One of the largest parks in Beijing's city centre, Beihai Park is a popular local hangout and tourist spot. It was established in the Jin Dynasty as an Imperial Palace – used for relaxing, handling important government affairs and sacrificing for the emperors.

The park surrounds a large lake, on which visitors can explore a small island or ride pedal boats.

After walking through the grand entrance gate, I headed towards the Temple of Eternal Peace, located on an island on the lake.

Originally built in 1651 the centrepiece of this temple is the White Dagoba, which stands at the summit of the hill.

All around the island, which can be reached by bridge, small boats paddle around in the lake.

I continued walking around the shore of the lake to the Nine Dragon Wall, which was really beautiful.

Finally, I explored the Minor Western Heaven, built by Emperor Qianlong in 1970 for his mother. The hall is surrounded by water, accessible by bridges and through intricately carved archways.

Inside stands a huge clay sculpture of Putuo Mountain covered in 226 Arhats.

I really enjoyed spending several hours exploring this lovely park – which contained so much more to see than expected. There were however rather a lot of people and not really anywhere to sit down and relax – making it less of a peaceful retreat from the busy city and more of a sightseeing spot.

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