Touted as Beijing’s Central Park, Chaoyang Park carries the burden of living up to its Manhattan counterpart. While it’s not located in the center of Beijing, its northeast location offers an unrivaled escapist quality. Officially called Rising Sun Park, this green giant covers 288 hectares. With the boat pier opening this month, now is an ideal time to ease out of hibernation and onto a giant floating duck. Avoid the high rises and speeding cars and follow our suggested clockwise route around the park’s South Lake. Chaoyang Park is more than just a cookie-cutter derivative of its Western sister, it’s a one-stop location for all things kid-friendly.
Start your day with breakfast at Chef Too, located opposite Solana.If you still need picnic essentials after your scrumptious meal, walk ten minutes south along Chaoyang Gongyuan Lu to the conveniently located Jenny Lou’s. Browse fresh baguettes, cheese, salami and other treats for the perfect afternoon lunch. Located between Chef Too and Jenny Lou’s is the park’s main west entrance, West Gate 2. Pay admission at the door (RMB 5, free for kids under 1.2m) and head northeast to the second pier, located across from the West Gate entrance. Once you’ve found grassy greens of your liking by the south lake (1), throw down a blanket, kick a ball around, and nibble on your picnic treats.
Post-picnic, head towards the boat pier (2). There are two separate boat piers near the west entrance. The first is a five-minute walk from the West Gate and offers a selection of duck boats and pedal boats. The second pier, just north of the first one, offers a greater selection of all things floatable. Prices range from RMB 30 per hour (four-person pedal boat) to RMB 150 per hour (six-person motor boat). Bring some extra cash as a deposit is required.
Chaoyang Amusement Park (3) is sprawled throughout the entire south side of the park. The rides are hard to miss – look for man-made steel structures looming over the trees. For a tame option, stick to the bumper cars and merry-go-round. For more adventurous rides, test out the train, the wild mouse coaster or a menacing roller coaster that makes a complete loop. Rides are pay-as-you-go and vary in price from RMB 15 to RMB 30. For an aerial view of Chaoyang District, take a trip up the sightseeing parachute tower (RMB 25).
Before the kids run out of steam, walk northeast to Sony ExploraScience (4), a sleek and shiny interactive educational center for kids, located near the South Gate entrance. It’s a crowd pleaser for parents and kids alike. Time will pass quickly as little ones dart about the interactive centers and live science shows (in Chinese only). Parents will appreciate the helpfulness of the staff and the modern equipment. The center is divided into four themed sections (illusion, refraction, light and sound) and is spread over three floors. Entrance is RMB 30 for adults, RMB 20 for students, and free for kids under 1.2m.
Slightly north of Sony ExploraScience is the Century Water Gate (5). Still under construction,the "gate" is more like a Roman plaza. Eleven meters high and 10 meters wide, the Century Water Gate was built to represent the development of the universe and the greeting of a new century. The sun, moon, stars and earth are all depicted here. A large pointed metal cone in the center is meant to represent an exploration of the future while the granite poles and dark red granite tiles represent history. Aside from symbolic value, this is a scenic spot for kids to explore.
If your energy hasn’t been completely depleted, walk southeast for about 20 minutes to the Jun Wang Fu Sports Center (6). This large complex offers everything from tennis to basketball. A ping-pong table and gear will set you back RMB 10 for a whole day of hire.
After a quick round of ping-pong, retrace your steps back to the West Gate, and back to Chaoyang Gongyuan Lu.
For dinner, choose from any number of restaurants that line the street. Refuel with Korean BBQ at the 24-hour Fumanjin Barbeque. For Italian, try old faithful, otherwise known as Annie’s.