Beijing and China Tour Expert

Beihai Park

  • Beihai Park was first dug out in the 12th century, with the excavated earth used to form a central island. It is the oldest and best-preserved imperial garden in China. The park covers an area of 69 hectares including a 39-hectare lake. In the park, lakes and hills wind along pavilions and towers, trees and flowers.


  • ID : 22
  • City : beijing
  • English name : Beihai Park
  • Chinese name : 北海公园
  • Type : Ancient Garden,
  • Level : easy
  • Kids : possible
  • Elders: possible
  • Best season : Spring, Summer and Autumn
  • Visiting length : 3 hours
  • Distance to city center : 1 km

Introduction of Beihai Park

  • Beihai Park is one of the most popular parks in the city of Beijing. The whole park covers a total area of over 68 hectares, more than half of it is taken up by the Beihai Lake. It is used to be the former palace of the emperors in successive dynasties, called the Winter Palace by Westerners. It is the oldest and best-preserved imperial garden in China.
    Beihai Park is now one of the best of China's classical gardens with artificial hills, pavilions, halls, temples and covered corridors today. In summer, Beihai Park is an ideal place to escape from heat. The view on top of White Dagoba Hill is of the golden tiles and red walls of the Forbidden City and Jingshan Park with its five pavilions to the east, and the graceful buildings of Tuancheng (the Round City) and the green waves of Zhongnanhai to the south. One can also have a panoramic view of the Great Hall of the People, the Museum of History and many high-rise buildings in Beijing. It is one of the most popular scenic spots in the capital.

Photo of Beihai Park

  • This photo shows the WulongTing (Five Dragon Pavillion) of Beihai Park. It was taken on a cruising boat in the lake of Beihai during early spring.
  • Beihai Park photo

Highlights of visiting Beihai Park

    Beihai Lake, Round City, Jade Islet, Yong' an Temple, White Pagoda, Nine-Dragon Screen

Helper to visit Beihai Park

  • Address in English : No.24 Di'anmen West Street, Xicheng District, Beijing, China
  • Address in Chinese : 北京市西城区地安门西大街24号
  • Tel : +8610-64033225
  • Post code : 100044
  • Ticket time : 6:30 - 20:30(April 1st - October 31st ), 6:30 - 19:30(November 1st - March 31st)
  • Open time : 6:30 - 21:00(April 1st - October 31st ), 6:30 - 20:00(November 1st - March 31st)
  • Closing time : Null
  • Location : Beihai Park is around 1 km to downtown beijing


  • Subway: Subway Line 6(Beihai Bei Station)
  • Public bus:
    • Bus 5, 101, 103, 109, 124, 685, 814, 846 (Beihai Station)
    • Bus 13, 42, 107, 111, 118, 810, 701 823 (Beihai North Gate Station)
  • Private car is the best method to visit Beihai Park with local tour operator.


  • high season : 15 RMB/person.
  • shoulder season : 15 RMB/person.
  • low season : 15 RMB/person.

