Visiting Beijing Parks on a Budget
Praised as one of the hottest tourist destinations in China, Beijing is of great historic, cultural and natural value. Apart from the imperial palaces, ancient temples and comprehensive museums, some parks at low prices (lower than 50 yuan) are great places for strolling, relaxing, and also sightseeing.
China Highlights has listed the best 10 parks requiring a low entry fee, so that you can make a selection based on your itinerary. The information for each park includes a brief introduction, ticket price, transportation details and opening hours. The parks are listed according to the ticket prices from the lowest to the highest.
Also read top 10 museums in Beijing.
1. Jingshan Park
You can overlook the city of Beijing on the summit of Jingshan in the park, because it is located on the central point of the south-north axis of Beijing, facing the north gate of the Forbidden City.
Vigorous cypresses are planted widely in the park, creating a quiet and solemn atmosphere with the golden-glazed ancient pavilions.
Activities: In May each year, more than 20,000 peony roses are displayed in the park. You can be overwhelmed by the flower blossoms' ocean and have a unique tour in Jingshan Park.
- Ticket price: 2 yuan (this does not include the exhibition entrance fee)
- Bus: Take bus 5 and get off at Jingshan Houjie Station (景山后街); bus 111 and get off at Jingshan Dongmen (Jingshan South Gate 景山南门); 101, 103, 109 or 814 and get off at Gugong (the Forbidden City 故宫).
- Subway: Take Subway Line 5 to Dongsi Station (东四), get out at Exit C; and then take bus 101, 103, 109 or 814 to Gugong (the Forbidden City 故宫).
- Open: around 6am–7pm
2. Ditan Park (Altar of the Earth)
Similar to other parks in China, the natural scenery in Ditan Park is beautiful. Together with a number of ancient buildings, the park looks peaceful. Verdant trees in spring, sparkling lakes in summer, golden foliage in autumn, and dreamlike snow scenery and a busy temple fair in winter, make Ditan Park suitable for sightseeing, but also for experiencing culture.
Activities: The temple fair is held in Ditan Park during the Spring Festival every year, from 9am to 5pm. You can witness a series of Chinese traditional activities (including Chinese operas) and taste Beijing's traditional snacks (like sugar-coated haws) here. The entrance fee for the temple fair is 10 yuan.
- Ticket price: 2 yuan
- Bus: Take bus 18, 75, 104, 108, 113, 119, 201, 328, 407, 426, 430, 558 or Te2 (特2) to Ditan Ximen (West Gate of the park) Stop (地坛西门); 117 or 125 to Ditan Dongmen (East Gate of the park) Stop (地坛东门).
- Subway: Take Subway Line 2 or Subway Line 5 to Yonghegong Station (雍和宫), and take Exit A.
- Open: 6am––9pm
3. Taoranting Park (Joyful Park)
Situated in Xuanwu District and occupying a large area and water surface, Taoranting Park, also named Joyful Park, is a historical and cultural park combined with ancient-style and modern designed buildings.
Taoran Ting, the best attraction in the park, is listed as one of China's famous historical pavilions, along with Aiwan Pavilion in Changsha, Zuiweng Pavilion in Chuzhou, and Huxin Pavilion in Hangzhou. The China Garden of Famous Pavilions, which contains 36 ancient pavilions, is a must-visit attraction in the park.
Activities: The Taoranting Park Temple Fair is one of the busiest and most popular temple fairs in Beijing and is held during the Spring Festival every year. Lots of Beijing snacks, traditional performances and other interesting gadgets can be found there.
- Ticket price: 2 yuan
- Buses: 14, 40, 59, 66, 70, 102, 106, 603 or 613 to Tai Ping Jie (太平街) or Taoranqiao Bei (陶然桥北); 53, 63, 72, 84, 122, 458, 800, 927(区), 958, 997 or 特3 to Taoranting Gongyuan Nanmen (陶然亭公园南门); or 40, 59, 213 or 613 to Taoranting Gongyuan Beimen (陶然亭公园北门).
- Open: 6am - 9:30pm (China Garden of Famous Pavilions: 9am - 5pm)
4. Yuyuantan Park (Jade Lake Park)
Yuyuantan Park covers a large area and water surface in the Haidian District, beside China Central Radio and Television Center and Chinese Century Altar. Cherry Garden, Liuchun Garden, Zhongshan Garden and Ancient Pine Forest are the main attractions in the park, which paint a great natural landscape picture in the park.
