Early summer offers the greatest variety of fruits in Beijing. The baskets of eye-catching cherries at fruit stands offer a mouthwatering alternative to the city’s ever-available watermelons. The sweet and sour fruits are purported to detoxify the body and preserve beauty.
Cherries straight from the trees taste the best, and their early harvest makes them relatively free of pesticides when compared to other fruits. Beijing has plenty of places to go cherry picking, but the area near the Ming Tombs is known for its especially fresh and sweet cherries.
Finding a Time
Cherries ripen fast, so choosing the best weekend is important to avoid disappointment on your journey.
In Beijing, the best times for cherry picking are between May 20 and June 20. The “red light” cherries, which are sweeter and darker, usually ripen between May 20 and May 30. But if you prefer a more sweet-and-sour taste, the lighter “red honey” cherries are available through June 20.
The dates vary with the weather, so it’s best to call ahead and see whether the cultivar you want will be available.
Most of the cherry orchards allow tourists to eat for free. Go hungry if you hope to take advantage of this.
Choosing trees is an important step for cherry picking. Ten-year-old trees usually produce the best fruit. In addition, the trees’ position can influence their flavor. Go deep into the orchard to find more trees with big and sweet fruits.
Even cherries on the same tree can vary wildly in taste. It’s a good idea to climb the tree, because the cherries on the upper branches receive the most sunlight. Wear long pants to avoid injury.
Don’t remove the stems. Rot sets in quickly once a cherry’s stem has been removed.
For cherry picking near the Ming Tombs, most reviewers recommend the following three:
1 Shennan Lu, Ming Tombs Scenic Area, Changping
160 yuan per kg
139 0137 3598 or 137 1632 7101
Jiantou Village, Ming Tombs Scenic Area, Changping
120 yuan per kg
158 1056 3882 or 185 1300 5551
Kanglingyuan Village, Ming Tombs Scenic Area, Changping
120 yuan per kg
(010) 8036 1610
Prices can be lower if you book your cherry picking trip through a group-buy website.
If a weekend of fruit picking isn’t enough, the Ming Tombs Scenic Area is a great place to learn more about Chinese culture.
Located at the foot Mt. Tianshoushan, the Ming Tombs include the tombs of 13 emperors, 23 empresses, two princes, more than 30 concubines and 2 eunuchs. With a history more than 500 years, the tomb group is the largest imperial mausoleum in China.
Take Bus 22 or 23 from Lishuiqiao Station to Shenlu Road, Dingling Tomb and Zhaoling Tomb. Alternatively, take Bus 345 from Deshengmen station to Changping North Station, then change to Bus 314 to Shenlu Road, Dingling Tomb and Changling Tomb.
Follow the G6 Jingzang Expressway and exit by Changping Xiguan. Follow the roundabout onto G110, and then transfer to the Ming Tombs Road. The Ming Tombs Scenic Area lies about 2.8 kilometers down the road.