No one doubts that autumn is Beijing's best season. The leaves turn beautiful shades of orange and red and the autumn air is fresh (relatively speaking) with a subtle crispness, hinting at the fast approach of the winter season. If you're looking to get out and enjoy the breath-taking fall foliage, think twice about going to everyone's go-to scenic area Fragant Hills (Xiangshan), unless you want to be staring at head-backs and butts all day. Take the road less travelled and try these five equally scenic options instead!
1) Badaling National Forest ParkView In Map
Unlike other local leaf havens, Badaling National Forest puts you in the leaves you came to see, letting you walk amongst the trees instead of forcing you to view them on a mountainside or from a distance. Enjoy point-blank leaf-viewing action with bonus background views of the nearby Great Wall. Take a tip from pro-leaf watchers and go before the first week in November for the ripest color palette.
Where: Badaling Forest, Yanqing County, Beijing
Tel: 010 8118 1458
Price: 25 RMB
Opening hours: 08:00-17:00
Getting there: take the Badaling bus No. 877 from Deshengmen, get off at the last stop and walk 15 minutes, or take bus No. 919 to Badaling (八达岭站) and walk about 30 minutes to the leaf-viewing park (公园红叶岭景区)
2) Baiwangshan Forest ParkView In Map
Baiwangshan is 3 km northwest of the Summer Palace, super convenient for those not wanting to trek too far outside the city. Here you'll find a variety of tree species—mostly maple and smoketree—best viewed from the Youyi (友谊亭) or Lanfeng (揽枫亭) pavilions. Keep walking west along the mountain trail for a smaller hill hidden in the valley and more spectacular views, especially at sunset when the already golden leaves get an extra dose of golden glory.
Where: 19 Heishan Hubeikou, Haidian District, Beijing
Tel: 010 6288 4508
Price: 6 RMB
Opening hours: 06:00-19:00
Getting there: take bus No. 330, 933, 697 to Heishan Hubeikou (黑山扈北口站) or take bus No. 特4, 特6, 722路, 957快2 to Baiwangshan (百望山站)
3) Beigong National Forest ParkView In Map
Xiangshan might be slightly closer to the city limits than Beigong, but in terms of pure square meterage of knock-you-on-your-bottom autumn leaves, Beigong is quadruple the size. Plus, Beigong receives far less visitors than Xiangshan, meaning you can look at the brilliant fall colors at your own pace, and you won't have to arrive at the park halfway through the day only to find all the good leaves have already been looked at.
Where: 6 Dahuiguang Village Santiao, Changxindian Township, Fengtai District, Beijing
Tel: 010 8384 0830; 8386 6666
Price: 10 RMB (Apr 1-Nov 30), 5 RMB (Dec 1-Mar 31)
Opening times: 06:00-19:00
Getting there: take bus No. 385，973支3 to Beigong National Forest Park (北宫森林公园站)
4) Mangshan National Forest ParkView In Map
If you're looking to get in a bit of cardio training while enjoying the sights, head over to Mangshan, whose 3,666 stairs to the peak (Beijing's longest mountain stairway) will take your breath away faster than the breath-taking views if you're not careful. Unlike Xiangshan, Mangshan's trails are designed with the mountain's topology in mind, making for a unique hiking experience. Don't forget to stop and smell the sour dates (酸枣); they're ripe for the pickin'.
Where: Ming Dynasty Tombs Reservoir east side, Changping County, Beijing
Tel: 010 6071 1866
Price: 20 RMB
Opening times: 08:00-17:00
Getting there: take bus No. 888 from Deshengmen to the last stop, Mangshan National Forest Park (蟒山国家森林公园站), takes about 1.5 hours
5) Hongluo TempleView In Map
Xiangshan can officially take a hike when it comes to autumn leaves—Hongluo Temple is yet another prime spot with more trees and fewer tourists to see them, all the more multicolored deciduous goodness for you to soak up and photograph. Beside the entrance to the grounds you'll also find a plethora of home-style cooking and vegetarian options, plus a nearby market with tons of fresh goods.
Where: Hongluo Mountain, Yanqi Township, 4 km north of the city, Huairou District, Beijing
Tel: 010 6068 1175
Price: 54 RMB
Opening times: 08:00-17:00
Getting there: take the special Hongluo Temple bus No. 867 from the Dongzhimen long-distance bus station directly to Hong Luo Temple (红螺寺)
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Keywords: Beijing autumn leaves where to see autumn leaves Beijing fall foliage Beijing best fall foliage Beijing
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