Main Tourist Sites of Chaoyang District - One Day Hike around the CBD
Main Tourist Sites of Chaoyang District - One Day Hike around the CBD
This page was last updated on: July 2, 2017
Chaoyang District (朝阳区)
Monuments and Hotspots
Located due East of the Central City of Beijing, outside the 2nd Ring Road, the Chaoyang District is one of the cities' newer Districts, now part of the Greater and growing Mega-Metropolis of Beijing. Today one of the most important districts of the City, Chaoyang has but a short history, and it can be fairly said that the district was only recently developed and integrated as a full part of the thriving City Core.
Vibes, at DAD, Factory 798 Beijing
Beijing's Number 1 Hip Scene In-Crowd Dance Spot is called Vibes. Up for something different ? Wanna really break-out wild in Beijing ? Vibes is the Spot and place to go. Located inside the somewhat renowned Art Factory No. 798 at Dashanzi Art District (DAD), Vibes is neighbour to Beijing Tokyo Art Projects, the Yan Club, Now Club, and near the Holiday Inn Lido.
The newer Chaoyang District in the North-East outside Beijing's third ring road, home to Vibes, is somewhat out of the way, especially for first Time Beijing Party-goers, but its the Hip Art-Scene up and coming place to be.
Maps, directions included.
Dance & Party Scene
Maps & Directions
Webstyle produced NavBar
As for regular Tourist visits to the Chaoyang District, even though the Chaoyang District is huge and sprawling, there is no need for special planning. For reasons of history and logic of the most recent development projects, most of the worthwhile sites to visit are either located in West Chaoyang District, nearest the City Center, or are well connected to the Subway and easy to reach with some patience and a little bit of walking.
Due to the new and different nature of the Chaoyang District, its architecture, its purpose and therefor feel and looks are completely different from the scenes within the Old City of Beijing
Nowadays Chaoyang is rapidly changing, among things having widened roads, and being fed by wide laned highways ( 3rd ring road ) with ever increasing traffic, as well as sporting a growing Skyline of Huge and growing collection of modern and semi-modern Office Highrises.
Even Old Factory works are converted and Modernised, such as at The Now Famous Dashanzi Art District with it former electronics factory now turned Artist Commune Factory 798. Modern Highrises are popping up, New and Modern Appartments and lots of Office Buildings are built, changing Chaoyang into the Most Modern District of Beijing. Since shaking off its originally Industrial and urban roots the now Commercial Chaoyang District has been Growing in Importance and advancing in reputation, slowly turning its name from a mere undustrial zone into that of Beijing CBD, the cities business district. The hosting of the Beijing Olympic Games in August of 2008 have officially solidified Chaoyang as such.
Chaoyang tourist High-Lights are best reviewed from North to South or vice versa.
For practical and historical reasons this tour description starts out in the South of Chaoyang District, which is not only traditionally the best connected part and reachable directly through the subway
ChaoYang District MicroMap - Click to go to Full Version !
One of the Ancient Imperial Altars of the City, the Altar of the Sun can be found in the West in ChaoYang District. Today a rapidly modernzing if not just flamboyant and interesting district, Ritan Park is one of the Green getaways of the Embassy District and always has its share of calm seeking visitors.
One of the Latest Luxury Malls in the City of Beijing is the refreshing architectural masterpiece the Place. The Place is a spacious and upscale Mall situated just North of the famed Silk Alley in the ChaoYang District of Beijing. Now more or less, the priciest Mall along the souths main boulevard, The Place sets the tone for new things to come.
No building represents the modern Architecture of the New CBD in the Chaoyang District of Beijing better than the the showpiece new China Central Television headquarters building. A design by Rem Koolhaas and Ole Sheeren the building was completed on January the 1st of 2008, however has suffered several setbacks since. It is unoccupied at this time.
Subway/Metro Line 1, the Red Line shuttles between Shijingshan District in the West and Chaoyang District in the East. Travel easily from the City Center into Chaoyang along the extended Line 1 since early 2008 AD.
Leading Eastward out of the Old City Center of Beijing, Jianguomen Outer Street was built on top of what was formerly the Grand Canal a famous Chinese Monument and the economic life-line of the City. Today revamped as a wide boulevard and main traffic artery in south Chaoyang District Jianguomen Outer Street connects to Chang An Avenue, and is thus part of the longest boulevard in Asia entire.
Find DrBen and ChinaReport on Facebook with the latest from www.drben.net.
The Twin Towers Offices and Mall at JiangouMen Outer Street (Jianguomen Nei Dajie), the main East to West traffic artery in the South of Chaoyang District.
By now, in 2011, Chaoyang District is not only the number one Diplomatic District in China, it has also become the Central Business District of Beijing, the Capital of The World's Fastest Growing Economic Power and 2nd largest economy by size. The outlying area's of Chaoyang are confusing and not very worthwhile to visit, but the district, especially its core in the West, is no longer an ugly Place, The new Chaoyang is dotted with a Multitude of Office Highrises, is home to Modern Theaters, the Lufthansa Shopping Mall, the Olympic Workers Gymnasium, The CCTV Headquarters Building, Park View Tower, Silk Alley (Xiu Shui Street) and nearby Bars, shops and Restaurants, The Place, and last but not least the China International Exhibition Center , before the Main Exhibition Centre of the City (The new Main Exhibition Center is the New China Exhibition Center in the Shunyi District, near Capital Airport). In between of this live the City Middle and Upper Class, expatriates, foreign traders and the like served by plenty of Restaurants, fashionable small shops and other necessities in an upscale district. Chaoyang is home to many Fine Hotels and the heart of Beijing Business.
