There's more to the world's 4th largest country than its big cities. Take a lazy boat ride, climb a mountain, get active and explore China's natural beauty.
Beihai Park (Běihǎi Gōngyuán, 北海公园) lies just to the west of the Forbidden City and until 1925, it was considered part of the imperial complex and therefore off-limits to the masses. The heart of the park consists of three man-made lakes: Beihai (Běihǎi, 北海), Zhonghai (Zhōnghǎi, 中海) and Nanhai (Nánhǎi, 南海). The lakes are connected by the Jade Islet (Qióng Dǎo, 琼岛) which, along with the lakes, was created during the Jin Dynasty (1115-1234 AD), although the site's history as an imperial playground goes back even further..
One of Beijing little known scenic spots, Qinglong Xia (Green Dragon Gorge), is a large reservoir located some 75km from Beijing's 3rd ring road, near the town of Huairou. The area's vast body of deep green water curves and snakes around between the feet of a pair of mountains, and when viewed from a height, resembles a typical Chinese dragon—hence the name. There are activities aplenty, enough to please outdoor enthusiasts and thrill seekers alike. Nature walks up mountain trails take in some beautiful scenery and flora. Set atop the..
Longtan Park (Dragon Pool Park), with its 118 hectares of cypresses, willows and pagoda trees, and 3,700 meters of zig-zagging lakeshore, is one of the Beijing's most popular parks. The 330,000 square-meter lake is bisected by a series of stone arched bridges connecting four small islands that can be reached via boat. Other scenic spots in the park include Longyinge, Longtan and Longmen, while Longtan Park annually hosts a Spring Festival Temple Fair and the occasional Dragon Boat Race.
Songhua Lake Area (Songhuahu Fengjingqu), located 24 kilometers east of the city center, is a popular tourist spot close to the city. This long, narrow lake surrounded by hilly forests is a good place to visit all year around. In the spring and summer the area is ideal for boating and swimming and in the winter for skiing. Originally this area was a little known mountainous region. In 1937, however, construction began on the Fengman Dam, named for its proximity to the nearby town of the same name. Covering a..
Pockmarked by shrapnel and half destroyed, first by a supposedly errant American bomb and then further by the North Koreans, the Yalu River Bridge (Yalujiang Duanqiao) stands as a memorial next to the Friendship Bridge, which spans the river and facilitates trade and traffic between North Korea and China. Travelers who want to see the North Korean side of the border will find a visit to the bridge complements a boat cruise quite nicely. There are piers on either side of the bridge with both large boats (RMB 20, 20 minutes) and..
Dadonghai Beach (Dàdōnghǎi, 大东海) is one of the most popular of Sanya's beaches. It's a nice stretch of white sand meeting blue water, perfect for swimming (there's absolutely no surf here). Don't expect to be alone in Dadonghai, though. It's a busy beach, and the weather's always nice here so expect people to always be here. Swimmers beware of jet-skiers and boaters and sunbathers beware of 4-wheeled sandbuggies (and their inexperienced Chinese drivers). It's beautiful, nonetheless, so enjoy the mango and coconut vendors and the..
The largest freshwater lake in Zhejiang, Dongqian Lake (Dōngqián Hú, 东钱湖) lies about 7 km (4 mi) away from Ningbo proper and is roughly four times the size of Hangzhou’s famous West Lake. Dongqian Lake was a favorite spot of poets in ancient China and today remains a beautiful and relaxing destination. In the center of the lake you'll find the island Xiǎo Pǔtuó (小普陀), named after Putuo Shan (Mount Putuo). Like its namesake, it features a statue of Guanyin, the bodhisattva of compassion; it is also home to..
The man-made crescent-shaped Moon Lake (Yuè Hú, 月湖) was dug during the 7th century in the Tang Dynasty in what is now Ningbo's central Haishu District. Today, Moon Lake provides a serene break from the bustle of the growing city. Bridges and pathways wind around the lake, over islands and through traditional Chinese gardens and buildings. Small restaurants cluster on streets on the northwest side of the lake near the Shipu Restaurant (Xīn Shípú Dàjiǔdiàn, 新石蒲大酒店), while the Ningbo Tea Culture..
An excellent expression of China's imperial spirit, the Summer Palace (Yíhé Yuán, 颐和园) should be explored at leisure, even if it means setting aside a full day just to wander around soaking up the atmosphere. That said, if you're short on time, even a few hours exploring the halls, courtyards, pavilions, temples and wooded hillsides of this opulent lakeside retreat should prove a highlight of your Beijing visit. Today's Summer Palace, or "Garden of Nurtured Harmony," owes a lot to late-imperial historical..