Xiangshan Park
(Fragrant Hill)

Visit Three Imperial Gardens in One Day
Xiangshan Park (Fragrant Hill Park) is one of the most popular spots in Beijing in autumn - famous for its red leaves. To capture the best autumn views, it is important that you pick the perfect timing – between the third week of October to mid November. These golden weeks are the best time to have spectacular views when the whole Fragrant Hill turns red.

Xiangshan Park (Frangrant Hill Park) is actually one of the three imperial gardens situated at the west of Beijing, together with Summer Palace and the Old Summer Palace. So we have chosen to visit all three parks in one day. To save time, the three of us hired a private car inclusive of a driver who is also our tour guide.

If you have a group of three or four, it is quite a good deal comparing with joining local tours charging around ¥200/person for a day tour. Of course we had to pay extra for our lunch. But we were happy to do so, because Mr. Jia, our driver, took us to a very authentic Old Beijing restaurant for very yummy and economic Beijing cuisine. We even invited him to join us for lunch.

My Beijing Red Tour Diary - October 17, 2008
• 6.30am – depart from our courtyard hotel
• 7.15am – arrive at Xiangshan Park (Fragrant Hill Park) 香山公園
• 10am – arrive at Summer Palace 頤和園
• 12.30pm – lunch at Xiang Yang Tun Restaurant 向陽屯食村
• 2.30pm – arrive at Old Summer Palace 圓明園
• 5.30pm – depart for 9-Gate Snack Street 九門小吃
• 6.30pm – depart for hotel

Xiangshan Park – 7.15am – 9.30am
Entrance Fee: ¥10
Tourist Map: ¥3
Cable Car: ¥50 per way
Private Car & Driver: ¥600 for full day

To avoid crowds, our tour guide suggested starting early. Actually the park opens at 6am year round and we arrived at 7.15am and there were not much people. However when we left, crowds started to march in.

If you want to take the cable car, you need to drop off at the North Gate. It might worth it if you want to gain a panoramic view of the whole park. However we just thought that ¥50 per way was too much. Mr. Jia, said we can take the cable car up and walk down. Perhaps we should take his advice.

Regretfully we came early and the leaves were just starting to turn red and not very red yet. I believe the red index was only 3%. As of today (October 26) the red index is already 58.2%. If you come by the first week of November, it should be around 70% and the entire mountain will turn red. Can you imagine what a spectacular view it is?

You can check the red index from the Xiangshan Park website. Unfortunate the website has only one page in English. But when you go into it, you only need to observe the date which is in this format: 2008年10月26日 (October 26, 2008), and look for this phrase全园平均变色率达到58.2% ( national average red index 58.2%)

So next year, pick the best timing to come to Beijing and enjoy a red tour at the Xiangshan Park.

Anna’s Red Leave Tour Notes
Leaves turn red because of the great temperature difference. They don’t only appear in Xiangshan Park, as you will notice red leaves everywhere in Beijing. However Xiangshan area has the most concentration of red leaves. The next hottest spot to view red leaves is Badaling Great Wall.

The park is very large and it is quite demanding on walking. Please make sure to come with your comfortable walking shoes. Also it is important to pay ¥3 for a map to guide you around the scenic spots. Remember the park is not only a park, it used to be a resort for the Qing Dynasty emperors to come here to avoid the summer heat. Hence other than beautiful sceneries, there are also imperial heritages. It will worth to spend half a day here. There are restaurants round in the park, so you won’t be hungry.

Summer Palace – 10am – Noon
Entrance Fee: ¥30
Through Ticket: ¥60

Summer Palace is a Grade ‘A’ tourist spot in Beijing. It is crowded everyday. However if you are patient enough, you would still have a chance to take a photo of your favourites.

It is situated at the west of Beijing, in the neighbourhood of Xiangshan Park. It took us less than 30 minutes to come here from Xiangshan.

More on Summer Palace

Old Summer Palace – 2.30pm – 5.30pm
Entrance Fee: ¥10
Site of European Palaces: ¥15 (shuttle ¥5/per way)

After lunch, we took about 20 minutes ride and arrived at the Ruins of the Old Summer Palace. We originally thought that there won’t be much to see. But out of our expectation, we spent almost three hours here.

My travel story will be up soon.

October 30, 2008