It is one of the docks of popular water tour routes in Beijing. Visitors can start from Kunyu Dock located at the northern bank of Bayi Lake in Yuyuantan Park, passing through China Central Radio and Television Tower, Beijing Water Park and China Century Monument to the Summer Palace.
Activities: The Cherry Blossom Festival is celebrated in Yuyuantan Park in spring (from late March to the end of April) every year. Yuyuantan Park is one of the best places to see flowers in Beijing.
- Ticket price: 2 yuan; 10 yuan during the Cherry Blossom Exhibitions
- Bus: Take bus 114, 320, 717 or 727, and get off at Yuyuantan Station (玉渊潭); 13, 21, 37 or 65 to Xicheng Sanlihe Station (三里河); 300, 323, 374 or Te8 (特8) to Bayihu Bei Station (八一湖北) or Fucheng Lu Station (阜成路).
- Subway: Take Subway Line 1 to Military Museum Station (军事博物馆).
- Open: December–March: 6.30am–7pm; April–May, September–November: 6am–8.30pm; June–August: 6am–9.30pm
5. Zhongshan Park
Zhongshan Park was built in honor of the great revolutionist Sun Yat-sen, who is considered as the "father of modern China". It is located in the south of the Forbidden City and west of Tian'anmen Square with convenient transport conditions. Many ancient buildings can be found in the park, including the 'Altar to Land and Grain' and the 'Peace Safeguarding Arch'.
The beautiful natural landscapes in the park, consisting of small lakes and ancient pavilions, greatly interpret the concept of a classic Chinese garden.
Activities: The Spring Flower and Tulip Blossom Festival is held from early April to early May. Visiting Zhongshan Park in this period is best due to the gorgeous flower blossoms and comfortable weather.
- Ticket price: 3 yuan; 5 yuan (including Tanghuawu and Etiquette Rehearsal Pavilion); 10 yuan during the Spring Flower and Tulip Blossom Festival (from April 10th to May 10th)
- Bus: Take bus 4, 5, 10, 22, 37, 52, 726, 802 or Te1 (特1) to Zhongshan Gongyuan (Zhongshan Park 中山公园).
- Subway: Take Subway Line 1, and get off at Tiananmen West Station; take Exit B.
- Open: 6am–9pm
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6. Chaoyang Park (Sun Park)
Possessing more than 20 scenic spots and being the venue for some beach volleyball, Chaoyang Park is one of the most comprehensive parks in Beijing. This park not only has a large collection of beautiful natural landscapes, but is also a big modern business area.
Blue Harbor, the first lifestyle shopping center in China, consists of shopping malls, exhibition halls, restaurants and funny rides for children.
Activities: A number of festivals (like the 'Europe Cultural Exhibition') and exhibitions are held in Chaoyang Park every year, which attract thousands of visitors.
- Ticket price: 5 yuan
- Bus: Take bus 31, 117, 302, 350, 406, 419, 431, 729, 731, 750, 758, 973, 976, 984 or 988 to Chao Yang Gong Yuan Qiao Xi (朝阳公园桥西); 419, 852 or 985 to Chao Yang Gong Yuan Xi Men (朝阳公园西门); 628, 740, 973, 976, 988, 991 or Yun Tong 111 (运通111), and get off at Chao Yang Gong Yuan Dong Men (朝阳公园东门); 402, 418, 420, 757, 852, 909 or Yun Tong 107 (运通107), and get off at Chao Yang Gong Yuan Bei Men (朝阳公园北门).
- Subway: Take Subway Line 10 to Tuanjiehu (团结湖), and take Exit C.
- Open: March 15th – November 14th: 6am–10pm; November 15th – March 14th: 6am–9pm
7. Fragrant Hills Park (Xiangshan Park)
Fragrant Hills Park is a large-scale park with a huge covering of mountains and forests. Lakes and ancient buildings are interspersed between the mountains.
Best time to go: Autumn! You can be shocked and overwhelmed by the strenuous mountains blanketed by foliage. Numerous travelers come to Beijing with the main purpose to appreciate the golden leaves as Fragrant Hills Park is one of the most famous and best places to see foliage.
Top things to do: Photography and hiking.
- Ticket price: November 16th to March 31st: 5 yuan; April 1st to November 15th: 10 yuan; 10 yuan for the Biyun Temple
- Bus: Take bus 318, 331, 360, 696, 698 or 714 to Xiang Shan (香山).
- Subway: Take Subway Line 4 to Beigongmen (北宫门), and take Exit A. Then transfer to bus 331 or 696 to Xiangshan (香山).
