Wander around the manicured gardens of Jingshan Park and take in the scenes of fruit trees and flowers. Admire Buddha statues and pavilions, and watch locals perform tai chi, sing or play musical instruments. Don’t miss the chance to climb one of the few hills in Beijing: This vantage point offers some of the best photo opportunities in the city.
Jingshan Park is centered on an artificial hill, which was built with the soil from the Forbidden City’s moat. The hill is 150 feet (46 meters) high and is also called Prospect Hill or Coal Hill.
Climb the steps to the top of the hill to take in views of the sea of curved roofs in the Forbidden City. Looking northwards, see how the distant Drum Tower is aligned with the entrance of the Forbidden City and the Pavilion of the Everlasting Spring on the hill you stand on. Slightly to the east, in Beihai Park, the White Dagoba rises from the lake. The halls on the slopes of the hill house Buddha statues.
To the east at the base of the hill is a memorial stone commemorating the last of the Ming rulers, Chongzhen Emperor, who is said to have ended his life here.
During the weekend, locals come to the park to play, dance, sing and exercise. You may even see a show of kuaiban, a type of theatrical storytelling. From late April through mid May, mass displays of blooming peonies surround you. There are more than 200 varieties of this pretty flower in the park.
Jingshan Park lies directly north of the Forbidden City, next to Beihai Park. All these major landmarks can be explored together in one day if you are short on time. If you would rather take your time, bring a picnic and bask in the serenity of this peaceful park.
Jingshan Park is a public attraction, so it’s open daily, but there is a small entrance fee. Several main bus routes service the area, including one circling the Forbidden City.