Later 1970's and 80's apartment and Office Building Blocks were constructed mainly in West Chaoyang nearest to the City Center. The tone of urban development however was still broken by the Industrial Plants that were scattered across the District.
In the 1980's as a direct result of the opening up Policy finally forged by Deng Xiaoping (against considerable opposition) and the admittance of flocks of Foreign Diplomats, a second Embassy District was set up within Chaoyang District. The Arrival of this District, dubbed Sanlitun Embassy compounds finally brought some life and even a touch of glamour into the area. It was the modest beginning of something that has grown big throughout the Chaoyang District ever since. Starting with Sanlitun Chaoyang saw the rise of its very own modern bar alley, henceforth known as the Sanlitun Bar Area. Around it, over time, other commerce has moved in.
After 1989 the Chaoyang District has undergone a major and continuous transformation, almost flowing in pace with the development of China and China as an Economic Power. First
slowly and at erratic pace, but since the 1990's picking up in speed each year. Another memorable moment was the opening of the Beijing Lufthansa Center, very near the Embassies in Beijing, giving the city its first modern Mega Mall. This Mall was a marvel of the early 90's another modern showcase of which there would be many to follow, and as for the Lufthansa Center, since a multitude of other International Hotel Chains have joined what is today the Lufthansa-Kempinski Center, from the Great Wall Sheraton Hotel, Guangming Hotel, the Kunlun Hotel, the Hilton, the futuristic sounding 21st Century Hotel to Lido Holiday Inn, they are all there.
Construction is ongoing in Chaoyang, although most of the West near the City has seen most of its large projects.
completed, it was struck by fire during the 2008 Spring Festival and thus heavily damaged by Fire. At the moment there are also worries about its structural soundness and the CCTV Staff has not yet moved in.
Another major addition to the city, a very large extension its infrastructure and of the subway and metro system, also meant a welcome change for Chaoyang, as intended further boosting its rapid development and make-over into one of the most fashionable districts of the already glorious old city. Previously enjoying only limeted access to the subway system, mainly through the Red Line running along Jianguomen Outer Street in the South of Chaoyang District, the new subway sytem has no less than 10 added lines, three of which service Chaoyang District and the East of the City. Most significantly, it is now possibly to travel further East with ease, as well as Northward through Chaoyang, which was previously not possible and thus tedious. Furthermore, one can now travel further outside the City to the Shunyi District. To go to Shunyi, follow the Red Subway Line eastward out of the City to Shuidong Station. Once there, transfer to the light railway, which is at the same station, and simply take the train to Shunyi. The train travels via several stations to Shunyi, then Huairou City and on to Miyun City, all within Beijing City Province.
Anyone heading to Capital Airport in Shunyi District must use another route, taking the Blue Line to Dongzhimen Station in North-west Chaoyang, where one can transfer to the Airport Express. Mind you, the Airport express charges a seperate fee of 25 RMB per person. The Airport Express connects to the New China Exhibition Center and continues to Terminal 2 and then Terminal 3 of Capital Airport.
The other components of the make-over in Chaoyang are probably too many to mention, but several new office highrise were built along with the CCTV building. At the same time, even more to the East, traditional housing districts were demolished to make way for huge Apartment highrises and more office space, among which the Soho Complexes. The far Eastern extenses of the Chaoyang District are no longer drab, but they are still dull and not really worth the trouble of a visit.
This Map depicts North ChaoYang District focusing on the 2008 Olympic Green (or Olympic Park) in the recently transformed North section of ChaoYang District. Included in the map are large parts of Haidian District in the West (Left), a small part of Changping District in the North, and minor parts of Dongcheng District and Xicheng District in the South.
Browse the Map and follow the Links to more information and Photos!
Naturally, the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and the concurrent complete overhaul of the City of Beijing have also touched the Chaoyang District. In fact, construction in the Chaoyang District went ahead at a never before seen pace, and among things, in advance of the Olympics, the new China Central Television Headquarters was built in East Chaoyang, its architectural wonder intended to be part of the grandiose presentation of Beijing to the World. Unfortunatly, although the building shell was
From the Observatory one can take several directions and has several choices for the next scenic site to visit in Beijing. Those who love history but really want to do some shopping can skip ahead and take the Red Subway line
The Other World of Shopping in Beijing. Or, that was the way it used to be. Currently relocated a modern building in ChaoYang District, the Famous Silk Alley of Beijing, now a tourist magnet for overpriced fame silk products and even higher priced real silks and kashmirs. Be There or Be Square ! Brace for Impact.
Google 3D Map of walking route along Jianguomen Outer Street in South Chaoyang, as described in the Text.
Silk Market. Find it North of Jianguomen Outer Street and the Yong Anli Station inside what looks like a Mall Building. Today it is a modern and fashionable mall, but also home to some of the sharpest hawksters in Beijing. Some things indeed never change.
out Eastward into the Chaoyang District, getting off already at the next Station, Yong Anli. This is the location of the famous historic Silk Alley (XiuShui Street) of Beijing, a place where until fairly recently, an open air market catered especially to Foreign Visitors, all very eager to buy the best silks from China as a proud
souvenir or gift for at home in the West. It was a must visit for stewardesses on Foreign Airlines and Silk Alley was regularly raided by diplomatic crews from various nations, on official visit to the Capital of China, but nevertheless eager to make time for a quick browse.
