Beihai Park (Beihai Gongyuan)#4 in Best Things To Do in Beijing
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After the concrete jungles of Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City, head to nearby Beihai Park for a breath of fresh air. Whether you're under a tree overlooking the lake or in an ancient pagoda, you'll see why this former imperial garden has been a preserved sanctuary since its creation in A.D. 1166. Over time, the park has acquired more and more monuments. Not-to-be-missed highlights include the Temple of Everlasting Peace, White Dagoba and the Circular City.
Visitors love its peaceful setting, saying even with lots of people around, you can still find a quiet place to reflect. Some reviewers recommend riding a boat on the lake to reach different attractions, while others suggest setting aside several hours to walk its grounds (it is massive, spanning more than 170 acres).
To reach Beihai, you can take subway line 4 to Ping An Li or one of the numerous bus lines (Nos. 609, 107, 111, 118 and 13) that drop passengers off at the park's north gate. That said, the park is within walking distance of the Forbidden City's north gate, so pairing the two activities is smart. Admission to the grounds costs 10 yuan (about $1.50) in peak season and 5 yuan (about $0.75) in low season; however, many of the buildings inside require additional fares. Purchasing a "through ticket" (i.e. an all-access pass) for 20 yuan (about $3) can help you save (5 yuan less in offseason). Welcoming visitors daily, the park opens at 6 or 6:30 a.m. and closes between 8 and 10 p.m., depending on the season. For more information, consult the park's official website.
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#1 The Great Wall of China
Just north of Beijing, you'll find one of the most famous monuments in the world: the Great Wall of China. Although it's unlikely you'll see the whole thing, you should aim to experience a portion of it. That begs the question: Which section?
Only an hour's drive northwest of Beijing, the Badaling section is convenient, hosts a large souvenir market, and has a gondola to whisk visitors up and down the wall. Sounds perfect, right? Well, and that's why thousands of tourists decide to venture here. This can create mob-like scenes that can spoil the trip, but it's unpredictable. Plenty of visitors rave about this section of the wall and say a visit is a must. Entrance to the Badaling section of wall (not including the gondola ride) costs 40 yuan (about $6) in the winter and spring and 45 yuan (about $6.60 ) in the summer and fall. You can start hiking the Badaling portion at 6:40 a.m., and you must be down by 6:30 p.m. every day.
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