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Tuesday, 19 July 2016 16:39

While it cracked Conde Nast Traveler’s list of the 50 Most Beautiful Places in Asia, many people consider the Forbidden City to be a one-way monolith of calculated sameness, like Ikea without the meatballs or the strategically-priced modular furniture.

Desperate to change its image as an enormous tourist trap, the palace administration is in the midst of a 10-year project to give the Forbidden City its most intensive makeover since the Qianlong Emperor roamed its halls in the 18th century.

This week, the Forbidden City's Shan Jixiang, director of the Palace Museum, unveiled the next stage in the process of bringing the Forbidden City back to life. Three new areas will open later this year, so that by the end of 2016, almost 75 percent of the palace will be open to visitors compared to the two-thirds currently accessible to the general public.

Last October, several areas long off-limits to visitors opened to the public. The new restorations, many located along the western edge of the Forbidden City, featured gardens and residences restored to their 18th-century glory. Exhibition space is also now open on top of the Meridian Gate. Visitors can also now stroll along the top of a section of the Forbidden City’s outer walls between the main gate and the Donghuamen Gate on the eastern edge of the palace.

Areas scheduled to open in 2016 include two new footpaths, one connecting the southwest corner of the palace with the northwest corner and the other linking the southeastern and northeastern corners.

By the end of this year, it will be possible to travel the length of the palace without needing to join the tourist throngs, 90 percent of whom march dutifully down the central axis of the Forbidden City. The paths will also connect the galleries at the Hall of Martial Valor with the newly opened palaces in the Western sections of the Forbidden City.

Director Shan also announced plans to demolish almost 14,800 square meters of modern buildings and other temporary structures including offices, warehouses, greenhouses, and other structures built around the area over the past several decades.

While no indication has been given as to which structures are being targeted for demolition, one wonders if the three “screen buildings,” located just inside the western walls and across from Zhongnanhai will be among the casualties. Given their current occupants – the Number One Historical Archives and the People’s Armed Police – they seem likely to avoid demolition despite being the largest the and most obvious recent additions to the palace landscape. A three-year timetable has been set for the demolition and removal of the offending edifices.

Director Shan also announced two new attractions for visitors the palace. A glass-walled path and a 13,000-square-meter studio will allow visitors to observe the restoration of historical artifacts. The popularity of shows such as Masters of the Forbidden City (known in China as 我在故宫修文物, for more information click here) has sparked interest in the usually staid field of historic preservation.

A new children’s pavilion, located towards the north end of the palace among the Inner Palaces, will also open this year.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016 16:28

Twenty six people have died after a fire broke out in a tourist bus along the highway to the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport on Tuesday afternoon, CCTV reports.

The report said the bus swerved into a hand rail on the highway for "unknown reasons" and then bursted into a fireball at 12:57 pm. The fire was put out half an hour later.

Taipei local media said the 24-member tourist group were from Northeast China's Liaoning province, who had arrived in Taiwan on July 12 and planned to return today.

The preliminary investigation has shown that most bodies were found at the rear of the coach, which could possibly mean the passengers tried but failed to break open the windows.

Taoyuan City Police has confirmed the number of victims as 26, and said all the 26 bodies will be transported to a funeral home for post mortem.

The State Council Taiwan Affairs Office urged Taiwan to investigate into the accident, and handle the aftermath properly. It said a team will be sent to Taiwan to help take care of the aftermath.

The National Tourism Administration said it will keep in close contact with Taiwan and it urged Taiwan to help families of the victims and handle insurance claims properly.

Xu Xiaolei, spokesman for China Youth Travel Service, said the bus fire is an isolated case, which does not indicate that Taiwan's ability to receive tourists has changed radically. He said the travel services in Taiwan perform well in general.

The Tourism Bureau of Liaoning province told China Daily that it has just been notified about the accident and does not have all the details.

