Archive for the ‘Beijing Tour Reviews’ Category

How to visit Beihai Park Beijing

Friday, November 27th, 2020
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Plan your Beijing tour? Overshadowed by its neighbour – Forbidden City ( Palace Museum ), Beihai Park is very often neglected by many visitors. Often dubbed as Winter Palace by westerners, Beihai Park  is the oldest imperial garden in the world as well as one of the largest in China.

“Beihai” literally means “north sea”. In the past, the royal families pompously called all the lakes “sea” in connection with the imperial court.

Beihai Park used to be part of the imperial garden called “Xiyuan” in Qing Dynasty meaning “West Garden” due to its location just outside Forbidden City on its west.

Originally built in 1166 in the sixth year of the Reign of Jin Dading during Jin Dynasty (1115–1234 ) , the huge park was repaired and rebuilt in the successive dynasties including Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties (1125 – 1644). It was first opened to the public in 1925.

Nine-Dragon Screen in Beihai Park

The building of Beihai Park was the result of many emperors’dream of finding a secret potion that was the elixir of life by resembling the three magic mountains called Penglai, Yingzhou and Fangzhang on the sea where the gods who lived there were believed to have a secret potion for immortal life. So Beihai Park was laid out in the form of one pool and three “mountains”.

The White Dagoba on Qionghua Islebecomes an important landmark of the city.

It was said that Cixi Dowager often stayed in a palace between Nanhai and Zhonghai, and had meals or entertained foreign friends or her favorite officials in Jingxin House on the north shore of Beihai Park.

Now Beihai Park is open to the public. But Zhonghai and Nanhai combined called “Zhonghanhai”, is where the top Chinese officials work and live.

Beihai Park is well known for its beautiful gardens, the maze in the stone cave, temples and pavilions. Atop the Jade Island in Beihai Park, the White Dagoba becomes an important landmark of the city. Beihai Park is worth being listed on your first time trip to Beijing if time permits. Then how to visit it?

Tip # 01: Have a basic knowledge of its layout

Beihai Park Map from www.maps-of-china

Beihai Park is located just 10 minutes’ walk to the northeast of Forbidden City in the center of Beijing. Half of the park is taken up by water.

It adjoins Zhongnanhai (Zhonghai and Nanhai) on the south, Shichahai area on the north and the Jingshan (Coal Hill) on the east. The major attractions in the former imperial park mainly fall on five parts – Qiongdao ( Jade Isle ), East Shore and North Shore, Circular City and Arboretum. It has 4 main gates – the south gate, west gate, east gate and north gate  ( also known as back gate).

Main Attractions in the park:

1)Circular City
2)Haopujian Garden
3)Qionghua Isle (Jade Island)
4)Quiet Heart (Jingxin) Studio
5)Nine Dragon Screen
6)Five Dragon Pavilions

Tip # 02: Enter the Park though the right gate

So there are mainly 4 entrance gates, which one you should use? This all depends on your Travel Schedule. Its North Gate is also known as Back Gate. Below is my suggested travel plan including Beihai Park:

1) Tiananmen Square – Forbidden City – (South Main Gate) Beihai Park – Beihai Park (Exit from North Gate) – Houhai (Shichahai) – Drum Tower   Lama Temple

2) Tiananmen Square – Forbidden City – Jingshan Park – (East Gate) Beihai Park – Beihai Park (Exit from North Gate) – Houhai (Shichahai)

3) Lama Temple – Shichahai – Beihai Park (north gate) – Qiongdao – Circular City – (Exit South Main Gate) Beihai Park

4) (South Main gate) Beihai Park – Qiongdao – (Exit from north gate) Beihai Park – Houhai ( Shichahai )

Tip # 03: Best time to go in a day

In a day, morning is the best time to visit Beihai Park. As you know, Beijing is at its best in the mornings. There is a relaxing feel around the place.You will see many people doing morning exercises, singing, dancing. Some old men practice with their swords; others write on the ground with big brushes!

Doing Tai Chi in Beihai Park in the early morning, Beijing

Stroll around Beihai Park in the morning and get an immersive look into the lives of ordinary People in Beijing. You are also welcome to join them singing, dancing and exercising , as local Beijing people.

Tip # 04: Best Time to go in a year

People like the park all year round. In winter, it becomes one of the biggest skating rinks in the Beijing. In summer, the park is a popular retreat and a getaway away from heat in summer.

In spring, Beihai Park is immersed in the sea of flowers. In autumn, enjoy the beautiful scenery of Beihai Lake and Qionghua Island with blue sky.