The Silk Alley however is no longer an open air market, nor is there any alley left. The entire Chaoyang District has been revamped in an ultra-modern style, and so has the
Those who would like to continue on the storyline of the History of Beijing, the monuments and landmarks of Chaoyang and the rich histories attached, can find the Silk Alley by walking eastward from the Observatory, passing underneath the second ring road and walking along Jianguomen Outer Street until reaching the Twin Towers and then the Silk Alley Building.
Anyone not interested in Silk Alley can instead follow the same route along JianguoMen Outer Street but
stop and turn north when reaching Ritan Road. From there walk North among the Embassy compounds until reaching Ritan Gongyuan, the Park of the Altar of the Sun(One can also walk North through the Gate of the Qijiayuan Diplomatic Residence compound on the North Side of Jianguomen outer street).
As mentioned earlier, after the turn of 20Th Century, especially after civil war and the 1917 AD Russian Revolution, Beijing became the new home of a large flock of Russians migrants, often dubbed 'Cossacks' who had fought on the side of the Imperial House and its forces, fleeing persecution and other troubling circumstances in their homeland. As a result, within Chaoyang District a Russian Enclave was formed which soon spawned what was known as the Russian Market. This market was located in the area along Ritan Road between Jianguomen Dajie' in the South and Ritan Park in the North.
Although cleaned out by the Communist Party during their initial rise to power in Beijing and the subsequent drive for public health, class re-education and other political clensing campaigns, the Russian Market's fame and notoriety lingered.
In the late night 1990's and especially since the year 2000 with a rise of the Russian Economy due to record oil- and gas prices the city of Beijing has seen another influx of Russians, both tourists and those seeking business and fortune. Thus, as a friendly gesture towards the long befriended Russian Nation, the so called Russian Market has returned to the area in a modern shape and form.
Browse along Ritan Road to find Russian Styled Bars, and even a Russian market building sporting Russian Letters. Stick around for a while and have a chance to see flocks of Russian Tourist unload at the building, or the occasional well-to do blonde haired and fur clad lady arrive by rickshaw.
Today the area has no real market, but instead is a cluster of smaller and larger stores, some hidden away in side alley's. To Beijing locals and expats it is popularly known as 'little Moscow'.
If taking the route north along Ritan Road and the Russian Market Building; after reaching the south-west corner of Ritan Park, turn to the East and head down to the South Entrance of the Ritan Park to start the next leg of your tour.
Those interested to see more of the Russian enclave and do some shopping- follow the road a few hundred meters more up north and turn West into Yabao Road (Yabao Lu), which has recently grown famous for its 'Alien Market', a polite reference to the Russians.
The Alien Market on Yabao Lu is a great place to find the most obscure items, many of Russian nature or irigin, or to sort oneself out with a Russian military uniform. left-overs and souvenirs from the Soviet Union Era abound, stamps, pins, buttons, it might be anything.
Although, as at almost any market in Beijing, there are also a lot of cheap and usuless copies available, this market is certainly worth a browse for anyone who loves the flee market.
Look North of Yabao Road, inside Chaowai 2nd alley to find a small mosque, the only one in Chaoyang District at this Time. To the south of Yabao Road stand buildings such as the Gateway, Russian Flagship Store Vlasta and the Yabao Road Store and market building which caters fur to the Russian female public.
Map of the City of Beijing and Wider Region in 1875 AD
A Shematic Map of Beiping (Beijing) and wider City Province in the Year 1875 AD using the Old (and oudated) naming sytem. Map depicts major and minor roads, villages and Towns, Walled City of Beijing, Old and New Summer Palaces, The Fragrant Hills and the Western Hills, Tongzhou Village, Shunyi Village, Changping Village, the Ming Tombs
Valley, Badaling Village, the Badaling Great Wall of China, Nankou Village, Nankou Great Wall of China Pass, and various other notable locations in the wider vicinity of the Capital of Beijing at the Time. Other details on this Map: mountains, lakes. There were no railroads in the area until 1899AD/1900 AD.
the city in the year 1875 AD, to the East of Beijing lay nothing but rural land, some Temples and villages and of course the last bit of the Grand Canal. At the time the grand canal was very important to the City of Beijing. It was the main transportation route from the south of China to the North, always busy with ships taking their loads of grain and other needed goods into the City.
The Grand Canal, known as the longest man-made river in world history, was fully developed during the early Ming Dynasty (1368
AD - 1644 AD) when Beijing was made Capital of all of China, and connected Beijing to Tongzhou (now a District) from where ships could venture as far as Hangzhou, today the Capital of Zhejiang Province, some 3000+ kilometers to the South. It was the main economic artery and really life-line of the City in those days. Without the shiploads of grain coming in from the South, the city of Beijing would have literally starved. This situation remained until at least the end of the Qing Dynasty.
It was not until the advent of railroads, paved roads and motorized vehicles in China, just after 1900 AD that the Grand Canal that supplied Beijing with most of its food supply was finally made redundant. Today however, it seems as though nothing much can be found to remind of its previous existance.
Already made redundant by the strategic railroads that had been developed in North China, after the declaration of a New Chinese State, the Grand Canal, a historic monument, was simply filled in and erased, its space used for a large highway leading eastward and connecting to the 2nd ring road. At roughly the same time the huge Ming Era City Walls were dismantled to make way for the second ring road, changing the face of the city as not before in 100's of years. Until recently this was the most drastic redevelopment of the City since the Rule of the Qianlong Emperor of the Ching Dynasty (Reign: 1735 AD - 1796 AD).
