The Beijing Yonghe Lama Temple, a combination of Chinese and Tibetan architecture, is an oasis of temples and shrines in the middle of the bustling streets of Beijing’s Dongcheng district. The monks living here are friendly and generally fine with being photographed if asked. Apart from the people, the greenery and architecture also combine to produce beautiful images on a magnificent day. Although the Lama Temple is located in a busy area, containing enough sky in your pictures will ensure that they capture a relaxing vibe.
Beihai Park is a picturesque park, especially when the sun is out. This imperial park, originating from the 11th century, contains many different historical features, including palaces, temples and a pagoda on top of Jade Flower Island. The White Pagoda of Beihai Park can also be spotted from the top of Jingshan Park. Climb up to the top of this pagoda for the best landscape pictures of the park.
The lake means that visitors are able to ride around on boats, enjoying the calm; a stark contrast to Beijing city life. Beihai Park is also one of the best places to take a break from Beijing’s dense population and enjoy watching locals’ cultural activities, which makes for some great photography. This is especially so if you visit the park in the early morning, when the park is full of people practicing various martial arts.
On a clear day in Beijing’s Jingshan Park, which is on a small hill, is an absolute must. From the top pavilion, the view over the Forbidden City is incredible, and it is a great opportunity to photograph different types of Beijing landscapes – from the forbidden city, to the residential skyscrapers, to the hutongs further down. Throughout the day this is also the perfect spot to see a wide variety of Chinese traditional music and theatre, as groups of artists gather and perform. Just like Beihai Park, there is also the opportunity to enjoy local martial arts, especially in the mornings.
On a sunny day, this may be the best, and cheapest way, to experience Peking Opera, or even join in on a karaoke session with locals if you can keep up with the songs and lyrics on their portable televisions. From the park, walk around towards the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square for the best views and pictures of the moat surrounding the Forbidden City. At nightfall, photographers gather on the corners to catch the picturesque sunset.
For more rugged looking photographs of the Great Wall of China, and a personal physical challenge, take a trip to the steepest part of the wall in Beijing: Jiankou. Jiankou translates as ‘narrow rock’, and is situated 73 kilometers north of Beijing.
This part of the wall will have far fewer people to interfere with your photography, and the wild landscapes make a great backdrop. On top of that, the air tends to be cleaner this far out of the city, which means a bluer sky and happy lungs.
Behind a gorgeous bright blue backdrop, the Taoist temple of heaven looks even more magical. Emperors throughout the famous Ming and Qing dynasties visited the Temple of Heaven in order to pray to the gods for a plentiful harvest. The surrounding park and the temple’s striking shape and colour contrast to the blue sky make it a must visit on a clear day, especially for those who are into their photography. Try to get here as early as possible to avoid the crowds.
To make the most of your time in China, China Highlights can tailor make a Beijing photography tour to your requirements. Simply contact us. For some of the most popular tours around town, check out our Beijing tour page.