Hotel near Beihai Park

  • 5 star/duluxe hotel
  • Beijing HWA-Aparthotel
  • Shichahai Shadow Art Performance Hotel
  • Beijing Prime Hotel Wangfujing
  • Sunworld Dynasty Hotel Beijing Wangfujing
  • 3 star/comfort hotel
  • Nostalgia Hotel Beijing
  • Jingshan Garden Hotel
  • Beijing Siheju Courtyard Hotel
  • King Parkview Hotel
  • Liuhe Courtyard Hotel
  • History of Beihai Park
  • Early in the 10th century, the Liao dynasty, a secondary imperial palace and an island (Jade Islet) were built here, called Yaoyu or Jade Islet. When the Jin took over, they renamed the capital Zhongdu, meaning Central Capital, and built an imperial palace. Qionghua (Jade Flowery) Islet was built of earth dug out from the lake, and the rocks used for piling on the hill were brought from Kaifeng, Henan Province. During the Yuan Dynasty, the place was rebuilt three times, and Guanghandian or the Palace in the Moon where Kublai Khan used to live and many other palace buildings were built on top of the hill. It was in this palace that Kublai Khan received Marco Polo. Unfortunately it was destroyed. The Islet became the center of Dadu (Great Capital of Yuan Dynasty) and is still situated in the heart of modern Beijing.
    The Ming Dynasty saw more construction and renovation: the Five Dragon Pavilions and the Nine-Dragon Screen on the north bank of the lake and many pavilions and galleries were erected during that period. From the White Pagoda, visitors can have an excellent view of the Five Dragon Pavilions standing on the opposite bank of the lake, with colorful ferry boats travelling back and forth between the shores. During the reign of Emperor Qianlong, construction lasted for 30 years. The project included many other pavilions, halls and terraces which made the park even more harmonious in design.
    A White Pagoda, an onion-shaped shrine pagoda in Tibetan style, was erected in honor of the fifth Dalai Lama's visit to Beijing in 1651.
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    • Main attractions of Beihai Park
    • The whole park is divided into four scenic zones: North bank, East bank, Qionghua Island and Tuancheng or Round City. There are many attractions in the four scenic zones.
    • Beihai Lake Beihai Lake occupies most part of Beihai Park. It is a beautiful waterscape in the whole area. The lake make Beihai Park more beautiful and make it become a place for Beijing people to escape the hot weather.
      The lake is called Beihai in Chinese, meaning "north sea." It is 68 hectares in area, with an average depth of 2 meters. The water comes from the Jade Spring Hill and Yongding River, northwest of the city. Boating and fishing are popular here in spring, summer and autumn, and people come here to skate in winter.
    • Round City Round City stands at the west side of the south gate of Beihai Park. It is a round building surrounded by a 5-meter-high wall, and has a distinctive courtyard studded with halls, pavilions and ancient trees.
      With a circumference of only 276 meters, 4,500 square meters in area, Round City is perhaps the smallest city in the world. The walls of the city protected the residence of Kublai Khan, the first emperor of the Yuan dynasty (1271-1368). The major building in the Round City is Chengguangdian (the Hall to Receive the Light), Yuwengting (Jade Jar Pavilion) and an 800-year-old pine tree. The Round City is of great artistic value in the history of ancient gardening in China.

      The Hall of Receiving Light (Chengguang Hall) is the main structure in the Round City and has a square platform in front and a roof of several tiers of flying eaves. The roof is covered with glazed yellow tiles and edged with green glazed tiles. During the Ming Dynasty the emperor liked to come here to watch fireworks. It was converted into a Buddha hall during the Qing Dynasty. Now there is a Buddha statue of white jade in it.

      The Hall of Receiving the Light was built in 1746 after the style of the watchtower in the Palace Museum. It has two verandahs, one on the east side and the other on the west. To the west in the rear are the Pavilion of Penetrating Fragrance and the Pavilion of Clear Ripples. To the east are the Ancient Musical Pipe Pavilion and the Pavilion of Scattered Clouds.

      The Jade Jar, which is 0.66 metres high and 1.5 metres in diameter, was used as a wine vessel by Kublai Khan during the Yuan Dynasty. Carved out of a whole piece of jade 700 years ago, the jar weighs 3.5 tons. It was originally kept in the Palace in the Moon. The Jade Urn is carved out of a single piece of black jade. On its outer surface are designs of sea-dragons and other marine beasts amidst rolling waves, and inside is inscribed a poem by Emperor Qianlong about the jar. After the Palace in the Moon collapsed in the Ming Dynasty, the Jade Jar was taken to Zhenwumiao (True Martial Temple), where it was used as a pickle jar. It was recovered in 1749. A pavilion was built especially to house it on the order of Emperor Qianlong.

      The statue of Buddha, 1.5 meters high, carved from a block of lustrous jade, a present from Burma to Empress Dowager Cixi. It was carved out of a whole piece of jade. The crown and garment are of gold foil and inlaid with red and green crystals. Its left arm bears gashes made by swords, a result of the looting of soldiers of the Eight-Power Allied Forces who invaded Beijing in 1900. But now you can hardly find it after repair.