In the New China there was no room for meandering upon times past. At least not for the average Chinese Joe. The new way in China after 1949 was forward and nothing else. Beijing would become a modern city and would have to do without some of its olds. Thus, to see the remains of the Grand Canal, today's curious visitors have to travel all the way east to Tongzhou (now reachable bu subway and train) to catch a glimpse. In the Tongzhou District is a special tourist zone and scenic spot celebrating the history of the Grand Canal.
Map of Beijing in 1916 AD - 1916 AD Beijing City Plan 1A
Schematic Map of the the City of Beijing in 1916 AD, shortly after the 1911 Xinghai Revolution and the Debacle of Yuan-Shi Kai's attempt to Crown Himself Emperor. Ex-Emperor Pu Yi still inhabited The Palace, outside Beijing was modernizing and China was experiencing the industrial Revolution.
Among the most noteworthy features of this Map are: 1) The QianMen Railway Station, at the Time the Main Railroad Station of Beijing. 2) The small station outside and West of XizhiMen Gate, built in 1905 AD and diverting the Central Watersupply of Beijing underground, 3) The Imperial City and the much smaller TiananMen Square of 1916 AD. This Map is one of the Few maps that shows the Pre'-Revolutionary Lay-out of Tian'AnMen Square. Further on this Map the First University of Beijing due East of Jingshan, the new University Campus north-west of Deshengmen, and finally the Location of "The Legations" of Colonial Nations plus Todays remaining remnants and sights of the Beijing (Former) Legation Quarter.
Apart from the pathway of the Grand Canal, the old maps also show that by the year 1910, 1912 and 1916, there was some clustering of buildings outside of the City and its Moat. Naturally, most buildings were constructed along the main roads leading to Dongzhimen, ChaoyangMen and Jianguomen, the three city gates on the East flank of the City.
Most notably, outside of Chaoyangmen stood the Ancient Temple of Dong Yue Miao with its twin, the Wang Yue Miao, also
known as the Temple of 16 hells, located slightly to the South. Furthermore, in the south there was the Imperial Temple of the Altar of the Sun (Today: Ritan Gongyuan) one of the ancient shrines held to be vital for the perpetuation of the fortunes of the Nation. The area south of the Altar of the Sun Park, although left largely unattended, was reserved as an Imperial Garden.
Last but not least, as shown on some hand drawn maps of Beijing, a rather unique stone pagoda stood outside of Dongzhimen in the North of Chaoyang. This Pagoda, in 1936 AD known to foreigners in Beijing as the Iron Pagoda is no longer in existance today, however, before hand it was one of but four such Pagoda's decorating the City suburbs. Today only the Tianning Pagoda, in the Fengtai District remains as the single example of these. A visit to it is certainly worth your while. Notably, the now lost Iron Pagoda was reputed as the notorious place of death of Qing Dynasty Prince Kao Hsu, who had been roasted to death for punishment at this location.
Click Map to go to
FULL Version !
After the demise of the Qing Dynasty (1644 AD - 1911 AD), Beijing, North China and indeed the entire nation fell into chaos, stalling the development of Nation and City. Thus, the situation remained much as it was before.
As can be seen on the 1916 AD Map, there was a considerable cluster of buildings outside of Chaoyangmen and fewer buildings outside Dongzhimen in the North and the Dongbianmen 'Red Gate' (South-East Corner Watchtower) in the South. Furthermore, just before the end of the Qing Dynasty Beijing had been equiped with its very first railroad station with the result that a small section of rail had been completed outside and north of Dongbianmen (in 1910), whereas the City Wall had been breached just North of the Red Gate to make a passage for trains traveling in- and out of the City. The first station lay at Qianmen (the Front and South Gate of the Old City) and trains to Manchuria (North-East China) traveled on rails laid along the grand canal since at least 1910 AD.
Not shown on the Map, but constructed at sometime before the 1937 AD Japanese occupation of Beijing, a horseracing course was established somewhere in the vicinity of what is today the workers stadium in Chaoyang.
In that same Era, after the laying of railroad tracks to connect
View from the platform of Dongbianmen - South-East Corner watchtower of the former City Walls of Beijing at the train tracks leading out of Beijing Main Railroad Station.
The first real rise of any such thing as a Chaoyang District was delayed at least until the advent of The Peoples Republic of China, which was proclaimed in the City of Beijing on October 1st of 1949 AD. After that important event, and the 'Winning of Peace' for all of China, Beijing became the Capital of a new and rebuilding Nation, the city and outlying districts flooded with migrants from the countryside, hoping to find a better life in what was now again the most important city in China. For all those who could not find, or afford a place within the Inner City (still within walls at the Time), could chose to stay outside, and build a life in Chaoyang, Chongwen, Fengtai or even more outlying city area's. Both the Chaoyang and Fengtai Districts had a strong rural caracter at the time. New workers who flocked to the city could make do in the rural villages surrounding the city, tilling the land or otherwise providing services to the city and its inhabitants. Thus, immediatly after the 'Liberation of China' in 1949 AD, the villages began to swell, laying the foundations for the later suburbs of Beijing, of which Chaoyang is but one.
