Just a few days ago I visited Mao’s Mausoleum for a third time. The first time I did it out of curiosity, while on the following occasions I accompanied my guests who wanted to see the formal leader in flesh and bones.
Wait for a second; you didn’t know Mao’s body is preserved the same way Lenin’s body is preserved in a Mausoleum from Moscow? Well, you are not the only one. I’m still surprised how few are the foreigners who know that Mao’s body stands, open for the public to see, in its own Mausoleum from Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. I didn’t know either, but luckily my friends were there to guide me when I first visited Beijing.
The legend says that Mao wanted to be cremated after his death. However, his body was embalmed, and a Mausoleum was built soon after his death to host his body. Back at that time, the relation between China and the Soviet Union was bad so the Chinese couldn’t ask for help from the Russian scientists in charge of preserving Lenin’s body. In the end, they got help from the Vietnamese, which had also embalmed the body of a formal leader – Ho Chi Minh. And since I am here I should mention that back when I was in Hanoi I’ve seen Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum too.
If you are visiting Beijing and you are not sure if time is enough to squeeze a visit to Mao’s Mausoleum into your program, don’t worry too much. It takes less than 20 minutes to visit it, regardless of how long the queue is, and that’s because you are not be allowed to stay more than a few seconds near Mao. You are almost marching next to its body. Nevertheless, you will have enough time to clearly see the founder of the People’s Republic of China.
In case you want to pay your respects to Mao, you can buy flowers from next to the entrance and lay them in front of his statue.
You will not be allowed to enter the Mausoleum with anything except wallet and phone, so make sure you deposit your baggage first across the street from the Mausoleum. It will cost you a few RMB only.
The Mausoleum is open between 8 AM and 12 PM, so make sure you plan your visit in the first part of the day. As soon as you get out of there, you can visit the Forbidden City or the National Museum of China, which are located very near.