Adoring crowds admire a panda. Photo from www.bjzoo.com
Where in Beijing can you spend a day with your kids this summer? How about a trip to the the Beijing Zoo and Aquarium? It’s a wonderful place for families to enjoy some time together, rain or shine.
The regular price for tickets in the summer months is RMB 8 for students and RMB 15 for adults (plus an extra RMB 5 if you wish to see the pandas, which is well worth the additional cost).
The main gate is a work of art in itself. Photo from Wikipedia
Upon arriving at the Zoo you will be greeted by an ornate entrance gate that one marked the front of a Qing dynasty aristocrat’s private garden. Walk in and you will soon be amongst the animals, including pandas, lions, tigers and monkeys, just to name a few.
You also need not to worry about getting lost because you don’t read Chinese — the zoo provides complete English navigation signs for animal exhibits and for public services like bathrooms and first aid.
Kids will love the fish at the aquarium. Photo by James Lu
The Beijing Zoo is not only famous for its large variety of animals, but it is also known for its world-class aquarium, just behind "lion & tiger mountain". Entrance to the aquarium is charged separately — RMB 120 for adults and RMB 60 for kids below 18 (free for kids under 1.2 meters).
The aquarium greets guests with a tropical Amazonian jungle setting complete with tanks full of colorful freshwater and saltwater fish. Whites Whales are displayed in big tanks, where excited 5-year-olds are likely to gather on field trips to stare at the gigantic bodies of these sea creatures. A food court and glittery gift stands also line the inside of the aquarium.
The main room for seeing fish has an abundance of species, from clownfish to sea anemone. Overall, this place is a fish and aquamarine haven.
The jellyfish were a definite highlight. Photo by James Lu
Our highlight of the day was the electrifying jelly fish, displayed under neon colored lighting. These magical creatures looked like a living form of abstract art.
Included in your price of admission to the aquarium is a dolphin and sea lion show — something worth catching, though be sure to check the schedule and arrive at the venue at least 20 minutes before showtime to catch one of the seats close to the action.
For amenities, the zoo also boasts an Australian Café located just outside the aquarium. Other cheaper local food stands and canteens are also found around the zoo. Popsicle stands and kiosks for other miscellaneous drinks and snacks are scattered throughout the park.
Weekday visits, even in summer, are not crowded. Weekends can get quite hectic when fleets of families as well as adults descend upon the zoo. We suggest you go during a weekday when it’s a bit overcast.
A couple of tips:
— A purchase of an aquarium ticket includes the ticket to the zoo (but not vice-versa) so if you plan to see both, no need to pay separately for a zoo ticket.
— Be prepared with summer gear and water especially on a sunny day, since that the zoo is incredibly large. Parents of toddlers will want to take a stroller.
— The old imperial canal runs through the zoo, and for a separate charge you can take a tourist boat from the zoo directly to the Summer Palace in Haidian.
How to get there:
For transportation take subway line 2. Get off at Beijing Zoo stop.
Apr-Oct: RMB 15, RMB 8 (students). Nov-Mar: RMB 10, RMB 5 (students), free (kids under 1.2m).
RMB 5 for Panda House.
137 Baishiqiao Lu, Xizhimenwai Dajie, Haidian District
Daily 7.30am-5pm (winter), 7.30am-6pm (summer)
RMB 120 (includes zoo), RMB 60 (kids less than 18 years old), free (kids under 1.2m).
Inside Beijing Zoo, 18B Gaoliangqiao Xiejie, Haidian District
Daily 9am-5pm (Apr-Oct), 9am-5.30pm (Nov-Mar), last ticket sold at 4.30pm
James Lu is a student at the International School of Beijing.