Chinese Language Blog

A Visit to Badachu in Beijing Posted by on Oct 20, 2021 in Culture, Travel & Geography

While there’s enough to see in the city to keep you busy for at least a week, Beijing also has quite a few excellent day trip opportunities. Of course, the most popular option is a visit to the Great Wall (长城 cháng chéng). There’s much more to see and do on the outskirts of the city, though – you can go hiking and bungee jumping at Shidu (十渡 shí dù), take in the colors of the Fragrant Hills (香山 xiāng shān) in autumn, or explore the Red Snail Temple (红螺寺 hóng luó sì). Another popular option for a day trip is Badachu (八大处 bā dà chù), the “Eight Great Sites.”

Photo taken and used with permission from Sasha Savinov.

Located at the foot of Beijing’s Western Hills (西山 xī shān), the name refers to eight Buddhist temples (佛教寺院 fó jiào sì yuàn) and nunneries that are spread out across three mountains. As usual in China, the names are quite interesting and rather poetic:

  • Temple of Eternal Peace (长安寺 cháng’ān sì)
  • Temple of Divine Light (灵光寺 líng guāng sì)
  • Nunnery of Three Hills (三山庵 sān shān ān)
  • Temple of Great Mercy (大悲寺 dà bēi sì)
  • Nunnery of Dragon Spring (龙泉庵 lóng quán ān)
  • Temple of the Fragrant World (香界寺 xiāng jiè sì)
  • Cave of Precious Pearl (宝珠洞 bǎo zhū dòng)
  • Temple of Thoroughly Transform (正果寺 zhèng guǒ sì)

Photo taken and used with permission from Sasha Savinov.

The park is quite sprawling, making it a nice place for a leisurely day of hiking and taking in the sites. While many of the temples were originally built centuries ago, most of the sites were restored in the 1980s. It has since become a very popular tourist destination, as well as a hot spot for locals on weekends.

With an admission fee of just 10 RMB (about $1.50), Badachu is a great option for a cheap and easy day trip. You can even get most of the way there by subway. The last stop on the western end of Line 1 – Pingguoyuan (苹果园 píng guǒ yuán) – is close enough to the park where you can catch a cheap cab to take you the rest of the way. Be sure to check out our post about taking the subway to brush up on your vocabulary.

Photo taken and used with permission from Sasha Savinov.

Keep in mind that it’s much busier on weekends, so try to plan your visit during the week if at all possible. The best time to visit is in the fall (秋天 qiū tiān), when you can take in the scenery of the colorful hills as the leaves change from green to yellow, orange, and red. We’ve also got a post that will help you talk about fall in Chinese.

Of course, you’ll also be fighting the biggest crowds at this time of year. Badachu also gets very busy around the Tomb Sweeping Festival (清明节 qīng míng jié), as people flock here to burn incense and pray to their ancestors. It’s not always easy to get to the actual tomb, especially for those who have moved far away from home, so Badachu makes for a good substitute.

Photo taken and used with permission from Sasha Savinov.

It’s tough to hit all of the sites in one visit, so it’s best to just explore the park at your own pace and see what you can see. Plus, after number five or six, the temples start to look a bit similar. The scenery of the surrounding hills is also beautiful, assuming you manage to visit on a clear day. In addition to the temples, there are also twelve natural scenes that are famous here:

  • The Top View (绝顶远眺 jué dǐng yuǎn tiào)
  • Spring Mountain with Apricot Forest (春山杏林 chūn shān xìng lín)
  • Cloud Blocking the Mountain Peak (翠峰云断 cuì fēng yún duàn)
  • Lu Shi’s Evening Photo (卢师夕照 lú shī xì zhào)
  • The Sound of Misty Rain Cuckoo (烟雨鹃声 yān yǔ juān shēng)
  • After the Rain Mountain Torrent (雨后山洪 yǔ hòu shān hóng)
  • Water Valley Flowing Spring (水谷泉流 shuǐ gǔ quán liú)
  • The Sunshine throughout the Tall Woods (高林晓日 gāo lín xiǎo rì)
  • Five Bridges Bright Moonlight (五桥夜月 wǔ qiáo yè yuè)
  • Red Leaves in Late Autumn (深秋红叶 shēn qiū hóng yè)
  • Tiger Peak Pinnacle (虎峰叠翠 hǔ fēng dié cuì)
  • Snow Covered the Hills (层峦晴雪 céng luán qíng xuě)

Photo taken and used with permission from Sasha Savinov.

As is the case with just about every scenic area in China, there’s a bit of a carnival atmosphere here as well. You can try your hand at some silly games to win prizes, take a cable car (缆车 lǎn chē), go for a horseback ride, or strap in for a toboggan ride down the hill. All in all, it’s a pretty fun day when you visit Badachu. Where else can you see ancient Buddhist temples, hike in the hills, win a stuffed teddy bear, ride a pony, and then drink beers before speeding down a rickety toboggan?

Badachu was one of my favorite places to go on a day trip when I lived in Beijing. I brought my camera along once and put together this short video so you can check it out too:

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About the Author: sasha

Sasha is an English teacher, writer, photographer, and videographer from the great state of Michigan. Upon graduating from Michigan State University, he moved to China and spent 5+ years living, working, studying, and traveling there. He also studied Indonesian Language & Culture in Bali for a year. He and his wife run the travel blog Grateful Gypsies, and they're currently trying the digital nomad lifestyle across Latin America.

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