Wednesday, 06 July 2016 17:36

Summer will see another travel peak for Chinese as students begin their summer vacation. Almost 60 percent of those polled said they had travel plans, according to a recent online survey conducted by ly.com, a major travel portal in China.

Family travel is a strong driver behind the summer travel peak.

About 40 percent of those surveyed are choosing July and August because the whole family can travel together when the children are off from school.

More than 40 percent of college students choose to travel in summer as they are on summer vacation.

Young and middle aged people showed much stronger interest in summer travel than other groups. Among those born after 1970 (aged 37-46) and 1960 (aged 47-56), 77.4 and 70 percent, respectively, said they would travel in summer.

The report also showed that more people would travel in July (49.9%) than in August (31.2%).

Among those who have travel plans, 29 percent said they travel abroad.

About 30 percent of those surveyed set their travel budget over 5,000 yuan ($752), and 17 percent had a budget of 2,001 to 3,000 yuan. More than 60 percent of those who would travel abroad.

The survey received a total of 1,604 effective questionnaires.

Wednesday, 06 July 2016 17:26

Hebei province's Tangshan city has invested in the development of a tourism island that is near Beijing.

The local authority has invested 13 billion yuan ($2 billion) in recent years to develop the Tangshanwan International Tourism Island.

To date, 70 percent of tourists have come from the capital, according to authorities.

Local officials held a promotion event recently in Beijing, hoping to attract more visitors.

More than 200 travel agencies were represented.

The island sits on the coast of the Bohai Sea, Hebei province’s Tangshan. It covers an area of 125 square kilometers, with a superb ecological environment and tourism resources. Its Puti Island is home to more than 260 plants and 40 wild animals and 400 bird species. It's an ideal place for visitors to get in touch with nature.

Yuedao Island is a nice summer getaway for leisure and sports. The island features villas and a tourist center and can now accommodate 1,600 guests every day.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016 17:10

Ming Dynasty conquerors may have built the Forbidden City over the site of Yuan Dynasty ruler Kublai Khan's palace, Beijing archaeologists now believe, the South China Morning Post reported  Friday.

The yuan dynasty ruled China as part of the Mongolian empire from 1271-1368, before a Han Chinese uprising established the Ming Dynasty in Nanjing, before moving the capital back to Beijing at the beginning of the 15th century.

Beihai Park and the white dagoba that is the park's main landmark have long been believed to be part of Kublai Khan's palace. But archaeologists digging within the Palace Museum, as the Forbidden City complex is now officially known, have found the foundations of another palatial structure inside what is the world's largest palace complex.

Construction from the Qing Dynasty, late and early Ming, and then Yuan Dynasty were all found layered upon each other, the archaeologists found.

Ming Dynasty builders are believed to have removed their predecessors' structures before constructing their own.

Saturday, 23 April 2016 22:50

Nanluoguxiang, a famous ancient alleyway in Beijing that is packed with small tourism shops, bars and restaurants, has become a victim of its own success and will no longer accommodate tour groups because of the huge numbers of people who visit the scenic spot each day.

The change will take effect on Monday, the municipal tourism authority said.

More than 30,000 people visit the alleyway each weekday, and the number climbs to 50,000 on weekends and has been known to hit 100,000 on public holidays, said the Beijing Municipal Commission of Tourism Development.

The daily influx of visitors greatly outpaces the safe capacity of Nanluoguxiang, which is able to comfortably cope with 17,000 visitors a day, according to the specifications of the national tourism authority. A lower number of daily visitors would guarantee tourists' safety and the quality of the environment and improve the lives of neighboring residents, said the authority.

Critics of the currently overcrowded situation say hoards of tourists in the street cause traffic congestion in the neighborhood and leave little room for emergency vehicles or space for an evacuation. They are also said to pose a risk to the historic buildings.

The tourism authorities have also approved removing the alleyway from the city's list of National AAA Grade scenic areas, something it hopes will also reduce the number of visitors.

