We’d like to have the following quick guide to remain updated for the benefit of new visitors visiting the Temple of Heaven ( Tiantan 天坛） in Beijing.
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Inside the huge park, there is a lovely temple complex, which is composed of three main parts – Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, Imperial Vault of Heaven and Circular Mound Altar sitting along an axis from south to north.
The Temple of Heaven is called ‘Tiantan Park’ ( 天坛公园) in Chinese, literally meaning ‘Temple of Heaven Park”. It was first constructed in 1420, the 18th year of the reign of Ming Dynasty (1368–1644) emperor Yongle. It was the place where the emperors of the Ming Dynasty and and later Qing Dynasty (1644 to 1912) would worship the god of heaven and pray for good harvest.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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)
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
- Location: four gate areas;
- Time: 8:00 — 17:00;
- Language: Chinese, Cantonese, English, Japanese, Korean, French, German and Spanish;
- 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
- Location: South gate of the park;
- Time: 8:00 — 17:00;
- Language: Chinese and English;
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.
- 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:
Chinese version of the travel guide
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.