A Comprehensive Guide to Visiting the Temple of Heaven

Temple of Heaven

Welcome, international travelers! As you embark on your exciting Beijing tour, a visit to the majestic Temple of Heaven (天坛, Tiantan) is an absolute must. This guide serves as your essential companion in exploring one of Beijing’s most revered cultural landmarks.

Contrary to its name, the Temple of Heaven isn’t just a single temple; it’s an expansive park encompassing a stunning temple complex. Nestled within this serene expanse, you’ll find three primary structures: the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, the Imperial Vault of Heaven, and the Circular Mound Altar. These architectural marvels are beautifully aligned along a north-south axis, offering a visually harmonious experience.

Established in 1420 during the Ming Dynasty, the Temple of Heaven, or ‘Tiantan Park’ as it’s locally known, has been a pivotal site for Chinese emperors. It’s here that rulers from the Ming and subsequent Qing Dynasty would engage in sacred rituals, praying to the heavens for bountiful harvests.

Navigating this historical gem can be overwhelming, but worry not! Our “Temple of Heaven Travel Guide” is tailored to help you explore efficiently. Whether you’re curious about the best paths to take or seeking insights into the park’s rich history, this guide will be your roadmap.

Your experiences and insights are invaluable to us. Should you have any questions or wish to share updates based on your visit, we encourage you to leave a message or feedback. Together, we can ensure this guide remains a reliable resource for all future travelers.

Embrace the history, marvel at the architecture, and enjoy the tranquility of Tiantan Park. Your adventure in Beijing starts here!

Tip 1: Get up early to feel the local vibes in the park

Though everyday the temple and historical buildings within the park are open to the public basically from 8:00 till 17:00 ( subject to change due to different seasons), the park itself opens a bit earlier at 6:00 and closes at 22:00 ( again subject to change due to the seasons). Many local people have annual passes for easy access to the park.

An old man writing Chinese calligraphy with a big brush dipped in water

Getting there about 7:00 or 7:30am, especially on a Sunday morning, you will see local people, most of them are middle-aged or seniors doing various kinds of light physical activity you can imagine, like singing, dancing, playing instruments, playing chess, practising kung fu, tai chi… After 9:30 a.m. it will be slammed with group tourists.

Tai Chi

Check out the following articles for more information:
The Lively Playground at Temple of Heaven
The Long Corridor in Temple of Heaven
Morning Stroll in Temple of Heaven

Tip 2: ABC of the historical buildings in the park

Be prepared for a guidebook or hire a Beijing Tour Guide for your lifetime 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 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 Harvest.

Inside the compound, there is the circular wall, or popularly known as an echo wall which is a curve wall that creates amazing acoustics. For example, you can whisper something from one end and the voice will transmit to the other end.

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 Altar.

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

Tip 4: 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 Mound Altar – South Gate.

After your north – south tour of the temple travel route, you may turn back and go out of the east gate again and head to the Hongqiao Market across the road.

South Gate:

Start your tour by entering the south gate, then walk along the central way to visit Circular Mound Altar – the Imperial Vault of Heaven, the Hall of Prayer for Harvest – Long Corridor – North Gate or East Gate (Hongqiao Market).

Tip 5: 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 (East Gate of Temple of Heaven) and then take exit A, close to the East Gate entrance to Temple of Heaven. For the public buses to the east gate, you may try bus 6, 35, 36, 39, 41, 43…

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

Address for Temple of Heaven:
No. 7, Dongli, Tiantan Nei, Dongcheng District, Beijing Zip code: 100061
Telephone: 010-67012483 (daytime)
010-67013036 (night)

Tip 6: Opening time for the buildings and the park itself

Peak season : ( April 01- October 31 each year)
Off season : ( November 01 to March 31 of the following year )

The Park opening time
Peak season opening hours: 6:00-21:00
Off-season opening hours: 6:30-21:00
Park clearance : at 22:00

Opening time for the historical buildings inside the park
(mainly the Imperial Vault of Heaven, the Circular Mound Altar, the Imperial Vault of Heaven)
Peak season opening time: 8:00-17:30
Off-season opening time: 8:00-17:00
also including the North God cook, the North slaughtering house, the Fast House and Divine Music Administration (神乐署中和韶乐)inside the park.

The sights above are closed on Mondays (except public holidays).

Tip 7: Entrance tickets at Temple of Heaven

Basically there are two kinds of entrance tickets – Entrance ticket for the park only 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 can get into the park, see local people do morning exercises and have an outside look at the historical buildings in the park as well.

Through Ticket: The ticket charges RMB 34 (April – November) and RMB 28 (December – March). With a through ticket, you can enter the park and go to visit the three paid historic sights in the park – Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, The Imperial Vault of Heaven and the Circular Mound Altar.

