The northwestern Beijing district of Haidian is multifaceted: it has the largest concentration of top universities in China; it boasts both the wonders of nature (Fragrant Hills, Phoenix Mountain) and the masterpieces of Chinese landscape garden design (the Summer Palace); it is also home to Beijing’s Silicon Valley, Zhongguancun. There are too many things to see and do in Haidian, but Culture Trip has managed to pick 11 to get you started.
Visit the Summer Palace on a sunny day
The Summer Palace was a prestigious imperial garden built in the Qing dynasty. As it was planned at the height of the dynasty, the palace reflects the top level of the Chinese landscape garden design. In the summer, there are marvelous blossoms of lotus flowers in the lake; in the winter, the Kunming Lake is turned into a ice skating playground. You mustn’t miss the Long Corridor by the lake – you’ll be amazed by the play of light and shadow caused by the corridor’s structure.
19 Xinjiangongmen Road, Haidian District, Beijing, China, +8610 62881144
See the Old Summer Palace
The Summer Palace is amazing, but it can’t compare with the Old Summer Palace, known as the “Garden of Gardens” in its heyday. But since the palace was destroyed by a fire set by the joint Anglo-French army during the Second Opium War, today you can only imagine the garden from its ruins.
28 Qinghua Xilu, Haidian District, Beijing, China, +8610 62628501
Tour around the Peking University and the Tsinghua University
The two top universities in China, the dream destination for numerous Chinese high school students, are neighbors based in Haidian District. Stop by the lakeside of the Weiming Lake and watch the Boya Tower as dusk falls; take a stroll in the Tsinghua Garden, and see the vigorous youths flying past you on their bicycles – it just might give you the urge to go back to uni for a moment.
Go to the Beijing Forestry University in autumn
The best time of year to visit Beijing is autumn. One significant reason is that the gingko leaves only turn golden in autumn. Most people in Beijing know that Diaoyutai Gingko Boulevard is a nice place to appreciate gingko, but only the locals go to the much less popular, but beautiful all the same, Beijing Forestry University for the golden scenery.
Have an evening drink at LUSH
Beijing’s Wudaokou has a nickname: “the Center of the Universe.” That’s not only because of the shopping mall named “U-Center” in Wudaokou, but also thanks to the fact that the area boasts a large concentration of overseas students. The restaurant and bar LUSH is these overseas students’ base camp.
1 Huaqing Jiayuan, Haidian District, Beijing, China, +8610 82863566
Watch a movie at the China Film Archive
The China Film Archive is one of China’s most prestigious arthouse cinemas. Different from the ordinary cinemas that only screen the latest blockbusters, the CFA carefully choose critically acclaimed films from China and abroad for cinephiles. You may check their monthly movie list here.
3 Wenhuiyuan Road, Haidian District, Beijing, China, +8610 82296008
Read at the National Library of China
The most important library of China, with the largest collection of Chinese books, journals and newspapers, is located in Haidian District. It’s got more books in other languages than most other Chinese libraries, too. Even if you fail to find a foreign language book here, you may also try your luck at the nearby Beijing Foreign Studies University library.
33 Zhongguancun Nandajie, Haidian District, Beijing, China, +8610 88544114
Visit the Military Museum
The Military Museum is one of the ten buildings constructed in Beijing in the 1950s to celebrate the ten-year anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. It is characteristic of a zealous age when the Great Leap Forward campaign was on the rise. It is now home to a collection of 340,000 military artifacts, a large proportion of which tell the outstanding achievements of the Chinese army.
9 Fuxing Road, Haidian District, Beijing, China, +8610 66866244
A Chinese boy visits an exhibition at the Military Museum of the Chinese People's Revolution in Beijing on Sept. 15, 2017. The museum displays restored military equipment from the history of the People's Liberation Army as well as modern-day military machinery. Photograph by @romanpilipey—@epaphotos
Have a cup of coffee at the 3W Coffee
The start-up fever in the Zhongguancun Hi-Tech Development Zone has even extended to the cafés in the area. They flaunt the banner of being a “start-up café,” attracting the single-minded start-up entrepreneurs and speculators who fill the cafés with tension. What makes the 3W Coffee stand out is that it was once visited by the Chinese Premier Li Keqiang during his tour of the start-up hub in 2015. The café even put the vanilla cappuccino that Li had tried under the name of “Premier’s Coffee” on its menu.
70 Haidian Xidajie, Haidian District, Beijing, China, +8610 56232857
Buy a book at the All Sages Bookstore
It’s no exaggeration to say that the All Sages Bookstore is the Mecca of Beijing’s literati. It is a long-established bookstore that specializes in Chinese literature, art, and social studies. As the owners enjoy a certain prestige in Beijing’s academic scene, many scholars and writers like to hold lectures at the bookstore.
59-1 Chengfu Road, Haidian District, Beijing, China, +8610 62768748
Go on an outing in the Fenghuangling Nature Park
The Fenghuangling Nature Park, also known as Phoenix Mountain, is a national AAAA scenic spot that covers around 4,000 acres with its curiously shaped peaks, vast forest, and refreshing springs. It is not as beautiful as the Fragrance Hills Park in autumn, but on the contrary it is a less treaded place where you can see and smell unspoiled nature.