      When you go up the terrace, you can see an ancient lacebark pine on your right about 20 metres tall. The pine was planted in the Jin Dynasty, one of the oldest in Beijing. The cypress trees in front of the Hall to Receive the Light are all several hundred years old. Emperor Qianlong is said to have granted titles to these ancient trees: for example, the General in White Robe, for the white bark pine. East of the Hall to Receive the Light there is an 800-year-old tree. It is 10.46 metres high, 94.6 centimetres in diameter, shades the sun from 107.6 square metres. The pine was named the Sunshade Marquess by Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty as he once sheltered under it on a hot summer day. A lightning rod has been placed on top of the tree, and it is still growing healthily although one of its branches was broken by heavy snow in 1960.
      In Beijing detailed records 4,200 pine trees which are more than 300 years old, have been compiled. Similar work is also being carried out on some another 20,000 trees, aged between 100 and 300 years.
      Since 1983, detailed records have been built up listing each tree's age, height, diameter, shade area, and environment and including photographs and any legendary story attached to the tree. The information is fed into a computer and is used for research work aiming at better protecting these aged trees.
      Local groups set up to compile records in parks, at historical sites and scenic spots are also now caring for the old trees by providing manure, irrigation and insecticides.
    • Jade Islet The Jade Islet, the center of the park, features luxuriant trees and a host of temple halls. The island hill, called Qionghua, serves as the center of Beihai Park. On its slopes are scattered structures of h1storical interest. A crescent building on its western slope contains 495 stone tablets bearing Chinese characters representative of almost all ancient calligraphic styles. The best time to view the Qionghua Island hill is when the sun is setting. It is then half tinged with a golden hue and half suffused with a sky blue. The small island is connected with the Round City by Yong'an Bridge. A giant white pagoda rises on top of it. In summer, lotus blossoms bloom in the lake surrounding the island.
      Besides the two famous buildings, Yong'an Temple and White Pagoda there are some other interesting places on the Jade Islet.
      The towering ancient trees on the western slopes of Jade Flower Islet have created one of the Eight Views of Yanjing. It is known as "Jade Islet in Shady Springtime". Qing Emperor Qianlong was so fascinated by the beautiful scene here that he wrote a poem and an inscription that reads Jade Islet Spring Shade. The inscription was later carved on the facade of the tablet and the poem on the back. The tablet is enclosed by marble balustrades. Close by the tablet a path leads to the top of the hill. The stele, erected in 1751, is inscribed with this phrase in the calligraphy of Emperor Qianlong of the Qing.

