Universities route: Tsinghua to Beida

Pedal the stately grounds of the Mainland's most prestigious universities

Tsinghua University. Photo: Cabbagezs/Wikimedia Commons
Whether you’re a new student or just love wide open spaces and gorgeous greenery, you’ll get a kick out of this picturesque route, which passes through the Haidian universities’ pretty gardens.

Distance Around 10km
Bike time One hour
Difficulty Easy
Highlights Tsinghua’s lotus-filled lake and Beida’s iconic pagoda


Start at 1 Lush, a Wudaokou fave, to load up on a big breakfast. Outside, turn left, head to the end of the road and then left again onto Chengfu Lu. Head west until Zhongguancun Dong Lu, then turn right. Continue until you hit Tsinghua University’s main entrance.

About 500m ahead you’ll see the main university building, a monolith with art-deco columns. Cycle towards it on the slab path next to the green lawn. When you get to the building, turn left onto Tsinghua Lu (note the old-school spelling; some maps say Qinghua Lu). Go past the odd, inverted cone-shaped University Theatre, before turning right on to Xuetang Lu. After crossing Zhishan Lu, you’ll spot 2 Bike Doctor Hu (useful if your trusty steed needs a bit of tuning) on your right.

Tsinghua University. Photo: Denn/Wikimedia Commons

Turn right when you get onto Zijing Lu and head east, past basketball courts and an outdoor gym, where the college studs flex their stuff, until you reach, on the left, the Sculpture Park with its 3 giant stone head and other statues, before retracing your steps along Zijing Lu. Follow the road west until you can go no further, then go right, taking the first left to cross the bridge over the small canal. Follow the thin path southwards along the willow-lined canal’s west bank. When you hit the first real road (Zhishan Lu), turn right. Keep heading west, past sports grounds and the ivy-clad, red-brick Science Building. Turn left onto Jinchun Lu and head south, passing the 4 Astro-Physics Tower. After crossing the canal again, admire the lotus-filled 5 Jinchun Lake on the left.

Hop back on and continue, turning right onto Tsinghua Lu, continuing westwards until you get to the University's West Gate. Turn left, then branch left onto Qinghua Nan Lu , where you'll find multiple options for a 6 tasty hot pot lunch. At the road’s end, turn right onto Chengfu Lu and continue straight, crossing over Zhongguancun Bei Dajie until you get to the East Gate of Beida (also known as Peking University).

weiming lake
Weiming Lake. Photo: Egorgrebnev/Wikimedia Commons

Enter and keep going west. Ahead, you will see the library, a five-storey building with a traditional grey-tiled roof. About 100m before you reach it, just as you approach two smaller buildings, turn right. Carry on northwards along Weiming Bei Lu until you see the 7 Boya Pagoda on your right. Built as a water tower in 1924, this 13-tier structure is the symbol of Peking University. When the road forks, take the left-hand path around the northern shore of 8 Weiming Lake until it becomes a road again. On your right you’ll pass two huge, siheyuan-style three-sided buildings with red columns and blue-green roof beams. After the first road on the right, you’ll spot a sign for the 9 Sackler Museum of Art and Archaeology (entrance is free; passport required), which is well worth a look for its Bronze- and Stone-Age tools.

Old Summer Palace. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Continue west on the road where you spotted the sign. Bearing to the left, you'll enter a giant courtyard with two stone columns. Continue west, crossing over the large goldfish pond, to the West Gate of Beida on Yiheyuan Lu. If you have the energy, you can cycle north and turn right at the T-junction onto Qinghua Xi Lu, where you’ll find Yuanmingyuan, the 10 Old Summer Palace.

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