Welcome to China Report's Digital Introduction to DongDan Park, a small and easily overlooked Park in the DongCheng District of Beijing.
Dongdan Park is not one of Beijing's most spectacular places to visit nor is it one of the Cities grandiose Parks. It is not much of a historic place neither.
Actually, there would not be much reason to list the Park on our website if it were not for a few small but noteworthy reasons.
For one, the DongDan Park is the smallest Park in the Central City of Beijing. Secondly, Dongdan Park, although unspectacular when viewed from outside its gate and fence, DongDan Park is one of those hidden locations of Revolutionary Zeal and History in Beijing. Thirdly, and last - recently it has become known as one of the Gay Hotspots in Beijing and therefor the most controversial park in the City.
DongDan Park, DongCheng District
Short Introduction to a Small Park
Useful Source Book
"Hutong Alleys" for those eager to explore ancient Beijing
Because of its hidden away location and its small size it is easy to overlook DongDan Park, especially when trolling around in the evening. However the Dongdan Park is most easily reached and located very centrally in the City.
For easy directions, if you are coming from the East and ChaoYang District, just stop at the Eastern Entrance to Oriental Plaza, which is located at the intersection of DongDan Bei Dajie' (DongDan North Street) and Dong Chang An (East Eternal Peace) Avenue. From there, simply walk south, cross over the traffic and intersection and follow ChongwenMen Nei Dajie' until reaching the Park Gate.
As mentioned, one can also use the southern ending of Wanfujing Shopping Street at Chang An Avenue for Navigation. In this case the route is only longer as you have to find your way eastward passing the impressive frontage of the large Oriental Plaza complex, then follow the above route walking south along Chongwenmen Inner Street until reaching the Parks east gate.
A Third short route possible leads from ChongwenMen, which is the Western Ending of the Ming Dynasty City Wall Relics Park situated just inside Chongwen District. Chongwenmen is also a subway station serving the circular line 2 (blue line) as well as the north to south line 5.
To travel to Dongdan Park, simply get yourself to Chongwenmen subway station and exit on the north side of the street at the location of the Novotel.
From the Novotel at QianMen East Avenue and ChongwenMen Intersection, turn North into ChongwenMen Nei Dajie' and follow along this road until reaching the East Gate of Dongdan Park. While walking you will note the gargantuan front of Oriental Plaza further north. Walking along the east side of Chongwenmen Inner Street , one
About DongDan Park -
Although it has recently been most in the news because the controversial fact that in evenings and late at night DongDan
The imposing Revolutionary Statue of unknown date inside the main gate of Dongdan Park (Photo 3).
Exercise apparatusses, children and their parents in DongDan Park, Beijing.
Park secretly transforms into the hottest and most popular gay pick-up spot in Beijing, there is much more to the Park than just this.
In Daytime things are completely different and the Park is the scene of playing children, resting Grandfathers, groups doing Tai Chi or playing Mah Yong. This is the normal situation at the Park. DongDan Park most of all is a modest but welcome getaway used by the locals to make their life more enjoyable.
To enhance their fun and health several exercise apparatuses are installed in the center of the Park.
Everyone is enjoying the green in DongDan Park, even the Rabbits ! Girl playing with Pet Rabbit at DongDan Park in May 2006.
Garden Rockeries and the ever present Pagoda Hill make DongDan Park a modest but typical Chinese Garden Park.
Another popular feature of the Park is located in its South-East corner near the Entrance. Here a small ceramics store for years has been the trusted house-hold supplier for the local Hutong citizens. If you are in need of a large vase, but for a reasonable price, you might try here. May do so !
Moving on from the Entrance Gate in the East, DongDan Park offers even more.
Head up to the nearly obligatory Hill and Pagoda and find out it is a great spot to enjoy the watching of a free football game.
History of DongDan Park -
Dongdan Park was one the first free parks in Beijing, open to all of the Public since the year 1955 AD.
Before the creation of small Dongdan Park at this location, it was part of the Foreign Legations Quarter of Beijing. Alledgedly Dongdan Parks' location was part of an airfield constructed here at some time after 1900 AD, however, so far we have no further evidence of this. On the contrary, according to all of our sources at least part of the DongDan Park grounds were formerly the location of the German Hospital in the Beijing Legations Quarter.
Dongdan Park was created at about the same time as the first two underground railway lines in Beijing (the linear east-west and the circular red line underneath the 2nd ring road) in the 1950s.
