China Science and Technology Museum 中国数字科技馆
There’s a reason we keep recommending this place. Everything is interactive and kids have to be dragged away from practically every display. From robots to ships, space, and beyond, visitors can explore various facets of science and technology in a clean, air-conditioned space that offers a welcome respite from the heat.
Located near the Olympic Village, China Science and Technology Museum is suitable for children of all ages. Most of the exhibition halls are located on the third floor, so head there first if you’re short on time. There’s an area for younger kids, which costs extra. Food and drinks are available on all levels and the toilets are very clean.
Admission: RMB 30 (adults), RMB 15 (kids), cinema: RMB 30 (adults), RMB 20 (students), kids’ area: RMB 20 (kids), RMB 10 (adults).
Tue-Sun 9.30am-5pm. 5 Beichen Donglu, Chaoyang District (5904 1000, email@example.com)
Paleozoological Museum of China 中国古动物馆
OK, we won’t lie – as far as dinosaur museums go, this one could use some spiffing up. For one thing, it’s pretty small; we wouldn’t budget more than an hour for the visit. Secondly, all the displays are in Chinese so you’re not likely to learn much. Lastly, the displays are generally a bit run-down and dusty.
That said, dinosaur-loving kids should have a blast. In addition to fossils, the museum has life-size replicas of a T-rex, mammoths, sabertooth tigers, a stegosaurus, and a brontosaurus that spans the first, second, and third floors.
The Paleozoological Museum is located just west of Beijing Zoo subway station (line 4, exit D), directly across the street from Beijing Zoo. Its immediate neighbour to the east is the Beijing Planetarium, so you could potentially combine all three attractions if you start early enough.
Admission: RMB 20 (adults), RMB 10 (kids under 1.2m), RMB 20 for admission to 3D cinema. Daily 9am-4.30pm (last admission at 4pm). 142 Xizhimen Waidajie, Xicheng District (8836 9280/10/15) www.paleozoo.cn 西城区西直门外大街142号
Beijing Planetarium 北京天文馆
The planetarium is divided into two buildings, A and B, with their own exhibits and admission prices. The main attraction in building A is the Astronomy Theater (天象厅, tianxiang ting), which features a 23m circular screen showing star trails, galaxies, and other astronomical phenomena.
Building B houses the Cosmic Theater (宇宙剧场, yuzhou juchang), which at 18m is slightly smaller than the Astronomy Theater. Similarly, it shows eye-popping images of constellations, space stations, northern lights, and more.
Building B also has a 4D cinema and a 3D cinema. Located on the second floor, the 4D cinema takes viewers under the sea, buffeting them with the occasional spray of water, gust of air, poke in the back, and other physical sensations. The 3D cinema is located in the basement and offers a more abstract, wide-ranging trip through time and space.
Astronomy Theater and Cosmic Theater: RMB 45 (adults), RMB 35 (kids under 1.2m); 4D and 3D Cinema: RMB 30 (adults), RMB 20 (kids); regular exhibits (building A and B): RMB 10 (adults), RMB 7 (kids). Wed-Fri 9.30am-3.30pm, Sat-Sun 9.30am-4.30pm (closed Mon-Tue). 138 Xizhimen Waidajie, Haidian District (5158 3311) www.bjp.org.cn 海淀区西直门外大街138号
Beijing Urban Planning Exhibition Hall 北京市规划展览馆
A great choice for history and urban planning nerds, Beijing Planning Exhibition Hall offers an overview of Beijing’s development as a city. The 16,000sqm museum spans four floors and showcases the layout of the Forbidden City, siheyuan preservation projects, the future of Beijing urban planning, and more. The museum is within walking distance of Tiananmen Square and Qianmen, so this would be a good place to take visitors.
On the first floor, there’s an impressive bronze relief showing Beijing and the surrounding geographical features. There are 20-minute screenings on the history of Beijing and a 4D movie on future plans for the city (RMB 10 each). In the past, temporary exhibitions have covered folk customs, marriage, community life in ancient villages, and water conservation. Toilets are very clean. See p57 for a tour of Qianmen featuring this stop.
Admission: RMB 30 (adults), free for kids under 1.2m, RMB 10 per person for each of the short movie screenings. Tue-Sun 9am-5pm (last admission at 4.30pm). 20 Qianmen Dongdajie, Dongcheng District (6705 7932) www.bjghzl.com.cn 东城区前门东大街20号
China Railway Museum 中国铁道博物馆
Train buffs will love China Railway Museum, a warehouse-style building showcasing steam, diesel, and electric trains. The centerpiece of the exhibition is a collection of railway cars that Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai used to tour the country in the 1960s and 1970s. You can tour the inside of the cars for an extra fee, which is well worth it; you’ll see retro pink toilets and bathtubs, lounge chairs, and an office. Some signs are in English and Chinese.
There’s a small seating area near the entrance selling drinks, train models, books, and toys, but apart from that the museum is basically a big hangar with no frills. Pack your own snacks. Families can expect to spend one to two hours here.
There are actually two branches of the China Railway Museum in Beijing, so make sure you’re going to the right place. One is located in Qianmen and focuses on railway construction, with very little rolling stock. The one you want is located in Dashanzi, just outside Fifth Ring Road. The museum is hard to reach by public transit, so you’ll want to take a taxi or a private car.
Admission: RMB 20 (adults), free for kids under 1.2m. Tue-Sun 9am-5pm. 1 Jiuxianqiao Beilu, Chaoyang District (6438 1317/1517) www.china-rail.org
Chinese Museum of Women and Children 妇女儿童博物馆
Opened in 2011, the Chinese Museum of Women and Children is a little-known museum that tracks the role of women and children in Chinese history. The space is clean, quiet, and has spotless toilets on each floor.
Three floors showcase artifacts, games, and activities associated with childhood. Another three floors focus on women, from Neolithic times through to the 20th century. All exhibits are in English and Chinese. The top floor is reserved for costume exhibits from ethnic minority groups in China.
The address is officially listed as 23 Jianguomen
Neidajie, but the museum is actually located on 9 Beijige Toutiao to the north behind a building called Chinatex Mansion (中纺大厦, Zhongfang Dasha), which faces out onto Jianguomen
Neidajie. Get out at Dongdan subway station (line 1, exit B), take the first left into a little alley, take a right on Beijige Toutiao, and the museum will be on your left. Admission is free, but you have to show your passport at the counter.
Free admission. Tue-Sun 9am-4pm. 9 Beijige Toutiao, Chaoyang District (6526 9678) ccwm.china.com.cn 朝阳区北极阁头条9号
This article originally appeared on page 34-37 of the beijingkids August 2015 issue. Click here to read the issue for free on Issuu.com. To find out how you can get your own copy, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos: Chinian, Ivanwalsh.com (flickr), Jason Quinn, Captmondo, Zeissjena, Jan Spacir (Wikimedia Commons) & Uni You