Summer Fun in Beijing Parks Posted by sasha on Jul 29, 2020 in Culture
Summer in Beijing is very fun (北京的夏天很有趣 Běi jīng de xià tiān hěn yǒu qù). Sure it’s a bit hot, but there are plenty of ways to cool down. Plus, if you can’t make it to a body of water, you can always just roll your shirt up over your belly and rock the now famous Beijing bikini (北京比基尼 Běi jīng bǐ jī ní)! In summer, I really like to go to parks in Beijing (夏天的时候，我很喜欢去北京的公园 Xià tiān de shí hòu, wǒ hěn xǐ huān qù běi jīng de gōng yuán). That’s why this post is all about summer fun in Beijing parks!
An Introduction to Beijing Parks
While Beijing gets a bad rap all the time for its horrible air pollution (空气污染 kōng qì wū rǎn), the city actually has a ton of green space. In fact, one of the most popular activities for locals is simply cruising up to the local park to hangout for a few hours.
It is here – not in the giant shopping malls and modern skyscrapers – where you can really feel the pulse of Beijing. If you really want to experience local culture while in the ‘Jing, these are some of the best places to go. Here are some ideas for park-hopping in Beijing:
Beijing’s many temples are basically all massive parks. Around the actual temple there’s usually a large green space, with plenty of areas to either sit down and chill or take part in some fun outdoor activities. Get here in the early morning, and you’ll find crowds of elders doing their morning tai chi (太极 tài jí) routine.
In the hot hours of a summer afternoon, you’ll find people trying to beat the heat by taking a nap or playing Chinese chess (象棋 xiàng qí) in the shade. At night, don’t be surprised to find a group of middle-aged Chinese ladies busting a move during a big group dance practice. Here are some of the best temples to take in Beijing’s local culture:
- Temple of Heaven (天坛 tiān tán)
- Temple of the Earth (地坛 dì tán)
- Temple of the Sun (日坛 rì tán)
New York has Central Park, San Francisco has Golden Gate Park, and Beijing has Chaoyang Park (朝阳公园 chāo yáng gōng yuán). While it may not be nearly as famous as the Big Apple’s version, this huge park provides a great place to relax, get some exercise, or just have a good time in Beijing.
Go for a run (on a clear day of course), have a picnic, rent a boat, or take the kids out to enjoy the games and rides in the amusement park.
If you like having fun like we do, though, you’ll opt to rent the party bike. This feat of German engineering allows a group of 10-15 people to sit around a massive bike and pedal it around the park while consuming adult beverages and rocking out to a playlist on your iPod. Get exercise and a buzz at the same time! See for yourself in this hilarious video I put together:
Olympic Forest Park
Built in 2008 for the summer games, the Olympic Forest Park (奥林匹克森林公园 ào lín pǐ kè sēn lín gōng yuán) is a favorite amongst Beijinger’s looking for a place to jog, as the air quality here is often much better than in the center of the city.
Plus, the park is huge and is mapped out to include a few different jogging paths. If you’re feeling lazy, though, you can always rent an electric buggy or a boat to explore the grounds. This is one of those Beijing parks that you can come back to again and again and always discover something new. Enjoy a short virtual tour of the Olympic Forest Park in this video:
One of my personal favorite spots to chill out is in Tuanjiehu Park (团结湖公园 tuán jié hú gōng yuán). This hidden gem is located right off of the eastern 3rd Ring Road right around the corner from Beijing’s bustling CBD.
With a nice lake and plenty of benches, it’s a great place to relax and forget the madness going on just outside of the park’s gates on the congested roads. In the summer months, you’ll also find a water park (水上乐园 shuǐ shàng lè yuán) with a wave pool, an artificial beach, and a few water slides.
The center of Beijing is home to a few lakes, which make for a very pleasant place to visit in the summer. Beihai Park (北海公园 běi hǎi gōng yuán) was once an imperial garden and is now a beautiful park that’s open to the public.
There’s a small island in the middle of the lake that’s home to the White Dagoba (白塔 bái tǎ). This huge white stupa is believed to house sacred Buddhist relics and it dates back to 1651. On a clear day, it’s hard to beat the view from up here.
While you’re here, you should definitely check out the Nine Dragon Screen (九龙壁 jiǔ lóng bì) as well. There are only two other such screens in the entire country so it’s pretty special. You can read a more detailed description of Beihai Park and the other lakes in Beijing in this post. Here’s a quick video tour for you to check out as well:
Of course, there are plenty more parks for you to enjoy in Beijing. In fact, chances are there’s one right around the corner from you. Since most Chinese people live in high-rise apartments, local parks are the best place for everyone to gather, chat, play games, and just enjoy life. Whether you’re living in Beijing or just visiting, local parks are a great place to practice your Chinese skills and make some friends.
I always enjoyed hanging out in Beijing’s local parks when I lived there. In fact, I loved the parks so much that they were the topic of some of my very first videos for the Chinese blog exactly a decade ago. Talk about a blast from the past! You can see one of those early videos right here:
I hope you enjoyed this look at Beijing’s parks. I’ll leave you with one question that you can feel free to answer in the comments below!
nǐ qù guò shèn me gōng yuán zài běi jīng?
What parks have you been to in Beijing?
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