From what I read on travel guides, I didn't plan to go visit the Ming Tombs, situated in the North West of Beijing. I still went to accompany a friend who wanted to go.
It was like what I expected it to be : disapointing.
Ming Tombs (Shisan Ling) is the place where 13 of the 16 Qing Emperors are buried. It's not easy to get there by public transport.
The tombs are all spread out so you would save time if you hire a car. Discuss the price with the driver before getting on the car. If I remember it correctly, we paid around 40 RMB to visit the only 3 tombs (Zhao Ling, Ding Ling and Zhang Ling) that are open to the public and to get back to the bus station.
Furthermore, the entrance to each tomb is very high, around 30/40 RMB. We were lucky that it was half price because of SARS.
Unique Suggestions: Zhang Ling is one of the biggest tomb and this is where we can go underground to see the the actual tomb of the Emperor who is buried here (sorry, I forgot his name !).
If you go there, you can enjoy the mountains' landscape as it is rare to see mountains inside the city.
There are also small museums (jewellery collection, clothes etc.) that make the visit more cultural and interesting.
Fun Alternatives: We didn't have time to see tombs other than the 3 open to the public. I heard that we can drive to the entrance of the other tombs and catch a glimpse of them. Since they haven't been renovated, they must have preserved their authenticity...
I took a tour to the Ming Tombs which also included a visit to the Great Wall. The Ming Tombs portion of this trip proved to be a considerable disappointment. This is largely because the stop included but one of the 13 Ming tombs that are located here. Perhaps we visited just one because very few of the actual tombs have been restored.
The Ming tombs contains the remains of 13 of the 16 Ming dynasty emperors. The architecture here is not all that remarkable. After you take in many of the other great monuments of China you will not notice anything that stands out. The tombs basically look like other Ming palaces that you see elsewhere. The standard visit will take you to the main gate of the tombs which are located in a valley. From there you will proceed to the Ding Ling tomb. This looks something like a town fortified gate. The Ming tombs are saturated with tourists so after a visit you wonder what the fuss is all about.
Ming tombs – the most massive and best preserved imperial mausoleum structures in the world.
Unique Suggestions: Located on the southern foot of Mt. longevity of Heaven (Tianshoushan) in Changping County , about 50 kilometres north of Beijing, There are all together 13 tombs for 13 emperors of the Ming dynasty. Four areas is the cemetery sre now open to the public including Changling, Dingling, Zhaoling and the Sacred Way. The Underground Palace is vaulted marble structure
Ming emperors not only rebuilt the crumbling wall, but they added many miles to it, creating a structure that could stretch from Miami to the North Pole. They also began closing their country to outsiders
well they are primarily tourist traps to western tourist who does not know how to haggle! most asians like me know how to haggle ok! these shops often inflate the prices 300-400 percent like for example, they sell t-shirts at 120 RMB (if you convert it to dollars, it's the same price as a nike original t-shirt!) so what you do is bring it down to 30 RMb and if they say no, just walk away and they will agree to the price ok! another example is the mao caps, they sell this for 100 RMb but you can haggle up to 25 RMB ok!
bottled water costs 6 RMB and My Favorite Lemon Drinke at 8 RMB here!
Unique Suggestions: look but don't buy.
Fun Alternatives: act as if not interested and staring to leave so that they would agree to your price!
this Jade Factory is located in the Chang Ping Area of Beijing, about 500 meters from Ming Emperor Tombs. Why a tourist trap? well we all know that jade is a semi precious jewel that is highly adored by the chinese for good luck but we all know that quality jade and jadite (more expensive version of Jade) is mostly mined from Myanmar, Yunnan Province in Southern China and Cambodia hence is cheaper in these areas. Hence3 buying jade materials and jewels here is more expensive than in other areas (but is cheaper than hong kong or shanghai or Macau if you love jade!). a jade piece cost RMB 90 for a small pendant and up to 30,000 RMB for a Big Jade Dragon Carving. (they don't allow pictures inside so no pictures here).
MING TOMBS. This was really unimpressive when compared to other things around Beiijng. It basically looked like a big nuclear bunker or underground car park. It was very crowded and dusty, although the parklands around it were nice enough.
During the third Ming emperor, he built Ming Tombs, where were buried several members of the imperial family. Their layout is according to the rules of feng shui and has several buildings ... To be very honest, an area full of tourists, with restored old buildings and empty spaces do not attract me very much ...
If you need to buy anything from the stalls outside the Ming Tombs,must really bargain with them,otherwise you might regret later.