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We’re counting down the Top 10 places in Beijing here, and today we’re rolling onto #7. In case you’ve missed any of it, here’s a quick recap:
For our next stop in the countdown, we’re going to the best place to do it up like a local in the Chinese capital:
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!
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.
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.
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.
Keep an eye on the blog in the coming months as we continue our countdown all the way to the best place in Beijing!