Ever since early April, it seems that my blog and Instagram feeds have been popping up with pictures of everything spring. As we’ve been hanging around tropical countries for the past several months, we haven’t really noticed a change in season. But for the rest of the world (okay, just the northern hemisphere), it appears that spring has truly arrived, bringing with it blue skies, pastels, and of course, newly blooming flowers.
I may be a tad late to the spring party but I finally have my own springy pictures!
One Saturday morning in Beijing, my aunt and uncle picked us up to go to a site in the outskirts of Beijing, over 80 km away from the city center. What started out as giddy enthusiasm quickly turned into hair-pulling frustration as we found ourselves slowly creeping along the highway with the thousands of other people also hoping to escape the city.
With the new sunny weather, local tourism is now in full swing in China and come the weekend, most city dwellers head for the peace of the countryside. If I ever thought Los Angeles traffic was bad, then it’s got nothing on Beijing.
After two hours of inching along in bumper-to-bumper traffic, we abandoned the original plan when my aunt put another option on the table: how about we visit the flower expo instead? It was closer and the traffic there was not as bad.
Now I’ve never thought of myself as a huge flowers girl. I never buy flowers for my house, and if someone were to give me a bouquet of fresh blooms, they would surely die a sad, lonely death. If asked ahead of time if I wanted to go to a flower expo, I would have said no. Flowers, while pretty, are also a little boring to stare at for hours, no?
But at this point, we were desperate to get somewhere and not waste this outing, so we eagerly agreed.
I should know by now to always trust my aunt and uncle. They have quite the reputation for being the adventure-seekers of the family. They know all the newest Beijing hot-spots and best local attractions. And sure enough, this wasn’t just any flower expo! The Tulip Festival was currently going on!
The International Flower Port is only a few years old and specializes in breeding and selling fresh flowers. It’s open year round for visitors to stroll around and enjoy the current flowers and exhibitions, and even has seasons for picking fruit.
But the most exciting times to visit are during the festivals: tulips every spring and chrysanthemums every autumn. (I read that there is also a rose festival and lantern festival, but I’m not sure what seasons those happen.)
The park is 1.5 square miles (or 4 square kms), which doesn’t sound all that big, but it felt humongous. It features a large lake, multiple flower fields, a bamboo forest, and much more. We probably only got to walk around 30% of it in an afternoon. The best way to explore the park is by renting a bicycle cart, but unfortunately, they were all rented out.
Wandering around the park, it was easy to forget that we were in China. This was such a huge departure from the loud, busy concrete jungle that is Beijing. Even on a weekend day, the park was not crowded at all (I’m sure the immense size of the place helps), which is very rare for Chinese sites.
And then, we turned a corner and saw… windmills! In just a few steps, we’ve been transported to Holland!
We didn’t go to the tulips field last year when we were in Amsterdam and I’ve always wondered if maybe we should have gone as it is considered the huge “must-see” in Holland. Never did I think that I would get the chance to experience it… halfway around the world, in China!
I didn’t initially think that I’d be too interested in huge flower fields, but I ended up being the most shutter-happy one of all in our group. I was the one crouching down on the ground in order to find that perfect angle. And the one constantly lagging behind as I stopped every few feet to photograph every single different colored tulip.
This part of the park is no-doubt the centerpiece. The flowers here are the biggest, freshest, and most vibrant. So of course, now cue a bunch of pictures with the windmills.
I think this park is worthy of a visit (especially during festival season) if you’re in Beijing for a longer amount of time and can spare a day or two. Beijing has so many famous historical attractions that local gems such as this gets passed up. I loved that this park wasn’t crowded and it provided such a peaceful (and pretty!) retreat from the bustling city.
I hope you enjoyed these pictures of tulips as much as I enjoyed visiting the park! I was surprised at just how much fun I had hanging out with flowers. I definitely wouldn’t mind doing something like this again. But just so we’re clear, for my birthday, I would still much rather prefer desserts to flowers. :P
Beijing International Flower Port Practical Information:
- Location: in the Shunyi district, about 60 km from Beijing’s city center
- How to get there: my uncle drove us, but here are directions I found: Take Bus No. 915 or No. 918 from the East Gate (东直门) and go to Nancai (南彩). Then change to Bus No. 41 to get to the Beijing International Flower Port.
- Hours: 9:00 am – 5:00 daily
- Price: tickets during the special festivals are 80RMB each (US$13), while general admission is 20RMB (US$3).
- The most popular Tulip Festival starts mid-April.
Have you been to the tulip fields or any other flower exhibition?