Tip # 05: Have a bite at Beihai Fangshan Restaurant

The famous Beijing Fangshan Restaurant is located on Qingdao Isle in the park. Entering the East Gate and step on the Qingdao Isle and turn right along the corridor, you will find the world famous restautant offeing court food.

Beijing Fangshan Restaurant

“Fang” means imitation, “Shan” means “meals for the Emperor”.
Sales Dept.:(010)64011879 64011889 64042573 Office: (010)64043481|
Fax: (010)64041184

Tip # 06: How to get there

North Gate (Back Gate: take Subway Line 6 ; Take bus No.13, 42, 107, 111, 118, 612, 701 ;

East Gate: take No.5 and get off at West Banqiao station

South Gate and West Gate: take 5, 101, 103, 109, 124, 128, Zhuan 1, Zhuan 2 and get off at Beihai Station

Blend your visit to Forbidden City or Jinshan Park with the tour of Beihai park: Enter at the south entrance of the Forbidden City and then exit at the north gate. Turn left and head towards Beihai park in about 10 minutes.

Tip # 07: Entrance fees and opening time

Opening Time
6:30 am to 8:30 pm: April, May, September, and Octorber
6:30 am to 10:00 pm: June, July, and August
6:30 am to 8:00 pm: January, February, March, November and December

Entrance Ticket
(General Entry for the Park)
RMB 5 (Jan, Feb, Mar, Nov and Dec )
RMB 10 (April – October)

Beihai Park Through Ticket
( including inside pay sights: Qionghua Islet and Circular City) :
RMB 20 ( April – October ); RMB 15 ( Jan, Feb, Mar, Nov and Dec );

Boating Service

The Taiye Pool in Beihai Park, whose water comes from Yuquan Mountain, is clean and suitable for boating and enjoying the cool air. It is a rare natural water body for boating in Beijing city.

Cartoon battery boat: RMB 160 / hour (Deposit: RMB 500)

Rowing boat: RMB 40 / person for half an hour; 60 yuan per person per hour

Big gaily decorated Boat: One-way Ferry RMB 20 /person

Ferry Boat: 10 yuan/person; 15 yuan/round trip

Further Readings

Top 10 Attractions in Beijing
How to Visit Forbidden City
How to Visit Temple of Heaven
How to Visit Summer Palace
How to Visit Ming Tombs
How to Visit the Great Wall of China
How to Visit Tiananmen Square
How to Visit Hutongs
How to Visit Olympic Sites

Top 10 Markets in Beijing
Top 10 Shopping Malls in Beijing
Beijing Shopping

Wangfujing Night Snack Street
Qianmen Commercial Street
Beijing Huguosi Street

Wacth the Sunset in Beihai Park
Night View of Beihai Park

Any questions, just  drop a line.

Jingshan Park not to be missed

Wednesday, November 18th, 2020
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Plan your Beijing tour? A visit to Jingshan Park is not to be missed during your tour in Beijing.

Jingshan Park Location

Jingshan just sits across the north gate to Forbidden City. After finishing your visit to Forbidden City along the south to north official visiting route, you exit from Forbidden City’s north gate.

Exiting from the north gate and raising your head, you will find a pavilion with three-layered eaves perched on a hill. The hill is called Jingshan Hill ( Coal Hill or prospect Hill). The Jingshan Hill and its surrounding complex is known as “Jingshan Park”.

Jingshan Park add: No.44 Jingshanxi Street, Xicheng District, Beijing 北京西城区景山西街44号(故宫后门对面).

Jingshan Hill

The main road between the north gate area of Forbidden City and the south gate of Jingshan Park is fully blocked. To get across to the south gate to Jingshan Park, you just turn left for 20 meters and take the underground pass.

Entrance Fees

Line up for the tickets: RMB 2 per person (RMB10 per person during Peony Festival April and May).

Opening Hours

06:30-21:00; Closing time :20:30 (Monday – Sunday; April 1 – October 31)

06:30-20:00; Closing time :19:30 (Monday – Sunday; November 1 – March 31, Next year )

How to get to Jingshan Park by bus?

Jingshan Park has three gates. Apart from the southern gate just across Forbidden City, there are two more gates – the East Gate and West Gate. From the west gate, you can walk to Beihai Park.

Arriving at the East Gate: take 111, 124, 210 and get off at Jingshan East Gate Station;

Getting to the South Gate: take Bus 101, 103, 109, 124, 202, 211, 609, 619, 685, Zhuan 1, Zhuan 2 and get off at the Forbidden City Station.

Arriving at the west gate: take 5, 609 and get off at West Banqiao station.

