Beijing Botanical Garden
With 3,000 different types of plants contained in a conservatory, the Beijing Botanical Gardens are set against the spectacular backdrop of the western hills. Enjoy the various themed gardens or seek out the varying bamboos, lilacs, lotuses, pines, roses, magnolias, cherries, peaches, crepe myrtles … the list goes on! Temples , memorials and a cemetery also form part of the botanical gardens. A divinely fragrant place to visit! Xiangshan Wofosi, Beijing. Telephone 6259 1283.
Fragrant Hills Park
Fragrant Hills Park is 30 kilometres northwest of the city. Built in 1186 in the Jin Dynasty and in 1745 Emperor Qianlong added halls, pavilions and gardens and renamed it as Jingyi Garden. Due to fire and war a lot of the original works have been destroyed. In the autumn red leaves cover the mountain. One route to explore the park is to take the north route passing the Spectacles Lake and Bright Temple built in 1780 as the residence for the sixth Panchen Lama. The southern route passes the Tranquility Green Lake, Fragrant Temple and the highest peak the Incense Burner Peak. The Shuangqing Villa was once the residence of Chairman Mao Zedong and is in the park. Xishan Hill, Haidian District (6259 1155).
Beihai Park was the royal garden of the Jin, Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties with a lake and paddleboats that can be rented. Behai Park was originally home to a Palace constructed by Kublai Khan in the 13 th Century, all that remains is the enormous green jade Jar used for his wine storage now found in the Round City. Jade Isle is across the bridge from the Round City and full of lotus flowers in the summer. At the foot of the hill is Yong’an Temple and at the top is the White Dagoba erected in 1651 in honour of the Dalai Lama. Around the Jade Isle is the Painted Gallery verandah, near where the boats dock is the Hall of Rippling Waters and the well known Fangshan Restaurant. The north side of the Beihai is reached by boat form the Five Dragon Pavilion. 1 Wenjin St., Xicheng District (6403 1102).
Coal Hill is a park with the Ten Thousand Springs Pavilion created using the soil dug out to create the moat for the Forbidden City. In central Beijing stands Coal Hill, immediately to the north of the Forbidden City , and in the Xicheng District. Originally built in the Yongle era of the Ming Dynasty from the dirt excavated from the moats of the Imperial Palace and canals, this 45 metre high artificial hill was an imperial garden known as Jingshan Park . Chongzhen, the last emperor of the Ming Dynasty is said to have committed suicide there by hanging himself in 1644. 1 Wenjin Street, Xicheng District (6404 4071)
If you wish to experience some local culture, Ditan Park and the Temple of the Earth holds a traditional temple fair in spring at which you can see folk dancing and songs performed. The festival includes the sale of various arts and crafts and is a popular place to practice tai ji quan, or shadow boxing. Originally built in 1520 as a sacrificial altar to the earth god, the two-story worship terrace was off limits to ordinary citizens until 1911. The closest train stations are An Ding Men or Yong He Gong. A2 An Ding Men Wai Avenue, Beijing. 6421 4657.
Containing 17 hectares (seven of those being water), Liuyin Park is situated to the west of Andingmen Waidajie. Built to resemble the Chinese countryside, and possibly the only park in Beijing showing rural scenery, it holds thatched pavilions, willow trees, bamboo, lotus flowers and fruit trees. The centre of the lake contains an island on which wild ducks nest and birdlife is abundant. Squirrels, magpies and nightingales are also a regular attraction. Liuyin Park can easily be reached from Andingmen subway station (a 10 minute walk), or by using bus numbers 108 or 104 to Jiangzhaikou station. Jiangzhaikou, Andingmenwai, Dongcheng District, Beijing. 8413 1357.
Also known as Dragon Pool Park , Longtanhu Park was opened in 1952 and is spread over almost half a square kilometre of land, nearly one third of which is taken up by the Dragon Pool Lake . The well landscaped gardens and lake shores provide a sense of tranquillity to the visitor, with its footbridges and carved dragons, together with open spaces, flowers and trees. It contains the Dragon Gate, the Flying Dragon Pavilion, the Green Dragon Bridge, badminton courts, roller skating and Beijing's reputedly tallest climbing wall. 8 Longtanhu Lu, Chongwen District. 6714 4336.
Have fun with all of the family at this aquatic park. Containing a huge twin pool area, manned by lifeguards and with first aid equipment at the ready, the park has 11 water slides and various kiddies' recreational facilities including bumper cars. It also contains a split-level driving range for the golfers. Andingmenwai Dajie, Dongcheng District (8413 2757).
Located in Beijing 's central business district, north of Yongangli and Jianguomen subway stations, is Ritan Park and the Temple of the Sun. Dating back to the 16 th century, the emperor made sacrificial offerings to his sun god on the altar. Today, though, it is a beautiful green space containing facilities for children such as trampolines, a merry-go-round, a fishing pond, mini golf and also various food outlets and bars for the adults. Ritan Park, 6 Ritan Beilu, Chaoyang. 8561 6301.
Taoranting Park is in the south of the city with a lake and pavilions.
Tiantan Park is more than just a park as it contains the Temple of Heaven and Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest. Amongst Beijing 's finest buildings, the Hall is 38 metres high and almost 30 metres in diameter and was built without the use of a single nail. Located a good 25 minute walk from the Chong wen Men subway station, it is probably best to take a cab to get there. Tiantan Park (Temple of Heaven ), Yongdingmen Dajie, Chongwen District. 6702 8866.
Inside the park is a water park with a beach and wave along with a roller skating park. 16 Tuanjiehu Nanli, Chaoyang District (8597 3603).
Yuyuantan Park is a great place to take children in Beijing . Centred around a lake, it has an aquatic park, lots of child-friendly entertainment and you can hire bicycles there. In April each year, Yuyuantan Park is host to a cherry blossom festival showcasing its beautiful cherry and magnolia blossoms. Its 136 hectares contain over 2,000 different types of trees.
Located west of Tiananmen Square at the southern end of Sanlihe Road, China 's CCTV Tower stands at the east gate of the park. A further 200 metres to the south of the park is the China Millennium Monument . Parking is not available, so it's best to get there by bus, taxi or subway. When you're ready to leave, you can catch a boat along the canal to the Summer Palace from close to the park's south gate. Xisanhuan Road (near CCTV Tower ), Haidian District. 8865 3804/6.
Explore the canals and lakes by boat or ice chair and plenty of bamboo. 45 Baishiqiao Lu, Haidian District (6842 5851).
A formal park with a Sun Yat-sen statue, bamboo groves, covered walkways. Boats and iced chairs can be rented to travel along the Forbidden City’s moat. Tian’anmen Gate (6605 5431).