Zhongshan Park

Forbidden City & Dongcheng Central

Named after China's first president Sun Yatsen (alo called Sun Zhongshan), whose body was placed here briefly after his death, this lovely park, filled with flower displays and ancient cyprus trees, sits at the southwest corner of the Forbidden City facing the palace moat (you can rent pedal boats here). The park used to be royal gardens containing the sacred Altar of Land and Grain, where the emperor offered sacrifices. The altar, a square open-air platform, is the centrepiece.

Near the park's south entrance stands a towering, triple-eaved páilóu (traditional Chinese archway) that originally commemorated former German Foreign Minister Baron von Ketteler, murdered by the Boxers in 1900. To the east is the 100-year-old Laijin Yuxuan Teahouse, undergoing renovations at the time of research. The Forbidden City Concert Hall is beside the altar.

As with Jingshan Park, late March to mid-May coincides with the popular Spring Flower and Tulips Show. The northeast exit of the park brings you out by the Meridian Gate, where you can enter the Forbidden City. You can also access the park by the south entrance (for Tianan'men Square) and the west entrance, and catch bus No 5 north to the Drum Tower.