1. The ticket for Divine Music Administration inside the park:10 yuan ( a separate ticket)
2. During the present pandemic period, people are requested to use Wechat App to book the tickets online. If you are not able to use Wechat, the park staff will help you use the app. If still that doesn’t work, you are still allowed to buy your tickets on the spot.
3. Its official website: Temple of Heaven Park ( only in Chinese )

Tip 8: Self-guided audio & in-person tour guides

Self-guided audio service

  1. Location: four gate areas;
  2. Time: 8:00 — 17:00;
  3. Language: Chinese, Cantonese, English, Japanese, Korean, French, German and Spanish;
  4. Rent fee:
    A) For Chinese, the deposit is 100 yuan, which will be returned to the tourist when the machine is replaced. The rent for the machine is 10 yuan.
    B) For other languages: 100 yuan deposit, return to the tourist when returning the machine; The rent for the machine is 40 yuan.

In-person tour guides

  1. Location: South gate of the park;
  2. Time: 8:00 — 17:00;
  3. Language: Chinese and English;
  4. Fees:
    A)100 yuan for five Chinese speakers ( including few than five) ; 200 yuan for more than five people.
    B.) There will be an extra charge of 50 yuan for the English speakers.
  5. Tips: The tour guide should be booked two days in advance; Contact number: 67028866 ( Tour Guide Team)

Tip 9: 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 wide and spacious 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 10: Wear Comfortable Shoes

The park is so huge.  You are advised to wear your most comfortable shoes. It’s a long walk!

Tip 11: Hassle-free Beijing Guided Tours

If you don’t want to go the do-it-yourself route and prefer the hassle-free escorted tours,  here are some options for Beijing guided tours:

Car Rental in Beijing
Beijing Day Tour
Beijing Tour Packages
Great Wall Tour
Beijing Winter Tour
Beijing Tour
China City Tours
China Tour

Chinese version of the travel guide


Further Readings

The Lively Playground at Temple of Heaven
The Long Corridor in Temple of Heaven
Morning Stroll in Temple of Heaven
Sunset Glow over Temple of Heaven
Zhonghe Shaoyue at Temple of Heaven

Tips for Visiting Tiananmen Square
Tips for visiting Summer Palace
Forbidden City Travel Tips – The Palace Museum Travel Tips

Tips for Visiting the Great Wall of China around Beijing
How to Visit Ming Tombs in Beijing
How to visit Beihai Park Beijing
How to visit Shichahai
How to visit Bird’s Nest and Water Cube
How to visit CCTV Tower in Beijing
How to Visit National Grand Theatre in Beijing
Top 10 Most Romantic Places in Beijing
How to Enjoy Beijing Nightlife
Top 10 Beijing Souvenirs
Top 10 Tourist Scams Beijing

Any questions, just drop a line.

43 thoughts on “A Comprehensive Guide to Visiting the Temple of Heaven

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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!

  4. 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

  5. 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.

  6. 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


  7. 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

  8. 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!

  9. 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?

  10. 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!

  11. Hi.
    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 .

  12. 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:

  13. Hi,
    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.

  14. 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.

  15. Hello

    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 🙂

  16. 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.

  17. Hello,

    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

  18. Hello,

    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.


  19. 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!

  20. Hi Priya,

    First take Subway Line 5 from the Station of East Temple of Heaven ( Tiantan) and get off at the station of Lama Temple ( Yonghegong)where you interchange for subway line 2 and get off at the station of Xizhimen, then again interchange for subway line 4 and get off at the station of Beigongmen , exit from Exit A1,walk to Summer Palace ,400 meters.

  21. On the 26th of june we’ll have to organise a tour through the temple of heaven park, we want to visit the temples ofcourse but we are also curious to know what else we could do with our group inside the park. Are there more activities possible next to seeing tai chi and visiting the temples?

    Thank you so much!

  22. Hi Amanda,

    Yes, come to the park in the early morning! You will see lots of the locals doing taichi, dancing, and other activities. It is a fun!

  23. Hi Sharif,

    Yes. You take subway line 5 and get off at the station of Tiantan East Gate and exit from Exit B. “Tiantan” means “Temple of Heaven”. So you will get to the East Gate to Temple of Heaven, which has four gates – east, west,north and south.

  24. I am going to Beijing in the end of this September. How is the weather? Cool or hot?

  25. Hi, how far is holiday inn express MINZUYUAN from temple of heaven? We are a grp of 6. Is it advisable to take a taxi or ride the train?

    2. How much will it cost if we ride a taxi vs train?

    3. From our hotel which station will we go to?

    Thank you.

