinxu Wangling Site Protection Area. The distance between the two places is 5 kilometers. The one entry ticket covers both two places and the cost of the shuttle bus.

As the area of this scenic spot is quite large, there is a free shuttle bus between different sites, with an interval of about half an hour.

Time to spend here: 2-3 hours

Yin Xu Facts

  • Chinese Name: 殷墟
  • Confirmed the first capital in Chinese history
  • UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site listed in 2006
  • 5A Level Scenic Spot
  • Location:  Xiaoyan Village, Yindu District, Anyang City, Henan
  • Ticket price: 70 yuan
  • Open: April – September: 8am – 6pm; October – March: 8am – 5.30pm

How to get there

Take bus 1, 6, 15, 18, 39 or 41 to Yinxu (殷墟) or taxi from the central area of Anyang, about 10 RMB.

Best place to stay in Anyang near to Yinxu

Ibis Anyang Jiefang Ave – four-star modern hotel near to railway and bus station and a short distance by taxi from the Yinxu area.

Map

Nearby Attractions in Anyang

  • Ruins of Youli City
  • Linlu Mountain International Paragliding Site
  • Red Flag Canal Tourism Area
  • Yue Fei Temple
  • Museum of Chinese Writing

According to Wikipedia

According to the 2nd century Shuowen Jiezi dictionary, the Chinese character “殷” (yīn) originally referred to “vibrant music-making”. Although frequently used throughout written history to refer to both the Shang dynasty and its final capital, the name Yīn (殷) appears to have not been used in this way until the succeeding Zhou dynasty. In particular, the name does not appear in the oracle bones, which refer to the state as Shāng (商), and its final capital as Dàyì Shāng (大邑商 “Great Settlement Shang”).

Among surviving ancient Chinese historical documents, Yin is described as the final capital of the Shang dynasty. There is some disagreement, though, as to when the move to Yin took place. Both the Book of Documents, (specifically, the “Pan Geng” chapter, which is believed to date from the late Spring and Autumn period), and the Bamboo Annals state that Shang king Pan Geng moved the Shang capital to Yin. The Bamboo Annals state, more specifically, that during his reign Pan Geng moved the capital from Yān (奄; present-day Qufu, in present-day Shandong Province), to a site called Běimĕng (北蒙), where it was then renamed to Yīn (殷).(Conversely, according to the Records of the Grand Historian of Sima Qian, Pan Geng moved the Shang capital from a location north of the Yellow River to Bo 亳, the capital of Shang dynasty founder Tang, on the south side of the river—a location inconsistent with the location of Yin.)

Regardless, Yin was clearly established as the Shang capital by the time of Shang king Wu Ding. Wu Ding launched numerous military campaigns from this base against surrounding tribes, thus securing Shang rule and raising the dynasty to its historical zenith.

According to the traditional accounts, later rulers became pleasure-seekers who took no interest in state affairs. King Zhòu, the last of the Shang dynasty kings, is particularly remembered for his ruthlessness and debauchery. His increasingly autocratic laws alienated the nobility until King Wu of the Zhou dynasty was able to gain the support to rise up and overthrow the Shang.

The Zhou dynasty established their capital at Fenghao near modern-day Xi’an, and Yīn was abandoned to fall into ruin. These ruins were mentioned by Sima Qian in his Records of the Grand Historian, and described in some detail by Li Daoyuan in his Commentary to the River Classic, published during the Southern and Northern Dynasties period (420-589 CE). Thereafter, the once-great city of Yīn was relegated to legend along with its founding dynasty until its rediscovery in the final years of the Qing dynasty.

 

 

The Presidential Palace Nanjing

The Presidential Palace Nanjing

The Presidential Palace could be thought of as Nanjing’s version of the Forbidden City in Beijing with it once being home to ancient emperors and later political leaders. The palace was also the base for Dr. Sat Yun Sen when he led the Kuomintang party to power in China.

Presidential Palace entry at night

 

Officially, it is now called the China Modern History Museum yet its history dates back to the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) when it functioned as a royal palace. It was taken over during the Taiping Rebellion and for ten or more years it served as a base for that revolutions leaders until the Qing government reclaimed Nanjing in 1864.  It was also the KMT’s (Kuomintang) headquarters from 1927 to 1949 from which it ruled the country until Mao Zedong and the CCP took over control and declared Beijing as the capital once again.

All of that is a very long story, but one can understand, this place has a played a very special part in what were defining periods in China’s history.

Inside of the walls, you can still find the imperial palaces and gardens built many years ago and also buildings added in the 1930’s that housed the revolutionary government.

The famous courtyard at the Presidential Palace

Inside the rooms of the several original buildings are interesting displays, such as the emperor’s throne, moving into the newer buildings the many rooms are filled with displays of artifacts, photos and storyboards of the then revolutionary government that led China from 1911 to 1949.

