Visitors have fun in the frosty wonderland lit up by dazzling lights at the Longqingxia. (Photo/Xinhua)
With winter in full swing, the beauty of this icy season is right outside your door. As Beijing experiences wintry weather, lovers of the outdoors have bundled up and set off exploring the city to find the best places for sightseeing in nature. Metropolitan has compiled a list of the top five spots well-known for their icy landscapes.
No. 1 Longqingxia
Longqingxia in Yanqing area is one of the most popular choices among travelers for its "mini-Harbin" ice sculpture festival. The event has been running for about three decades and the 200,000 square kilometer area is filled with ice sculptures, unique structures and artwork lit up by colorful lights, creating a dazzling crystal amusement park that will capture your heart and eyes. This scenic area is a perfect destination for a short weekend trip for families. Hot springs and ski resorts are also nearby.
No. 2 Heilongtan
Heilongtan, in Beijing's Miyun district, is among the first batch of scenic spots developed in the area. The area is known for its 18 celebrated ponds that are scattered along the deep valley, generating a unique and diversified landscape. In winter, numerous waterfalls turn into ice, hanging on the cliffs like silk and satin, creating a fancy frozen world with a backdrop of grand mountains and the simple beauty of the natural environment.
Moreover, considered one of Beijing's top waterfalls, it is just three kilometers away from Heilongtan, a top destination for ice climbing lovers.
No. 3 Shuanglongxia
Shuanglongxia in the Mentougou area is known as "little Jiuzhai Valley" for its beautiful water landscape. The highest mountain stands at 1,646 meters, and it forms two major waterfalls that are more than 29 meters high. The giant ice waterfalls create an impressive scene. Many ice stalagmites and strings are decorated along the mountains, and the rushing water flows quietly under the hard surface. If you want to climb the peaks, a pair of spiked shoes is strongly recommended since most of the journey is purely over ice on the higher parts of the mountain.
No. 4 Taoyuanxiangu
Taoyuanxiangu is in Yunmengshan area and there are many water attractions, including one major lake, six waterfalls, 13 ponds, one spring and four pools. Various natural ice sculptures can be seen at the site and there are two large ice walls stretching 50 meters high and more than 100 meters wide, where people can participate in ice climbing. Sports equipment and clothes are available for rent at the site. The slope of the ice waterfall on the east side of the mountain is relatively flat and suitable for beginners.
No. 5 Houhai and the Summer Palace
Houhai Park and Summer Palace are among the most well-received destinations in town for ice sports. Ice skating and playing on the skating sleds in the Houhai area is a must-do for many Beijing locals. The large flat area of water and pleasing natural environment create a perfect place for winter entertainment. There are also modified "skating chairs" that combine a sled and a bicycle that you can rent for a fun ride on the ice. The Kunming Lake at the Summer Palace is the biggest outdoor ice rink inside the city. Surrounded by hills and historical architecture, the spot has attracted many families and foreign visitors.