If you’re anything like us and you’re a sucker for a beautiful view then we suggest you give Jingshan Park a look – undoubtedly you will find the best view of Forbidden City here!
Throughout the Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties, the park was a private imperial garden reserved only for the emperor and his family. We arrived early in the morning right on queue for the opening time as we came directly from the flag rising ceremony. Unlike Tiananmen square earlier, the park is wonderfully absent of tourists at this time.
With no one else around, it was easy for us to see why the emperor enjoyed spending his time strolling through the tranquil garden surrounded by lush greenery and colourful flowers – for a fleeting moment it almost felt like we had left the bustling city of Beijing.
Besides the beautiful scenery, the park also has a darker past – walk to the eastern side of the park until you reach two stone slabs placed in front of a locust tree. This marks the spot where the last of the Ming emperors, Chongzhen, and his faithful servant hanged themselves as rebels swarmed at the city walls. It was later claimed that some had seen a dragon rising into the sky, suggesting the soul of the emperor had risen to heaven.
Directly behind the tree the land rises to form a hill, indicating the start of Jingshan – most likely the main reason you would want to visit the park. The summit of the hill is the highest point in Beijing but is in fact artificially made from the earth excavated to make the Forbidden City moat.
Jingshan has five individual peaks, and at the top of each peak there lies an elaborate pavilion. The climb up Jingshan is not too difficult (thankfully as we were starting to feel the affects from waking up so early) but if you ever need a break the pavilions provide a perfect resting spot.
Keep climbing till you reach the top, the highest and largest of all the pagoda’s sits in the centre of Jinshan. Upon arriving you will be greeted by a truly panoramic view of the Forbidden City. The day we visited it was cloudy with a light sheet of fog, but this only further enhanced the feeling of ancient and mysteriousness. Having seen the Forbidden City up close just the day before, we were once again blown away by its sheer scale and beauty. This view alone makes Jingshan Park a must see for us.
We spent an hour walking around the pagoda and just soaking up the view, we practically had our own private viewing – shared only with a security guard. Not long after we were joined by locals and the first of the tour groups. If you ever make the trip up to the top outside of the morning hours do expect to battle for space!
Locals in the park
As we headed back down the hill, we came upon elderly locals practicing their morning tai chi and groups of women and men dancing. Suddenly the park was bursting with life and activity – we couldn’t help but get swept up by the energy and joined in on the morning dancing!
Tips & Times
Jingshan Park has several entrances but the easiest to find and the most popular is the south gate located just across the road opposite the north gate of the Forbidden City. Do note though that the road is fully blocked and to cross you will need to turn left and walk 20 meters taking you to an underground pass.
There is a small entrance fee to pay (much like most other attractions and parks in China) of RMB10 per person.
The park opens at 6am everyday which is perfect if you’ve just finished watching the Tienanmen flag rising ceremony like we did.
We hope this post has given you guys an insight of Jingshan Park. If you have any questions or would like to get in touch, please feel free to drop us a comment below, shoot us an email or find us on instagram and facebook!