There’s also the former home of Dr. Sat Yun Sen to wander through, and the many nooks and crannies of the garden shouldn’t be missed as it’s hard to beat a garden built that was originally built for an emperor. Especially a garden that features a mini-lake with a boat made of stone.

one section of the impressive gardens
the small lake

Alongside the Presidential Palace is whats known as 1912 (南京1912街区), a cluster of charming old buildings now packed with bars and eateries (Chinese/Western). You can find a Starbucks and Costa Coffee here, several bars and night spots, hot pot restaurant, Pizza Hut, KFC.

1912 Commercial Street

Across the street is the Nanjing Library (南京图书馆) which is actually at exit 5 of the subway station so take a peek before you head over to the palace, and a few minutes walk away is the Jiangsu Art Museum (江苏省美术馆), across from which is the Six Dynasties Museum (六朝博物馆).

There are a LOT of hotels in this area, unfortunately, most won’t accept foreign guests. My three picks for places near here are Crowne Plaza Nanjing Hotels & SuitesThe Grand Mansion, and the Jinling Hotel.

 

Admission: 40 RMB

Open Hours:  Mar-Oct 8.30 am to 6.00 pm Nov-Feb 8.30 am to 5.00 pm

Getting there: You can take metro line 2 or line 3 and get off at Daxinggong Station and take exit 5.

Chinese Name for taxi: 中国近代史遗址博物馆 – 总统府 (China Modern History Museum – Presidential Palace) 

Address: 292 Changjiang Rd, Xuanwu, Nanjing

Official website: http://www.njztf.cn/en/

Map featuring Hotels near the Presidential Palace

 

Presidential Palace map

there is a large map board at the site, as pictured below, which will ensure you catch all the key sites in the palace. Click for larger image.

Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall

Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall

In 1937/38  Nanjing was witness to one of the worlds haunting events, being the massacre of some 300000 people at the hands of invading forces. At that time Nanjing was the capital of China and Japanese forces had taken control of the city and during the first six to eight weeks of their occupation had performed indescribable atrocities according to Chinese reports.

The memorial was built in 1985 and later updated and expanded to cover 28000 square meters. It’s located on the original site where the holocaust took place.

Large granite statues and structures and the thoughtful use of significant spaces make for a solemn place of reflection. Inside the buildings, there are collections of artifacts from the time, exhibits, along with a documentary that runs on a large screen.

One purpose built building serves as a tomb, upon walking through and looking down from the railing onto the exposed ground the many remains of those ill-fated can be seen (not pictured).

The memorial serves many purposes, along with being a tomb and memorial, there are strong messages made of the need for international peace. It also serves as a national education base for patriotism.

 

Admission: Free

Hours: 8:30 am to 4:30 pm (closed on Monday)

Address: 418 Shuiximen Street (near Yunjin Road) 

Chinese Name for taxi: 侵华日军南京大屠杀遇难同胞纪念馆

Getting There: take metro line 2 and get off at Yunjin Road Station (云锦路). Take exit 2.

Map

 

Where to stay in Nanjing? See my picks for the top hotels in Nanjing city.

Nearby: very near the memorial is the China Nanjing Yunjin Museum (中国南京云锦博物馆) which focuses on brocade art and is the #1 museum in China for such artifacts. A little further up Shuximen Street and you will find Wanda Plaza (南京万达广场) which is a large modern mall offering plenty of cafes and eateries.

Also see: my intro to Nanjing, the top ten local foods to eat, and the key attractions here.

 

 

 

 

Nanjing Museum

Nanjing Museum

The Nanjing Museum is quite famous having had many exhibitions abroad and well known for holding some quite rare and valuable pieces of Chinas history, so, better take a look.

Entrance to the museum
One of the large number of porcelain displays
an ‘earthen stand’ from the Neolithic era – 3500BC

The museum features several halls all with different themes including an ancient Chinese jade exhibit, ancient Chinese silk, Chinese copper and bronze works, Ming and Qing period porcelain works and more. There was also a Chinese Lacquering exhibit, which at first doesn’t sound that interesting until you see that some of the items on display date back thousands of years.

Admission: free

Address: 321号 Zhongshan East Road  Xuanwu, Nanjing

Chinese Name: 南京博物院

Getting There: take the Metro Line 2 to Ming Palace Station (明故宫). Get out from exit 1 and walk straight down Zhongshan East Road for about 300m.

Official website: njmuseum.com

Map

On the map, I have shaded the entire museum grounds in blue, placed a pin on the entrance gate, and the main building as many get confused about where to enter. The main building is the only place of interest excepting when there are special exhibits in other buildings.

 

Nearby Hotels: Grand Metropark Hotel Nanjing is just steps away, and a great base for a visit to the city being near the metro.