The District of Chaoyang itself was founded in the 1950's just after the advent of The Peoples Republic of China and among things it was chosen as the location of the first Embassy area for the new Nation. Since the 1860's the Foreign Embassies had been located in the so-called Legation Quarter to the East of Tian'Anmen Square. The Foreign Nations had forced these concessions and Embassies upon the Chinese Nation during what the Communist Party calls the 100 years of misery and humiliation, thus in the new China the former Embassy locations could no longer be fit.
Instead, the Foreigners were once again moved 'outside of the city' and given Embassy locations in North Chaoyang, known as Sanlitun, or the first or Northern Embassy Area.
Chaoyang was further developed on a grand scale in the 'Great Leap Forward' (1958 AD - 1961 AD), and throughout the 1960's and during the Cultural Revolution days (1966 AD - 1976 AD). At the time, new ambitious modernization plans were launched by the National Government under Leadership of Mao Zedong, turning Chaoyang into a construction site for many factories and industries now launched in China.
Chaoyang started its days as mainly a soul-less urban-industrial wasteland in which gray and dull factories set the tone. Throughout 1960's and the so called Cultural Revolution Era it was further developed as a base for factories and industries all housed in equally drab facilities. Among things it was the location of large and anonymous looking industrial complex involved in the manufacturing of military electronics; radio's, but also radars and guided missiles. The plant was only known by the name Factory 798, then inconspicuous but by now a famous name among the right circles in Beijing. Other, more outlying area's of Chaoyang in the East still had a rural character, rather than being suburban. In the East large and sprawling districts of what can be called modern Hutong provided housing for tens of thousands of city workers, not rich enough to pay for rents within the City center. Most of the housing was shoddy, with plenty of fire and health hazards, but they were true communities. The Districts of East Chaoyang were villages in and of themselves, only connected to the City center by Bus Lines and the much to expensive Taxi's used by Foreign visits and businessmen and women.
Moscow to the East and the subsequent turmoil of the Russian revolution, many Russians to chose to leave their nation and seek their fortunes in China, a regular wild west at the time. Shunned from mainstream Chinese Society as a lot of overpassionate and over-hairy Foreign Barbarians, the Russians in Beijing then had to forge their lives either by opening restaurants, doing trades, or for the less fortunate, by falling into prostitution. As a result, the South of Chaoyang particularly became the home of a large Russian enclave, spawning what was known as the 'Russian Market', at a location somewhere north of today's Silk Alley building. Although the Russian Market was cleaned out as a nest of petty crime and mass prostitution during the advent of The Peoples Republic of China in 1949 AD, the Russian market has recently returned as new connections between East and West Flower, and a fresh batch of Soviet Expats has arrived in Beijing since the turn of the Millenium.
To start your tourist hiking tour of Chaoyang off, head down to the main traffic artery in the South section of the district, which is Jianguomen Outer Street. Jianguomen Outer Street is easily reached through subway line 1 and clearly identifiable on all maps, as it forms an extension of the famous Beijing Boulevard Chang 'An Jie' (Eternal Peace Avenue), by chance the longest boulevard in Asia entire and the road passing in front of the Gate of Heavenly Peace (TianAnMen).
Jianguomen Outer Street (Jianguomen Wai Dajie') is a large boulevard that historically used to connect to the Jianguomen Gate. As described briefly above, this was also roughly the spot where the Grand Canal was connected to the City Moat of Beijing, creating a wide waterway leading East towards Tongzhou. Thus, when walking eastward out of the Jianguomen Gate one actually follows along the Path of the now filled in Grand Canal of the Ming Dynasty (1368 AD - 1644 AD). Although there is nothing left to see of the Grand Canal proper nor its former installations, the knowledge of this fact boost the joy of walking along on Jianguomen Outer Street.
The North-West exit of JianguoMen Subway Station with the Ming Era Beijing Ancient Observatory in the background (Photo: November 2002).
by Jesuit Priests in service the to Imperial Court. For those who have some idea of the history of the Ming Dynasty (1368 AD - 1644 AD), the Ancient Observatory is a good place to start a tour of Chaoyang, eventhough the observatory itself lies just within the second ring road and is thus part of the Dongcheng District. Get out at Jianguomen Subway Station (on the circular line which follows the contours of the former city walls) and have a browse of the Observatory that was emplaced upon the City Walls of Beijing. In Ancient Times, during the succesful Rule of the Yongle Emperor over his city Beijing and the Empire, this Observatory was possibly the most advanced operating observatory in the world, and together with the purple mountain observatory outside the former Ming Dynasty Capital of Nanjing (Jiangsu Province), it was the nerve center of possibly the largest scientific endeavor of that Era. During and after the epic sea voyages of Admiral Zheng He and his Treasure Fleets, all measurements and results taken from the worldwide voyages were verified at this very spot (Read more in the Book: 1421 AD, by Kevin Menzies), giving the Chinese the knowledge to circumnavigate the world. It was an enormous feat, achieved long before any other nation, particularly the Europeans did so. Browse the Observatory Garden, see the
Museum and head up to the Platform to get a sense of what standing on the City Wall must have been like in the Old Days. It is higher than you think ! The observatory museum is not too large and should not take too much of your time, although no doubt true fans can linger for hours.
