Wednesday, July 25, 2012

One Spring Day in Beijing

In the midst of a cold weather, I arrived in Beijing when Spring season is starting to sprout like the growing leaves of trees and blooming flowers of buds. Even though majority of the tree branches around are still bare, some already shed their spring colors. They said that Spring is the diamond season of travelling to Beijing – the perfect time to visit botanical gardens and parks in the city. Yet though Spring in Beijing is short, dry and has changeable temperature at times, I can’t deny that it is one of the best season to visit the city as Beijing is lovely on springtime.

Springtime in Beijing.
Throughout the spring months (actually April to May) temperatures in Beijing rise quickly day to day. They also vary greatly (around 12℃-14℃) between day and night. Spring is a windy, dry season, frequented by heavy sandstorm. Cold winds are also frequent throughout spring months. In early spring, the temperature may drop abruptly. Sandstorm hits Beijing frequently in spring and may delay trips. Springtime is a reminder that the long and cold winter is gone and summer is coming but also a perfect season to enjoy a comfortable and beautiful weather.

The flowers of Spring!
Flowers blooming at the imperial garden of Forbidden City.
My spring experience in Beijing started at the imperial garden of Forbidden City. After visiting, Empress Dowager Cixi’s courtyard, the exit is the entrance to the imperial garden of the palace. Some trees have already sprouted its spring green leaves like the century-old huge cypress that could have witnessed the imperial life inside the palace during the old ancient times. Most of the visitors of Forbidden City have been fascinated by these lovely garden sights of spring. But I bet that the imperial garden would be more beautiful and charming when spring season is in its full blown time. According to information, the imperial garden is the site where the emperor picks his next concubines. So imperial consorts frequently roam the garden surroundings hoping to be chosen by the emperor and gain a higher position inside the palace. The garden is also characterized by exquisite Chinese pavilions and collection of beautiful rock formations that are perfect for souvenir photographs.

Century-old Cypress at the imprerial garden.
Pink blossom...
Beautiful rock formations at the imperial garden.
I continue my Spring experience at Jingshan Park. The park is located just the north exit of Forbidden City. Here, most of the tree surroundings the park is in full green. I also saw the shrubs starting to grow their buds. Whether it could be their flowers or leave, the shrubs are getting ready for their springtime color. I take my time to rest by sitting in one of the benches of the park and appreciate the rustle of the leaves being blown by the cold wind of winter. Along with my travel companions, we explore the 5 hills of Jingshan Park where there are different pavilions to explore in each hills. Each hill pavilions also offers unique overlooking sights of Beijing’s city surroundings. But the most spectacular overlooking view is the highest and central hill of the park where I marvel at a panoramic view of Forbidden City basking under the cloudy and sunny sky. It was a sight to behold at Jingshan Park.

The greenery scene of Jingshan Park.
The Spring view at the back of the highest hill of Jingshan Park.
Forbidden City from Jingshan Park's topmost hill!
The Great Wall of China is also a sight to behold during springtime. The Mutianyu section of the wall, 45 miles from Beijing is surrounded by lush green tree forests and therefore, turns all green carpet-like covering mountain hills at springtime. The Great Wall is beautifully blended against the green trees that are sprouting around the mountain where it is built. The scenery is highly appreciated in the morning and lasts through Summer. The Great Wall of China was enlisted in the World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1987. Just like a gigantic dragon, the Great Wall winds up and down across deserts, grasslands, mountains and plateaus stretching approximately 6,700 kilometers (4,163 miles) from east to west of China. With a history of more than 2000 years, some of the section of the great wall are now in ruins or even entirely disappeared. However, it is still one of the most appealing attractions all around the world owing to its architectural grandeur and historical significance. And until today, the Great Wall is known all over the world as a monument of the Chinese nation throughout history.

Great Wall of China in Mutianyu.
There were still snow craters at Suzhou Market Street River of Summer Palace when I arrived there one morning for a visit. But the trees and plants are already in their spring color everywhere in the park. And though, I only had a short time to explore these beautiful place in Beijing, I highly appreciated its springtime beauty of lush green trees, scenic river views and mildly cold blow of wind as well as its historical pavilions and halls that have been there for years. I bet that Summer Palace would be more beautiful when spring is in full blown already as the numerous plants around it would be blooming with colourful flowers by that time.  Summer Palace is situated in Haidan district of Beijing. It is the largest and most well-reserved royal park in China. Its construction started in 1750 as a luxurious royal garden for royal families to rest and entertain. It later became the main residence of royal members in the end of Qing Dynasty. Composed mainly of Longevity Hill and Kumning Lake, it occupies an area of 300.59 hectares in which there are over 3,000 man-made ancient structures like pavilions, bridges, towers and corridors are to be found. In 1998, it ranked among World Heritage Site of UNESCO.

Tickets to the Great Wall - 45RMB each.

Are you ready to hike this long wall?