Nearby: The Nanjing Ming Palace Museum Relics Park (明故宫遗址公园) is right at the metro station you’ll be hopping off at, so go for a stroll but don’t expect much. Zhongshanmen (中山门) is near. The Ming Dynasty Wall (明城墙) is a short taxi ride away.

 

Welcome to Nanjing – The Top Ten Attractions, Hotels, Must Try Foods & Transport

Welcome to Nanjing – The Top Ten Attractions, Hotels, Must Try Foods & Transport

Nanjing, the capital of Jiangsu Province, is a beautiful, charming and ancient city that has a progressive feel. It has a long history dating back as far as 472 BC and has been the home of many of China’s emperors thus giving the city a rich treasure trove of cultural relics and historic sites. 

 

Dr. Sun Yat Sen Statue

 

Nanjing’s rich history traces back to 495BC and has been the country’s capital on more than one occasion. It was the capital of the Ming empire from 1368 to 1421 during which time it was also believed to be one of the largest cities in the world.

 

Confucius Temple

 

In 1842, during the Opium War, British troops invaded Nanjing and the Treaty of Nanjing was drawn between the Chinese and the British.

In 1911 the city was central in the revolution led by Dr. Sat Yun Sen which led to the downfall of Chinas last emperor and the Qing Dynasty. It was at that time the then-new Republic of China was formed. Chiang Kai-shek took over leadership of the Kuomintang (KMT) political party led by Dr. Sat Yun Sen in 1925.

 

Archways through South Gate

 

As much as the city has seen some great times in Chinas history, it has also seen some of the worse. The year was 1937 when the Japanese, just after taking control of Shanghai, invaded Nanjing and in a bloody battle took control of the city. During their 6 week occupation the Japanese were brutal, inflicting was is now referred to as the Nanjing Massacre where it’s claimed 300,000 Chinese died.

 

Nanjing Massacre memorial entry statue

 

Not long after the Japanese occupation had ended, old political battles re-ignited, and the growing Chinese Communist Party (CCP) led by Mao Zedong, which had played a lead role in driving the Japanese out of the country, was keen to see the in-power KMT party step aside. After failed negotiations of the Americans for peace between the two groups in 1946, a civil war saw the demise of the KMT party. The KMT party fled to a nearby island and formed what is now Taiwan.

As you can see, Nanjing, for better or worse, has been part of several major events in history and in the forming modern China itself. For its historic attractions, its place in Chinese history, and it’s modern rebirth, it’s on my list of the top cities to visit in China.

 

Nanjing Eye Pedestrian Bridge

 

Today, Nanjing is a modern metropolis home to over 8 million people. Nanjing is a major education center, transport hub, and tourism center.

More posts about Nanjing
Zhonghuamen Gate – South Gate, Zhonghua Lu
Nanjing Museum – 321 Zhongshan Donglu
Presidential Palace – 292 Changjiang Lu
Confucius Temple (Fuzi Temple) – Qinhuai
Memorial Hall of the Nanjing Massacre – 418 Shuiximen Street.

 

The Top Ten Attractions & Things to do in Nanjing

1. Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum(明孝陵)
Address: Xuanwu, Nanjing
Opening hours: 06:30 – 18:00
Admission:70 yuan

2. Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum(中山陵
Address: 7 Shixiang Road, Xuanwu District, Nanjing
Opening Hours: 08:30-17:00
Recommended Visiting Time: 2 hours
Admission:80 yuan

3. Presidential Palace(总统府)
Recommended Visiting Time: 1-2 hours
Address: 288 Changjiang Rd, Xuanwu Qu, Nanjing
Admission:40 yuan

4. Qinhuai River(秦淮河) & Fuzimiao Confucius Temple
Recommended Visiting Time: 2 hours
Address: Confucius Temple Scenic Area Pedestrian St, FuZiMiao
Confucius Temple Admission:40 yuan

5. Purple Mountain (Zhongshan Mountain National Park – 紫金山)
Recommended Visiting Time: 4-5 hours
Address: Mount Zijin is located in eastern Nanjing City
Admission:Free – Admission to the Purple Mountain Observatory:15 yuan

6. Linggu Temple(灵谷寺)
Address: Zhongshan Scenic Area – Xuanwu, Nanjing
Admission:15 yuan

7. Nanjing Qixia Mountain(栖霞山)
Address: Qixia Mountain is located 22 kilometers (13.67 miles) northeast of Nanjing City
Admission:20 yuan

8. South Gate of City Wall(中华门)
Recommended Visiting Time: 1 hour
Admission:25 yuan

9. Xuanwu Lake(玄武湖)
Recommended Visiting Time: 3-4 hour
Admission:Free

10. Yuejiang Tower(阅江楼)
Address: Located at the top of the Lion Mountain in the northwest of Nanjing
Admission:40 CNY

 

There are many more historic sites and places to see in Nanjing including:

