Movies, malls and a night stroll on Ghost Street
The newly opened, labyrinthine Ginza Mall offers enough attractions to keep the family entertained for ages. Your teens will salivate at the sight of genuine Quiksilver and Adidas brand clothing at Sport 100 on Basement Level 1, while cartoon fans will be desperate to search out every section of the Disney store, which is divided into several outlets dotted throughout the mall. Mom and Pop can sip lattes in one of the numerous restaurants or coffee shops, or browse over the designer jewelry available at every turn. Keep up your energy with a treat from one of the many patisseries. And don’t forget your wallet!
(Some English spoken.) Daily 10am-10pm. 48 Dongzhimenwai Dajie, Dongcheng District. 银座 Mall, 东城区东直门外大街48号
A stroll on Ghost Street
Gui Jie, otherwise known as “Ghost Street,” is a feast for all the senses. Decked out with red lanterns, this place really starts to heat up around the witching hour. But Gui Jie is still buzzing when the sun’s out, and both sides of the street are lined with restaurants offering dishes from every conceivable area of China – build up an appetite with a fun and noisy family stroll.
(English levels vary.) Most restaurants open daily 24hrs. Gui Jie, Dongzhimennei, Dongcheng District 簋街，东城区东直门内
Park Your Keister
Miniscule Nanguan Park, located near the Russian Embassy, has a quaint, local feel. It’s usually filled with senior citizens and young mothers, but don’t allow yourself to be put off by the apparent tranquility. Feel free to unleash your rabble on all the facilities that the park has to offer: a junior-sized basketball hoop, a trampoline, a swing set, a duckpin bowling lane, a collection of toy cars, and air-guns. Fatigued parents can put their feet up and admire the curious landscaping, which seems to have been constructed entirely out of bathroom tiles.
RMB 1, RMB 4 (monthly pass). (No English spoken.) Daily 6am-8.30pm (winter), 6am-9pm (summer). 1A Xiyangguan Hutong, Dongcheng District (6403 4087) 南馆公园，东城区西洋馆胡同甲１号
Have a Whale of a Time
If the thought of throwing down big bucks for the kids’ clothing at the Ginza Mall makes you light-headed, take a detour and head behind the mall to the dinky but well-stocked Whale Baby Clothing Store. Catering to kids up to 1.3m tall, this place has the gear you need to make your kids perfectly dapper without denting your bank balance. Basic baby accessories start at RMB 5; the most expensive items don’t exceed RMB 300. For the fashion un-inclined, there’s a selection of simple dolls and toys.
Whale Baby Clothing Store
(No English spoken.) Daily 8.30am-8pm. 2A Dongzhimen Nandajie, Dongcheng District (6413 1550) 鲸鱼宝宝童装, 东城区东直门南大街2A
Catch a Flick
Sure, DVDs get the job done, but there’s still nothing that compares to the movie theater experience. Treat yourselves to some celluloid magic at East Gate Cinema – at RMB 60-70 for a ticket it’s admittedly a little pricey, but children under 1.3m get 50 percent off, and two hours of free parking are provided. English-language films are usually shown in English with Chinese subtitles, but call ahead to make sure.
East Gate Cinema
(Basic English spoken.) B1/F Bldg B, East Gate Plaza (behind the Poly Theatre), Dongzhong Jie, Dongcheng District (6418 5931) www.dhyc.cn 东环影城，东城区保利大厦北侧东环广场Ｂ座地下一层
Get Some Game
Are your xiao Yao Mings itching to get out there and dunk? RMB 50 books you a basketball and an hour on a half-court (trash talk not included) at the East Gate Fitness Center. If your kids are into less sweaty pursuits, you can skittle some pins at the bowling alley, or flex your wrists at table football.
East Gate Plaza Fitness Center
(No English spoken.) B1/F, Bldg A, East Gate Plaza, 29 Dongzhong Jie, Dongcheng District (6417 1188 ext 588) 东环广场健身中心，东城区东中街29号A座B1
Make a Production out of Dinner
The gregarious staff at the always-bustling Dongbeiren welcome you to their restaurant with a song, and will come to your table to serenade you again if you’re lucky. The flowery uniforms and open kitchen are fun to look at, and there’s space for the whole family to lounge luxuriously on a kang. Little kids are welcome and they can rustle up a makeshift highchair should it be required. Ask the staff to do a fan dance for your kids, and they’ll happily oblige. A meal for six should be around RMB 200.
(One English speaking member on staff, picture menu.) Daily 10am-10pm. A1 Xinzhong Jie, Dongzhimenwai, Dongcheng District (6415 2855) 东北人,东城区东直门外新中街甲１号