- Open: 6am to 6.30pm (April 1st–June 30th); 6am to 7pm (June 1st–August 31st); 6am to 6.30pm (September 1st–November 15th); 6am to 6pm (November 16th–March 31st)
8. Beihai Park
Located to the west of the Forbidden City and Jingshan Park, Beihai Park is one of the best-preserved imperial parks in the center of Beijing.
More than half of the area is taken up by a large lake, where lots of travelers go boating in the summer and skating in the winter. The White Pagoda on the mountain beside the lake is the symbol of this park, which offers a vantage point with a beautiful view of the whole park. Other ancient buildings, such as Hao Pu Creek Garden, Quiet Heart Studio, Nine-dragon Screen, Five Dragon Pavilions and Circular City, show different effects of mountain-water combinations in ancient Chinese architectures.
- Ticket price: April–October: 20 yuan; November–March: 15 yuan
- Bus: Take bus 5, 109, 124, 685, 814, 846 or trolley bus 101 or 103 to Beihai Park (北海公园); 13, 42, 612, 701, 810, 823 or trolley bus 107, 111 or 118 to Beihai Beimen (North Gate of Beihai Park 北海北门).
- Subway: Take Subway Line 4 and get off at Ping'anli (平安里). Get out at the South-east Exit.
- Open: April–October: 6.30am–9pm; November–March: 6.30am–8pm
9. Temple of Heaven Park
The Temple of Heaven, which used to be a holy place for ancient Chinese royal families to offer sacrifices to heaven, is a large park in the east of Beijing. The main buildings in the park from the south to the north are the Circular Mound Altar, the Imperial Vault of Heaven, and the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest. They interpret the features of ancient Chinese architecture well.
Performance: Performance – the Heaven Worship Ceremony is played on the square in front of the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest on the 2nd of the second month in the Chinese Lunar Calendar. Hundreds of actors wearing ancient Chinese royal-style clothing imitate the process of the Heaven Worship Ceremony by ancient Chinese emperors with civil and military officials.
Activities: flying kites, learning tai chi
- Ticket price (combo ticket): November–March: 30 yuan; April to October: 35 yuan
- Bus: Take bus 6, 34, 35, 36, 39, 41, 43, 60, 116, 610, 707, 723, 743, 957 or 958 to Tiantan Dongmen (East Gate 天坛东门); 36 (Huan 环), 53, 120, 122, 525, 610, 800 (Nei 内), 803 or 958 to Tiantan Nanmen (South Gate 天坛南门); 2, 7, 15, 17, 20, 69, 105, 707, 729 or 826 to Tiantan Ximen (West Gate 天坛西门); 6, 34, 35, 36 (Huan 环), 106, 110, 687, 707 or 743 to Tiantan Beimen (North Gate 天坛北门).
- Subway: Take Subway Line 5 to Tiantan Dongmen (天坛东门), and then take Exit A.
- Open: March–June: 8am–5.30pm; July–October: 8am–6pm; November–February: 8am–5pm
10. Beijing Botanical Garden
Consisting of the Plant Exhibition Area, the Scenic Spot and the Historical Resorts, the Scientific Research Area and the Nature Reserve, Beijing Botanical Garden covers a large open area between Fragrance Hill and Yu Quan Mountain. It is without any doubt that you can see hundreds of plants there, even some rare species.
Activities: Lots of flower festivals are held in Beijing Botanical Garden every year. Going for an outing in spring in Beijing Botanical Garden to enjoy the fresh air and appreciate the colorful flowers can be very worthwhile.
- Ticket price (combo ticket): 45 yuan
- Bus: Take bus 318, 360, 696, 714 or Yuntong 112 (运通112), and get off at Zhiwuyuan (植物园); 331, 563 or 696 to Zhiwuyuan South Gate (植物园南门).
- Subway: Take Subway Line 2 to Xizhimen (西直门) and get out at Exit D. Then transfer to bus 563; Subway Line 4 to Beigongmen (北宫门), and then transfer to bus 331, 563 or 696.
- Open: Botanical Garden: 6am–7pm (summer), 7am–5pm (winter); Wofo Temple: 8am–4pm (summer); 8.30am–4pm (winter); Greenhouse: 8am–4.30pm (summer); 8.30am–4pm (winter); The Memorial of Cao Xueqin: 8.30am–4.30pm (summer); 9am - 4pm (winter)
Also read travel tips for senior travelers to Beijing.