For a newcomer to China travel like me, the Summer Palace was a must-see Beijing hotspot and beautiful example of Chinese architecture set against the tranquil landscape of Kunming Lake. Constructed over 250 years ago, this visual gem is a great place for tourist groups of any size to take some amazing pictures as well as enjoy the Chinese culture. It will cost you a mere 30 RMB to experience all the gorgeous surroundings this park has to offer, and for students with a valid ID its half price! For those who enjoy the outdoors and are looking for a great place to just relax by the water or even burn a few calories on Longevity Hill, the Summer Palace is perfect addition to your China Tours. The natural environment of this palace can be attributed to the exquisite garden design and landscaping. It’s unlike anything I have ever seen! No wonder the Chinese name for this attraction literally means “Gardens of Nurtured Harmony.” With scenic views and structures fit for royalty, this palace served as a peaceful residence for many Qing Dynasty ruling family members. As you ascend the hill, you’ll find yourself trekking up some large rocks so make sure to wear comfortable shoes. You can get some good pictures if you are ready and willing to climb up on some of the rocks and look out over the whole hillside.

Dispersed over the hill are a number of stunning buildings such as the Sea of Wisdom Temple, the Cloud Dispelling Hall, and the Temple of Buddhist Virtue, where the Tower of Buddhist Incense takes center stage. This impressive three story tower is the major focal point of the Summer Palace. After coming down the hill’s opposite side, the biggest treat of my day was walking along the lake and watching the boats pass by. Food and souvenir vendors are plentiful. Personally, I purchased a decorated fan and a vanilla ice cream cone to help keep cool in the Beijing summer heat. There were also a handful of skilled performers throughout the grounds ready to entertain passing crowds with Chinese acrobatics or traditional music. At the lake, paddle boats can be rented as well as tickets for boat rides at a reasonable price; I highly recommend these options. Nothing beats getting out on the water on a hot summer day! Closer to the edges outer edges of the lake, the water is covered with the pleasing green hue of massive lily pads. Stretching out across the lake is a multiple arch bridge, where you can join in on some kite flying. The entire park is huge, almost 750 acres, so give yourself plenty of time because a single visit can take up the whole day. There’s so much to see in Beijing, but make sure the Summer Palace is a priority place to visit. Your travel to Beijing won’t be complete without indulging in all this natural elegance.

 

Jack Li

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