Botanic Gardens – Zhiwu Yuan
Nanjing Treaty History Museum – 116 Chao Yue Lou
Ming Palace Ruins – Zhongshan Donglu
Yangzi River Bridge and Bridge Park
Martyrs Cemetery – Yuhua Lu
Zifeng Tower (one of the worlds tallest) near Gulou Metro Station
Hunan Road – shopping and food street at Shiziqiao Street
Zhenghe Memorial Park
Drum Tower – 6 Zhongyang Lu
Bell Tower – Beijing Dong Lu
Mochouchu Park and Lake – Hanzhongmen Street

 

The Top Ten things to Eat in Nanjing

 

 

1. Nanjing Salted Duck (金陵盐水鸭)
2. Tangbao (汤包)
3. Duck blood soup (鸭血粉丝汤)
4. Dumplings in red-bean soup (赤豆元宵)
5. Zhuang Yuan Dou (状元豆)
6. Fried Bean Curd in Chicken Soup (回卤干)
7. Rice Cake (糕团)
8. Tofu jelly (豆腐涝)
9. Hairy crab (固城大闸蟹)
10. Pan-fried beef dumpling (牛肉锅贴)

 

The four top food streets are Shiziqiao (狮子桥), Confucius Temple (夫子庙), Sanpailou (三牌楼) and Mingwalang (明瓦廊) where you can find a cluster of street food stalls and restaurants offering local specialties.

 

Map of Attractions plus the Top Ten Nanjing Hotels

 

 

Alternate picks for the top Nanjing Hotels based on guest reviews.

 

 

Transport in Nanjing

 

Flights
Nanjing Lukou International Airport is one of the main air hubs in the country. You can fly domestically and internationally to over 70 destinations. CN Website only: http://www.njiairport.com. The airport is located around 43 KM from the city center and there are two shuttle lines operating between the two, each cost 20 CNY per trip. A taxi from the airport will cost around 100 CNY + to the city center. You can also take the metro line S1 to South Railway Station and transfer to either line 1 or 3 depending on your final destination.

 

Train
The city has two railway stations being Nanjing Railway Station and South Railway Station.

You can take metro line 1 to Nanjing station and catch the newer D and G fast trains as well as the slower K and Z trains to numerous destinations inc. Shanghai, Suzhou, Ningbo, Beijing, Chengdu, Nanning, Guangzhou, and Xian.

You can take metro line S1 (Airport Line), Line 1 or Line 3 to South Railway Station and catch D and G fast trains to numerous destinations inc Beijing, Shanghai, Suzhou, Hangzhou, Guangzhou, Wuxi, Changsha, Xian, and Xiamen.

 

Bus
The city has 5 dedicated tourist bus lines servicing all the major attractions as follows

Y1: Nanjing Railway Station (07:30-16:30) – Dr. Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum (08:15-17:15)
Nanjing Railway Station — Zhongyangmen — General Bus Station — Xuanwumen — Drum Tower — Jiming Temple — Sipai Building — Presidential Hall — Ruins of Ming Palaces — Zhongshanmen — Weiqiao — Meiling Palace — Nanjing Underwater World — Dr. Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum

Y2: Yuhua Tai (08:00-16:20) – Nanjing Underwater World (08:40-17:00)
Y2-1: Yuhuatai — Zhonghuamennei — Changle Lu — Sanshanjie — Confucius Temple (Fuzimiao) — Yanggongjing — Daxinggong — Presidential Hall — Jiefang Lu — Ruins of Ming Palaces — Zhongshanmen — Weiqiao — Mt.Meihua — Meiling Palace — Nanjing Underwater World
Y2-2: Yuhuatai — Zhonghuamen Chateau — Changle Lu — Confucius Temple (Fuzimiao) — Yanggongjing — Daxinggong — Presidential Hall — Jiefang Lu — Ruins of Ming Palaces — Zhongshanmen — Weiqiao — Qianhu—Shixiang Lu — Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum — Nanjing Underwater World — Dr. Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum — Shuixie — Linggu Temple

Y3: Hongshan Zoo (08:30-14:45) – Linggu Temple (09:15-16:30)
Hongshan Zoo — Huangjiayu — Nanjing Railway Station — Huamu Company — Xinzhuang — Suojin Village — Taipingmen Lu — Mt.Zijin Telpher — Liaozhongkai Tomb — Zhongshan Botanical Garden — Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum — Nanjing Underwater World — Dr. Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum — Shuixie — Linggu Temple

Y4: Nanjing Passenger Port (07:45-18:30) – Yuhuatai Cemetery (06:30-18:00)
Nanjing Passenger Port — West Railway Station — Rehe Lu — Yancangqiao — Dingshan Hotel — Dinghuaimen — Northern Station of Shicheng Lu — Southern Station of Shicheng Lu — Caochangmenqiao — Guofangyuan — Hanzhongmen — Jinling Building — Kangyi Garden — Jiangdongmen — Mochou Lake — Shuiximen — Sanshanjie — Zhanyuan Lu — Fuzimiao — Zhonghua Lu — Yuhuatai — Gongqingtuan Lu — Yuhuatai Cemetery

