A guide to keeping your cool in Beijing
With the mercury in Beijing’s thermometers set to skyrocket, the chances of a family meltdown are high. But don’t panic just yet! Instead, pry those sticky bodies off the couch and follow the tbjkids guide to the best places and ways to stay cool in the swelter – you might just end up wishing the summer would go on forever …
The Coolest Valley
As its name suggests, the temperature in nearby Qinglianggu (Cool Valley) is usually 5-6 degrees Celsius lower than it is in the city. Head here to beat the heat and check out the natural pools and the famous Pearl Waterfall. If you want to get even cooler, next to the waterfall you’ll find a cave that’s 230 meters deep and has an average temperature of 18 degrees Celsius. Cool activities in Cool Valley include fishing, bamboo rafting, and badminton.
Cool Valley Scenic Area
Driving: Head northeast on the Jingcheng Expressway (京承高速) and exit at Shunmi (顺密出口). Head towards the Miyun Reservoir (密云水库), pass the Heilong Pool (黑龙潭), and then drive straight until you arrive at Qinglianggu (清凉谷).
Public transportation: Take bus number 980 from Dongzhimen (东直门) to Miyun Gulou stop (密云鼓楼). From there, take a van (RMB 8 ) towards Sihe Tang (四合堂), and get off at Qinglianggu (清凉谷). Entry: RMB 36. Waterfall: RMB 16, free (kids under 1.2m). Qinglianggu Fengjingqu, Jiayu Cun, Miyun Xian (8204 5803) 清凉谷风景区,密云县贾峪村
Slip and Slide
You don’t want your kids to turn into summertime slugs, so keep them active in the heat with a trip to a local water park. If you’ve suffered too many sunburns already, the indoor H2O fantasyland Merry Water World offers plenty of activities for kids of all ages including multiple waterslides, a pool, and a lazy river. Parents can enjoy a relaxing time poolside while the little ones attack the tube slide again and again. If you’re seeking a little vitamin D and a beach-like feel but can’t make it up to Qingdao, head instead to Crab Island, where you can pick a spot on the real sand “beach,” float on the artificial waves or mosey down the lazy river. Big kids will thrill to the waterslides, and little ones can tear things up in the large kiddie section. You can also get wet just outside the confines of the Third Ring Road at Tuanjiehu Park, which features a wave pool and other aquatic fun.
Merry Water World
Weekdays: RMB 98, RMB 60 (kids under 1.4m), free (kids under 1.1m). Weekends: RMB 138, RMB 60 (kids under 1.4m), free (kids under 1.1m). Daily 9.30am-10.30pm. Jinzhan Xiang, Dongweilu, Chaoyang District (Take the Airport Expressway to the Weigou exit. Turn left at the first stoplight, right at the second, and then go straight.) (8433 0606 ext 5104) www.yujinxiang.com.cn 郁金香花园, 朝阳区东苇路金盏乡
RMB 38. Daily 8am-1am. 1 Xiedao Lu, Chaoyang District (Take the Weigou exit off the Airport Expressway and follow the signs.) (8433 5566/5588) www.xiedao.com 蟹岛绿色生态度假村, 朝阳区蟹岛路1号
Entrance: free. Beach: RMB 20, RMB 15 (kids). Daily 6.30am-9pm. 16 Tuanjiehu Nanli, Chaoyang District (8597 3603) 团结湖公园, 朝阳区团结湖南里16号
Take Shelter Under the Big Screen
Everyone knows that movie theaters are notoriously over air-conditioned. Take advantage of the overzealous cooling mechanisms and catch a matinee. Summer is the time Hollywood likes to unleash its blockbusters upon the world, so you should have a couple of movie choices – grab some popcorn, sit down in the darkened room and take a few hours break from the sun’s unflinching gaze. Wanda International Cinema is also home to a sizeable video game arcade, ensuring that you won’t have to step back outdoors until the sun has long since gone down. Star City, in Oriental Plaza, has a great choice of grub to chow down on, and East Gate Cinema has a convenient parking lot, so you won’t have to trek too far from the car to the door. If you’re looking for a bargain, all of the theaters below are half-price on Tuesdays.
