One day tour to Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, Summer Palace, Temple of Heaven, Chinese Tea House

13/09/2010
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A post from one of our customers who have taken our one day tour to Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, Summer Palace, Temple of Heaven, and Chinese Tea House.

Organising a group of 19 people is not easy. But when you have a fantastic tour guide like we did, life becomes so much simpler, and the day goes smoothly with no problems.

At 8am, our guide was awaiting our group inside the lobby of our hotel. He was patient for those who were running slightly late. We all piled inside the mini van and started our journey to the first site, the Forbidden City. Along the way, the guide went through Chinese history related to the Forbidden City. He was aware of our age group and kept it short, relevant, interesting and funny.

Once inside the Forbidden City, we were amazed. The space, the architecture, the colours…everything. We could imagine what it was like all those years ago, and could put images in our heads to thoughts that had been there for years. We related much of what we saw to Chinese martial art films and were able to really grasp why the Forbidden City is what it is and why it is so famous.

For a cold Sunday, it was very busy. The guide anticipated an hour inside. We walked through, stopping at a few points where he could tell us more about the history and where we could take some memorable photos.

Even though it was cold, he kept us going with his humour and interesting information. We left the Forbidden City through the North entrance and came out to where Tiananmen Square is. The guide was flexible and allowed those who wanted to visit the square to do so, others to go to the washrooms and others to buy coffee and souvenirs.

We all then met up at the mini van where we embarked onto the next point of call – the Temple of Heaven. The Temple of Heaven was absolutely amazing. There were locals singing, dancing, exercising and playing the traditional Chinese game of shuttlecock kicking (known as Ti Jian Zi in Chinese). It was a vibrant atmosphere and we leisurely strolled through all the entertainers, joined in with the dancing and spoke with locals. We then reached the Temple where we took pictures, admired the structure and learnt more about the history.

We were then taken in buggies to the other side of the location – The Temple of Heaven is even bigger than that of the Forbidden City – it is around 4km2! We had an exquisite banquet lunch. The food was delicious, the staff were attentive and everyone’s food needs were catered to. We then bought some cheap souvenirs after haggling our way down!

After the Temple of Heaven we got back into our mini van and made our way to the Summer Palace. At this point many of us were full from the meal and tired so it was a good chance to rest up as the journey took about 30-40 mins. Before entering the Summer Palace, we went to a government owned Pearl Store. We were shown how pearls were extracted from oysters – two people even received free pearls for guessing the correct number inside the oyster! After the unforgettable demonstration, we browsed around the store and were given a good group discount which most people took advantage of. I managed to get presents for all my close girl friends at a fraction of the cost it would usually be. We were assured of the quality and originality of the pearls. After visiting the Silk market recently, I am even more confident about my purchases as unless the store is government certified, there is no guarantee that the ‘pearls’ you see are actually real.

From the Peal store, we walked to the Summer Palace. We saw the artificial lake and then walked around, looking at what used to be the former Emperor and Empress’s bedrooms and leisure areas. The corridors, which were made for them in case of rain in Summer, were stunning – full of fine art and different paintings. Our guide told some incredible stories and we were further fascinated with the history and culture of this amazing city.

As it was starting to snow, we requested to the guide if the driver could pick us up from the entrance we were nearest to instead of having to walk all the way back. He did this with no hassle and we left the Summer Palace, some of us with more souvenirs.

Thinking it was the end of the trip, we then got taken to one of the many Chinese Tea Houses as we had time and the guide managed to arrange it at last minute. This was definitely the best way to end an already memorable and fantastic day. We entered a lovely building with authentic Chinese décor and were greeted by friendly staff. We were led to our own private room where the Chinese hostess amazed us with her tea pouring skills, tricks, information and English speaking skills. We tried 5 types of tea and had great fun. Some of us then brought some tea and we were again offered a good group discount.

We then got back into the minvan and got back to the hotel within minutes. We filled out a customer feedback sheet for our driver which didn’t take long at all considering he was friendly, funny, helpful and so informative. We thanked him and really hope to have him as our guide for the next tour that we do.

In conclusion, the day was fantastic. Beijing Holiday really know how to cater for customers, taking into account everything from the best places to see, food, guides, shopping, and entertainment. There was not one fault with the day, not even the weather. We all had an unforgettable experience. We learnt more about Chinese culture, history, people, geography, food, pearls and tea. As a group, we learnt more about each other and really enjoyed each others company as well as the guide’s.

I would recommend this tour to everyone. You get to see so much in one day and the price is definitely worth it.