Y5: Suojin Village (08:30-15:30) – Mingwenhua Village (10:30-17:00)
Suojin Village — Gangzi Village — Mt.Fugui — Houzaimen — Northern Station of Qingxi Lu — Qingxi Lu — Zhongshanmen — Weiqiao — Weigang — Nanjing University of Science and Technology — Xiaolingwei — Dazhamen — Nanjing Academy of Agricultural Sciences — Wukesong — Zhongshan College — Maqun — Maqun Park — Baishuiqiao — Qixi Lu — Qilinmen West Station — Qilinmen — Jinxiu Garden — Xicun — Jinsigang — Yangshanbeicai — Mingwenhua Village

 

Taxi
The flag fall for taxis is 2.9 CNY and 2.4-2.9 CNY per KM + 1 Fuel Fee. You will see taxis as pictured and also British style black cabs.

 

Metro (subway)
The metro is a very affordable way to get around being CNY2 for the first 10km (6mi), CNY3 for 10 to 16km (6 to 10mi) and increasing gradually in a similar fashion.

Nanjing Metro Map

 

Useful Nanjing Resources

Official Tourism Website (English version) – http://www.gonanjingchina.com

 

Watch

Watch this video from the English service of China’s national broadcaster. In this Travelogue episode, presenter Tianran explores the city of Nanjing in Jiangsu Province. 

 

 

Hong Kong Space Museum and Museum of Art

Hong Kong Space Museum and Museum of Art

On Tuesdays they’re both free, so why not take a look at the Space Museum and the Museum of Art. The museums are located next to each other on the harbour at Tsim Sha Tsui next to the Hong Kong Cultural Centre.

the unique dome of the space museum

I cant quite get my head around why Hong Kong has a space museum, but anyway. It seems like a great place for local students to learn about astronomy and the history of human space travel. Its popular with kids featuring many interactive element to the displays.

Theres even a full scale version of the nose section of the US space shuttle! It also has a cinema, planetarium and many interesting, interactive and educational displays.

the nose and cockpit of a US space shuttle

The Museum of Art features more than 15,000 pieces of art, including Chinese paintings and calligraphy works, historic pieces of Chinese art and work by local artists.

an ancient wooden carving of a buddhist deity

 

plenty of interesting ancient artworks

 

Location Map

Hong Kong Museum of History

Hong Kong Museum of History

The Hong Kong Museum is a fascinating walk through the history of Hong Kong, the exhibition covers right from the formation of the Island itself, it’s natural heritage, the British colonisation and through to the modern day.

Im not really into museums but this one is well worth the money and time. Its not just a set of posters and a collection of old junk, this exhibit features some awesome custom built displays that help place you right in that moment of time.

The later history of Hong Kong is particularly interesting, and the exhibit goes in depth to explain the Opium Wars with the British and the later British colonisation.

Once you get over the cruel reality of the British declaring war on the country because they wouldn’t buy their opium, it’s interesting to discover some of the positive aspects that the British has had on the development of Hong Kong and it’s culture. Perhaps even a positive effect on larger China.

The exhibition finishes up with a small tribute to Deng Xiaoping, the leader of China who introduced free market theories and established the first Special Economic Zones within China that have been so much a part of Chinas rising economic success.

Location Map – Hong Kong Museum

Shanghai Museum

Shanghai Museum

What to do in Shanghai when the weather is terrible and you can’t see anything for the thick haze, check out the much talked about museum. It’s free, so why not!

It turns out the museum is huge, housed in a funky looking building on several levels is several varying exhibitions of ancient Chinese culture and artifacts.

Entry to the museum

 Exhibitions vary but on this day they included a gallery of ancient bronze works, ancient sculptures, ancient ceramics, a gallery of calligraphy, seals and paintings, Chinese currencies, ancient jade and furniture from the Ming and Qing Dynasties.

Ancient Chinese currency

 Many of the displays don’t allow photographing including anything that’s on paper (their concern is that the constant use of the flash may further deteriorate the fragile works) but here are a few shots from the some of the exhibitions that did:

Table and chairs with carved floral design and red lacquer made a long time ago (i cant remember!)
Period dress from many of the different ancient Chinese cultures
One of the many Tibetan Masks on display

Turns out the museum is well worth visiting, and if you’re a history buff or fascinated with Chinese culture you’ll probably want to spend a long time here. Come early to beat the cues, and definitely get there before the tour buses!

For more hot places to visit see this mega-list of attractions in Shanghai at the GoShopShanghai site.