Anyone in the mood for a further shopping spree can continue up North along Dongdaqiao Road at The Place a
A Line of Rickshaw Drivers waiting for customers on a hot july afternoon of 2010 in front of The Place in Chaoyang. In the distance the new Ritan International Trade Center is visible.
surrounding alleys are good for spotting some of the treasures or pimped cars that are around these days. Still not done shopping? Pass back underneath Jianguomen Outer Street and head to the LG Twin Towers for a look at their architecture and another shopping opportunity, or instead visit the arts & crafts mansion. There are many more Malls and shops nearby, but you will have to find those on your own.
recently opened architecturally stylish and very luxurious Mall, or one can first chill out at one of the fine western styled restaurants and bars that have sprung up across the street from the Silk Alley. As far as the South of the Chaoyang District goes, the locations from Silk Alley Building are the best and the most fun to be. This is also a very good location to watch the passersby,
and have a glance at the car traffic that comes by. Some amazing vehicles drive through Beijing, but Beijing citizens will hardly flash it all by driving through the city center. The parking lot at Silk Alley, Jianguomen Outer Street and
Visit the Cuban Embassy and have a look at its exterior sporting photos of Fidel Castro, and more recently Brother Raul Castro featuring as Great Leaders lauded by admiring fans and followers.
Otherwise it is more the presence of Embassy itself that gives this walk a special charm. Officially a Socialist Brother Nation, Cuba had plenty of strife with China in the 20Th Century, mainly because Fidel Castro would not abandon the Soviet Union for inferior client China.
Embassies, usually anyone can walk into and through the district without any problems. In this Area between Jianguomen Outer Street and Ritan Park the Embassy most attractive to western Tourist is the Cuban Embassy. Other Embassies along the route are those of Azerbaijan, Austria, Singapore, Slovakia, Sri Lanka and Colombia. Interspersed are a few Hotels and bar-restaurants. The large North Korean Embassy stands more to the North, about which more later.
After browsing among the Embassies it is fairly impossible to walk by and miss the Ritan Park . Find its South Gate to gain free entrance and enjoy
the Park. A Remnant of an Imperial park dedicated to the Goddess of the Sun, today Ritan Park is the favorite getaway of just about anyone who works or lives in the vicinity, especially on hot and humid summer afternoons and evenings. Not only that, due to its history as part of an Imperial Temple, it is quite large and features some excellent garden landscaping. Dwell among the pavilions, or better rest on one of the many benches. One can also climb to the top of one of the rockeries and catch some breeze while enjoying the view of the City skyline in all directions. Hidden inside the Park there are also some historic treasures to be found. Read the full report for all the details on Ritan Park, its history and relics.
To find your way from the North Korean Embassy to Dongyue Miao, walk the way, or better yet - try find a rickshaw driver at the Park's North Gate. Although the distance is not that extreme, after what already amounts to a stiff walk, why waste energy. Instead, be smart and travel in comfort and enjoy the Temple visit thereafter more.
Find Dongyue Miao Taoist Temple just outside of the former Gate of Chaoyangmen, at about 400 to 500 meters walking from the subway station exit. When coming from the South or West and arriving at Dongyue Miao most likely the first thing in sight will be its Ceremonial Ceramic Tiled Archway, which today has been seperated from the main Temple by the extends of Chaoyang Outer Street. Before buying your ticket and heading inside to appreciate the interiors, have a browse around the outside. As one may expect, the green and yellow tiled ceremonial archway used to form the extreme outer gate of the complex. Its luxururious and expensive tiling designates this Temple as one of Imperial Stature, meaning that is was owned by the Emperor and visited only for ceremonial purposes. Apart from the Gate there are more old several buildings to the right and East of the Temple, proving that in the past it was a far larger complex.
Climb the rockeries within Ritan Park to enjoy the afternoon breeze and overview the Chaoyang District. On the Photo: view to the East and the CCTV Headquarters building.
Leave the Park through its North Gate to continue the scenic walk of Chaoyang, finding the North Korean Embassy, another popular site just outside and East of the North Gate along Ritan North Road.
The North Korean Embassy, or officially The Embassy of the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea is one of the largest diplomatic compounds in Beijing, only surpassed by the size of the Russian Embassy Compound. Except for a few Korean Signs spelling friendship slogans, a double fence and an ever watchful Guard at the Gate, there is nothing much to see. Still many come to the Embassy to have a feeling of first contact with North Korea, as well as to have a look at the propaganda photos displayed in especially created booths on both sides adjacent, but at sufficient tactical distance to the gate. Visitors are not really welcome at this Embassy and it shows.
Scenes from the North Korean (DPRK) Embassy in Beijing in June of 2010. Traffic is a killer in a Chaoyang these days and rickshaws have once more become the faster mode of transport for short distances.
If you are not invited, nor have official business at the DPRK Embassy, don't bother to get into contact with the Guard at the Front Gate.
Browse around the most notorious, most secured and thus most interesting Embassy compound in the South Chaoyang New Embassy District, the one of the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea, quite likely the most totalitarian and unfree nation in the world. Celebrating the greatness of the Great Leaders Kim Il Song, Kim Yong Il and Soon Kim Yong Un. Visitors to Pyongyang often get their Visa stamps at this Embassy in Beijing before flying there .
Once satisfied with your viewing of this secretive Embassy Compund, follow the Road to the left and west of the Gate northward to continue your quest along the scenic sites in this area of Chaoyang.
About a city block to the North of the North Korean Embassy stands yet another ancient relic of the Chaoyang District, by chance renowned as its most ancient- as well as most visited Taoist Temple. It stands in the North near ChaoyangMen, the next Gate of the former City Walls. This is the Dongyue Miao, also in service as an official Beijing Folk Arts Museum. One can walk all the way through the Chaoyang District from Jianguomen Street to ChaoyangMen Street meanwhile discovering some of the specific
charms of this area, but that is a considerable walk.
