Beijing is bloomin’ beautiful right now! Put a spring in your step and check out the blossoms in these parks across the city.
Photo from Apple Eyes Studio
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.
This year also marks a century since the park opened, so expect an added wow factor in displays.
When’s best to go? From now until mid-April.
What else is nearby? Time your visit for a Sunday afternoon for the perfect complement to flowers: love. A weekly matchmaking fair takes place by the pavilion just inside the south gate. Parents energetically try to match-up their children with Post-it notes and message boards all afternoon.
Photo from atiger
What’s the flower power? Chinese flowering crabapple.
Why here? Yuandadu 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.
A good spot to see the crabapples in bloom is by Beitucheng subway exit C, the South East corner of the park.
When’s the best time to go? First two weeks of April.
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.
Beijing Botanical Gardens
Photo from Time Out Beijing
What's the flower power? Peony. It was the national flower in the Qing Dynasty and has been adopted as the ‘national’ flower by Taiwan. Controversial.
When’s best to go? All of April and May.
Why here? While the Botanical Gardens’ Peony Garden deserves its own pilgrimage up to the Fragrant Hills (Xiangshan), there’s a few other buds to get your grove on for, as you would expect from 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.
What else is nearby? Wofo Temple on the northern tip of the garden’s massive expanse. There’s a beautifully evocative reclining Buddha dating from the Tang dynasty – a history of over 1,300 years.
Wofo Temple Wofo Si Lu, Haidian district (6259 1283). Open 8.30am- 4.30pm daily. 5RMB. 海淀区香山卧 佛寺路卧佛寺
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 – places such as the wild mountains of Hangzhou or Mount Yoshino in Japan. They bloom in perfect harmony each year (which 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 a cross-breed with gingko.
When’s best to go? Early April.
What else is nearby? The old CCTV tower (not the ‘big pants’ new 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).
Photo from Klagyivik Viktor
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 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 along 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 is not that far considering you’re already right out in the sticks. Try one of the many water sports on offer around the lake, or just hike up to the dam for spectacular views for miles around.
Taohuahai Xiaoyuzicun Dahuashanzhen, Pinggu district. Open 24 hours daily. Free. 平谷区大 华山镇小峪子村桃花海.
Photo from Wikicommons
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 her snout into too many sweet smelling petals, we think.
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 the white magnolia. So worth the twenty-minute ride from Jietai Temple.
Jietai Temple Yongdingzhen, Mentougou district (6980 6611/6980 2645). Open 8.30am–5pm daily; 45RMB. 门头沟区永定镇戒台寺
Tanzhe Temple Tanzhesizhen, Mentougou district (6086 1699). Open 8.30am-5pm daily; 55RMB. 门头沟潭柘寺镇潭柘寺