The conquest of China by the people of Manchuria was to mark the beginning of the end for the two-millennia-old dynasty system of government.
But during the initial centuries of Manchu rule, times were prosperous, with the Manchus adopting and adapting many of the systems used by the previous Han rulers. It was the second time the unified China had been conquered - Genghis Khan and his marauding troops took over the country four centuries earlier - but the Manchurian invasion of the 17th century was a much less traumatic affair.
In fact the Manchurians followed the Confucian style of rule, whereby the moral uprightness of the rulers was paramount; they had a sophisticated, examination-structured administrative system which utilised both Han and Manchurian civil servants. The ancestor-worship beliefs of the Han were also retained.
The Qing dynasty of the Manchurians produced powerful emperors with huge personalities -- Kangxi, Yongzheng and Qianlong -- who are revered figures in Chinese history. The country's vast borders also became more secure during the Qing period; once the Manchurian rulers had subdued the country as a whole, they conquered Outer Mongolia and, in later years, Central Asia as far as the Pamir Mountains and established a protectorate over Tibet.
With all immediate outside danger to China eliminated, a period of prosperity and artistic development was ushered in. Literacy was high, even in the rural areas of the vast country, and artistic and architectural creativity allowed to flourishing.
In early years, the Manchu dynasty based its court in Shenyang, an hour's flight from Beijing. Here, reminders of that era are in abundance: in the oldest section of the city, a mini-Forbidden City houses exhibitions of ivory and jade artifacts, furniture and excellent collection of musical instruments.
Shenyang has other historical relics to fire the imagination, reminders of more turbulent times in China -- the warlord Zhang Zuo Lin had his headquarters here. Museums have relics that go back into the far mists of time, to the Stone Age.
When the capital moved to Beijing, a summer palace was established in Chengde, with extravagant gardens and a glorious central lake surrounded by palaces and temples. Chengde also acted as a secondary stronghold for the Qing rulers, who could keep a watchful eye on any potential invaders from the north.
But it was from an unexpected source that the danger finally came from. Aggressive European traders managed to get a foothold in China, in particular the British, who provoked the Opium War of 1840, a skirmish that ended with the Treaty of Nanking which ceded rights and territory to the victors. British and French troops later burned the Summer Palace in Beijing.
It marked the beginning of the end for Qing - and dynastic -- rule in China. In 1911, a republic was established under the leadership of Dr Sun Yat Sen, marking the abrupt end of two thousand years of rule by emperors. A period of political turmoil, foreign invasion and civil war finally finished in 1949, when the People's Republic of China was established.
To this day, Beijing remains the seat of power. At one end of the vast Tiananmen Square is the mighty Forbidden City, a striking symbol of imperial rule; flanking the square is the Great Hall of the People, symbolising the modern government.
It is a city that, fittingly, has elements from all of China's history, from the Great Wall, a short drive from the urban limits, to the buildings created in the spirit of modern, open-looking China.
As the capital of the People's Republic of China, Beijing is the nation's center of government, economy, culture, and international activities, as well as serving as a transportation hub to the entire country. With a population of 11 million people, Beijing contains 18 districts and counties covering an area of 10,450 square miles. The suburbs contain: Dongcheng, Xicheng, Xuanwu, Chongwen, Chaoyang, Haidian, Fengtai, and Shijingshan. An outer suburban area consists of: Fangshan, Mengtougou, Changping, Tongxian, Shunyi, Daxing, Huairou, Miyun, Pinggu, and Yianqing.
Beijing City is an independently administered municipal district located in the northeastern part of China at an elevation of 143 feet above sea level. Beijing has a continental climate. January is the coldest month with an average temperature of 24 degrees Fahrenheit. At an average temperature of 79 degrees Fahrenheit, July is the warmest. The best time to visit Beijing is May, September and October.
Beijing has a long history. As early as 500,000 years ago, ancient "Peking Man" lived at Zhoukoudian 30 miles southwest of Beijing. King Wu was the first to declare Beijing the capital city in 1057 B.C. Established in 1045 B.C., Beijing is an ancient cultural city, serving for 800 years as the capital of the Liao, Jin, Yuan, Ming, and Qing dynasties.
Beijing was also known as Peking by the Western world before 1949. In the early nineteen twenties, Beijing became the cradle of China's new democratic revolution. The May Fourth Movement against imperialism and feudalism began in 1919. On October 1st, 1949, Chairman Mao announced to the world the founding of the People's Republic of China.
Beijing is also known as a tourist city for its many places of interest, including ancient architecture, royal gardens, mansions, towers, temples, palaces, and modern structures. It is a gathering place of artists and other talented people.
The city of Chengde is approximately 143 miles from Beijing. In addition to being one of the first ancient cities to be recorded by the government, it is also one of the ten esteemed national-class scenic spots. There are many places of interest in and around Chengde, such as the magnificent Mountain Resort and the Eight Outer Monasteries. Chengde has convenient transportation, and easily accessible by either train or long-distance bus. Tourist trains and regular buses shuttle between Chengde and Beijing on a daily basis.
