You might not be able to beat the heat, but you can escape it
Modern, well-equipped and recently restocked, the aquarium features thousands of freshwater and saltwater fish from around the world, including huge Amazonian arapaima, giant sturgeon and many sharks. The piece de resistance may be the enormous tank containing an entire coral reef – with sea turtles, manta rays and garoupa. There are also several Sea World-style shows every day, featuring seals and dolphins. 9am-5.30pm (Jun-Jul), last ticket sold at 4.30pm. Haidian District.
If your kids likes dinosaurs, take them on a whirlwind tour of paleontology at this museum, which presents an extraordinary exhibition of the remains of dinosaurs and ancient animals that once trod prehistoric East Asia. RMB 20, 10 (students). Tue-Sun 9am-4.30pm. Xicheng District.
Thanks to a RMB 300 million facelift, the once retro planetarium now boasts state -of-the art facilities. The SGI Digital Universe Theater takes patrons on a tour of the cosmos with six Carl Zeiss laser projectors that simulate the movement of stars and constellations. You can also travel through time in the 4-D theater, where you strap on a pair of goggles and watch a multidimensional film about the creation of the solar system and evolution of life on earth, replete with snarling T-Rexes and saber-toothed tigers. Wed-Fri 10am-3.30pm, Sat-Sun 10am-4pm. Xicheng District.
Chinese Shadow Puppet Cultural Club
Established in 2007, this is one of the few places in Beijing where shadow plays are performed. The 2,000-year-old tradition is a form of storytelling and entertainment, in which puppets perform against a lit backdrop – their silhouettes carry all the story and are the only part visible to the audience. This club holds camps in the winter to teach children the history and crafting of shadow puppets. Tue-Sun 10am-noon, 2-6pm. 7-9pm. Haidian.
Sit back, relax, and enjoy the show. Megabox Cinema, located in the basement at the south end of the Village, offers a high-tech moviegoing experience with superb visual and sound effects in a futuristic environment. Check out Night at the Museum: Battle at the Smithsonian with Ben Stiller. In addition to the half-price Tuesday tradition that all cinemas in Beijing stick to, Megabox also offers half-off tickets for showings before 1.30pm or after 9.30pm, and an all-day discount from Monday to Thursday for members. Daily 9am-midnight. The Village at Sanlitun
Blue Zoo Beijing
Not to be confused with either the Beijing Aquarium or the Beijing Zoo, the Blue Zoo is actually an aquarium with an enormous coral reef tank containing eels, tuna, shark, stingrays and (we swear we’re not making this up) the occasional underwater marriage ceremony. Daily 8am-8pm. RMB 85, RMB 55 (kids under 12). Workers’ Stadium South Gate.