At the height of summer, you won’t see swans idling on the water. The birds come instead in the spring and autumn, when the weather is milder and they can make the lake their home. When the weather heats up, Yanqi Lake (Chinese for “swans dwelling”) receives people instead, who frolic in and around the lake on all manner of water-borne carriers.
Yanqi Lake Amusement Park is located just on the edge of Huairou District. A mere 45-minute drive from Shunyi, this recreational area will appeal to all family members. The main entrance fee costs RMB 34 or RMB 17 (kids under 1.2m) and gives you access to the grounds. However, you’ll have to fork out more yuan to take advantage of the other attractions.
Not the type to indulge in an adrenaline rush? There are also well-kept grounds dotted with benches and picnic tables under big shady trees. The lake itself is bordered on three sides by mountains, with Mutianyu Great Wall to the north and Hongluo Temple to the west.
You can go for a quiet tour of the lake in a paddle boat or rowboat (RMB 60/hour). This is popular among families with young children. For a more dedicated and time-consuming, activity, there is an angling ground for fishing (RMB 20/visit).
If you feel like a little more action, go rock-climbing (RMB 40/adult). There is only one belayer, however, so be prepared for a wait of five to 10 minutes for every person ahead of you, depending on how far up the wall they go.
Another popular attraction is the zipline (RMB 40/adult), which takes you along one portion of the bank and brings you back to the ground beside a lush and shady canopy. Bumper cars and other rides for kids round up the selection of activities (starting from RMB 25/go).
Needing to pick up the speed? There is a whole range of aquatic sports to choose from. Speedboats, motorized dragon boats and aquatic racing bikes can all be rented by the fraction of an hour (RMB 50-120/hour). Jetski is the most popular (and also the most expensive at RMB 20/minute). Real thrillseekers can test their mettle with parasailing (RMB 150/round).
When you are all actioned-out, head to any one of the six restaurants, or grab some basics (drinks, cookies, chips, bread) from a small grocery store by the entrance. Then, find yourself a shady spot to catch your breath.
If your family or group should decide to pursue separate activities, fear not. All attractions are clearly marked in both Chinese and sometimes-spotty English, so settling on a meeting point should not be difficult. Most attractions are located along the side of the lake with the mountains as your backdrop. While there are a few steps down to the water, there are also plenty of ramps, making the entire park stroller- and wheelchair-friendly. Bathrooms are clearly-marked and well-kept, both within the park and at the parking lot.
The advantage of going to an amusement park in the peak season is the chance you get to do all the activities. But there is something to be said about visiting in the off-season as well. Sure, you may not get to see all the action, but you will be able to enjoy the surroundings and not spend all your time lining up at each attraction. You can take things easy, which is perfect for when you have little ones in tow. And who knows, you may even be greeted by the sight of swans dwelling on the lake.
For more info, visit Yanqi Lake’s official website (Chinese only).
Yanqi Lake 雁栖湖
3 Yanbing Lu, Huaifeng Highway, Yanqi Township, Huairou District (400 109 9898, firstname.lastname@example.org) 怀柔区雁栖镇坏风高速演兵路3号
Bus: From Xuanwumen or Tiananmen, take the tour bus to Yanqi Lake. From Dongzhimen Bus Station, take bus 916 to Huairou No. 3 High School and switch to bus 2 to Yanqi Lake. There’s also a direct bus (936) from Dongzhimenwai to Yanqi Lake.
Photo by Dana Cosio-Mercado
Dana is the beijingkids Shunyi Correspondent. Originally from the Philippines, she moved to Beijing in 2011 (via Europe) with her husband, two sons and Rusty the dog. She enjoys writing, photography, theater, visual arts, and trying new food. In her free time, she can be found exploring the city and driving along the mountain roads of Huairou, Miyun and Pinggu.