The Great Leap (Forward) - Communism in China, find out about it and see the Documentary !
What is said to be the largest Ferris Wheel in the World is currently under construction in ChaoYang District. The Beijing Great Wheel, already dubbed the "Great Wheel of China", will be a whopping 208 meters tall and hopes to open in the season of 2009 AD, offering a so far unique view of the City. Already delayed by several design upgrades (foundations were layed in May 2006 already), the ChaoYang Wheel will surpass the current wheel at ChaoYang Amusement Park in South-West ChaoYang District, which has a diameter of 193 meters.
To continue your Tour of the especially designed new, modern and 'Olympic' facade of Beijing, take a Taxi down to the next building of interest, the crowing piece of the CCTV Headquarters Building, by anyone's standards a remarkable and so far unique building. The stunning feature of the CCTV HQ Building is a horizontal bridge connecting two leaning towers, creating the visual image of an incomplete kubus. Standing an impressive 234 m (768 ft) high, the 44-storey skyscraper can be seen from many directions within the Beijing Chaoyang
You Tube Video: Fire in the new China CCTV Headquarters in Chaoyang District, February 2009 AD.
the sky in Beijing the CCTV Headquarters and adjacent Luxury Mandarin Hotel Tower building were struck by Fire. Although the main fire raged inside the Mandarin Hotel Tower damage to the complex was extensive. Today the Central Television Headquarters staff has not moved in due to fears about the soundness of the construction after fire, so no tours of the building can be made at this time. For a high vantage point overview of the city head down to the next destination, the International Trade Center Tower, also known popularly as the Park View Tower, for its magnificent view of the Ritan Park, the Embassies and on the other side of the building the 3Rd Ring Road and the CCTV Headquarters at some distance on the other side.
Taking this route via the International Trade Center Tower will also return one back in the vicinity of the Silk Alley Building, making it possible to switch from sightseeing to shopping.
Central Business District and was made one of the cornerpiece of the modern presentation of the city during the Olympics in 2008.
Unfortunatly, only a few months after, on February the 2nd
of 2009, during Chinese New Year (Spring Festival) celebrations and a deluge of Fireworks raining from
There are several other worthwhile pieces of modern architecture to marvel at and visit in Chaoyang. Head down south and to the west from the CCTV Headquarters building to find the International Trade Center Tower to the South-West of the intersection of Guanghua Road with the 3rd Ring Road at Guomao Zhongxin Daolu. The official address does not help much with navigation to the Building but at least one cannot miss it due to the fact that it is the highest office tower in Beijing at this time. After visiting and taking the spectacular tour of the Towers Upper Floors, navigate easily from the Park View Tower back to Silk Alley and its bars and restaurants, by exiting on the west (and left), then descending down south along Guomao Zhongxin Daolu to reach Jianguomen Outer Street. Follow Jianguomen Outer Street back west towards the central city and find Xiu Shui Street a.k.a. Silk Alley at the next large intersection, which is with Dongdaqiao Road.
If you have concluded the tour so far, you will likely be exhausted and/or run out of daytime. Return another day to the Chaoyang District to visit some of the outlying sites, such as the Panjiayuan Market, the large but far away Chaoyang Park and the even farther but worthwile destination of the 798 Art Factory and the Dashanzi Art District.
View of the Park View Tower aka the International Trade Tower under construction as seen from the rockeries at Ritan (Altar o/t Sun) Park.
Outlying Sites and Attractions to visit in Chaoyang District
To take the history of Chaoyang as a guideline, there was no Chaoyang District during the years of the last Dynasty, the Qing, who ruled until 1911 AD. As can clearly be made out from the map of
Other sites are far less interesting to visit, or lie too dispersed throughout the district to hike around and see in one easy program.
The main sites charming enough to warrant an especially organized outing are the Panjiayuan Market, the huge and modern Chaoyang Park and, last but certainly not least, the Dashanzi Art District with its now famous Art Factory 798. A few minor and virtually unknown sites can also be found in the Chaoyang District such as the rare and interesting China Red Sandalwood Museum, the Nuren jie bars, shops and its Laitai and Liangma Flower Markets. A last place to visit is the DongbianMen, South-East Corner Watchtower. Although technically part of Chongwen District this last remnant of the once mighty City Wall marks the South-West corner of the district, features on many old photos and is certainly worthwhile a visit.
Read more about these places on their dedicated page.
Coming Soon: Chaoyang District Modern Architectural Tour,
Hidden away outside the second ring road in South-West Beijing is the gargantuan PanJiaYuan Flee Market, one of the largest markets in Beijing. Go visit for your Folk Art, Communist Era parafernelia, books, classical furniture, old photos and more. Great to combine with LongTan Park or the ChaoYang Amusement Park !
Hidden away outside the ChaoyangMen former Gate in East Beijing is the colorful and bustling Dongyue Miao Taoist Temple, a former Imperial Level Shrine. With an ancient history today's restored Temple is popular with toursits, belivers and fans of Beijing Folk Art. Great to combine with a shopping spree in Chaoyang District! Must visit Temple !
The Dongyue Miao was first established during the Mongolian Rule over China during the Yuan Dynasty (1279 AD - 1368 AD) and has always been a Taoist Temple. It already stood at this place outside the walls at the Time of Marco Polo's visit to the Court of the Great Khan near the end of the 14Th Century. In those days the dominant philosophies and religions in China were Confucianism and Daoism.
