Chinese Language Blog

Where to See Fall Colors in Beijing Posted by on Oct 8, 2020 in Uncategorized

Fall is the best season in Beijing (秋天是北京最好的季节 qiūtiān shì běijīng zuì hǎo de jìjié). Winter is too cold (冬天太冷了 dōngtiān tài lěngle). Summer is too hot (夏天太热了 xiàtiān tài rèle). The pleasant fall weather is a welcome relief from the summer heat and a prelude to the chilly winds of winter. In my many years living in Beijing, fall was always my favorite season. In this post I’ll tell you where to see fall colors in Beijing.

Fall is here!

The Fragrant Hills

By far the most popular place to take in fall foliage (秋天的树叶 qiūtiān de shùyè) in the Chinese capital is the Fragrant Hills (香山 xiāng shān). Located in the northwestern part of the city, this is the go-to spot for Beijingers on a fall weekend.

The leaves are red, orange, and yellow (叶子是红色,橙色和黄色 yèzi shì hóngsè, chéngsè hé huángsè). It really is a beautiful sight to behold, especially on a rare clear day where the air pollution (空气污染 kōngqì wūrǎn) isn’t too bad. You really can see the entire city from up here!

At the top of the Fragrant Hills.

As I mentioned, this place is no secret. Should you pay the Fragrant Hills a visit on a weekend in October, you can expect to be joined by thousands upon thousands of locals and tourists alike. You can really see where that old Chinese proverb “People mountain, people sea” (人山人海 rén shān rén hǎi) comes from when you go there during the fall!

We only made the trek up the Fragrant Hills in fall once during half a decade in Beijing. It was such a royal pain getting in and out! Learn from our mistake and visit on a weekday morning. I recommend getting there as early as possible and getting back to the city in the afternoon before rush hour (高峰时间 gāofēng shíjiān).

See what our trip to the Fragrant Hills looked like in this blast from a past video.

Vocabulary List

香山 – xiāng shān
Fragrant Hills

我们上不了车,所以我门坐出租车 – wǒ men shàng bù liǎo chē, suǒ yǐ wǒ men zuò chū zū chē
We cannot get on the bus, so we take a taxi.

原来香山的红叶这么美,怪不得很多人来这儿- yuán lái xiāng shān de hóng yè zhè me měi, guài bù dé hěn duō rén lái zhè er
Since the Fragrant Hill’s red leaves are so beautiful, it’s no wonder so many people come here.

一元一串 – yī yuán yī chuàn
One RMB, one stick of chuan.

我们终于到了 – wǒ men zhōng yú dào le
We finally arrived.

秋天到了,树叶变黄了 – qiū tiān dào le, shù yè biàn huáng le
Autumn has arrived, and the leaves turn yellow.

熊猫 – xióng māo
panda bear

天际线 – tiān jì xiàn

Beijing Botanical Gardens

Not too far from the Fragrant Hills, you’ll find the Beijing Botanical Gardens (北京植物园 běijīng zhíwùyuán). It’s a quiet and peaceful place (这是一个安静祥和的地方 zhè shì yīgè ānjìng xiánghé de dìfāng). It’s far more relaxed than the Fragrant Hills, that’s for sure!

Is this still Beijing?

A great thing about the Botanical Gardens is that you can see the fall colors on the trees and so much more. There are many beautiful flowers here (这里有很多美丽的花 zhè li yǒu hěnduō měilì de huā). This is one place where you can really “stop to smell the flowers.”

They have different areas simulating a desert and tropical rainforest as well, so you can see all kinds of plant life here. There’s also a Buddhist temple surrounded by trees for even more fall colors.

Enjoy a short video tour of the botanical gardens!

Vocabulary List

西山 – xī shān
Western Hills

北京植物园 – běi jīng zhí wù yuán
Beijing Botanical Gardens

一日游 – yí rì yóu
day trip

休息 – xiū xi
have a rest

照片拍摄 – zhào piàn pāi shè
photo shoot

温室 – wēn shì

沙漠 – shā mò

热带雨林 – rè dài yǔ lín
tropical rainforest

卧佛寺 – wò fó sì
Wofo Temple

Red Snail Temple

Sometimes it’s nice to head to more off-the-beaten-path kinds of places, especially in a city of over 20 million! Cue the Red Snail Temple (红螺寺 hóng luó sì) out in Beijing’s Huairou district.

Hiking at Red Snail Temple.

This is a relatively unknown place (这是一个相对未知的地方 zhè shì yīgè xiāngduì wèizhī de dìfāng). Seriously – even my adult students who were born and raised in Beijing would respond with “哪儿啊?!” when I told them about hiking to the Red Snail Temple!

The Red Snail Temple is far away enough from the city center that you generally get more fresh air (新鲜空气 xīnxiān kōngqì) out there. Go on a rare blue sky day in Beijing and it’ll be a perfect day out in nature!

Join me on a fall hike to the Red Snail Temple.

Vocabulary List

怀柔区 – huái róu qū
Huairou district

红螺寺 – hóng luó sì
Red Snail Temple

秋天 – qiū tiān

生肖 – shēng xiào

牛 – niú

兔 – tù

鼠 – shǔ

狗 – gǒu

蛇 – shé

虎 – hǔ

鸡 – jī

羊 – yáng

猪 – zhū

猴 – hóu

马 – mǎ

龙 – lóng

五百罗汉 – wǔ bǎi luó hàn
500 Arhats

打钟 – dǎ zhōng
ring the bell

Fall in Beijing really is the best.


qiūtiān de shíhòu nǐ xǐhuān qù shénme dìfāng
Where do you like to go in the fall?

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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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