What I love the most when visiting a new place is the endless amount of exploring I get to fill my time with! Exploring and capturing what I see has become another one of my traveling hobbies leaving me with folders and folders of snaps! I can’t claim to be a photography genius but I can say that some picturesque locations are just so beautiful that it’s hard for even a DSLR noob like me to mess up. Beijing has a multitude of scenic locations that look nothing short of a picture perfect postcard so today I’m sharing a list of ten picturesque locations that should be on any snap happy traveler’s list.
- The Temple of Heaven
Located in the Chongwen District of the city, the Temple of Heaven forms one of the holiest sacrificial temples in all of Beijing. Set in a beautiful landscaped garden filled with pine woods, the temple is thought to reflect the cosmological laws which the Chinese believe to be at the center of the universe.
- The Great Wall
The Great Wall of China forms the world’s longest wall, winding over rugged terrains and steep mountainous areas. It crosses nine provinces throughout China, from the beaches in Qinhuangdao to the dessert corridors at Jiayu Pass. The better preserved sites at Badaling offer some attractive locations to capture but if you’re looking for more rugged and wild shots, head to the Jiankou section of the Great Wall.
- The Summer Palace
Also known as YiHeYuan or the Garden of Nurtured Harmony, the Summer Palace is one of the largest and best preserved imperial gardens in China. It’s also the perfect place to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city as the landscape and architecture merge in such a way to form one of the most peaceful places in all of Beijing. Filled with buildings hidden between rock faces, weeping willows swaying in the wind, calm watered lakes and ancient pavilions, you’ll be snapping away from the minute you enter the palace grounds.
- The seventeen arch bridge on Kunming Lake
The seventeen arch bridge forms the largest bridge on Kunming Lake connecting the Octagonal Tower and eastern shore with South Lake Island. The bridge runs for a distance of 150 meters and has white marble balustrades and 544 carved lions in different positions. The bridge is meant to symbolize the linking of the human world with a fairyland on the opposite side.
- 798 Art District
Bursting with art galleries and scenic spots, the 798 art district is famous for its edgy and contemporary art scene. Originally an industrial zone that was abandoned and taken over by artists in the 1900’s, you’ll be sure to see all sorts of interesting sculptures scattered around the district.
- The Forbidden City in Winter
Photographing the Forbidden City on a regular day will leave you will some pretty breath taking shots of Chinese architecture from the 1400’s but for truly magical images, be sure to visit early a winters day when the snow has just fallen. Icicles form at the tips of cornices and piles of snow surround the palace grounds. The moat freezes over and it will seem as if you have been transformed into a Chinese-styled winter wonderland.
- Aerial views from Jingshan Park
Located directly north of the Forbidden City you will find Jingshan Park, an artificial hill constructed in 1420. Built from rocks and earth that were initially dug up to build the existing moat surrounding the Forbidden City, this 46 meter high hill offers some of the best aerial views of Beijing. Its location is famous for its feng shui properties that are said to protect the Forbidden City from evil spirits and dust storms rising in the north. Climb up Coal Hill to the Pavilion of Everlasting Spring and view the Drum Tower and Bell Tower from the North, Shichahai and Beihai Lake from the north-west and the entire Forbidden City from the south.
- Fragrant Hills
Autumn is one of the best times (next to a snowy winter!) to wander around Beijing. The orange and brown falling leaves of the maple trees in Xiangshan Park are so striking that many of the locals often refer to the hills as being on fire during the autumn months. Visit the park during October and November for some of the best autumn coloured pictures.
- The Hutongs
Not one specific place but rather a cluster of alleyways located in and around Beijing, hutongs form one of the best ways to get a glimpse into the old way of Chinese living. It’s better known for the long and narrow grey-tiled alleyways running through the backstreets of old Beijing. Here you will see joining neighborhoods, old temples and attractive red lanterns hanging at the entrance to homes.
Houhai forms the largest of the three lakes making up the Shichahai area in the Xicheng district of central Beijing. With restaurants and bars lining the lake, it almost looks like a Chinese version of Amsterdam! It is particularly beautiful during sun set.