Until fairly recently, at least as late as 1916 AD, the Dongyue Miao had a Twin Temple which stood at some distance to the south.This twin Temple, the Wang Yue Miao, is no longer in existance and today its space is taken up by the compound of
The raised middle road of the Central Courtyard at Dongyue Miao Taoist Temple in Beijing.
the North Korean Embassy, just north of the exit of Ritan Park. This allignment is quite significant for the former function and lay-out of the Temples and this part of Chaoyang District. Together, the three Temples - Dongyue Miao, Wang Yue Miao and the Ritan ParkAltar of the Sun played a vital part in the official ceremonies for worship of the Sun. On the proper days, the Emperor and Courtisans would walk out in procession, the Emperor carried in his Sedan Chair, to proceed through a complex plan to the Altar and connect with the Heavens in order to ensure a proper harvest and prevent natural disasters falling upon the Chinese Populace. It was one of the main funtions of office for an
Although the rituals are no longer performed at the Altars and Temples, fading slowly as the last feudal Dynasty after 1911 AD, today the Dong Yue Miao - due to its Imperial History- remains the most important Taoist Temple in the City of Beijing. Each year at Spring Festival the Dongyue Miao hosts its own Temple Fair and Temple Market.
Take your time to browse around inside the extensive complex, marvel at its surprising lay-out and amuse yourself with the ghastly taoist statues arranged in the departments of heaven situated around the spacious and colorful central court. Naturally, the Dongyue Miao is a functioning Temple. Apart from that, it is also in function as an important Museum of Beijing Folk Art, attempting to preserve cultures that were popular until recently but are dying out fast with the dawn of a new economic era in China. As a result, the Temple courtyard can be quite crowded at times. Enjoy your visit and pick your timing well.
Once at or near the Dongyue Miao and the former Chaoyang Gate (ChaoyangMen) one is also in good position to start of a review of the 2008 Olympic Buildings in Chaoyang District and the modern architectural feats pulled up in advance of their grandiose opening. A Good place to start your tour of these off is the Chaoyang Workers Stadium. Which stands at only a small distance to the North-East of the Dongyue Taoist Temple. The easiest and surest way to find your way to the giant Stadium is to head Eastward from Dongyue Temple along Chaoyang Outer Street until meeting up with the next large main intersection. From there, simply follow this road, which is Workers Stadium East Road, until hitting the south end of the Stadium.
Originally constructed in 1959 AD, the Chaoyang Workers Stadium started its history as THE National Sports Stadium. However, during Mao's Cultural Revolution (1966 AD - 1977 AD) it was more frequently the site of Mass Rallies, accusation sessions, and not unfrequently public mass executions, the Workers Stadium served a completely different albeit certainly not un-political function during the much celebrated Beijing 2008 Olympics, hosting several soccer (football) events. To be exact, it hosted the football quarter-finals and semi-finals, as well as the women's gold medal final.
The Stadium itself is not that large, measuring 282 meters from North to South and seating some 62.000 people, so one has to be either interested into Chinese Political History or in the recent Olympic Events at the Stadium to go through the trouble of traveling there. To be honest, the Olympic Buildings at Olympic Green in Haidian District are far more interesting. Nevertheless, the Stadium has a significant history. Furthermore, the area north of the Stadium is know as Sanlitun and is home to the (new and northern) Embassy District of Sanlitun. Not the streets at the Embassies themselves, but to the north-, east and west of the stadium are popular nightlife destinations. As the latest welcome addition to Beijing's formerly austere nightlife, the xi men (West Gate) offers a strip of flashy nightclubs, including several of a rather doubtful caracter. There are disco's, but also Karaoke Bars with pretty hostesses that are very adapt at squeezing the maximum from the visitors they are entertaining. Not surprisingly Karaoke bars have been named as nests of (often forced) prostitution and other illegal affairs, although you would likely never notice when visiting as a first timer and outsider.
The Workers Indoor Arena is located just to the west of the stadium.
If chosing to route from Jianguomen Outer Street to Ritan Park 1 block further west and walking north and up along Jianhua Road, one can view the exteriors of various Embassy compounds all of which have their own security arrangements including an outside Guard on Duty.
Have a look at the Embassy of your choice, or pay a visit when you have an invite or are coming down for Visa issues. Check with your Embassy for proper visiting regulations and opening hours. Lengthy videography is ill advised in this area but otherwise, taking a few photos is not frowned upon. Just don't go and stage a protest or otherwise behave suspiciously, because anyone who does will certainly attract attention. Hidden Security Camera's are everywhere in Beijing.
Although in the past security at times has been high and road blocks thrown up due to a continuous problem of North Korean refugees attempting to reach the U.S., South Korean and other Western
Russian Market / Alien Market
Chaoyang Workers Stadium
Sanlitun North Embassy Area / Sanlitun Bar Street
Solidify Lake (Tuanjie Lake = Tuanjie Hu) and shopping zone. Formerly a grandiose pleasure garden Tuanjie Lake has been shrunken down to almost pond size but is still worth a visit when you are near. Only for upscale shopping.
For those interested in ancient agriculture, and farming in China, this is a must visit museum and showcase. There are 10,000 artefacts dating from the neolithic age until the 1840s on display. The Museun has been closed for pre/Olympic overhaul and modernizations but is once more opened.
Address: 16 Dong Sanhuan Bei Lu, Chaoyang district