The picturesque Beihai Park is a true jewel in the city’s crown, being perhaps one of the most famous and most frequented. Over a thousand years old, it served as an imperial pleasure ground for five dynasties, and its 69 hectares are filled with delightful halls, pavilions, gateways and gardens – many of them built during the culturally proficient Emperor Qianlong’s dynasty. The centrepiece is, obviously, the Tibetan White Dagoba temple on the lake’s central Qiong islet, which poses demurely for some fine Beijing snaps year-round – for the best views, take a boat out on the lake in summer, or skate upon its frozen surface come winter. The park is also popular with old people, who exercise here in the mornings.
Best spot The park’s western side, and the pathways that run along it, are usually quieter than its south, where crowds gather to climb towards the White Dagoba. You’ll also get perhaps the best views to it, across the lake – pause and take it all in before heading to join the masses.