      Enter Beihai Park by the east gate, cross the bridge, turn right and walk along the lake side for 5 minutes, you will get to Yilantang (Hall of Gentle Ripple) on the Qionghua Islet where Fangshan Restaurant is located. With a hill behind and a lake in front, the restaurant offers a picturesque view. There are 11 halls, large and small, which can accommodate a total of 250 people. The dishes and desserts are imitations of imperial cuisine.
      The 300-meter-long corridor of two layers sits on the north part of the Jade Flower Islet. It runs from Yiqing Tower to the east to Fenleng Pavilion to the west. It is a copy of the corridor in the Jiangtian Temple in Zhenjiang, Jiangsu Province. The corridor is a wonderful decoration of the landscape.
      Bronze Dew Plate is placed on a white stone terrace on the northern side of Jade Flower Islet guarded by white marble balusters. A bronze immortal perches on top of a stone pillar ornamented with a. twining dragon and holds with his hands the dew plate. It is said during the Qing Dynasty the emperor often used the dew collected in the plate to brew his medicine.
      The Hall for Night Parties(Qingxiaolou) lies on the western part of the Islet. In the imperial days, on the Lantern Festival (the 15th day of the 1st month of the Chinese lunar calendar), Empress Dowager Cixi would come to enjoy the skating games here.
      The Chamber for Reading the Classics (Yuegulou) is located on the western side of the Jade Islet. During the reign of Emperor Qianlong (1736-1795), a collection of famous calligraphical works up to the Wei and Jin dynasties (220-420), possessed by the imperial court, were on stone tablets rubbings, which constitute the "Sanxitang (Hall of Three Rarities) Model Calligraphy." The total comes to 495 pieces forming a collection of China's treasures in the art of calligraphy.
    • Yong' an Temple Yong' an Temple or Eternal Peace Temple on the Qionghuadao islet in the centre of Beihai Park reopened to the public after intensive renovation in 1993. It was first built in 1651, though the history of the park dates a few centuries earlier, when the Pagoda symbol of the park, was constructed on the top of the hill. But Yong'an Temple has long been in disrepair. Part of it had toppled with the passage of time, until it was restored earlier 1993. The temple has now taken on an entirely new face with its freshly-painted walls and roofs, dazzling-array of Buddha statues and cultural relics. The components of Yong'an temple - three main halls and several auxiliary ones -are arranged along the slope on six terraces, with the White Pagoda atop the tiny island. The first statues are the four guardians of Dharma. Heavenly Kings, as they are dubbed. They look ferocious and each has something in hand. Sakyamuni, founder of Buddhism, and his main disciples, eight Bodhisattva and 18 Arhats, are enshrined in the Falun Hall -a common sight in a temple of this kind. The falun, or prayer wheel cylinder, is a bell-like instrument used in religious rituals. There are two falun sets in front of the hall.
      The Shanyin Hall, a structure of glazed tiles in imitation of wood, is 4.4 meters wide. The round upper part is topped with a roof of copper tiles and a gilt ball. On the four sides of the square lower part there are 445 Buddhist statues of glazed tiles.
      The Yong'an Bridge linking the Round City and Jade Flower Islet was built in the 13th century. Lotus flowers and petals are carved on its balusters and fence boards. Two archways stand on either side of the bridge.
    • White Pagoda (Baita) The White Pagoda atop Jade Islet in the Beihai Park is a famous landmark in Beijing. The pagoda is 35.9 meters high and has a 30-meter-tall column inside. It was built on a square base built of huge stone slabs, and is topped by two bronze parasols. It resembles a huge umbrella resting on a densely-wooded island. Since it was the highest point in old Beijing, it served as a vantage point of military significance.
      Sutras in Tibetan language are carved inside the front gate. Fourteen copper bells hang from its copper canopy on top of which is a gilt ball like a flame. Inside a gold box atop the column are reputed to be two teeth belonging to Sakyamuni, the founder of Buddhism.
      The White Pagoda was built in 1651 on the former site of the Palace in the Moon. At the suggestion of a famous Tibetan lama priest named Momhan, Emperor Shunzhi, the first emperor of the Qing Dynasty agreed to the suggestion as a gesture of devotion to the Buddhist belief and a desire for unification among China's various nationalities. The pagoda was damaged in an earthquake and reconstructed on two occasions. The present structure was a later reconstruction.
      Under the pagoda is a lamasery, which was formerly inhabited by scripture-chanting monks. The pagoda together with a painting depicting Emperor Shunzhi (the first emperor of the Qing) meeting with the Fifth Dalai is the witness of the Central Government-Tibet alliance at that time. The top is a gold-gilded copper lid decorated with dozens of bells with jingle far in the wind. In front of the pagoda stand the Temple of Enternal Peace (Yong'an si) and Hall of Universal Peace. At the back of the island is Hall of Rippling Water.
