Where to see spring flowers in Beijing

Get a dose of flower power at the city's sweetest spring spots

Beijing is bloomin’ beautiful right now and it's just going to get better. Put a spring in your step and check out the blossoms in these parks across the city as we head into Beijing's spring.

Central

Zhongshan Park (中山公园)

Zhongshan Park (中山公园)

What’s the flower power? Tulips.

Why here? The first tulip bulbs were a gift from the Queen of the Netherlands during her visit in 1997 – 39 bulbs, to be exact. Today, Zhongshan Park has a whole garden of them, multi-coloured and infinitely more than double digits, if you’re willing to count.

When’s best to go? From now until mid-April.

What else is nearby? Time your visit during a Sunday afternoon for the perfect complement to flowers: love.
A weekly matchmaking fair takes place by the pavilion just inside the south gate. Watch as parents energetically try to matchmake their children with sticky notes and message boards all afternoon.

What's the entry? 3RMB. Open 6.30am-8.30pm. 

Image: Fanghong via Wikimedia Commons

North

Yuan Dadu (元大都城垣遗址公园)

Yuan Dadu (元大都城垣遗址公园)

What’s the flower power? Chinese flowering crabapples.

Why here? Yuan Dadu Park is a 9km strip along Beijing’s northern canal, forming the capital’s longest park. Every spring it becomes an easy-to-follow romantic stroll among cherry blossoms either side of the Xiao Yue River (or a long, uninterrupted jog – hard to come by in central Beijing), when the flowers are in full bloom.

When’s the best time to go? First two weeks of April. A good spot to see the crabapples in bloom is by Beitucheng subway exit C, the South East corner of the park.

What else is nearby? The park has been constructed around the remnants of the Yuan Dynasty city wall that protected the city back in the days when Kublai Khan made it his capital. This rammed earth structure is still visible on the east section near Anzhenmen subway station (Line 10), where garish, large statues of the emperor himself commanding a herd of elephants can also be found.

What's the entry? 14RMB and open daily from 6am-10pm, all year round. 

Image: Bridget Coila via Flickr

Beijing Botanical Gardens (北京植物公公园)

Beijing Botanical Gardens (北京植物公公园)

What’s the flower power? Peonies.

Why here? While the Botanical Gardens’ Peony Garden, located on Fragrant Hills (Xiangshan), certainly deserves its own pilgrimage, there are a number of other buds to get your groove on for – unsurprising, considering it’s the capital’s official centre of flower power. With over 6,000 species to see, including tulips, irises and peach blossoms, we can’t think of a better bang for your buck.

When’s best to go? All of April and May.

What else is nearby? Wofo Temple on the northern tip of the garden’s massive expanse. There’s a beautifully evocative reclining Buddha that dates back to the Tang dynasty – a solemn watchman for the last 1,300 years.

What's the entry? 5RMB for admission, with other areas of the gardens also requiring a small admission fee. Open 7am-5pm daily. 

West

Yuyuantan Park (玉渊潭公园)

Yuyuantan Park (玉渊潭公园)

What’s the flower power? Cherry blossoms.

Why here? There are a huge variety of cherry blossoms at Yuyuantan sourced from both China and Japan – from the wild mountains of Hangzhou to Mount Yoshino in Japan. They bloom in perfect harmony each year (which perhaps can’t be said for the icy diplomatic relations between the countries). By the west gate you’ll also find clusters of white blossoms that are the result of a gingko cross-breed.

When’s best to go? Late March - early April.

What else is nearby? The old CCTV tower (not the ‘big pants’ CBD tower) will be looming over you as you enter the west gate. Whizz 238m up to the 360-degree viewing platform for great city views on any non-smoggy day (70RMB).

What's the entry? 2RMB; 10RMB (during sakura blossom). Open 6am-8.30pm (Apr-May, Sep-Oct); 6am-9.30pm (Jun-Aug); 6.30am-7pm (Nov-Mar).

Image: Photo Mix via Pixabay

Jietai Temple (戒台寺)

Jietai Temple (戒台寺)

What’s the flower power? Lilacs.

Why here? Built 1,700 years ago, the ancient temple boasts its own pagoda and is home to 20 lilac trees that have been sprouting mellow hues for 200 years. Its fragrance is nothing less than intoxicating – Kublai Khan’s daughter apparently joined the temple as a nun in the 13th century, possibly after getting wooed by the sweet-smelling petals.

When’s best for flower viewing? Mid-April to end of May.

What else is nearby? A second helping of flower power is in order at Tanzhe temple, otherwise known as the Wisdom Accumulation Temple. Get clever just by basking in the purity of white magnolias. So worth the 20-minute ride from Jietai Temple.

What's the entry? Jietai Temple: 50RMB. Open 8.30am–5pm daily. Tanzhe Temple: 55RMB. Open 8.30am-5pm daily.

Image: Andre Engels via Wikimedia Commons

East

Pinggu County (平谷区)

Pinggu County (平谷区)

What’s the flower power? Peach blossoms.

Why here? Pinggu is known for its giant peaches in the summer, and, as is the curious way with nature, its precursor is a symphony of pink blossoms in spring. While you’ll see peach blossoms everywhere in Pinggu, head to Taohuahai for particularly standout views of pink flowers rolling into the distance; park up and walk into the fields for a closer encounter – free of charge. Beigong village is another pleasant location, with blossoms lining the stream that runs along its east side.

When’s best to go? Mid-April until the start of May.

What else is nearby? Head east to Jinhai Lake (around a 40-minute drive), which isn’t that far considering you’re already right out in the sticks. Try one of the many water sports on offer around the lake. 

What's the entry? Free. Open 24 hours daily.

Image: Liz West via Flickr

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