The Summer Palace is such a majestic and immense complex of pavilions, gardens, and views that I had to split it into 3 parts to be able to properly show its beauty. This is the second part of the series.
Longevity Hill stands in the middle of the Summer Palace and allows not only to admire the gardens and Kunming Lake but also see the landscape of Beijing in the distance. On the hill many imponent buildings with very creative names are present.
Top of the Pavilion of Precious Clouds
The history of the Summer Palace is very interesting as well as tragic: the palace was built in 1750 and was initially named Garden of Clear Ripples and served as imperial garden and temporary palace of the royal family in the Qing Dynasty.
The Summer Palace is such a majestic and immense complex of pavilions, gardens, and views that I had to split it into 3 parts to be able to properly show its beauty. This is the first part of the series.
It takes about an hour to reach the complex from the city center as the area is located at the outskirts of the city.
The eastern and main entrance of the Summer Palace (頤和園 – Yíhéyuán, literally “to maintain energy and mellow the soul”), with two bronze lions stand guarding the gate, is very formal and imposing, although its features might be easily missed due to the large number of people wanting to enter the palace.
View of Kunming Lake and Longevity Hill
After having purchased the ticket and entered the premises, only a short walk is needed to reach the very first breathtaking view: Kunming Lake and the Longevity Hill in the background.
One of the first places I visited in Beijing was the Yinding (Silver Ingot) Bridge in Shichahai. It was a totally unplanned encounter as, after over 12 hours on a bus, I really felt like stretching my legs while wandering around the new city.
Road next to Shichahai
It was a beautiful and surprisingly warm day (considering the previous gelid locations) but the breeze quickly reminded me that it was December after all.
The way from Ulanbataar to the Chinese border is quite long as it is over 600km and takes an overnight train to reach.
There are two ways to get to Beijing by land without owning a vehicle: the first is to hop on the Trans-Mongolian train, sit back and relax, the second one is to get a train to Zamyn-Üüd, get off, try to bargain a taxi over the border and then get on one of the many buses heading to Bejing from Erenhot (or Ereen for short).
As one can expect, the former option is easier but much more expensive, while the latter requires a bit more effort (and adventure) but can be as much as 3 times cheaper (around $80 instead of over $250).
I picked the adventurous option as it sounded thrilling and interesting to cross the border this way, as well as saving a good chunk of money.
Chinese Tuk Tuk
Even if this method can be difficult and stressful, it went quite smoothly for me, as a bus driver actually offered the border-crossing for free.
Ereen is located in the Sino-Mongolian border and is a common stop for people travelling to or from Mongolia. From the very first moment across the border, you can already feel that you’re in China.
This was only a short stop as an overnight bus would eventually lead me to the capital: Beijing.