Temple of Heaven

Address: Tiantan Road, Chongwen District, Beijing, China

- Budget


Drop a line to the man upstairs at this celestial altar complex in south Beijing.

In shabbier south Beijing, the Temple of Heaven is a conduit with the cosmos, a numerically symbolic altar of vital importance during Imperial times. The Emperor, known as the ‘son of heaven’, would travel south from the Forbidden City before the winter solstice to pray here for a bounteous harvest. These days, tourists swell between the Round Alter and the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, but I prefer to wander the surrounding 267 hectare park amongst cypress trees and neatly trimmed lawns, to watch the locals warble revolutionary songs, ‘jam’ on traditional instruments, line dance, crack whips, and other leisurely pursuits.

Value for money

Price advice

Tickets cost around 30 RMB, but if you just want to explore the park you can buy a 10 RMB entrance ticket that excludes the temple buildings. Audio guides are available for an extra 40 RMB plus deposit.

Expert tips

If your stomach’s rumbling, head to Lao Beijing Zhajiang Mian Dawang Restaurant just outside the east gate to sample Beijing’s own version of spaghetti bolognaise, ‘zhajiang’ noodles.

Visit the park before 9am to catch elderly locals exercising en masse.

Tiantandongmen (subway line 5) is the most convenient stop to access the park, via the east gate.

Recommended for

  • Couples
  • Families with teenagers
  • Families with younger children
  • Education
  • Escaping the crowds
  • People watching
  • Chilling out