A breath of fresh air: Beijing’s best parks

By Duncan Gordon

Beijing is well known for its very large population and highly built-up urban landscape.  Unbeknownst to some outsiders, China’s iconic capital also boasts several fantastic public parks, which Beijingers enjoy on those not-so-smoggy days.

Whether you enjoy strolling, picnicking, jogging, singing or even fishing, there’s a park for everyone in Beijing.

Olympic Forest Park 奥林匹克森林公园

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Built for the Olympic Games in 2008 this huge park has become Beijing’s back garden for joggers and walkers and great place to escape the noise of the city.

Jingshan Park 景山公园

The artificial hill overlooks the Forbidden City and provides one of the best viewpoints in the capital.  Formerly a private imperial garden attached to the grounds of the Forbidden City, the park was officially established in 1949.  Head there in the morning to see retirees singing traditional Chinese songs, line dancing and playing jianzi (毽子).

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Purple Bamboo Park 紫竹院公园

Three lakes are connected by bridges and islands in Zizhuyuan Park, with up to 50 bamboo species on display.  It is a real local’s park, where elderly people like to come to go fishing with their grandchildren and friends.  The relaxed atmosphere can be enjoyed best at the teahouse overlooking the water or floating on a boat across the lakes.

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Beihai Park 北海公园

First built in the 11th century, Beihai Park is among the largest of all Chinese gardens, and was opened to the public as a park in 1928.  Jade Flower Island is the stand out feature of this beautiful park.  It’s location nearby the Forbidden City and Shichahai Lakes makes it an ideal tourist attraction.  Beijingers also like to stretch their legs and run around the lake, while taking in the fantastic scenery.

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