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Beijing Calling—and it’s Not Just the Wall That’s Great

Sean Pavone / Shutterstock
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock

While Beijing is a fascinating place to visit any time of year, there are advantages to taking a trip to China’s second largest city and cultural treasure trove in January or February. For starters, you’ll encounter fewer people when visiting key sites like the Summer Palace, the Temple of Heaven, and the Great Wall of China. Moreover, if you visit in February you’ll also be able to take full advantage of Chinese New Year festivities! What are you waiting for? Grab a coat and head to Beijing!

Summer Palace

LU JINRONG / Shutterstock

LU JINRONG / Shutterstock

Located just northwest of Beijing in the Haidian District, Summer Palace is the largest and one of the most famous royal parks in China. An UNESCO World Heritage site respectfully referred to as the Museum of Royal Gardens, Summer Palace boasts impressive landscaping and horticultural projects that influence landscape architects all over the world. In addition to its stunning gardens, Summer Palace is home to a variety of architectural points of interest (pavilions, halls, palaces and temples). Touring Summer Palace in the winter means fewer visitors and a unique experience: the frozen lake (if its cold enough you can walk out on it), and snow-covered surroundings reveal the beauty of the colorfully painted buildings and natural surroundings.

Temple of Heaven

Taras Vyshnya / Shutterstock

Taras Vyshnya / Shutterstock

Another UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Temple of Heaven is located in the Chongwen District of southern Beijing. It holds great historical significance as the site where the emperors of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) held their Heaven Worship ceremonies, which were sacrificial in nature. The temple is a conglomeration of buildings that each served a different purpose in the rituals of this time. The site was opened to the public in 1988, and is one of Beijing’s most popular tourist attractions. Researching the temple buildings has helped international scholars understand more about Chinese philosophy, history, religion, and aesthetics. Temple of Heaven draws huge crowds in the summer months; however, tourism dies down a bit in the winter, making it a great time for a leisurely visit of this important site. 

Great Wall of China

The Curious Travelers / Shutterstock

The Curious Travelers / Shutterstock

One of the most famous structures in the world, the Great Wall of China welcomes over ten million visitors per year. Good news for winter travelers, most of these tourists visit or hike the wall between the months of April and September. This means that you don’t have the share the snowy wall with as many visitors as you would if you went at a different time of year. Depending on the amount of snowfall, you can still hike around parts of the wall in the winter. 

Chinese New Year

MAKENBOLUO / Shutterstock

MAKENBOLUO / Shutterstock

Each year, the Chinese New Year celebration takes place anywhere from the end of January to the end of February, depending on the lunar calendar. 2016 is the year of the Monkey and the celebrations will take place from February 7-13th. If you’re in Beijing, you can enjoy fireworks shows on New Year’s Eve, and temple festivals (cultural celebrations and meals near temples) on New Year’s Day.

Have you ever visited China? Let us know your favorite experience there in the comments below.

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About the author

Jen Westmoreland Bouchard

Jen Westmoreland Bouchard

An insatiable foodie, art collector, and international literature aficionado, I have traveled throughout Europe, Asia, the U.S. and Canada. For the past fifteen years, I have written about my adventures for various travel and literary publications. I am the owner of Lucidité Writing (www.luciditewriting.com) and Bouchard Design Co. (www.boucharddesign.co).

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