BIRD'S NEST - BEIJING NATIONAL STADIUM
Bird's Nest - Beijing National Stadium
The mammoth structure of the Beijing National Stadium was the brain-child of Swiss architectural firm, Herzog & de Meuron. It is more often referred to as the Bird’s Nest Stadium (BNS) because of its shape, which in China is considered a symbol of something precious. Though it is an open structure, the design elements are conceived to accommodate both cold and hot weathers along with severe earthquakes!
Located to the north of downtown Beijing, in the Olympic Park, National Stadium holds the title of the largest steel structure in the world, being constructed with almost 42,000 tons of steel. The structure was built to last a 100 years and will be host to two Olympic opening ceremonies i.e. one in Summer 2008 and the other one to be held in Winter 2022. It is part of a larger park which is also home to the ‘Water Cube’ aka Beijing National Aquatics Center among others. Entry to the Olympic Park is free and you can wander the whole complex to marvel at the contemporary designs that wowed spectators in 2008 Olympics and get snacks and souvenirs from vendors there.
The subway line 8 will take you directly into the Olympic Park. Numerous public buses also make the trip here. However, taxis will have to stop in a designated parking, further ways away from the park, leading to a lot of walking to reach. So maybe avoid taxis. Once inside, you have a wide option of activities to choose from ranging from the water park to getting up close and personal with the Birds Nest. You get to appreciate the fine details of the buildings and view therefrom, in the morning with much lesser crowds. Yet evenings are more preferred, since the lights illuminating the Birds Nest and Water Cube just lend a magical feel to the whole affair.
Entrance fee for BNS is RMB40. If you want to explore further and see the Golden Hall or the Golden Corridor, the price will be doubled to RMB80/ attraction. And if you want it all, topped with a birds-view, the ticket price comes to RMB100 total. Kids under 1.2m go for free. There is also a separate night time ticket for RMB80, which is general admission and Golden Hall, though you don’t get to see the full magnificence with the lack of daylight. Day timings are from 9:00 to 19:00, whereas at night you can roam from 18:30 to 21:30. In winters (December - February), a ‘Happy Snow and Ice Festival’ is held inside, tickets for which are RMB120 on weekdays and for weekends and holidays, RMB160. Activities include skiing, games and entertainment for all ages.
When planning on making a trip to the Beijing National Stadium, do check availability as sometimes there are concerts or games in session and therefore no exploring for tourists is possible. Additionally, there will be large crowds vying for tickets in ques longer than the Great Wall and you don’t want to get caught up in that!