Climb up Jingshan Hill after visiting Forbidden City

After exiting from the northern gate to Forbidden City, enter the south gate to Jingahan Park and follow your nose up the top of the hill and get to the pavilion named Wanchun Pavilion perched high on the hill.

It takes you about 5-10 minutes’ walk along a zigzag stone steps up to the summit. Standing on the pavilion, you are able to have a bird’s-eye view of Beijing city at a great distance.   

Have a panoramic view of Forbidden City

Look north to view the Central Axis of Beijing.

Look north to view the Central Axis of Beijing

Looking down east to view Beijing Business Center (CBD)

Looking down east to view Beijing Business Center (CBD)

Where the last Ming Dynasty Emperor Chongzhen hanged himself.

After enjoying the exciting panoramic view, you don’t have to go back the same road. Instead, you follow the throng down eastward to see the place where the last Ming Dynasty Emperor Chongzhen hanged himself.

Since the hanging spot is close to the east gate to Jingshan park, you may exit from the east gate.

The place where Emperor Chongzhen who hanged himself

Wanchun Pavilion at the top of Jingshan Park

The Wanchun Pavilion at the top of Jingshan Mountain is also the best night shot in Beijing. Standing at the top, you can have good shoots of the night views of Beijing from four different directions. Of course, you can also beautiful photos of Beijing sunrises and sunsets.

Forbidden City under sunset glow viewed from Wanchun Pavilion on the hilltop in Jingshan Park

Forbidden City under sunset glow

Beijing business district CBD night view in the east.

Beijing CBD

Night view of the north central axis of Beijing.

Looking at the North of Beijing – Drum Tower and Olympic Park

Looking at the west of Beijing – West Hill, CCTV Tower and White Pagoda.

Looking at the west of Beijing – West Hill, CCTV Tower and White Pagoda

Chinese version of the travel guide:


More travel articles about Jingshan Park

Best Spot for Night Photography Beijing
See the sunrise from the hilltop of Jingshan Park
See the sunset from the hilltop of Jingshan Park

Further Readings

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.

Tips for visiting Summer Palace

Wednesday, November 11th, 2020
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Plan your Beijing Tour? Summer Palace was a royal palace in later Qing Dynasty, only secondary to Forbidden City ( now the Palace Museum ).

Summer Palace is actually not just a royal palace where once Princess Dowager Cixi and the emperors lived and handled court affairs in later Qing Dynasty, accepted laudation and received foreign diplomats during their stay in Summer Palace.

It also epitomizes classical Chinese architecture, in terms of both garden design and construction. It is the largest royal garden in Beijing, now a good retreat for holiday makers.

Summer Palace Tourist map from

Tip # 01: How to schedule your visit

Normally it takes about 2 or3 hours to walk around Summer Palace itself. With your time on the city transportation included, you are advised to allocate at least half a day here. Summer Palace presents itself with different views for different seasons.

Winter sees people skiing on the Kunming Lake; Spring time finds people breathe under fresh trees and flowers; Summer time often sees Summer Palace set in a foggy day like a beautiful “water and mountain” Chinese scroll painting and Autumn is the best time walking around Summer Palace, clear and blue sky with comfortable weather.

Tip # 02: How to get to Summer Palace

Summer Palace has three major entry gates
1) East Gate ( Main Gate ), also called “East Palace Gate” 东宫门
2) North Gate, also called “Beigongmen, or North Palace Gate” 北宫门
3) South Gate, also known as “New Palace Gate” 新建宫门

By Subway
1. Subway Line 4:
Take subway line 4 to the northwest direction and get off at the last but one station — Beigongmen Station ( or North Gate 北宫门) and exit from Exit D and walk to the west, soon you will see the north gate ( Beigongmen Gate )to Summer Palace 颐和园 (entrance fee:RMB30) on your left side.

2. Subway Line 10
Take subway line 10 to Bagou station at the end of Line 10, and then get a taxi from outside the station to the South Gate, or also known as New Palace Gate (新建宫门). Or you may just walk for about 1.5km from Bagou Station to the New Palace Gate.

Get off Bagou Station, follow your nose, you will meet a river, then turn right and walk along the river bank till the New Palace Gate of Summer Palace.

If confused upon which way to go upon leaving the subway, just follow the crowd.