Shanghai Museum Map location

The Forbidden City (Palace Museum) Beijing – Travel Guide

The Forbidden City (Palace Museum) Beijing – Travel Guide

The Forbidden City was once the imperial palace of the Ming and Qing Dynasties and was originally constructed in the early 1400s. The city was once off-limits to the general public and home to 24 successive emperors. Now, it is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world attracting over 7 million visitors a year.

Jump to: Forbidden City Travel TipsOpening Hours & Ticket PriceFood & BeverageVisitor ServicesGetting ThereForbidden City MapSuggested tour routes through the palaceForbidden City/Palace Museum Beijing Location Map + HotelsHistory of the Forbidden City

Its official name has been changed to the Palace Museum, but most people still refer to it as the Forbidden City. The complete site occupies an area of over 720,000 square meters featuring nearly 10,000 buildings. It is also the largest collection of ancient buildings in China and also the best preserved.

The Forbidden City also features a moat around its outer walled perimeter and internally is divided into two parts, being an outer court (for ceremonies) and an inner court where the emperor would live and handle state affairs.

Don’t miss the nighttime view of the moat and its turrets

It’s easy to see the lavish opulence that the residing Chinese emperor of the time would have enjoyed. Apparently many emperors chose never to leave the palace and it’s easy to see why as this place is immense. There are special buildings and areas for nearly every activity the emperor undertook, and some buildings just to cater for the differing moods of the emperor!

There are four pavilions in the Imperial Garden which represent the different seasons, this is The Pavilion of Myriad Springs (Wan Chun Tin) representing Spring of course.

 

Three halls at the center of the city – L to R – Hall of Supreme Harmony, Hall of Middle Harmony and Hall of Preserving Harmony. Click image for larger picture..

 

From L to R – Large building is the Meridian Gate, the Inner Golden Water Bridges and building far left is the Gate of Supreme Harmony. Click on image for larger version…

 

I spent more than 4 hours just wandering around all the hallways, pathways, rooms, halls, open squares and garden areas, and still, there was so much more to see. It would be no problem to spend a whole day here and even come back again if you were really interested in ancient Chinese history and culture.

 

The imperial throne within the Palace of Heavenly Purity

 

I wandered around this place on my own rather than being stuck in a tour group, but here’s a handy trick, there is plenty of tour groups moving around the place with English speaking guides. So, when you want to know more about something, just move in on the group as the tour guide is spieling out an explanation. There’s also a map available at the ticket office which features a small write up on the important sections, and you can also hire audiobooks to walk around and listen to while in the city.

 

Lions guard the Gate of Heavenly Purity – Notice the difference between the male and the female lion?

 

It’s well worth getting there before the gates and ticket office open at 8.30 am, as the tour groups pour into this place and the line up I saw later in the day looked like no fun at all!


Why was it called the Forbidden City?
It’s original name in Chinese, Zi Jin Cheng, which translates to Zi meaning purple, Ji meaning forbidden, and Cheng meaning city. Being an imperial palace up until 1925 ordinary people were not allowed. During that time it was exclusively for the emperor, his family, servants, government officials and visiting dignitaries with much of the grounds being exclusively for the emperor.

 

My Top Ten Forbidden City visiting tips

  1. Plan your route so as not to wear yourself out, and miss key highlights.
  2. The flow of people is from South to North now. The only entrance is from the Meridian Gate
  3. ID needs to be shown when buying tickets (passport or Chinese ID card for each person)
  4. It is closed on Mondays, except during certain holidays
  5. It’s a must to avoid visiting during Chinese public holidays due to crowds
  6. Be mindful of heat exhaustion. Beijing’s summer is from June to August. Drink plenty of water and wear appropriate clothing.
  7. Don’t miss the turret towers and moat which are beautifully illuminated at night (no ticket reqd.)
  8. Afterward, head to Jingshan Park and Wanchun Pavillion for a panoramic view of the palace (wide-angle + zoom lens are useful)
  9. There are left luggage areas at the Meridian Gate and North Gate, but, then you have to return there to get it. Easier to not take anything that you won’t like to carry for two, three or more hours.
  10. Have an exit strategy. It’s a bit confusing as to how to get to the next destination after heading out the north gate as the streets are fenced off. Know which destination you are going to next and have the route worked out how to get there.

 

Opening Hours & Ticket Price

Months Opening Hours Ticket Cost Last Tickets Last Entry
April to October 8:30-17:00 60 RMB 16:00 16:10
November to March 8:30-16:30 40 RMB 15:30 15:40


How and where to buy tickets for the Forbidden City

As of late 2017, all tickets are sold online via the official website: http://gugong.228.com.cn

Unfortunately, it’s not available in English and even if you use Google Translate to navigate the site, payment is required by local bank card or Alipay (China’s equivalent to Paypal).

Don’t fret, tickets are still easy to get for foreigner visitors.

