Autumn in Beijing is blessed with a brilliant blue sky, crisp clean air and cool temperatures. It’s one of the best times for Beijing residents and visitors alike. It’s also the last chance to get out and be active before winter arrives (unless of course, you like the cold). So we should take advantage of the city’s rich cultural heritage as well as some of the popular outdoor attractions.
Many people flock to Xiangshan (Fragrant Hills) to witness the changing colors of the autumn leaves. However, it’s not necessary to travel all the way there and fight your way through the crowds. There are plenty of parks around Beijing where you can enjoy beautiful autumn hues – Chaoyang Park (the biggest urban park in Asia), the four ‘holy’ parks of Tiantan (the Temple of Haven) in the south, Ditan (the Temple of Earth) in the north, Ritan (the Temple of Sun) in the east, and the lesser-known Yuetan (the Temple of Moon) in the west, not to mention the popular Beihai Park and Jingshan Park right by the Forbidden City.
If you are willing to venture a little further south, there is also the lovely Taoranting Park and the small Daguanyuan (Grand View Garden – modeled on the grounds described in classic Chinese novel "Dream of the Red Chamber"). Further north, there is the gigantic new Olympic Park. There are also small gems hidden around Beijing such as the Qingnianhu Park and picturesque Liuyin Park to the north and northeast of Ditan Park, Tuanjiehu Park near the Tuanjiehu subway station, the Huangchenggen Yizi Park between the Forbidden City and Wangfujing Street, on the site where the centuries-old east Imperial City Wall has stood.
It’s worth mentioning that, before the new order, Beijing’s four ‘holy’ parks were as off limits to commoners as the Forbidden City. These were holy places, temples given over to the emperor and his ministers, in which to conduct rituals that maintained man’s fragile place in the cosmos. So while enjoying the beautiful outdoors in one of the holy parks, you should also take time to appreciate the historical and cultural relics still existing in these parks.