Tips for Visiting the Temple of Heaven

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Map of the Temple of Heaven from

Plan your Beijing tour? Temple of Heaven is a big draw in Beijing. The name of the Temple of Heaven is a little misleading. It is more than just a temple, it is a huge park as well. Inside the huge park, there is a lovely temple complex, which is composed of three main parts – Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, the Imperial Vault of Heaven and Circular Mound Altar sitting along an axis from south to north.

Temple of Heaven is called “Tiantan ParK” in Chinese, literally meaning “Temple of Heaven Park”.It was first constructed in 1420, the 18th year of the reign of Ming emperor Yongle. It was the place where the emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties would worship the god of heaven and pray for good harvest.

Tip # 01: Get up early to see and feel the locals in the park
Though everyday the temple and historical buildings within the park are open to the public from 8:00 till 17:00,  the park itself opens at 6:00 till 22:00. Many local people have yearly tickets for easy access to the park. Get there about 7:00 or 7:30am, especially on a sunday morning.

You will see local people, most of them are middle aged or older people doing various kinds of light physical activity you can imagine, like singing, dancing, playing instruments, playing chess, practicing kung fu, tai chi… After 9:30 a.m. it will be slammed with group tourists and is barely worth the subway trip.

Practicing Sword, in Temple of Heaven Park,

Practicing Sword, in Temple of Heaven Park,

Tip # 02: Acquaint yourself with the historical buildings in the park
Be prepared for a guidebook or hire a Beijing Tour Guide for your life long trip to the temple complex in the park.

Three historical buildings are not missed from north to south, namely the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, the Imperial Vault of Heaven and Circular Mound Altar.The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests: where the emperors sacrificed animals and burned incense sticks to pray for good weather for the crops

the Hall of Pray for Harvest above the Wall

the Hall of Pray for Harvest above the Wall

The Red Stairway Bridge: The histoiral buildings are connected by a 360 metre long raised walk called the Red Step Bridge (Danbiqiao), are arranged in a line forming a north south axis 1,200 meters long, and flanked by century-old cypresses in a spacious area.

The Imperial Vault of Heaven: A single gabled circular building, built on a single level of marble stone base. It is located south of the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvet. Inside the compound, a circular wall, an echo wall. where you can whisper something from one end and the voice will transmit to the other end.

Imperial Vault of Heaven under the sunset glow

Imperial Vault of Heaven under the sunset glow

Circular Mound Altar: Used to worship Heaven at the winter solstice where the principal construction is a large round marble terrace named the Circular Mound.

The distant view of the Circular Mound Altar under the sunset glow

The distant view of the Circular Mound Altar under the sunset glow

Tip # 03: Don’t miss the Cypress Grove
Always keep in mind that here is a huge park, a huge garden. Old cypress trees are worth having a close look. Some of the cypresses are more than 600 years old. Dr Henry Kissinger, when he visited the temple, stated that while the USA could recreate the Temple of Heaven if it desired, it could not create the trees!

the Cypress Grove

the Cypress Grove

Tip # 04: Choose the right entrance
Originally the Temple of Heaven had only one main gate, which faced west, but after it was made a public park in 1949, entrances were also opened on the northern, southern and eastern sides. So now it mainly has four gates – East, South, West and North. Both East Gate and South Gate are highly recommended.

East Gate: If you want to see the local people engaged in all kinds of morning activities, you are advised to enter the east gate since most of the morning activities are carried out around the east gate area. The East Gate entrance is also close to the subway line 05. If you enter the east gate, then your walking itinerary would be east gate – long corridor – The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest – The Imperial Vault of Heaven – Circular Moun Altar – South Gate. After your north – south tour of the temple, you may turn back and go out of the east gate and head to the Hongqiao Market across the road.

South Gate: Start your tour by entering the south gate, then walk along Danbiqiao raised way to visit Circular Mound Altar – The Imperial Vault of Heaven, The Hall of Prayer for Harvest – Long Corridor – East Gate – Hongqiao Market.Tip # 05: How to get to the Temple of Heaven
If you visit the Temple of Heaven through the east gate, you take subway line 5 to Tiantan Dongmen Station and take exit A. The East Gate entrance is right there. For the public buses to the east gate, you may try bus 6, 35, 36, 39, 41, 43…

If you use south gate, you take a taxi or take bus 36, 120, 122, 800, 803, 958

Tip # 06: Aware of the daily opening time both for the historical buidlings and the park itself
The park opens at 6am and closes at 8pm. The historical buildings opens 8am and closes around 5:00pm like The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, The Imperial Vault of Heaven and the Circular Mound Altar. For the exact opening time in different seasons are listed below:

The main buildings inside the park
From March 1 to June 30: 8:00 – 17:30
From July 1 to October 31: 8:- 18:00
From November 1 to February 28: 8:00 – 17:00
Kindly reminder: Through tickets selling is stopped at 16:00

Tip #07 Two kinds of entrance tickets at Temple of Heaven
There are two kinds of entrance tickets – Entrance ticket for the park and through tickets for entering the park as well the three main historical buildings within the park.

