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Beijing Badachu Park

Located on the southern slopes of the Western Hills (Xi Shan), about 16 km from downtown Beijing, Badachu Park (Eight Great Sites Park) is home to eight Buddhist temples and nunneries, some portion of which date back as far as the Sui Dynasty (581--619 AD).

The eight temples are scattered across three wooded hilltops, with a stream running below them, crossed by five bridges. The park makes for a pleasant and convenient getaway in the warmer months, especially on weekdays when the crowds are at a minimum. The eight Buddhist sites -- Chang'an Temple, Linguang Temple, Sanshan Nunnery, Dabei Temple, Longquan Nunnery, Xiangjie Temple, Zhengguo Temple and Baozhu Grotto--are complemented by the age-old pines and cypresses of Baihui Yuan (Baihui Garden) and the stream-fed Yincui Lake.

Needless to say, mid-autumn is the best time of year to visit, as colorful foliage and clear, cool air create the perfect setting for a lazy afternoon's worth of light hiking and temple visits. If you're taking it easy, a cable car can take you to the top of the hill for RMB 20; if you're feeling like a kid, you can zip back down on a special hillside slide for another RMB 40. Mid-spring is also nice, with the bonus of a number of colorful folk festivals that are held once the weather warms up.
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