This huge mountain park, located at the foot of Beijing’s Western Mountains (Xishan), is full of temples, pagodas and even a small teahouse – the perfect place to spend a day exploring Chinese history and culture. Most temples are still active, and so you may spot Buddhist monks and worshipers praying or making offerings.
This is also a great spot for families, with a convenient cable car to the top of the mountain and a fun toboggan ride back down.
Despite being not far from central Beijing, this huge park really gives you the feeling of escaping the city and being surrounded by nature. The temples are hidden amongst forests of trees, and the view from the mountain top is stunning.
The oldest temple, located on Lushi hill away from the others, the Zhengguo Temple is over 1200 years old (although it has been restored several times since). The 600 year old Chinese pistashe tree still bears leaves and red drupe fruit.
This Tang dynasty temple is most famous for its incredible seven-story stupa and arhat carvings. The impressive 3.3 ton copper statue of Sakyamuni is also not to be missed, an ancient gift from Thailand. Buddhists flock to this site to admire what is said to be Sakyamuni’s golden tooth – one of only two in the world.
Cradled between three hills, Sanshan Monastery is worth visiting not only for the surrounding scenery but also for China’s largest inkstone, weighing over 45 tons and inscribed with carvings of dragons, turtles, the sun, the moon, and a map of China.
This small temple is worth visiting for the 18 incredibly detailed sandalwood arhat sculptures created by esteemed artist Liu Yuan during the Yuan dynasty.
Home to hundreds of buddhist sculptures, this museum-like section is fascinating to explore. They date back to the Ming dynasty yet were only discovered in 2000 and recently opened to the public.
In spring, the temples are surrounded by beautiful apricot and peach blossom, among other colourful flowers. You can breath in fresh spring air and listed to the wildlife waking up from the cold winter season.
The Eight Great Temples Park is also a popular spot for admiring the beautiful autumn scenery around Beijing. Immerse yourself in the golden, orange and red forest while taking in the sounds of birds and squirrels settling down for winter.
Tomb Sweeping Festival
For those with family buried too far from Beijing, the Eight Great Temples Park is a popular substitute to visiting their relatives actual graves. They come instead to burn incense, pray and make offerings at the temples.
Tickets: 10 RMB.
Opening hours: 6:00 – 18:30 (winter), 6:00 – 19:30 (summer).
Recommended visit: 1 day.
Transport: take metro line 1 to Pingguoyuan (苹果园), leave via exit C then take bus 972 to Badachu (八大处).
Top tip: be prepared for a lot of walking, and bring a packed lunch as restaurants are limited.