      According to records in Da Qing Hui Dian (Book of the Qing Dynasty), a signal gun used to be installed on the pagoda and an officer was assigned to look after it, so it could give the alarm in case of emergency. In front of the building is a tall terrace on which a glazed chamber was built, called Shanyin Hall. The four sides of the chamber are inlaid with a hundred little statues of Buddha made of glazed bricks. A Buddha of a thousand hands and a thousand eyes, who, as legend has it, defends Beihai, is enshrined in the chamber. This chamber is also regarded as part of the White Pagoda.
    • Studio of Colourfully-Painted Pleasure Boat(Huafangzhai) Huafangzhai (Studio of Colourfully-Painted Pleasure Boat) lies on the east shore of the lake.
      Huafangzhai consists of several water-surface buildings. In the centre is a pond surrounded by winding galleries. On the left is Guketing (Courtyards with Old Trees), in front of which is an old ash-tree planted in the Tang Dynasty (618-907).
      Nowadays, the Studio is often used for exhibitions of calligraphy, paintings and photographs.
    • Jingxinzhai(Heart-ease Study) Jingxinzhai (Heart-ease Study) is a fascinating garden located on the northern shores of Beihai Park. The whole garden is surrounded by a gilded and painted zigzag corridor that follows the shape of the hills.
      The garden was first named Jingqingzhai (Clear Mirror Study) built with fine workmanship in 1758 and was known as the "miniature garden of Qianlong." The Qing emperors and empresses used to come here to relax after worshipping Gods at Xiaoxitian (Little Western Sky) in Beihai. Empress Dowager Cixi made it her favorite resort because of its quietness and seclusion and a special narrow-gauge railway line was built from her residence at Zhongnanhai right down to the entrance of the garden. In 1913, this place was renovated and renamed Jingxinzhai. The garden combines the special feature of gardening in areas both north and south of the Yangtze River. It is ingeniously designed, novel in style, made up of three courtyards and consists chiefly of rockeries.
      Behind the elegant north gate of the garden is a pond that takes up one whole courtyard and has water lilies in its clear water. In the pond stands an exquisite piece of rock from Lake Taihu and the spacious Jingxinzhai stands right behind the pond.
      East of Jingxinzhai is a small courtyard. The main building facing south is Baoshu Study, said to be the study of the crown princes of the Qing Dynasty. The east wing, called Yunqinzhai (Zither Room), faces a small lotus pond fed by water from the lake, which gives a jingle-jangling sound like jade falling to the ground. In the south is a wall with different shapes of cut-outs through which one can enjoy a panoramic view of Beihai. No wonder there is a couplet in the Zither Room which reads: "A unique place to enjoy oneself; a combination of sound and view."
      Behind the study is a rock garden where bubbling spring water flows through crevices into the lotus pond. Right in the middle of the pond stands Qinquanlang (Refreshing Spring Corridor) decorated with vermillion beams and painted columns. It is a wonderful place for relaxation on midsummer days.
      Qinquanlang is connected with the southern shores by a zigzag bridge in the east and a marble bridge in the west. This marble bridge looks like a jade belt which is supported at each end by two life-like unicorns bending their backs and looking straight ahead.
      Peichawu (Tea Baking Place) is located to the southeast of the bridge. It faces Yanhuaxuan (Room for Keeping Paintings) which is diagonally opposite Huafengshi (Room for Painting Peaks) in the southwest of the garden. It is so well designed that it enables visitors to enjoy views from the room from two different angles.
      The different shaped rockeries were said to be modeled after the works of famous landscape painters. There are narrow paths between the rockeries. In the west of the garden is a group of rockeries made of Taihu rocks which look like a lotus flower in full bloom. Zhenluanting, an exquisite pavilion right in its centre, provides a bird's eye view of the garden. The place was named Lianduozhugong (Lotus and Pearl Palace) by Emperor Qianlong for its unique beauty.
    • Tower of Ten Thousand Buddhas The Tower of Ten Thousand Buddhas, located at the northwestern corner of the compound, was built in 1771 in honour of the 80th birthday of Emperor Qianlong's mother. The tower contained 10,000 niches, each holding a gilded Amitayus Buddha. It's a pity they were looted when the allied forces of the eight powers invaded Beijing in 1900.
    • Five-Dragon Pavilions Built in 1543, the waterborne Five-Dragon pavilions are connected by zigzag bridges. The one in the middle is the largest. In old days the emperor and his consorts came to the Five-Dragon pavilions to fish, watch fireworks or admire the moon. Since the pavilions were built over the water, they were called dragon-pavilions.
    • Guanyin Hall of Minor Western Heaven Western Heaven in Buddhism is the Land of Extreme Happiness. Emperor Qianlong built the Guanyin Hall at Minor Western Heaven for his mother to pray for her happiness and longevity. It is the largest palatial hall in the style of a square pavilion in China. A plaque with the characters "Land of Extreme Happiness" in the handwriting of Emperor Qianlong hangs from the ceiling.
