Temple of Earth
Located as it is just outside the city’s second ring road, Ditan Park, otherwise known as Temple of Earth, enjoys less fanfare than the more famous Temple of Heaven yet maintains its own quiet charm. Built in 1530, the grounds were used for sacrifices during the Ming and Qing dynasties. Although the temple is still used for worship, visitors are more likely to see residents practicing traditional arts like tai chi and water calligraphy—both meditative practices used to calm the mind and well suited to the location. Go in autumn to see the gingko trees turn rich shades of rust and at Chinese New Year when the park hosts the city’s busiest Temple Fair (the only time you’ll have to contend with crowds).
Address: Andingmen Outer Street, Dongcheng District
Close to Temple of Earth is another often missed treat: Known to locals as ‘the trendy hutong’ (as opposed to touristy Nanluoguxiang), Wudaoying Hutong is filled with fashionable and artsy finds, chic cafes and cool restaurants. But perhaps the coolest part of all is that despite Beijing’s race to modernity these narrow old alleys provide a peek into city living as it would have been long ago. Doors to each hutong are different and all equally intriguing – and would make for a covetable photo collection in themselves.
Address: No. 67 West Gate Wudaoying Hutong, Andingmen Outer Street, Dongcheng District
Gui Jie Food Street
For a quintessential Beijing photo opportunity wait until the sun goes down and then head with the throngs to Gui Jie, or Ghost Street. Scents of cooking waft through the air in this area where more than 100 restaurants are clustered, all decorated in red and lit by billowing lanterns. All manner of traditional Chinese and some international dishes are on offer, but the top draw for many are the places serving spicy crayfish. This popular dish gets requested right through to sunrise at this 24-hour eating destination.
Address: Dongzhimen Inner Street, Dongcheng District
All these spots are within a 10-minute drive of the Sheraton Grand Beijing Dongcheng Hotel. Share your own Beijing snaps on Instagram with @momentumtravels.