Security checks at Beijing parks: Here’s what to expect if you’re a foreigner

Can there ever be enough photos of beautiful flowers?! (The correct answer is ‘no’ btw!) Add some to your own collection this springtime!

Beijing’s very own Keukenhof is in full bloom right now! Visit Zhongshan Park (on the west side of the Forbidden City) in the next few days to see tulips, wisteria, late blossom, lilacs and peonies in full bloom! It’s breathtaking!

If you do plan on visiting, be aware that security for foreigners here is extremely tight. Read to find out what you might encounter when visiting Beijing parks or scenic spots during these still-locked-down days!

Things haven’t exactly been easy these past few months.  Even in Beijing, where we experienced comparatively few cases and few restrictions on movement, life hasn’t been without difficulty, even if we haven’t personally experienced tragic loss of loved ones or ill health.

Recently, things have been improving across the country, and perhaps the end of this situation is in sight. However, some restrictions are still in place at certain points across the city, heavily-visited parks and scenic spots included. Those restrictions are applied equally, or perhaps even more so, to foreign visitors.

We visited the beautiful Zhongshan Park two days ago and we encountered two checkpoints. These were the most rigorous we’ve experienced in Beijing, and though they may not be like this at other locations around the city, checks of any kind should be expected by all foreign visitors for the foreseeable future. If you decide to go to Zhongshan, be prepared for the following in addition to a temperature check:

1) Before even arriving at the park gate, there will be a police check, where they will check your passport. MAKE SURE YOU’RE CARRYING IT!

2) Once you get to the ticket window, you’ll likely be questioned extensively. Questions can include why you are going to the park (??), why you’re alone (if you are), where you’re from, and what your job is.

3) You also have to fill in a form and security will take photos of your passport and visa – all this before you’ll be allowed to buy a ticket.

If you go through any of this, at Zhongshan Park or elsewhere, rest assured, it’s not just you! While all this may seem intrusive (especially coming from non-police), and possibly a little OTT, it’s what certain authorities feel they must do to protect others. If you want to enjoy some of the beautiful sites of Beijing right now, these are the hoops we must jump through. The alternative is staying home and watching Netflix (if you can..!)

Park Details

Name: Zhongshan Park | 中山公园
Address: 4, Zhonghua Lu (just west of the south entrance to the Forbidden City)
Subway Station: Tian’anmen West
Opening Hours: 6am-9pm
Ticket Price: 3RMB

We suggest visiting in the next few days to see the tulips, or in the next two weeks to see the peonies. 

Decided to not go to visit the park because of the current situation? Then take a look at the photos we took at Zhongshan this week instead (click for larger images)!

In any case, in any situation in China, ALWAYS stay calm, no matter what. If you experience any kind of difficult situation, smile, keep notes (if things do escalate, these will be useful later),  film the situation (if you can), answer questions and give information as requested, and everything should be fine. You’ll be able to keep going about your business and people will see how 99% of foreigners are. And that’s a win-win for everyone in a difficult situation. 

Have you experienced any of the checks mentioned above? Have you had trouble getting around Beijing, or elsewhere in China recently? Do you think the measures are helpful or too much? Let us know in the comments below, or on Facebook or Twitter. We always love hearing from you!

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