October is the perfect time of year to squeeze in some local sightseeing. With mild temperatures and the occasional blue sky, the national holidays are an ideal time to get out and see different parts of Beijing. Just be sure to save the major tourist haunts like Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City for another time. Here are ten suggestions to keep the kids busy during their holiday:
1. Take a pilgrimage to each of Beijing’s four ‘holy’ parks – Tiantan (Temple of Heaven) in the south, Ditan Park (Temple of Earth) in the north, Ritan Park (Temple of Sun) in the east and Yuetan Park (Temple of Moon) in the west.
2. Spend a night in a traditional courtyard house and explore the surrounding hutongs. There are accommodation options to suit all budgets, from siheyuan hostels to boutique courtyard hotels.
3. Climb to the top of Coal Hill and enjoy the magnificent view of the Forbidden City at Jingshan Park.
4. Learn more about those funny shaped black things on the Second Ring Road at the Ancient Observatory.
5. Step back in time and walk across the Marco Polo Bridge. There are 501 stone lions adorning the 800-year-old bridge for the kids to count.
6. Explore the vicinity of the caves that were once home to Homo erectus pekinensis at the Peking Man Museum in Zhoukoudian. Marvel at the Houfeng Seismograph, which was invented by a Chinese scientist in AD 132, more than 1000 years earlier than other cultures used instruments to monitor earthquakes. Editor’s note: The main cave is closed for construction.
6. Skip the toboggans and the crowds and explore lesser-known sections of the Great Wall. Pack a picnic lunch to share at Huanghuacheng or venture further afield and stay overnight at Shanhaiguan to see the Dragon’s Head, where the wall meets the sea.
7. Visit the 36 stone animals and statues along the Sacred Way, the official approach to the Ming Tombs.
8. Enjoy the shades of crimson leaves at Fragrant Hills Park.
9. Take a ride inside a 258-meter long bright yellow dragon at Longqing Gorge before enjoying a tranquil boat ride on the largest dam in Northern China. The dragon structure houses the world’s longest chain of escalators.
For further inspiration for day trips and weekend excursions, pick up a copy of the Insider’s Guide to Beijing Excursion Guide.
Photo: Andy Penafuerte III