Summer is upon us and days that begin covered in sweat are best spent getting wet. Tuanjiehu’s water park, a glistening oasis of waterslides and fake sand beaches, is the best place to spend hot days. There’s also a roller-skating rink, paddleboats, grassy lawns, and a brilliant population of koi fish waiting to fight over any crumbs you care to drop them. Outside the park, Tuanjiehu’s boxy pink apartments and shady tree-linedstreets offer a great example of Beijing life. Family-run restaurants and small boutique shops are everywhere. Sitting on stoops in the scorching heat, shop owners chat amongst themselves or peer out from doorways to watch the stream of old men and their tiny dogs stroll by. Located within walking distance from Sanlitun, it’s the perfect place to while away a lazy summer day.
The north entrance to Tuanjiehu lies just east of Changhong Bridge and Tuanjiehu subway stop, and is marked by an old, rusty arch. The east entrance to Tuanjiehu Park is about a five-minute drive or a 15-minute walk down Tuanjiehu Lu. The street makes for a nice stroll, and with lots of little restaurants and snack stalls lining the pavement, it can double as a picnic basket supply run.
Local favorite No Name Crispy Honey Buns (1) lies on the southeast corner of Tuanjiehu Lu and Yaojiayuan Lu. There’s a line for these sweet buns any time of day, but it moves quickly and one bite proves that these sesame-dusted delights are well worth the wait. In a wonderful symbiotic relationship, there’s a fried chicken stand just next door. The buns and crispy chicken go together perfectly – your arteries may not thank you, but your children will.
Head two minutes east from the same intersection, and you’ll see the entrance for Tianyu Market (2). The market is a bit like Yashow with a more relaxed, flea market vibe, and has fewer crowds and lower prices. Pick up a bamboo mat and a pair of badminton rackets for the park, or swing by on your way home and build yourself an aquarium at their huge pet supply market.
Before you enter the park, stop by Jackhut (3) for a cheap and absolutely amazing mango smoothie, or iced bubble tea. If you don’t want refined sugar or just want fresh fruit, grab half a watermelon from the fruit stand just opposite the park gate.
With your picnic basket prepared, head for Tuanjiehu Park and its main attraction: Tuanjiehu Water Park (4). After entering the east gate of the park, walk beneath the stone archway and then over a moon bridge. The waterpark is on the left. Drop a bit of bread into the Tuanjiehu Park pond (5), and you’ll be rewarded with a brilliant sea of yellow, orange, red and black koi fish splashing at the water’s surface. Just beyond the moon bridge is an outdoor crafts center where kids can paint ceramic figurines and bowls. Bigger kids can try their hand at throwing clay on one of the electric wheels. There’s no kiln, but they can microwave your creation until its dry enough to take home.
At the entrance of the water park lies a roller-skating rink. You can rent a pair of rollerblades, or just stand by and watch as nimble boys and girls gracefully slalom past plastic cups.
However, the main attraction is of course the water park with its two large slides, a wave pool, a play area for toddlers, and a sand beach. The water and sand are clean (enough) and even if you’re not swimming, the park is a great place to people-watch. There are plenty of families, both Chinese and expat, as well as a motley crew of teenagers, older couples and body-builders. Drinks and ice cream are available in the waterpark, but the food is disappointing – you’ll be glad you grabbed those honey buns and fried chicken on the way in.
When you’re done splashing around, stick around for dinner – there are lots of good restaurants in the area. A short walk south of the park entrance, on the same side of the road, is the four-story golden building of Jin Ding Xuan (6). The bustling, casual restaurant has a vast menu with a good selection of dim sum and mango and coconut desserts, as well as quick service. Alternatively, head across the street to the northeast corner of Tuanjiehu Lu and Chaoyang Beilu, and you’ll find the Guolin Homestyle Restaurant (7). This spot is great for large groups, and their delicious duck is a cheaper alternative (RMB 68 for a whole roast duck) to the infamous Da Dong, located just a few blocks north at Changhong Qiao. When you’ve eaten your fill, hop in a cab and head to the air-conditioned comforts of your home.
No Name Crispy Honey Buns 上海蜂蜜脆皮烤馍
Daily 6am-8pm. Southeast corner of Tuanjiehu Lu and Yaojiayuan Lu (next to the Kodak shop), Chaoyang District (135 5239 5872)
Tianyu Market 天宇市场
Daily 9am-6pm. 10 Tuanjiehu Dongli, Chaoyang District (8598 0697)
Daily 8.30am-10pm. Tuanjiehu Park East Gate, Chaoyang District (8598 5515)
Tuanjiehu Park 团结湖公园Free entry. Daily 6.30am-9pm. Tuanjiehu Nanli, Chaoyang District (8597 3603)
Tuanjiehu Water Park 团结湖游泳池
RMB 20. Daily 6am-9.30pm (summer). 16 Tuanjiehu Nanlu (inside Tuanj-iehu Park), Chaoyang District (8597 3603)
Jin Ding Xuan 金鼎轩酒楼
Daily 24hrs. 15 Tuanjiehu Nanlu, Chaoyang District (400 6766 111)
Guolin Homestyle Restaurant 郭林家常菜
Daily 10am-2.30pm, 4.30-9.30pm. 52 Tuanjiehu Shuidui Xili, Chaoyang District (8596 8530)