It's Valentine's Day this very Saturday. Here's where to head if you want to seal that kiss.
It's beautiful, it's not too busy, and there's plenty of activities to woo her (or him) with nearby. Take a walk around Beihai along the lake and its droopy willows. Start from the northeast side and head towards the southern exit to move away from popular to sparser spots, until you end up with striking views by the lake to your left (and no one else encroaching on that special, fingers-crossed lingering moment).
To warm things up, either go ice skating on Qianhai
(across from the north gate of Beihai Park) or head slightly east to our next great destination.
This works best when timed with sunset. Climb to the top of Jingshan (act like you care and give your date a helping hand, or at least offer to) just before sunset, then watch over and sigh at the delight that is the hill's pretty much bird's eye view of the imperial residence.
With dimming lights and regaly inspired charms at your fingertips, it would take a lot to resist any imperious moves.
Alternatively, saunter back down the hill and ask for a dance, along with the ol' grannies and grandpas. After she or he is all warmed up, suggest you explore the greenery, at which point lead your date into one of the well-positioned rock formations and...
The Crossroad between Dianmen Dongdajie and Dianmennei Dajie
This date is all about creating opportunities to cuddle up close and share. And make sure you go on an empty stomach for maximum effect.
No better excuse to cuddle up close to him/her than queuing up in line for piping hot chestnuts at Qiu Li Xiang
(秋栗香). And a great heck of a line there will be if you want to be there at a reasonable hour. After you get your paper bag of scrumptious nuts to share – make sure it is to share – offer to show your date how to crack em' open the clever way (quickly read the packet first).
Afterwards, head diagonally across the street and show off your knowledge of old Beijing food at Huguosi
(护国寺), where sweet snacks, noodles, yogurt and baked confections sit waiting galore.
So yummy, so easy to share, so certain you'll get that kiss in there.
Belencre (字里行间) Bookshop
You won't bump into anyone you know at this airy and gorgeous bookshop that doubles up as a cafe a couple of stops to the west of Yonghegong. There are never many people in there but the shop is a treasure trove for arty books, history, popular fiction, and accessories.
There are also plenty of nooks and crannies, library style, to get hidden into with your date while you explore your 'literary interests'.
Find this hidden gem at 129 Deshengmenwai Street, Xicheng district (西城区德胜门外大街129号), the nearest subway stop is Jishuitan.
The name of this college may sound like somewhere your great aunt hangs out, but don't judge a book by its cover, or you'll miss out on one of the best spots in Beijing. And also, don't judge it by the fact there's a cemetery on this campus (all the best places have one) – it's obviously there because no one ever wants to leave.
Behind a nondescript looking building, in the midst of much tranquility, China's first Jesuit missionary, Italian priest Matteo Ricci (1552-1610), lies at rest in an intimate but gorgeously ornate tomb.
After impressing your date with art history knowledge about the tomb (the architecture is classically Chinese with a European twist: in the Latin inscriptions and Western rose motifs that adorn the doorway under traditional dragon carvings), walk around the greenery and admire the ground's semi-European buildings.
This location is not only immensely private, there's plenty to be intrigued by so that you don't run out of talking points, before taking the plunge for that all important kiss (just not right in front of the tombstone, please).