Spring and Winter in one! Hillside of the mountain ranges in Great Wall.
Beijing Zoo is also ideal for strolling during Spring because of its spring view sceneries. But the main attraction of the zoo is the endemic and endangered Giant Pandas. In the wild, it lives in a few mountain ranges in central China, mainly in Sichuan province, but also in the Shaanxi and Gansu provinces. As a result of farming, deforestation and other development, the panda has been driven out of the lowland areas where it once lived. They are extremely cute and cuddly so I’m glad to hear in the news that despite being an endangered species, their population is raising due to consistent conservation measures. Other unique animals that I saw in the park were Peacock and Peahen in which the Peacock made a flash of his tail to woo the Peahen, a too much sleeping Red Panda, Crown Pigeons, a weird looking bird, Ibis, jumping Ring-tailed lemur and night-dweller Tarsier species.

If the zoo is not enough for your animal encounters, you may also visit Beijing Aquarium to see marine animals on display and sea creatures performing tricks right inside the zoo grounds. Beijing Zoo is one of the biggest zoo I have been.  It is currently home to around 450 different species and has a population of some 5,000 animals.

Tickets to Beijing Zoo - 15RMB each.
The cuddly Giant Panda munching for bamboo leaves.
A royal display of Peacock.
When you’re tired of doing walks and sightseeings, try to see the shopping side of Beijing in afternoon. One of the recommended shopping place is Julong Underground Market, located just the underground subway station of Beijing Zoo. Though it is quite difficult to locate the underground market since the underground subway station has many passages to reach it, you’ll get through it just by following where the crowd is heading. Julong Underground Market boasts good bargains of class A branded bags, clothes, accessories and shoes. Just be sure to haggle a lot so you get bigger discounts. Although, language barrier will be a hindrance for shopping in this market, there’s no harm in trying if you want to get good bargains. Plus sellers are usually open to haggling their commodities and goods.

Tickets to Summer Palace - 20RMB each.
Still in winter mode... The Suzhou Market Street and River.
Morning routing at Summer Palace amid the springtime.
Best place to explore at night - Donghuamen Night Market!
Banana custard cake - one of the snack we tried in Donghuamen Night Market.
The lively streetside life of Wangfujing.
Lovely spring scene in Wangfujing in the morning.
One of the most interesting places at night in Beijing is Wangfujing. It is the mecca of shopping and night life in the city at night. But even if Wangfujing is ideal for night roam it doesn’t mean it is not good to visit it in the morning. Wangfujing offers various activities to enjoy like strolling, dining, sightseeing and shopping. of course! One of the main night market I explore was the Donghuamen Night Market which is mainly consists of long line of stalls of various food and grilling stations. It was perfect for our growling stomachs after a day of exploring Beijing. I tried grilled pork (5 Yuan per each stick), Banana custard cake (10 Yuan for 2) and Sugar-sprinkled Strawberry on-stick (10 Yuan per stick). But one streetfood in Beijing that really got me addicted is Caramelized fruits on stick or Bingtanghulu which either comes in Strawberry, Crab apples (Chinese Hawthorns) or mixed fruits of Kiwis, oranges, crab apples and strawberries. I think I had a stick of it every night in Beijing! But if you have brave stomach you might want to try their other exotic foods on a grill like starfish, seahorse, scorpions and snakes.

Don’t forget that Spring is also the best time to do watching flowers at parks especially watching Cherry Blossoms. Spring is the best time to visit parks in Beijing. And some of the best parks to visit in springtime are Beijing Botanical Garden, Peach Blossom in Pinggu and Yuyuantan Park. Truly Spring is the “Diamond Season” of Beijing. It is a perfect season to enjoy flower watching their blooms and trees sprouting their leaves while experiencing a comfortable and nice weather.  Sightseeing visitors will definitely find the city lovely with all the blooms of flowers in every corner like I did. But even it is not Spring and all the flower blooms have gone by on a different season, Beijing will always be lovely and has something to offer to its visitors – whatever season it is.

One Spring Day in Beijing is part of my Beguiling Beijing.Captivating China series where I share my adventures, travel stories and first-time experiences in Beijing, China last March 20-24, 2012. You might also like the other parts of the series:
+Beijing - A Beguiling City


  1. I have always wanted to go to Beijing coz I wanna see how progressive it is in comparison to Metro Manila plus Great wall +the forbidden city + the Pandas---ftw!!!

  2. Love the rock formations, and the Panda's rin of course. Parang Baguio temp yung spring nila hehe

  3. @Anton: Beijing is a picturesque city too. You'll enjoy travel photography at best there!

    @Christian: Yup, medyo mainit na rin. Huwag lang hahampas ang hangin dahil real-life freezer ang experience!

  4. Ganda naman sa Beijing. I also experience spring season in Washington,DC and NYC. Sarap tignan yung mga flowers na namukadkad na.:)

  5. @Killerfillers: I also wish to experience a full blown Spring season kasi ang gaganda ng parks sa Beijing. Well, there will always be a next time. Thanks for visiting.


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