City developpers made a handy use of the excess earth excaved from the tunnels by using it to build up the Garden Hill of the Park, creating for the a third look-out mountain and pavilion in Beijing City Center (the other look out points were Jingshan and the Hill of Soaring Elegance in the Palace Museum Garden (Yu Huan Yuan)).
Just North of the Park,stretching toward East Chang An Avenue lie a number of Sports Fields that are in regular if not daily use.
There a basketball courts, and football fields, the latter of which lie just underneath the Rocky Hill in the North-East Corner of Dongdan Park. After the short but steep climb one has a good view of the surroundings.
A Look up at the Hill and Pagoda from the Center of small DongDan Park (Photo May 2006).
If you are working in the Center of the City, at Oriental Plaza for instance, this is the perfect spot to enjoy a quiet lunch and a good tea on your own while enjoying the sports game. Smoking is allowed, and if one insist, one can even bring business partners along for a more open conversation.
That said- to be sure, during daylight hours there are no other activities going on at DongDan Park, so one needn't worry for reputations or unwanted meetings with, lets say new people.
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Follow the Sports Games while enjoying a rest and / or lunch. Dongdan Park is the only place in City Center to do so ! (Photo May 2006).
From here most of Dongcheng could be overviewed before the advent of Highrise construction of Beijing after the year 2000 AD.
Another small noteworthy fact about the park is that it features repeatedly in modern literature from Beijing, such as the works of late writer Wang Xiaobo and still living Hero, Li Yinhe. In it the Park is described in multiple ways, but always features as a serene spot away from the busy noise of always moving Beijing Central City and Chang An Avenue. It is sort of their secluded spot in the middle of it all. Especially the works of Wang Xiaobo resonate this feeling.
Bring one of these writings to the Park and immerse in current Beijing Life ? The full title of Wang Xiaobo and Li Yinhe's book is Their World: A Perspective on the male homosexual population in China.
Older Beijing Citizens find that Dongdan Park is one of the best places to meet and mix with other visitors.
Perhaps both the secluded nature of the Park and the
The Small Traditional Pavilion atop Dondan Parks man-made Hill. This is the third look-out Mountain in in the Center of Beijing with the least spectacular view if you're not into sports. (Photo May 2006).
Basketball Courts along Chang An Avenue in Central Beijing. Oriental Plaza in the background. (Photo May 2006).
Birds eye view of the Chongwen District and part of DongCheng District in the North clearly depicting TiananMen Square in the North-West Corner and the large Tiantan Park with the Temple of Heaven in the South of Chongwen. Find DongDan Park due East of TiananMen Square.
A View from the Pedestrian walkway over-arching Chang An Avenue and connecting to DongDan Bei Dajie'(Photo May 2006).
Schematic Map of the 1916 AD Beijing Legation Quarter, between 1861 AD - and 1919 AD home of the Colonial Embassies in Beijing,
Map depicts the Former Legations Quarter including details of the Southern City Walls and Beijing's First Railway Station (QianMen) as well as the smaller TiananMen Square of 1916 AD. Further on this Map the Location of ALL Legations of Various European and other Colonial Nations plus Todays remaining remnants and sights of the Beijing (Former) Legation Quarter.
Short Summary of Streets in the Legations Quarter with their historic relevance is included !
Read More in the 11 Page Report on the Legations Quarter of Today.
This page was last updated on: January 5, 2014
My Great Web page
Satellite Image Map of Dongdan Park and surrounding area of Beijing, by AsiaReport.com
cannot miss the slightly stalinistic styled Gate into DongDan Park at Number 106.
Other routes of travel are more complicated. Apart from traveling by subway one could always arrange for a Taxi Cab or other alternative transport.
The Dongdan Park does have other entry points then the east gate on Chongwenmen Inner Street however these are hidden away in back roads and alleys.
easy-going athmosphere are a reason why the Park recently gained its somewhat misplaced controversial reputation of the moment. Often secretely Gay Men, away from home, come from all over China and make arrangements through the internet and other channels to meet at DongDan. Nevertheless things are discrete. Most Gay visitors only meet up just as any others might do, then leave later to head for a more private location. With an increase of other Gay meeting spots in the city and a slight growth of tolerance for the phenomenon, Dongdan Park no longer forms an exception and is not easily recognized as the Gay hot/spot is was a few years ago.
Many other visitors enjoy the Park.
Police Patrols the Park with a positive attitude to all and only make sure no illegal or criminal activities such as male prostitution or robbery occur. No brawlers are found.
Homosexuality is not a crime in China today and not a Police Issue per se.