At Meridian Gate, there is a Comprehensive Service Window (综合服务窗口) to the left of the main entrance where they check tickets for entering, and they will help you get tickets. It’s fast and easy.

Unless it is a Chinese holiday, you should have no trouble securing tickets. If you are planning to go during a Chinese holiday, and you cannot visit on another day, go in advance and purchase tickets.

You must show ID, so be sure to take your passport.

Also, see the official website of the Palace Museum at dpm.org.cn which features info on upcoming exhibitions and section closures.

Ticketed Galleries inside the Palace Museum

If you wish to visit these, and it’s recommended, you need to pay for entry

Treasure Gallery (Zhenbao guan) 10 yuan
Hall of Clocks (Zhongbiao guan) 10 yuan

Food and Beverage inside the Forbidden City

There are 8 cafe/kiosks inside. The small food court near the Hall of Mental Cultivation has a sitdown area. Outside the Gate of Heavenly Purity, there is the old Starbucks that still serves coffee and similar light foods. It can get expensive compared to street prices so you may like to take your own water and snacks.

 

Visitor Services

Free WiFi – search for “PalaceMuseum-WiFi”.

Free left luggage – at Meridian Gate and Gate of Divine Prowess (North Gate).

Free Wheelchairs and strollers – at Meridian Gate and Gate of Divine Prowess (North Gate).

Tourist Service Center – at the Gate of Supreme Harmony and the Arrow Pavilion 

 

Getting There

Subway: Take the Subway Line 1 to Tiananmen West Station (天安门西), exit B, or the preferred Tiananmen East station (天安门东), exit A, as it’s much closer to Tiananmen Gate.

Taxi: Show the driver this 故宫 and he/she will look after the rest and drop you within a short walk to Tiananmen Gate.

Once you get to Tiananmen Gate, walk through, and continue along past Zhongshan Park on your left until you reach the ticket office at the Meridian Gate.

Leaving there

It’s confusing at first as the streets are fenced off. Look for a large sign that has tips on getting to a series of onward destinations. Basically for everything you simply head in a westerly direction. After walking 20 meters to the west you’ll find an underpass and head to Jingshan Park, there are also bus stops here. Alternatively, ignore the underpass and keep walking to the bus stop where you can catch the trolley bus 103 to Wangfujing St, or bus 814 and head to the Temple of Heaven, or hail a taxi, or keep walking westward for 800m and you’ll find Beihai Park.

 

Forbidden City Map

Click Image for Larger Version

 

Suggested tour routes

The key to getting the most out of your time at the Palace Museum is not getting lost, and doubling back over covered ground, and wearing yourself out. Here are incredibly useful maps of the Palace Museum with suggested tour routes and the must-see highlights.

The One Day Forbidden City Full Tour Plan and Map

1. The Meridian Gate
2. “Painting and Calligraphy Gallery” Hall of Martial Valor
3. “Ceramics Gallery” Hall of Literary Brilliance
4. Gate of Supreme Harmony
5. Hall of Supreme Harmony
6. Hall of Central Harmony
7. Hall of Preserving Harmony
8. Palace of Heavenly Purity
9. Hall of Union
10. Palace of Earthly Tranquility
11. Hall of Mental Cultivation
12. Area of Six Western Palaces
13. Imperial Garden
14. Area of Six Eastern Palaces
15. “Hall of Clocks” & Hall for Ancestral Worship
16. “The Treasure Gallery, Gallery of Qing Imperial Opera” & Area of Palace of Tranquil Longevity
17. Gate of Divine Prowess

 

Half-Day Forbidden City Tour Plan and Map

1. Meridian Gate
2. Hall of Martial Valor: Painting and Calligraphy Gallery
3. Gate of Supreme Harmony
4. Hall of Supreme Harmony
5. Hall of Central Harmony
6. Hall of Preserving Harmony
7. Palace of Heavenly Purity
8. Hall of Union
9. Palace of Earthly Tranquility
10. Area of Six Eastern Palaces
11. Hall for Abstinence
12. Outer Court of Palace of the Tranquil Longevity Sector: Treasure Gallery and Stone Drum Gallery
13. Inner Court of Palace of the Tranquil Longevity Sector: Treasure Gallery, Opera Gallery, and the Well of Consort Zhen
14. Gate of Divine Prowess

Top Places to stay near the Forbidden City

Forbidden City/Palace Museum Beijing Location Map

Including my picks for the top-rated and most convenient places to stay near the Palace Museum.

 

Also, see my hand-picked list of the top 15  spa hotels in Beijing

 

Forbidden City History

I’ll include some fast facts here and if you’d like to dive deeper into the history and workings of the palace I’ll suggest this 12-Part Series: The Forbidden City- CCTV-9 Documentary Channel.