Public Bus:
Buses via the East Gate ( Main Gate) to the Summer Palace (颐和园正门, 东宫门)Bus 330、331、332、346、394、712、718、726、732、737、801、808、817、826

Buses via the North Gate to the Summer Palace (北宫门)Bus 303、330、331、346、375、384、393、634、716、718、737、801、808、817、834、Express 5

Buses via New Palace Gate ( or South Gate) to the Summer Palace (新建宫门)Bus 374、437、481、952、704、992

Taxi Fare
A taxi from Beijing city center will cost about RMB 80 and take about 50 minutes without much traffic.

As you finish your tour and exit, you will find some taxi drivers are reluctant or even refuse to use the meter, only do a set rate, and most don’t want to go all the way back to Beijing at all, so this can be troublesome.

Tip # 04: Opening Time:

High Season (From April 1 to Oct. 31)
Open: 6:30
Tickets stop selling at 18:00;
Close: 20:00

Low Season (From Nov. 1 to Mar. 31 next year)
Open: 7:00
Tickets stop selling at 17:00;
Close: 19:00

Tip # 04: Buy a correct entrance ticket

Three kinds of tickets
1) Entrance ticket for the huge park itself.
2) Combo ticket both for the park and also for the pay attractions inside the park.
3) Free Tickets: Foreign tourists aged 60 or above can exchange tickets with their passports; Children under the age of 6 (including 6 years old) or under the height of 1.2 meters (including 1.2 meters) with valid documents are free of charge.

Note: also the ticket prices are divided onto two categories – Low Season ad Peak Season.

Summer Palace Admission
30 yuan (peak season)
20 yuan (off-season)

Summer Palace Combo ticket
60 Yuan (peak season)
50 yuan (off-season)

The pay attractions inside the park: 5 yuan for De He Garden; Wenchang Hospital 20 yuan; 10 yuan for Foxiang Pavilion; 10 yuan for Suzhou Street

Note: Combo tickets include both the entrance and the inside pay attractions

1. You are advised to buy entrance tickets instead of combo-tickets.
2. Once you enter the park of Summer Palace and are also interested in some of the paid attractions inside the park, you may purchase a separate admission ticket one by one on the spot.
3. Students enjoy half prices.
4. Children under 1.2m high are free of charge.
5. Basically there is no limit to the purchase of entrance tickets due to the fact that the park is sprawling and spacious.

Tip # 05: Tips for People with Walking Difficulty

Summer Palace is a huge landscape park. If you can’t walk too far, or have some walking difficulty, you can hire a wheelchair free of charge from the entrance gate with a deposit of 500 yuan.

Alternatively, you can take the boat from the marble boat after walking along the long corridor and back to New Palace Gate if you enter the park through the gate. And you don’t have to retrace.

All the toilets in Summer Palace are are equipped with wheelchair accessible facilities.

Tip # 06: English-speaking tour guides in Summer Palace

As for English-speaking tour guides in Summer Palace, you have the following three choices:

1. Hire the official tour guides attached to Summer Palace at East Palace Gate (the main gate) 东宫门.
2. Hire recorded audio guides at any of the three major gates to Summer Palace. You can return the audio guide at any gates.
3. There are some self-employed English-speaking tour guides by the entrance gates who will actively come up to you and ask you to buy their service. Not advised to use their service.

Inquiry:010-62881144, ext 6618

Summer Palace offers English guide , the price are listed below:

180 yuan, an hour and a half

240 yuan, two hours

320 yuan , two hours and a half

within five people , include five peoples ; for each travel group plus one people , pay 10 yuan extra.

Tip # 07: Choose the right entrance gate and tour route

So there are three main entrances to Summer Palace – East Palace Gate (the main gate), North Palace Gate ( North Gate )  and New Palace Gate (south gate).

You should get to know the gate you will go through, especially when you take a taxi or bus. Entering Summer Palace via the different three gates, you will have three different tour routes visiting Summer Palace.

Three Visiting Routes starting from the three gates:
Starting from New Palace Gate  ( South Gate):
Walk north along East Dyke – the former Court Area (the East Palace Gate, the Hall of Benevolence and Longevity…) – Long Corridor – Longevity Hill – Marble Boat – Ferry Boat  and back to New Palace Gate (loop line).

Starting from East Palace Gate ( Main Gate)
Walk from East Palace Gate: the former Court Area (the East Palace Gate, the Hall of Benevolence and Longevity…) – Long Corridor – Longevity Hill – Marble Boat – Ferry Boat – New Palace Gate ( South Gate )

Starting from North Palace Gate ( North Gate):
Walking from North Palace Gate: Suzhou Street – Marble Boat – Longevity Hill – Long Corridor – the former court area – East Palace Gate ( Main Gate).