  26. Hi Kristin,

    Holiday inn express MINZUYUAN is about 15 km north of Temple of Heaven. If taxiing, you have to use two taxis, not economical. You’d better use subway, which is very convenient starting from your hotel.

    First walk south from your hotel and then turn east to get to the Beitucheng Station (北土城) of Subway Line 10, about 650 meters away from your hotel. Get on the train going to the east direction and get off at the second station of Huixinxijie (惠新西街),then interchange for the subway line 5 and going south and get off at the 11th station of East Gate of Temple of Heaven (Tiantan Dongmen or 天坛东门), exit from Exit B and you will see the east gate of Temple of Heaven.

    Also check out the link below ( How to Take subway in Beijing ):


    Have a nice time!

  27. Hello,

    I have an 8 hour layover at Beijing and wanted to visit the Temple of Heaven. Our flight arrives on a Saturday at 5:20am and our departing flight is at 1:25pm. How long would it take to go from Beijing airport to the Temple of Heaven by subway? Would it be faster to take a taxi? And is there anywhere nearby we can grab something to eat?

    Thank you!

  28. Hi Judy,

    To save your time, you’d better taxi from the aorport to Temple of Heaven. The taxi ride time depends on the traffic at that time, and basically it takes over one hour. You can grab a bite at the restaurants at the airport such as McDonald’s or other western food.

  29. We arrive at the airport on the 19th at 2:00 pm will i have time to drop my bags at China world hotel and be able to get tickets for the temple of heaven
    Is the forbidden city open on Sundays.
    Any suggestions would be appreciated

  30. Can you please clarify if I am able to get really close to those three buildings till 20.00 if I do not want to enter those?or can I get close to them till 17.00 only?and is it possible to get tickets online?thank you.

  31. Dear Radkulena,

    Thanks for your inquiry!

    In peak season ( April – October ):

    06:00 – 21:00 for the main entrance ticket to the park, the same time you can get close to the three buildings;
    0800 – 17:00 for the entrance to the three buildings inside the park.

    So you can get close to the buildings till 21:00.

    Just a kind reminder: you’d better get to Temple of Heaven a bit early to secure your tickets. No online English version booking websites. Basically it is very to easy buy your ticket at the ticket booth by the gate. Have a nice time!

  32. Hi, can you please give me your ideas on my plan that I’ve booked & what would you advise as in times & travel options.

    We are staying in the 161 courtyard hotel.
    On the 4th October we have tickets for the temple of heaven & the summer palace.
    We go to the temple of heaven first because it closes before the summer palace.

    We get a taxi to the temple of heaven arrive at 9am stay till 1pm how much would that cost from the hotel?
    We want to go to the market in the east side & hopefully get a quick bite to eat & leave at 2pm In a taxi to the summer palace hopefully arrive at 3pm or earlier, also how much would that taxi cost?
    We plan to stay there till 8pm (closing) & get a taxi back to the hotel , again how much would that cost?

    Open to your thoughts & if you would change anything.

    We are doing this on the 4th October & are aware that it maybe busy due to holidays.

    Looking forward to your response & sorry for the long message.

    Your message response will be much appreciated.

    Thank you 🙂

  33. Dear Liam,

    Thanks for your inquiry!

    1. Taxis ride from 161 courtyard hotel to Temple of Heaven
    As far as I know, there are several hotels in the name of 161 courtyard hotel ( Wangfujing, Lama Temple, Beihai, Hulu…), Which one?
    If Wangfujing, it costs about 30 yuan ( 10 km );
    If Beihai, it costs about 30 yuan ( 10 km ).
    Note: it is better to take a taxi to the southen entrance to Temple of Heaven. Then walk to the east gate and exit. Take a taxi from the east gate to the market.
    There are many activties in the area within the east gate. Don’t miss it.

    2. Temple of Heaven East Gate taxi to Silk Market ( you mean the market in the east?)
    The taxi costs about 30 yuan ( 10 km )

    3. Taxi ride from Silk Market to Summer Palace ( East Gate)
    The taxi ride costs about 80 yuan ( 25 km )

    4. Taxi back to your hotel ( 161 )
    The taxi ride costs about 55 yuan ( 17 km )

    The taxi prices above are just for your reference. The actual prices will be a little higher due to the traffic jam which also will cost you some amount of money for the waiting time.

    Enjoy your trip!

  34. Hi! Will temple of heaven be open the last week of September? Do we need to buy tickets in advance? Thanks!

  35. Dear Janet Jaspe,

    Thanks for your inquiry! Yes, it is open. Basically you can buy your tickets on the sport. Have a nice trip!

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