Wanda International Cinema
RMB 70. (free for kids under 1.3m). 3/F, Bldg B, Wanda Plaza, 93 Jianguo Lu, Chaoyang District (5960 3399) www.wandafilm.com 万达国际电影城, 朝阳区建国路93号万达广场B座三层
East Gate Cinema
RMB 60-70. B1/F, Bldg B, East Gate Plaza (behind the Poly Theatre), Dongzhongjie, Dongcheng District (6418 5931) www.dhyc.cn 东环影城, 东城区东环广场B座地下一层(保利大厦北侧)
Foreign films RMB 60-70 (adults), RMB 45-50 (students); local films RMB 40-50 (adults), RMB 35 (students). Daily 9am-10pm. B1/F, Oriental Plaza, Dongcheng District (8518 6778) www.xfilmcity.com 新世纪影城, 东城区东方广场地下一层
Ski a Summer Slalom
In the blistering heat it’s easy to forget that only a brief season ago Beijing was colder than an Eskimo’s icebox. Why not relive those blissfully chilly times with a trip to Qiaobo Ice and Snow World for some ski and snowboard action? It’s not the French Alps, of course, but it’s the closest you’re going to get to skiing this summer and you only need to travel as far as Shunyi. Dig out your winter gloves and get ready for a summertime snowball fight.
Qiaobo Ice and Snow World
RMB 180/first hr (weekends; includes ski rental), RMB 30/additional hr for skiers with their own equipment. RMB 30/ski clothing. Daily 8.30am-9pm. Inside Chaobai River National Forest Park, Mapo, Shunyi District (8497 2568) www.qbski.com 乔波冰雪世界, 顺义区马坡潮白河国家森林公园内
Attention parents! Ice is not only an ingredient in margaritas – it’s also an amazingly versatile substance and a ton of fun to skate on. An afternoon at one of Beijing’s many indoor ice rinks is an ideal way to burn off steam without getting instantly drenched in sweat. The Century Star Club rink is a bit on the small side but private lessons are RMB 300/90 min; group lessons start at RMB 70/90 min if your kids get really into this activity. If your little ones are still on training skates, try the Champion Rink in Haidian – it isn’t usually busy and novice skaters can fall over without fear of embarrassment. If skating isn’t your cup of tea, drop the kids off at the small but popular Le Cool rink in the China World Trade Center, and hit the (air-conditioned!) shops on your own.
Century Star Club
Private lessons are priced at RMB 300/90 min and group lessons start at RMB 75/90 min. 54 Zhongguancun Nandajie, Haidian District (6786 7028) www.centurystar.com.cn 世纪星俱乐部, 海淀区中关村南大街54号首都体育馆
Weekdays: RMB 25-45/90 min. Weekends: RMB 45. Basic private lessons for RMB 120 and up (RMB 600/five private 45-minute classes). Advanced classes RMB 60/90-minute lesson. Entry-level group lessons RMB 350/five 90-minute classes, but group sizes vary. Golden Resources Mall, 1 Yuanda Lu, Haidian District (8887 4899) www.sunshinezero.com/english.htm 冠军溜冰场, 海淀区远大路1号金源新燕莎
Weekdays: RMB 30/90 min (10am-6pm), RMB 40/90 min (6-10pm). Weekends: RMB 50/90 min. Daily 10am-10pm. B2/F, China World Trade Center, 1 Jianguomenwai Dajie, Chaoyang District (6505 5776) 国贸溜冰场, 朝阳区建国门外大街1号国贸地下二层
Swing Low, Sweet Hammock
Picture the idyllic scene: it’s a beautifully sunny day, you have your choice of icy beverage in hand and a cool zephyr caresses you while you swing away in your hammock. If you’re lucky enough to have a garden, you shouldn’t really deny your children the privilege of possibly the most comfortable piece of furniture known to man. San Fo Outdoor equipment store sells hammocks ranging from RMB 60-110. Markets (Tianyu Market is a good bet) are also good places to look for this summer essential.
San Fo Outdoor Equipment Store
Daily 10am-8pm. 1F, Jinzhiqiao Plaza, 1A Jianwai Dajie (west of China World Trade Center), Chaoyang District (6507 9298, 6591 7041) 三夫户外,朝阳区建外大街甲一号金之桥大厦一层(国贸西侧)
Daily 9am-6pm. 10 Tuanjiehu Dongli, Chaoyang District (8598 0697) 天宇市场, 朝阳区团结湖东里10号
Some sun evasion activities can also have educational benefits. When the sun is beating down on the asphalt sidewalk, escape below it to this cool subterranean labyrinth. Kids will love walking around under the city and viewing some old-school communist memorabilia. Get yours to try and imagine which part of the city they are strolling under.
