Urban Sanctuary

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Fun-filled Chaoyang Park offers a haven for families

Chaoyang Park does not boast the rich history of many of Beijing’s other parks – it was first built in 1984 and only fully completed in 2004 – but what it lacks in age it more than makes up for in sheer size and variety of attractions.

Located between the eastern Third and Fourth Ring Roads, Asia’s largest park offers more than 288 acres of tranquil scenery and features a multitude of recreational facilities suitable for all ages. Park-goers can enjoy serene and refreshing lakes, massive green lawns, colorful flower gardens, an amusement park, a petting zoo and the high-tech Sony ExploraScience Museum.

At its heart rest two massive man-made lakes – the South Lake, Nan Hu, and North Lake, Bei Hu – that are connected by a small river. Summer is the best time to enjoy boat rides at the South Lake Pier One, located near the park’s south gate. Here you can take the kids for a ride in a spaceship-shaped boat for three (RMB 60/hour), get a workout on a bicycle pedal boat (RMB 50/hour for two people) or enjoy park views on the fancy dragon boat (RMB 10/person).

South Lake Pier Two will hold special appeal to the kids with its make-believe naval battleground, where your aspiring little sailor can climb aboard a battleship equipped with a laser gun to shoot at “mines” that spout water when hit (RMB 50/half an hour, RMB 90/one hour). Just east of the lake lie two large swimming pools offering inflatable “happy bubbles” (RMB 20 for a one-person bubble; RMB 50 for a two-person bubble) in which your kids can literally “flip out” on the water without getting wet.

Back on land, more adventures await. On the northeast side of South Lake, an amusement park features more than 50 rides, including a roller coaster (RMB 30), a ferris wheel (RMB 20), a carousel (RMB 20), a pirate ship (RMB 10) and a tornado chair – a swing suspended in the air that spins in a circle (RMB 15). Summer is ideal for a log-ride (RMB 25/person) that ends in a refreshing splash. For younger children, don’t miss the playground of bouncing castles and rubbery climbing walls. Tots will also delight in riding on the “fairytale train” in the newly built “Fairy Land,” where they can explore a tropical jungle (RMB 15).

Get your kids’ creative juices flowing at the arts and crafts booths that offer hands-on experiences in pottery, toy painting and kite making. For an even more educational experience, check out the interactive exhibits in the Sony ExploraScience museum, located just next to the playground (RMB 20). If your “kids” are of the canine
variety, the Coolbaby Pet Leisure Center lies in the southeastern part of the park and offers fun-filled options aplenty for both dog and owner.

Admission costs RMB 10 per person and a dog registration license is required for each pet. All breeds come here to run around, play fetch or frisbee with their owners and, of course, check out other pooches. A variety of training equipment is also available to help dogs develop and improve their jumping, climbing and balancing skills, and a shallow pool allows even the most timid of dogs to get their paws wet (the deeper parts attract the more natural swimmers).

Perhaps the best place to get away from it all is the more peaceful north side of the park. Here, statues, fountains and fragrant flower gardens surround the north shore of Bei Hu, creating an idyllic and even romantic atmosphere – ideal for a mellow Sunday afternoon stroll with your sweetie or a family picnic on the grassy fields. Bicycles for two (RMB 40), four (RMB 60), or even six people (RMB 80) are also available for rent. West of the North Lake sits the newly opened Solana Shopping and Entertainment Center with its stylish modern architecture. End your day in the park with a soothing beverage in one of its cafes (yes, there’s a Starbucks), or a family meal in one of the many international restaurants (including new branches of Feiteng Yuxiang, 1,001 Nights and Maxim’s), all the while basking in the sunset after a day well spent.

Chaoyang Park
Daily 6am-10pm (last entry at 9pm)
RMB 5 (half price for students, free for kids under 1.2m);
RMB 8/monthly pass, RMB 80/annual pass
1 Chaoyanggongyuan Nanlu, Chaoyang District
(6591 5258)

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