Beijing Zoo and Aquarium
Hailed as the largest zoo in China, the place dates back to the 1900s and has much architecture and feel of that old era. It is home to many species, both local and exotic, but attracts the most visitors to the Panda Hall wherein reside the lovable Giant Pandas. There are many other rare species as well, such as the milu deers, golden monkeys and northeast tigers.
Even if you aren’t an animal lover, the parks antiquated buildings, landscaping and flora is still worth giving this attraction a chance since the entry ticket is quite nominal. But getting to the museum can be memorable on its own if you take the boats going on the Imperial Waterway Course between Summer Palace and the Exhibition Center, though it may set you back RMB50 one way. Line 4 of the metro will take you right to the southern entrance when you take exit B from Dongwuyuan station. Public buses are also plenty and frequent to this destination.
Getting in will cost RMB15 for the zoo and RMB19 for zoo and Panda House from April to October. Prices from November to March are RMB10 for entrance and RMB14 for the combo ticket. Opening timings are 07:30 while the zoo closes at 18:00 in summers and 17:00 in winters. The Aquarium inside the zoo is a little pricier and costs RMB150 but well worth the money. Exhibit information around the place are all in mandarin, so you only get the animals name and nothing else unless you have a phone and a translation app at hand.
It goes without saying that the Panda Hall is a must and if you want to catch those big guys in action, better go early morning or in the evening because they tend to be lethargic and nap-inclined rest of the time. Other sought-after animals include the gorillas, tigers, polar bears, elephants and kangaroos. The look and dated condition of the enclosure puts off tourists sometimes, but the administration has managed to maintain a rather large population of varied climate species, so rest assured proper handling of animals is ensured.
After the land dwellers, you can go ahead and explore the worlds biggest inland aquarium that showcases a vast collection of marine life and has regular performances by beluga whales, sea lions and dolphins in the Ocean Theater. These performances are in Mandarin (again!) so if you’ve seen similar shows in other zoos, maybe skip the sea lions and dolphins and go where the crowds are thinner. There are seven exhibition centers focusing on different themes like the Shark Town, Bay of Whale and Dolphin, etc. You can easily spend 2 - 4 hours in here and still be left wanting more.
Within the zoo grounds, you can also visit the Changguan Tower, built for Empress Dowager Cixi, Lamarck Hall, in memory of the revered natural historian and the Memorial Tower of Song Jiaoren for the fallen Kuomintang leader. With so much on offer, you really must go!
Fenghuang Ling Scenic Area (Phoenix Hill Scenic Area)
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