All this warm weather may put you in mind to build some sand castles. Sadly for us here in Beijing, a beach worth sinking our toes in may lie miles or thousands of miles away, depending on individual standards!
Luckily, there is an answer (of sorts) for every need in Beijing. A giant indoor sandbox can be found at Yuyuto, on the third floor of Shimao Gongsan (the mall on the north east corner of Xindong Lu and Gongti Beilu). Yuyuto is a Chinese play center group which offers Japanese designed children’s playgrounds across 40 locations in China, 17 of which are in Beijing. Facilities at Shimao Gongsan include a ball pit, play area, and the previously mentioned enormous sandbox.
The sandbox is larger than any I’ve ever seen, filled with more toys than you can imagine: tractors, shovels, buckets, you name it, it’s in there. There’s even a mini house and a little slide. While in the sandbox, kids are equipped with little helmets, presumably because the toys here are made of stronger plastic than those in the rest of the center.
In the colorful play area there are giant activity toys, such as a spinning barrel, the surfboards mentioned above, a merry-go-round (that doesn’t quite rotate), building blocks, and monkey bars.
The few times I’ve walked by it’s been relatively empty. I imagine the reason it’s not thronged with visitors is the price. There are two different sections, the sandbox and the play area, and access to each one is RMB 80. There are memberships from RMB 300 to RMB 1800 unlocking discounted tickets, but for RMB 1800 you might be better off buying a ticket to Thailand.
However, on a murky day when you want to build a sand castle without leaving the neighborhood, RMB 80 may be worth it. At six months old, our son Kai still has a ways to go before his first play date at the sandpit.
RMB 80-160. Memberships/discounts available. Daily 10am-10pm. Shimao Gongsan, Gongti Beilu, Chaoyang District. (84185211) www.yuyuto.com 北京市朝阳区工人体育馆北路世贸工三
Photos: Courtesy of Theresa Pauline