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.
This huge imperial garden has a history of over 1,000 years. originally built in 938 during Liao Dynasty(916 – 1125). The park was repaired and rebuilt in the successive dynasties including Jin, Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties (1125 – 1644). It was first opened to the public in 1925.
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”.
Beihai Park is well known for its beautiful gardens, the maze in the stone cave, temples and pavillions. 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 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 ( or back gate).
Main Attractions in the park:
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. Below is my suggested travel plan including Beihai Park:
1) Tiananmen Square – (south entery ) Forbidden City ( north exit) – (South Main Gate) Beihai Park – (Exit from North Gate) Beihai Park – Houhai (Shichahai) – Drum Tower Lama Temple
2) Lama Temple – Shichahai – Beihai Park (north gate) – Qiongdao – Circular City – (Exit South Main Gate) Beihai Park – (North Gate) Forbidden City – Tiananmen Square
3) (East Gate) Beihai park – ( Exit from South Main Gate) Beihai Park – Forbbiden City – Tiananmen Square
4) (South Main gate) Beihai Park – Qiongdao – (Exit from north gate) Beihai Park – Houhai ( Shichahai ) – Drum Tower – Lama Temple
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! Be the first people out on the lake in the paddle boat. It will be a great comfort to have the entire great lake to paddle on by yourselves! Peaceful, all done before breakfast!
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 beatuiful scenary 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. “Fang” means imitation, “Shan” means “meals for the Emperor”.
Sales Dept.:（010）64011879 64011889 64042573
Tip # 06: How to get there
South Gate: Bus 101, 103, 109, 812, 814, 846
North Gate: Bus 107、111、118、701、823
East Gate: 5
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
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
Qionghua Isle Ticket and Opening Time
8:30-16:30 (Jan, Feb, Mar, Nov and Dec)
8:30-17:30 (April – October)
Ticket price: RMB 10
Opening hours 9:00 am-17: 00 (early March – November)
Tickets: RMB 5
Opening hours 9:00 am-17: 00 (early March – November)
RMB 50 / hour, 200 deposit
RMB 30 / hour, 200 deposit
RMB 20 / hour, 200 deposit
Family leisure boat:
100 RMB / hour, 300 deposit
“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.
The former “Xiyuan” was composed of three parts – Beihai ( north sea ), Zhonghai ( middle sea ) and Nanhai ( south sea ). 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.