Shenyang is the capital and largest city of Liaoning Province in northeast China. Shenyang was first adopted by the Manchu people as their capital in the 17th century and is today’s biggest city in the northeast. Along with its nearby cities, Shenyang is an important industrial centre in China, and it serves as the transportation and commercial hub of China's northeast – particularly with Japan, Russia, and Korea.
Words fail me adequately to express our thanks and appreciation for the superb arrangements you and The Silk Road Travel Management Company provided for us during the time period of 16-30 October 2010 in Beijing and Shanxi Province.
Thank you many times over.
The trip arrangements were perfect. We will fill out your "customer satisfaction" form shortly, but I want very much to let you know a couple of things about the trip in advance of that. (after we get over jet lag)
First, I have to tell you that my wife is sometimes semi-disabled by having a severe case of lymphedema after successful cancer surgery. This means that one of her legs is enlarged by about 40 extra pounds of water weight. She has to be judicious in the amount of walking she can do at certain times. Otherwise she is in great willingness to travel.
Thanks to the wonderful arrangements you made for us, she was able to do EVERYTHING! In fact, if her re-recovery from the trip goes as well as we think it might, we will want to be talking to you about a journey to Dunhuang. But, more about that later.
I rate the trip 99.999% perfect…
RE: Lu Song Yuan Bingguan: We love this hotel. The staff is very very nice. The rooms and beds were comfortable, the courtyards were handsome, the other clients were congenial, and all in all it is --in my opinion-- the best place to stay in Beijing if one wants to have a most comfortable and more authentic Chinese experience. Thank you so much for having this wonderful property available to serve the traveling public…
Finally, for now, I will conclude with kudos for "Catherine" our Shanxi Province guide. She was a delight and thoroughly understanding and helpful. We had a wonderful time with her on the trip, and she must not have minded us too much because on the last day in Shanxi she took us to her family home where her lovely mother had prepared a delicious lunch for us. What an extra ordinary event that was, and we very much appreciate it. Mr. Wang the driver also was an excellent practitioner of the art of survival on Chinese roads.
AGAIN, THANK YOU for your excellent arrangements. I cannot sing the praises of the Silk Road Company too much. I am looking forward to writing to you again. And I will mail the Customer Satisfaction survey form to you in a day or so. But for now, I want you to know how happy the three of us are to have been in your most capable hands.
Warren B. Wotton
Beijing & Shanxi (staying at LuSongYuan)(17 - 30 Oct 2010)
After a fantastic couple of weeks in China we leave for Hong Kong tomorrow. We have had a great time and the memories will stay with us for a lifetime.
Could you please forward our sincere thanks to our local guides, ZHAO in Beijing, SUSAN in Xian and SISSI in Shanghai who have made our trip so memorable? They have all been extremely kind and helpful making sure we experienced the local culture and history in each location.
Thank you also for organising the trip and ensuring we had such a great time.
With sincere thanks.
Kevin & Sallie Redmond
The weather is generally pleasant all year round in Beijing, though spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November) are the best seasons to visit this capital city. Summer (June to August) in Beijing is hot and humid, with an average temperature of 30.5 ºC (86.8 ºF) in the hottest month (July). Winter is cold and dry. The coldest month is January with an average temperature of -2 ºC (28 ºF).
Light cotton dresses, sunglasses and a hat to guard against sunburn for the summer. Wool and fleece layers, topped with a down jacket with wind-breaking shell, scarves, gloves, hats and woolen socks for the winter. Wear layers that can be added on or discarded as weather changes. Comfortable rubber-soled shoes are recommended.
“Culture Hotel” is our hotel brand that aims to bring to you a unique hotel concept. Each hotel blends in with local architectural style and décor to preserve the indigenous flavour of the region. During your trip, you may have a chance to stay at one of below distinctive hotels that have character and soul:
: Lusongyuan Hotel
: The Silk Road Dunhuang Hotel
: Pingjiang Lodge
: Tunxi Lodge
: Turpan Oasis Hotel
: Xidi Travel Lodge
: Tsongkha Hotel
Food & Beverages
Hotels in China usually offer buffet breakfast or continental breakfast. You may bring some snacks along with you for the trip. Avoid drinking tap water and eating cold dishes or beverages at the street market. Drink only bottled water and well cooked food during the trip.
The most efficient and comfortable way to travel is by air. Dragonair, Cathay Pacific Airlines, Air China, China Southern Airlines, and China Eastern Airlines operate regular flights along the North China cities using aircraft models Boeing 707, 737, 757 and Airbus A320, etc.
China Visa & Travel Document
Most of the overseas passport holders are required to apply for a China Visa to enter China. Please check with your local Chinese embassy for visa application. Remember to check if your passport is valid for at least 6 months before your departure date.
There are two service systems for China Cell Phone – GSM and CDMA. China Mobile's feature is the GSM system, while China Unicom the CDMA system. Cell phone network covers most provinces in China except that transmission may sometimes be interrupted in certain desert areas. Most hotels have IDD lines where you can make IDD calls in your room. Internet access is available at the business centre of most hotels.
The currency is called Chinese Yuan (CNY), which is also known as Renminbi (RMB) locally. International credits cards like Visa and Master are accepted by hotels in the major cities. US Dollar Travellers Cheques are acceptable for money exchange in most hotels.