Nanluoguxiang, which was one of the first 25 historical and cultural street blocks to be protected in Beijing, has a history stretching back more than 740 years. It is 787 meters long, and has eight symmetrical alleys, known as hutong, on either side.

Many tourists sites in the capital, including the Palace Museum, have had to deal with similar problems because of the overwhelming number of visitors and have restricted access.

In the case of the Palace Museum, around 80,000 people a day now visit, following restrictions brought in last year. Previously, busy days could see as many as 180,000 visitors.

/enpcontent

Sunday, 17 April 2016 22:49

BEIJING - Undaunted by ride-hailing app Didi's dominance in the Chinese market, Uber sees potential to chip away at the company's virtual monopoly outside first-tier cities.

Uber said on Thursday its ride-hailing service in Hefei, provincial capital of east China's Anhui Province, grew by over 30 percent daily since launching in March, the fastest uptake rate the company has seen in about 400 cities around the world where it operates. Uber now accounts for more than 50 percent of ride-hailing service in the city.

UberPool, which allows drivers to pick up more than one paying passengers at a time, was launched last year to compete directly with Didi in ride-sharing services.

China's "sharing economy" is booming, and ride services are gaining popularity as an alternative to public transportation for daily commutes.

While conventional wisdom holds that top-tier cities such as Beijing and Shanghai are the easiest places for a business to launch in China, Uber has had far better success in China's second- and third-tier cities, said Wen Yilong, who runs Uber's Hefei operations, in a company press release.

Hangzhou in eastern China and the southwestern economic powerhouse Chengdu, both second-tier cities, used to be Uber's two best performing cities in the world.

Smartphones and mobile Internet are closing the gap between China's megacities and the rest. That puts cities big and small on the same starting line because "apps used by people in large cities are also used by their peers in small cities," Wen said.

Like many foreign companies, Uber has made inroads into the Chinese market through top-tier cities since 2014 and began to penetrate smaller cities during the second half of last year.

The ride-hailing app seeks to expand its presence in 100 Chinese cities this year, including previously uncovered northeastern and western regions. Uber's ride-hailing service is currently available in 50 cities.

Rival Didi has a far bigger presence, operating in more than 400 Chinese cities and held 84.1 percent of the ride-hailing market nationwide as of February, according to data compiled by iResearch.

Liu Zhen, head of strategy for Uber China, said the company is eyeing a disciplined expansion in China and will weigh the decision to enter new cities based on a number of criteria, including local population, level of development and consumption patterns.

Uber's global CEO Travis Kalanick said last month that the company is using profits earned from other foreign markets to fund operations in China, where he thinks competition and growth are both unrivaled.

Saturday, 16 April 2016 22:36

F1 drivers from top left clockwise: Sauber driver Marcus Ericsson of Sweden, Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg of Germany, Renault driver Kevin Magnussen of Denmark, Williams driver Valtteri Bottas of Finland, and Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen of Finland attend a press conference ahead of the F1 Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai, April 14, 2016. Nearly all drivers participating in the Chinese GP got together for dinner on Wednesday when Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton offered to treat them but ending up splitting the bill. The drivers at the dinner posed for selfies to show their unity over the much-debated direction of the sport earlier this year when a rolling elimination format for qualifying was introduced. The drivers' association wrote a letter to the F1 stakeholders amid the frustration in March and a decision is going to be made later in April.

Saturday, 16 April 2016 22:28

My brother was on a business trip to India recently and was - apparently - so efficient that he finished his assignment a week early.

Why not come to China and take the trans-Pacific route back home to Dallas? I suggested. There was little time to apply for a Chinese visa but since he is a US citizen, he could avail of the 72-hour visa-free transit, available to citizens of about 50 countries and offered by nearly 20 cities.

Three days in China? Do you think China is Singapore? was the retort.

