The Best City Breaks From Beijing
A uniquely vibrant city, Beijing combines historic charm and modern splendor to form the ultimate vacation destination. On occasion, however, you may find yourself wishing for respite from the big city. When that time arrives, don’t hesitate to hit up these top destinations:
1. Caves of Zhoukoudian
One of China’s most important archaeological sites, the Zhoukoudian cave system has supplied researchers with a vast collection of remains linked to the extinct species Homo erectus. Known as the Peking Man fossils, these remains offer intriguing insight into the role evolution has played in the history of multiple species.
A short walk from the park’s well-known archaeological sites will take you to a relatively recent addition: a large museum housing thousands of relics and interactive displays.
2. Great Wall of China: Mutianyu Section
One of China’s most iconic structures, the Great Wall attracts millions of visitors every year. Mutianyu is one of the site’s most accessible sections, but it typically lacks the crowds associated with Badaling.
Beautifully preserved, Mutianyu is surrounded by gorgeous scenery. Each season brings its own source of visual delight, but Mutianyu is especially impressive during the autumn months. No matter when you visit, you’ll be struck by the scope of the Great Wall and its historical importance.
3. Marco Polo Bridge
Spanning the Yongding River, the Marco Polo Bridge is a true historic icon. While it is, in part, known for being Beijing’s oldest bridge, this granite structure is more commonly referenced as the site of a notorious incident that sparked war with Japan.
Today, however, visitors appreciate not only the bridge’s historic significance, but also the sheer beauty of its carved lions, which adorn the railings on both sides.
4. Gouya Natural Scenic Area
Located in the Changping District, Gouya Natural Scenic Area inspires awe with its impressive topography. Witness the highs and lows of nature up close and personal; during your Gouya adventure, you’ll discover both tall mountains and deep gorges.
Along the way, you’ll observe lush greenery and a variety of temples. Favorite activities include hiking, fishing, and photography. Stop by early in the morning for a peaceful retreat and a stunning view of the sunrise.
5. Fragrant Hills Park
Also known as Xiangshan Park, Fragrant Hills Park appeals to nature lovers, who appreciate the abundance of cypress, maple, and persimmon trees found there. The park sustained considerable damage during attacks in 1860 and 1900, but has seen extensive restoration in recent years. From the beginning, it has boasted the region’s best autumn scenery.
Whether your ideal escape from Beijing includes a strenuous hike or the leisurely examination of historic landmarks, you’ll quickly fall in love with the many beautiful parks and temples that surround one of China’s largest and busiest cities. Broaden your horizons with a quick break from city life — you won’t regret it.
6. Eastern Qing Tombs
Situated northeast of Beijing and northwest of Tangshan, Zunhua’s Easter Qing Tombs house the Qing dynasty’s emperors, empresses, and concubines. The tombs located within this vast mausoleum complex are extraordinarily preserved. The many mountains surrounding the mausoleum only add to the sense of wonder you’ll naturally experience during your visit.