  • Construction began in 1406 four years after the capital was moved from Nanjing to Beijing by emperor Zhu Di (Yongle)
  • Completed in 1420. It was completed in record time due to a large number of workers, reportedly up to 1 million
  • It served two dynasties, the Ming (1368–1644) and the Qing (1644–1911)
  • 24 Emporers have lived here
  • In 1450, the Jingtai Emporer claimed the throne from his brother, the Zhengtong Emporer, and imprisoned him for seven years in the Southern Palace of The Forbidden City.
  • The “Storming of the Gate Incident” in 1457 saw the overthrow of Jingtai and his brother returned to the throne, naming his new reign as that of the Tianshun Emperor.
  • In 1461, the palace survived another coup by Mongol generals
  • In 1644, Beijing was under an attack led by Li Zicheng, which saw many fell the palace, including the emperor who hung himself to avoid capture
  • Li Zhencheng did not last a year until Manchu forces took over China and began the Qing Dynasty
  • In the 1860’s, the Qing Dynasty was crumbling with a society that was a boiling pot of rebellious movements, including that led by Sun Yat-Sen and the Boxer Movement
  • Post the Boxer rebellion, the French occupied the Forbidden City until Emperoress Dowager Cixi returned to the throne
  • In 1911, rebellion by pro-democracy led groups to overthrow the Qing Dynasty and the last emperor, Puyi, was dethroned.
  • The late emperor continued to live at the palace until 1924
  • In 1924, the palace was opened to the public
  • In 1987, it was declared a World Heritage Site

 

Also, see my overview and guide to visiting the Ming Tombs at Beijing

Xi’an’s Museum of Qin Terracotta Warriors and Horses

Xi’an’s Museum of Qin Terracotta Warriors and Horses

The Terracotta Warriors and Horses really is one of the wonders of the world (actually, it’s officially the 8th world wonder). You couldn’t say that this site was a must visit on a trip to Xi’an as it possible the reason that many people come to China in the first place. 

 

 

To date, more than 8,000 soldiers and 10,000 bronze weapons have been revealed at the mausoleum of Emperor Qin Shihuang. Amazingly there is still so much that has yet to be excavated including the actual emperor’s tomb which many speculate to hold untold treasure and ancient wonder.

Emperor Qin Shihuang is a mighty figure in Chinese history due to his legacy of uniting all the warring states. Just as mighty, is the legacy of his mausoleum that was built over 38 years containing a life-size recreation of his army and much more.

 

 

There are three sites to visit here inc. Museum of Qin Terracotta Warriors and Horses (where the 3 pits are containing the warrior statues and horses), the Bronze Chariots and Horses Exhibition Hall, and via a short ride on a free shuttle bus, the Qin Shi Huang Mausoleum (the actual mound where beneath lies the unopened emperor’s tomb). In total, you can easily spend 4 hours here.

 

 

Museum of Qin Terracotta Warriors and Horses

It contains 3 major pits

 Pit 1:   the largest; found in 1974 and containing three rows of soldiers backed by further infantry and war chariots.

 Pit 2:   found in 1976 containing a variety of divisions including 80 chariots, crossbow team, cavalry, and infantry.

 Pit 3:   found in 1976 containing warriors and a chariot led by four horses.

Bronze Chariots and Horses Exhibition Hall

Featuring No 1 and No 2 Chariots, which were found near the emperor’s tomb. Both chariots have four horses constructed with lead, bronze and adorned with gold, One set of horses is pulling a chariot guarded by two coachmen, the other with a coachman at the helm. 

Qin Shi Huang Mausoleum

The mysterious unopened tomb. Speculation abounds as to what may be inside. Today you can visit pits which have been unearthed near the tomb

Pit K0006: unearthed in 2000 it’s a small pit featuring Civil servants

Pit K9901: unearthed in 1999 it features performing artists or Acrobatics Figures.

 

Opening Hours
March 16 to November 15: 8:30 – 18:00
November 16 to March 15: 8:30 – 17:30

Ticket Price (take your passport as its required to show ID)
March to November: CNY150
December to February: CNY120

Ticket price includes Terracotta Warriors and Horses, Emperor Qinshihuang’s Mausoleum Site Museum, Qin Shi Huang’s Mausoleum Site Park, and the shuttle bus in between.

How to get to the Terracotta Warriors Museum

Take the tourist bus line 5 (306) from the east square of Xian Railway Station to its final stop which is the Terracotta Warriors Museum. Cost 7 RMB Time 1 hr

Take a taxi from central Xian to the Terracotta Warriors Museum (CN: 秦兵马俑). Cost 160 RMB Time 50 min

Accommodation

There’s not much near the Terracotta Warriors site, most stay in central Xi’an and it’s about 40km drive from the center of the city.

Also see my intro to Xi’an and the top attractions and the top 15 places to stay in Xi’an

 

 

Terracotta Warriors and Qin Shi Huang Mausoleum Map (click for larger image)

 

 

Terracotta Warriors location Map