    • Small Sukhavati(Small Western Paradise) Located in the northwestern part of Beihai Park, the Small Sukhavati (Pure Land) Garden was built in 1770 by Qing Emperor Qianlong to celebrate his mother's birthday. The main hall in the garden is the largest square pavilion in Asia. It is surrounded with water but easy of access by bridges. It is small pavilion at each corner. Inside the hall there is a mounded Buddhist Sumeru mountain with a seated Sakyamuni, with Ananda and Mahakasyapa standing by each side and Bodhisttvas and Arhats of various symbolic gestures arranged around. The mountain is embellished with ancient towers and temples, exotic flowers and rare trees, and curling mists and clouds, making it look like the legendary "Western Paradise"(Sukhavati). Emperor Qianlong once inscribed the words "Pure Land" in mandarin Chinese on board, which is still hung high in the hall. These features make the building a precious Buddhist architectural work. The garden was closed for reason of damages and safety since 1952. The departments concerned have made efforts to restore and conserve the garden especially during the period from 1987 to 1993. The Sukhavati Garden was finally reopened to domestic and foreign tourists in early 1994.
      Within the resorted Sukhavati Garden the tourist will acquire a vivid experience of the mountain itself and will find sculptures of the Buddhist Mi School in the cave.
    • Iron Shadow Screen The Iron Shadow Screen is a cultural relic from the Yuan Dynasty. It stands 3.56 meters long and l.89 meters high. There are some simple but lively animal carvings on both sides. The color of the screen looks like iron. Actually it is carved out of neutral igneous rock, hence the name.
    • Nine-Dragon Screen Beihai Park is also home to the famous Nine-Dragon Screen. Just like the one in the Forbidden City, the screen is built with colored glazed-tiles. Made in 1756, the Nine-Dragon Screen was built of 424 pieces of coloured glazed tiles during the reign of Qing Emperor Qianlong. The Nine-Dragon Screen was built to protect a temple (no longer there now) from invading evil spirits, and is considered an art treasure and one of the best of its kind. The whole thing is built with glazed color bricks. On either side of it there are nine dragons, also made of glazed bricks, each playing with a pearl amidst waves of clouds. It is said that the total number of dragons is 635.
      The Nine-Dragon Screen in "Beihai Park is one of the indispensable sights for foreign tourists to Beijing to take in if they wish to follow the traces or China's dragons. In nine different postures the nine dragons equally portray fierceness and vigour. Tourists marvel at the great artistic merit and the Beautiful modeling of this ancient art object. There are three nine-dragon screens in China: the largest is the one in the city of Datong, Shanxi Province; the best one is in Beihai Park and the other one is in the Forbidden City.
    • West Bank of Beihai Park Opposite the Jade Isle across the lake on the west bank are unique buildings. The Five-Dragon Pavilions - a zigzag line of five glaze-tiled pavilions over the water were built in 1602 and renovated several times under the Qing. The Qing emperors used to go fishing there.
    • Liulige Tower Looking west from Diecui Tower in Jingxinzhai one sees a high structure-the Liulige Tower. The four sides of the square tower Liulige are lined with glazed tiles and bear l,376 small Buddha statues, also made of glazed tiles.
    • Pavilion of Buddhist Apprehension(Miaoxiangting) The Pavilion of Buddhist Apprehension is octagonal in shape. Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty had Wanfolou (House of Ten Thousand Buddhist Deities) built in celebration of his mother's eightieth birthday. The pavilion is part of the construction. In the pavilion there is a stone pagoda, on which are carved sixteen Buddhist figures. Each one of them is full of life and marvelous in form.
    More Photo
    • Legeng of Beihai Park
    • Beihai Park once was called Tai Ye Chi, which was divided into three parts: Beihai Lake in the north, Zhonghai Lake in the middle, and Nanhai Lake in the south. Beihai, the best known of the three, was turned into a royal garden as early as 1,000 years ago.
      According to the legend, there were supposed to be three islands to the east of Bohai Bay where the gods lived. One of them was called Penglai Island where a kind of herbal medicine grew, that was supposed to prolong life. The first emperor of the Qin Dynasty wanted to live forever. He sent people to the islands to look for the longevity medicine, but failed. Emperor Wudi of the Han Dynasty also wanted to live an eternal life. He ordered that a big pool be dug at the back of his palace, complete with three artificial hills to represent Penglai and the other islands. So these legendary hills were built in the eastern capital of Luoyang during the Sui Dynasty and also in the Tang Dynasty capital of Chang'an. Such a traditional style of gardening was followed during the succeeding dynasties and Beihai Park was built after this traditional style.
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