Entrance Ticket:  An entrance ticket charges RMB 15 (April – November) and RMB 10 (December – March). With the ticket, you to get into the park, see local people do morning exercises.

Through Ticket: The ticket charges RMB 35 (April – November) and RMB 30 (December – March). With a through ticekt, you can enter the park and go to visit the three areas in the park – Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, The Imperial Vault of Heaven and the Circular Mound Altar.

Ticket Type Prices
  Entrance Ticket RMB 10 (December to March), RMB 15 ( April  to November)
   Half Price Ticket RMB 5 (December to March), RMB 8 ( April  to November) (students and seniors over 70)
Through Ticket RMB 30 (December to March), RMB 35 ( April  to November)(including the entries to the three areas – Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, The Imperial Vault of Heaven and the Circular Mound Altar)
 Kids under 1.2 meters high  Free of Charge
Tip # 08: Dress for the Hot Weather
Though there are many trees in the park. all the trees are lined on the both sides of the north-south axis. So no single tree on your axis trip – Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, The Imperial Vault of Heaven and the Circular Mound. For summer time, be ready to bring an umbrella for sun protection, bottles of water, and comfy walking shoes. Check Beijing Climate for more information.

Tip # 8 Wear Comfortable Shoes

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21 Responses to “Tips for Visiting the Temple of Heaven”

  1. Barbara says:


    How much time would we need to see the park and its halls?

  2. admin says:

    Normally, people would spend 2 hours visting the Tmeple of Heaven. If time permitted, you are recommended to visit the temple park in the early morning to see the locals doing morning activities.

  3. marya says:

    Do you think at 30st September, there would be very busy to visit? Our flight from Beijing is at 3 pm and we want to visit temple in morning.

  4. admin says:

    Hello Marya,

    Yes, it will be very busy due to the 8-day holiday starting from Sept 30 to Oct 7, 2012. You may visit Temple of Heaven at an earlier hour. The park itself is open at 6:00am and the main buildings inside the park are open at 8:00am. You are advised to take subway line 5 to Tiantan Dongmen Station ( East Temple of Heaven 天坛东门站) and exit from Exit A. The East Gate entrance is right there. Again take subway back to your hotel to avoid possible traffic congestion.

    If you don’t have much luggage or you can manage your luggage on the way, you are also advised to take subway line 2 and interchange for Airport Express for airport, faster and more punctual than taking a taxi though the subway is very crowded. Have a good time!

  5. Narimon says:

    I plan to see Luduoqiao too
    But I can’t find from the Map.
    Pls suggest the place and how to go there ,how long to get there too.
    Thank you verymuch

  6. admin says:

    Hello Narimon,

    Are you sure you want to go to Luduoqiao? I think you have misspelled the location. It should be Lugouqiao (卢沟桥 in Chinese ). You may take the public bus No.458 from Beijing South Railway Station and get off at Lugouqiao (about 34km). But Lugouqiao is not the final stop for Bus line 458.

  7. Amalia Megremi says:

    How can I get from Beijing Capital Airport (Terminal 3) to the Double Tree by Hilton Hotel at Xi Cheng District Beijing by metro or by bus?

    Also can you inform me how can I get from this hotel to the Fragrant Hills and to the Temple of Great Bell?

    Thank you in advance for your communication


  8. admin says:

    Hello Amalia,

    The distance from Beijing Capital Airport (Terminal 3) to the Double Tree by Hilton Hotel is about 36km, approx. taxi fare: RMB 120.
    Or you may take the airport shuttle bus no.7 which will pass by the main street of Guanganmen Waidajie (广安门外大街)
    Remark: you hotel is located at 168, Guanganmen Waidajie, Xicheng District, Beijing. Just you tell your bus driver you are going to get off at the the Double Tree by Hilton Hotel by showing the Chinese Address – 广安门外大街168号 ( Double Tree by Hilton Hotel – 北京希尔顿逸林酒店). If you ar lucky, the driver will stop at the place near your hotel.

    The Double Tree by Hilton Hotel to the Fragrant Hills about 27km, approx. taxi fare: RMB90. If you use public transport (subway or bus), it is too complicated (5 connections subway or bus) and a bit challenging for you, not suggested.