I could see his point. Singapore or Hong Kong are bite-sized cities which can be enjoyed in a few days. More importantly, they are major transit hubs linking continents; unlike major Chinese mainland cities which are destinations in themselves.

For many people around the world, especially in countries not in the region, China is a once-in-a-lifetime trip and takes considerable planning. You don't fly to Xi'an (which offers visa-free transit) on a whim to see the Terracotta Warriors.

The typical tourist would like to take in the culture and cuisine of South China, the tranquil gardens of Suzhou, the majestic West Lake in Hangzhou, the sweeping landscapes of the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region or the mystique of the Tibet autonomous region - and much more, not to mention Beijing or Shanghai.

Clearly, a 72-hour visa doesn't provide enough time to enjoy any one of those, let alone the whole country

And at a time when foreign tourist arrivals are falling, making it easier for them to arrive in the country would make sense.

Last year, the number of foreigners visiting Beijing was 3.57 million, a drop of 2.2 percent over the previous year, which saw a decline of 5.7 percent year-on-year, according to the Beijing Tourism Development Commission.

While figures on how many tourists to Beijing utilized the visa-free facility last year were not available, in 2014, about 40,000 did, according to Beijing Capital International Airport Co Ltd - roughly 1 in 90.

A report released earlier this year by London-based BMI Research Group said one of the drawbacks of the Chinese inbound tourism market was the visa regime.

Conventionally, visa regimes between nations are decided by reciprocity and China cannot grant visa-free entry to people of nations which do not return the favor.

A 72-hour visa seems a compromise by China - but also appears parsimonious. Perhaps it could be more generous.

A step in that direction is the recent announcement that eligible visitors or businesspeople to the Yangtze River Delta - arriving in Shanghai, Hangzhou or Nanjing - would have a 144-hour visa-free transit and be free to travel in the region.

Now, if more cities or clusters followed this and, say, increased the visa-free transit by many, many more hours, it would be a start.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016 16:31


Hongqiao Market, Beijing
Beijing Hongqiao Pearl MarketLocated at Tiantan Donglu, Chongwen District, Hongqiao Market is just oppositeTiantan Park. It is a well known market dealing with pearls around the world.More than 1,000,000 visitors come to Hongqiao Market to buy pearls yearly. Eventhe former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher has been to Hongqiao Marketthree times as she was very impressed with the beautiful pearls. Apart from pearls,the market also offers seafood, digital products and silk.

Covering an area of 4,500 square meters (about 1.1 acres), the market has 8 floorsas follows:

-1--3/F Seafood: Seafood has played an important role since the establishmentof the market. There are many varieties of seafood being sold in the market,ranging from the common fish, shrimp and crab to the rare ones like shark fin,sea pumpkin and abalone. Most of the seafood are mainly supplied to big hotelsand restaurants in and around Beijing.

1/F Digital Products & Watches: There are many internationally famous digitalproducts sold here which makes this market of equal standing with Zhongguancun(the most famous digital market in Beijing). Apart from that, watches of differentbrands and different quality will certainly dazzle your eyes. They attractedmerchants from Western Asia and as far as Africa.

2/F Silk & Clothes: Silk symbolizes China since the ancient time and thoseproducts found in this market are of high quality.

Beijing pearl market3-5/F Pearls: It is the largest pearl distribution centre in China and it isalso the central part of the market. There are many varieties of pearls, suchas colors, sizes or smoothness. With these comes the vast difference in theirprices, ranging from just a few yuan to ten of thousands of yuan. There are seawaterpearl, freshwater pearl, coral, emerald, gem and other precious stones. Onecan be easily dazzled by the fashionable pearl necklaces, exquisite pearl ringsand simple but elegant pearl pendants. They are just absolutely fascinating.

Go with beijing drivers ,city tour ,forbidden city ,temple of heaven ,lama temple ,and pear maket,8 hours only cost you 600rmb ,with brand new GM cuze ,the price including gas and toll and parking .

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