Fragrant Hills, Beijing
Beyond the western city limits is a very special area for Beijing people. The area around Xiangshan (meaning Frangrant Mountain) is the premier attraction in an area full of outdoor interest. The Summer Palace is nearby, as is the beautiful eight temples of the Badachu area. Finally, the Beijing Botanical Gardens (on two sites) contains a number of fascinating sights in the extensive grounds.
Xiangshan is a huge area of parkland and trees in a deep valley, crowned by the Xiangshan peak. The key corridors in the park are heaving with Beijing people whenever the weather is good: these key corridors include the ponds and manicured gardens at the base of the hill, the cable car to the top of the mountain, and the main pathway backdown again. However, the eastern fringes, including the villa where Mao Zedong lived in early 1949, and the ruined temple complex, are usually quiet.
The peak visiting time is spring and autumn when the leaves change colour, but it is a wonderful place all year round.
The park was OK, I enjoyed cable car ride the most (approx 18 minutes one way). The view was cool, although smog was covering most of it. On the top you can eat/drink/buy souvenirs.
It was pretty cold on top, I did not regret for taking hat and gloves.
Chinese people usually climb these hills instead of taking the cable.. I cannot imagine how hard it must be..
10RMB entrance fee;
30RMB - cable car, one way.
Located about 30 kilometres northwest of Beijing, is one of the mist favourite resorts on the city’s outskirts. Fragrant Hills Park. It covers 1.6 km and consists of a natural pine and cypress forest, hills with maple trees, smoke trees and persimmon trees, as well as landscaped areas with traditional architecture and cultural relics. The name derives from the park's highest peak, Xianglu Feng (Incense Burner Peak), a hill with two large stones resembling incense burners at the top.
In November, the frosted leaves of there trees, along with the persimmons and maples, spread over the Fragrant Hills like a thick red blanket.
Temple of Azure Clouds, located of the north of Fragrant Hills park, it is the most magnificent ancient temple in the area of western hills. The Hall of Arhats, 508 arhats each having a different facial expression and posture, are precious works of arts.
Dr. Sun Yat Sen passed away in 1925, his coffin was placed in this temple, when his remains were removed to Nanjing for burial in 1929. His hast and clothing were kept in the pagoda at rear hill. There is hall devoted to his memory.
Everyone recommends going to the Fragrant Hills to see the leaves turn in autumn, but no one mentions that the city's entire population will be there with you (That's ture). At off-peak times, this park, carved from imperial hunting grounds, is a civilized jumble of smoke trees, small pagodas and scenic pools culminating in a view of Beijing from Incense Burner Peak (Xianglu Feng). A Chairlift (RMB 50) is available for those not up to the hour-long hike (by staircases) to the top. Trails lead from the peak further into the western hills.
In the North of town very close to the Fragrant Hill mountains is Beijing Botanical Garden.
"It is situated east of the Xinshan Park in Beijing's Haidian District. The largest of its kind in north China, the garden was built in 1956, and more than 3. 000 varieties of plants are growing in its Peony Garden, Rose Garden, Tree Nursery, Grass and Flower Garden, Garden of Medicinal Herbs, Garden of Plants for Environmental Protection, and Garden of Water Plants. Greenhouses with a total of 2,600 square metres are open to the public, where 1,000 precious plants from all over the world are on display."
The garden is really really worth a visit - for me one of the nicest park like gardens I have seen in China so far. The air is better than in the parks in town and there are numerous small lakes, meadows and areas to have some privacy and read a book or enjoy the natury feeling. The green houses meet any western standard and are very well equipped and the park is well designed, with trees from all over China, flower beds and you can also find cafees.
If you want to get away from the traffic exhaust and enjoy a peaceful day an absolute MUST. It is wonderful.
Red Maples Festival in Fragrant Hills Park: middle October - early November
Bus: 714, 733, 737, 833, 318, 360, 331, 904
Zhiwuyuan (Botanical garden) and Wofosi (the Temple of the Sleeping Buddha) are also nearby.
BTG Fragrant Hill Hotel is a 4 stars Hotel, designed by the famous chinese architect Ieoh Ming Pei,who designed also Le Grand Louvre in Paris and many others.
But u can also see red maples in Badaling (one famous section of the Great Wall).
Because the wind in spring is so strong, I highly recommend u to visit beijing in autumn!
Xiang Shan is a small hill in Beijing, located in the northwest of the city, the best visit time is middle autumn, red leaf falling from the tree, cover the hill.