    The Double Tree by Hilton Hotel to the Temple of Great Bell( 大钟寺) about 11km, about taxi fare:RMB35

  9. sandesh says:

    How to go miaoying temple?

  10. Daniel says:

    Hello sandesh,

    Miaoying Temple is also popularly known as “White Stupa Temple” or “White Pagoda Temple” named after the famed largest white stupa in China. It is on the west of Beijing with its address at:
    No.171, Fuchengmennei Street in Xicheng District of Beijing.

    Just take subway line 2 and get off at the station of Fuchengmen (阜成门) and exit from the Exit B and walk to the east direction along Fuchengmennei Street (阜成门内大街) for anout 20 minutes, you will see the temple on your left side. Have a good day!

  11. NM says:

    End December still one can visit main places in beijeing ?
    Which hotel will be more central Novoteleace or grand hayyat?
    I will be there for 4 days with my family what should I not miss?
    Any suggestions?

  12. Daniel says:

    Hello Nm,

    Sure, all the major attractions are open all year around though most of them stop selling tickets around 3:30pm in winter due to the early winter sunset around 4:40pm. In my opinion, both Novoteleace and grand hayyat are centrally located.

    On your 4-day tour, you should not miss Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, Temple of Heaveen, Summer Palace and Mutianyu Great Wall. Also you may watch Kung Fu Show, or Beijing Opera and eat Beijing duck. Have a good time in Beijing!

  13. Mike says:

    I arrive late on friday night (23:00) and depart at 0930 on Saturday, 10 hours. Do you have any suggestion for what I can see/do? Any recommendation for a good place to eat? Thank you for your assistance .

  14. Daniel says:

    Hello Mike,

    Oh, ye, it is a bit too late for activities at such late hours. We have two suggestions for you anyway.

    1) Go to Ghost Street ( Guijie ) for night snack or dinner.
    See the two links below about Ghost Street:

    2) Shichahai ( also popularly known as Back Lakes or Hou Hai )
    See the two links below about Shichahai or Houhai Bar Street:

  15. Eddy says:

    Can we bring our bags with us when we want to visit Temple of Heaven? Or is there a place near the entrance to save our bags? Do I need to pay money to save the bags?
    Thank you in advance.

  16. Daniel says:

    Hello Eddy,

    As far as I know, nobody will stop you if you visit Temple of Heaven with your bags. It seems there are no luggage deposits by the entrance.

  17. Adriana says:


    We are arriving at Beijing at 2 pm and we were wondering if it will be a good idea to go to the Temple of Heaven straight after we check in in the hotel. We are staying at the Imperial Courtyard which is located at No.16 Huayuandongxiang Dongcheng. will it be enough time?

    We never been there and we have limited time.

    Thanks for your help and suggestions :)

  18. Daniel says:

    Hello Adriana,

    Personally, I think it is preferable to go from Beijing airport straight to the Temple of Heaven since the ticketing office at Temple of Heaven stops selling tickets at 4:30 pm. Given the time in and out the airport, the transfer from the airport to your hotel and your hotel to the Temple of Heaven, it is better to go directly from Beijing airport to the Temple of Heaven.

  19. Kim says:


    We will be arriving in Beijing on Sunday 7th September at 5am. After checking in to our hotel, the Holiday Inn, Downtown Beijing we would like to go to the Temple of Heaven. Which is the best route to get there by subway? or would we be better getting a taxi as it will still be quite early?
    Many thanks

  20. Patrick says:


    I’ll be having a stopover in Beijing on Sunday 21st December from 6.15am till 1.40pm.
    What do you request for that time? Is ist possible to e.g. visit the Temple of Heaven? What train lines do I have to take to get there?
    I’m flying Air China, so I guess I’ll be landing at terminal 3. Do I need a visum for a possible trip?

    Thanks for your answers. I’ll hope to do something nice with the free time.


  21. Daniel says:

    Hello Patrick,

    1) If you have a connecting air-ticket for a third country from Beijing, you are eligible for the 72 hour visa free policy and you don’t need a visa. Just go to the counter for transit passenger and get your permit for your stay in Beijing ( up to 72 hours ).

    2. Given your short time in Beijing, you may visit one or two attractions in Beijing. If you want to visit Temple of Heaven, you first take the airport express train from T3 to the final stop of Dongzhimen (东直门), then interchange for subway line 2 ( loop line) and go in the south direction and get off at 6th station of Chongwenmen (崇文门), then again interchange for Subway line 5 and go in the south direction and get off at the second station of East Temple of Heaven (天坛东门) and exit, you will see the East Gate of Temple of Heaven.

    If you take a taxi from the airport to Temple of Heaven, it is a 33km drive with a fare of RMB 120 ( about 45 minutes ).

    Have a good time in Beijing!

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