Kunming Lake
Kunming Lake viewed from Longevity Hill in Summer Palace

 Tip # 08: Boating on Kunming Lake

Taking a boat ride starting from the Marble Boat across the lake and pass by the beautiful 17-Arch Bridge is a fun way to have more stunning views.

Ferry Boat Ride:30 yuan (Between Marble Boat and Bronze Cattle Dock)
Operating Time: 8:30 – 16:30

Pleasure Boats ( rowing on the lake): 60 yuan per boat per hour with 400 yuan as deposit) , a kind of paddle boat ( Max 4 people)
Operating Time: 8:30 – 16:30

Boat Ride on Kunming Lake

Tip # 09: Familiar with its 3-part layout

The three tour routes are centered around the three main parts in Summer Palace:

The Former Court Area
A royal palace where once Princess Dowager Cixi and the emperor lived and handled court affairs, accepted laudations and received foreign diplomats during their stay in the Summer Palace.

Long Corridor and Longevity Hill
The second part features the Long Corridor, the Hall of Dispelling Clouds, the Tower of Buddhist Incense, the Hall of the Sea of Wisdom, the Back Lake, the Suzhou Market and Longevity Hill.

Kunming Lake and Nanhu Isle
The last part is Kunming Lake, which consists of the Marble Boat, Nanhu Island, the Bronze Ox and the beautiful 17-Arch Bridge.

the beautiful 17-Arch Bridge.
The beautiful 17-Arch Bridge.

Tip # 10: Prepare for a 2-3-hour outdoor sightseeing

Visiting Summer Palace needs a little bit strong legs with a lot walking since Summer Palace is huge. Dress for the hot or cold weather. The summer in Beijing could be humid and closed, sometimes extremely hot.

Also winter could be very cold. So well prepared for the uncomfortable weather both in winter and summer. You are advised to wear your most comfortable shoes.

It’s a long walk! Food choice in the complex is poor – typical fast food and snacks. So bring your own.

Tip # 11: Skating at Summer Palace

Plan your Beijing winter tour? Skating is one of Beijing’s traditional pastimes in winter.  There are a few lake-turned skate rinks with a total skating area of 1000,000 square meters in Beijing. 

Back to the starting point of the skating service center.

Summer Palace is  a big draw for first time visitors to Beijing. The Kunming Lake Skate Rink in Summer Palace is the largest in Beijing totaling 700,000 square meters. See Skating at Summer Palace for more information.

Tip # 12: Get to know the official notice to the visitors

1. No visitors are allowed to cross, climb, smoke, swim, skate, fish, spit, foul and litter and so on.
2. No visitors are allowed to camp, cook, fish, capture animals and dig plants inside.
3. No visitors are  allowed to paint and carve on the buildings, ground, stone, facility and tree, and to pick the flowers and spoil the lawn and trees.
4. The north of pavilion of Wenchang and the east of Jiehu Bridge are fist-level fire-proof non-smoking
5.  Expect for hand-powered wheelchairs and baby carriers used by the aged, the disabled, and children, any other vehicle are not allowed to enter without any permission.
6. The professional camera equipments are not allowed to use inside without any permission.
7. Without any permission, don’t perform, sing and make a noise so as to influence and disturb other visitors.|
8. The tour guides inside must have guide qualification.

Tip # 13:  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:

Beijing Highlight Day Tour from US$59 P/P
(Tiananmen + Forbidden City + Mutianyu Great Wall)
Beijing Classic City Tour from US$65 P/P
(Tiananmen + Forbidden City + Temple of Heaven + Summer Palace)
Beijing Excursion Tour from US$59 P/P
(Mutianyu Great Wall + Ming Tomb)
Beijing Hutong Highlight Tour from US$59 P/P
( Hutong + Rickshaw)

Mutianyu Great Wall Half Day Tour from US$55 p/p
Hike from Jiankou to Mutianyu Great Wall Day Tour from US$69 p/p

Mutianyu Great Wall Layover Tour from US$65 p/p
Beijing Highlight Layover Tour from US$75 p/p

Chinese version of the travel guide


Further Readings

Winter Skating in Summer Palace.
Top 10 Attractions in Beijing
How to Visit Forbidden City
How to Visit Temple of Heaven
How to Visit Summer Palace
How to Visit Ming Tombs
How to Visit the Great Wall of China
How to Visit Tiananmen Square
How to Visit Hutongs
How to Visit Olympic Sites

Top 10 Markets in Beijing
Top 10 Shopping Malls in Beijing
Beijing Shopping

Wangfujing Night Snack Street
Qianmen Commercial Street
Beijing Huguosi Street

Any questions, just drop line.