The Underground City
RMB 20. 62 Xi Damochang Hutong, Qianmen, Dongcheng District (6702 2657) 北京地下城,东城区前门西打磨厂胡同62号
When you’ve had your fill of cold noodles it’s time to move on to the most delicious summer food of all: ice cream! Comptoirs de France, which has branches at East Lake Villas and China Central Place, has delicious gelato (as well as some tasty pastries and chocolate). For the more health conscious and farther-flung Beijingers, Haidian’s New Zealand Natural is a lighter way to enjoy the sweet treat. If you are interested in a Chinese twist on dairy treats, try Wen Yu Nai Lao, which offers traditional cold milk puddings just as satisfying as a tub of Ben and Jerry’s. Last but not least, there’s Gustomenta, the good ol‘ Sanlitun standby, offering up homemade gelato and a lovely patio – there’s also a branch tucked inside a coffee shop at Soho Xiandai Cheng.
Comptoirs de France
Daily 7am-9pm. 1) 1/F, East Lake Club, 35 Dongzhimenwai Dajie, Dongcheng District (6461 1525); 2) Rm 102, 1/F, Bldg 15, China Central Place, 89 Jianguo Lu, Chaoyang District (6437 8994) 法派, 1) 东城区东直门外大街35号东湖俱乐部1层; 2) 朝阳区建国路89号华贸中心15号楼102
1) Daily 9am-2am. 24 Sanlitun Lu, Chaoyang District (6417 8890); 2) Daily 7am-midnight. 1301, Soho Xiandai Cheng, Chaoyang District (8580 5111) 1) 朝阳区三里屯路24楼东侧; 2) 朝阳区Soho现代城1301商铺
New Zealand Natural
Daily 8.30am-10pm. Store 3, B1/F, Zhonguancun Carrefour Shopping Center, Haidian District (5172 1522) 海淀区中关村家乐福地下层3号店
Wen Yu Nai Lao
49 Nanluoguxiang, Dongcheng District (6405 7621) 东城区交道口南锣鼓巷49号
It’s important to drink your water, especially in the summer, but it’s way more fun to play in it. Pools serve several important functions: they get the kids out of the house, offer a chance for some exercise, and can cool you down, even on the hottest of days. If you’re after some outdoor swimming try Splash Recreation Club near the airport – you can sip cocktails from the poolside bar while your kids play Marco Polo. In the city proper, there’s an outdoor pool at Chaoyang Park and tons of indoor pool options – many offer swim clubs if your child is thinking of getting serious about his breaststroke.
Chaoyang Park Outdoor Pool
Opens in June. Prices and times TBA. 1 Nongzhan Nanlu, Chaoyang District (6506 5409) 朝阳公园, 朝阳区农展馆南路1号
Ditan Indoor Swimming Pool
RMB 30 for unlimited pool use. Mon-Fri 8.30am-3.30pm, 6.30-10pm, Sat-Sun noon-9.30pm. 8 Anwai, Hepingli Zhongjie, Dongcheng District (6426 4483) 地坛游泳池, 东城区安外和平里中街8号
Dongdan Indoor Swimming Pool
RMB 30, RMB 20 (students), RMB 10 (children under 1.2m). Daily 10am-9pm. A2 Dahualu, Dongcheng District. (6523 1241) 东单室内游泳馆, 东城区大华路甲2号
Friendship Hotel Indoor Pool
RMB 100/2 hrs, RMB 50/2 hrs (kids under 1.2m). Daily 7am-11pm. 1 Zhongguancun Nandajie, Haidian District (6849 8888 ext 32) www.bjfriendshiphotel.com 北京友谊宾馆, 海淀区中关村南大街1号
Lido Hotel Indoor Pool
RMB 600 for package of ten visits. Daily 6am-11pm. 6 Jiangtai Lu, Chaoyang District (6437 6688 ext 1871) 丽都假日酒店，朝阳区将台路6号
Splash Recreation Club
RMB 100, RMB 50 (children), free (kids under 4). Daily 6am-10pm. Sino-Swiss Hotel, 9 Xiao Tianzhu Nanlu, Shunyi District (6456 5588 ext 1217) www.sino-swisshotel.com 浪花俱乐部, 顺义区小天竺南路9号国都大饭店