Introduction: Park development in China has not kept pace with rapid urban development. Compared with major cities worldwide (Chen, 2005). Especially in Beijing because it is the capital, crowding events happen every year in almost all the famous tourist sites, many of them urban parks. So crowding might be an important emerging issue in the field of landscape architecture. Besides, as former studies have shown, living in a “contact culture”, Asian people prefer closer interpersonal distances (Hall, 1966), whether Chinese people have a higher tolerance for crowding in parks is an important scientific issue. Many studies on crowding perception have been conducted by western scholars over the past decades. Manning (2000) built a comprehensive theoretical framework for crowding perception study in outdoor recreation, which was adopted as the benchmark for the present research. Characteristics of visitors, characteristics of the encountered and situational variables are of the 3 major types of factors in Manning's framework. Being one of the most prominent study in recent years, Neuts (2012) applied this theoretical framework to Bruges, Belgium, so as to find the influencing factors in the local setting. Nevertheless in China, besides several studies on carrying capacity at particular sites, none set crowding perception as the research theme and to study its related factors, while covering the wide range of demographic characteristics and visual scenes. Therefore, this study enlarged the sample size considerably, and adopted panoramic pictures as visual scenes to better represent the environment.

the goal of this research was to find the factors that affect visitors’ crowding perception when visiting urban parks of Beijing and whether people in Beijing could withstand higher crowding in parks or not. Zizhuyuan or Purple Bamboo Park, with its 47.35 hectares of various landscape setting types and great popularity among local citizens, was selected as the study site. A large number of photos were taken in representative settings over the park. Visitors were inserted into the photographs of the landscapes using Photoshop to represent the crowding scale. All the photos were panoramic images selected to represent the different parts of the park the visitor might have been to. Altogether, 40 photographs of 8 scenes from the park were used, with each scene represented at five even intervals of crowding. Visitors were intercepted to answer 16 questions of the questionnaire. Afterwards, the photos were shown to the respondents in random order. After viewing of each picture, the respondents were asked to assess perceived crowding level from 1 to 7. The selected crowding levels were set as the dependent variable for this study, while the independent variables were their demographic characteristics, travel modes within the park, motivation for visiting, visiting preference, communication frequency, satisfaction, expected function, disturbance encountered and attitude towards management.

Correlation analyses are made to identify the relationship between various personal characteristics, characteristics of the encountered, the general use level perceived and crowding perception. Once the significant correlations are identified, then the major factors of crowding perception are found. As a unique perspective of this study, respondents’ urban or rural demographic origins are also investigated. The preferences for the type of landscape in the sense of use level are analyzed among the scenes of panoramic pictures.