July 23rd, 2014 

The last day school for PKU is this coming Friday, and most of us are flying out of Beijing the following day. 

While my time in Beijing is counting down fast, one of the places that I really wanted to visit is the (old) China Central Radio and Television (CCTV) Tower, especially the open-air observatory of the city. My friend and I went there after dinner, and knowing that we didn’t have much time in the Tower because they were going to close soon, we took a taxi to its location near Xisanhuan Middle Road (about a 30 RMB ride from PKU to the old CCTV Tower). 

With only 45 minutes before they close, we bought our tickets and immediately took an elevator to the open-air observatory, which is 238 meters above the ground floor. The weather wasn’t that great today— it was pretty smoggy— but nonetheless the view of the city was beautiful (the observatory reminded me of Twin Peaks so much…). We snapped some photos, and rushed down three floors to look at the CCTV Museum. With little time left before we were eventually kicked out, we quickly read about CCTV’s history and posed for pictures where we pretended to be CCTV’s anchors and weather reporters. 

I wish that we had more time at the Tower, but I’m glad to share that I was able to check this one item off of my Beijing to-do list. Some things to note in case you would like to visit the old CCTV Tower in the future: 

  1. It’s called the old CCTV Tower because they no longer do live broadcasting from this location. In 2008, the New CCTV Tower opened and it became the headquarters and broadcasting location of CCTV. The New Tower is literally on the other side of the city,in Chaoyang District, so if you’re planning on taking the taxi to the new Tower make sure you communicate to the taxi driver that want to go to the New Tower, especially if you get on a taxi from Haidian District (where most of the universities, including PKU, is located). The Old CCTV Tower is located in/very close to the edge of Haidian District. 
  2. Yes, you will have to go through security to get into the Old CCTV Tower building. Also, you cannot bring any beverages into the building, so don’t be tempted to buy drinks from the convenience stores outside of the Tower (unless you drink it all before you go in, then that’s fine). 
  3. Consider going to the Old Tower for dinner; on the 18th floor of the Old Tower is a revolving Chinese and Western buffet style restaurant. If you want a nice— and revolving— view of Beijing at night, consider dining at this restaurant! 
  4. Go there early— at least an hour and half before they close! I really wanted to experience using the high-powered telescope located at the observatory to get a better night view of the city, but unfortunately it was already turned off by the time I got there.