If the great outdoors is too much for you to resist this summer then why not cool off at one of Beijing’s outdoor swimming pools. My swimming pool of choice is usually Liu Lang in Haidian District (near the South Gate of the Summer Palace). However, I recently decided to take my daughters over to Qingnianhu Water World. Located inside Qingnianhu Park, this swimming pool has long been a favorite for locals and expats alike.
At the time of our visit, we were able to take advantage of the discounted rate that was on offer during June. Thanks to the RMB 10 per ticket increase that was ushered in by July, the current cost of taking my two toddlers for a swim at Qingnianhu is RMB 130 (RMB 50 for adults and RMB 40 for children). Over at Liu Lang, things are significantly cheaper. Children under 120cm are permitted to enter for free. Thus, an outing to that pool costs just RMB 40.
Admittedly, Qingnianhu is better equipped than its Haidian counterpart. There are several long slides for adults and older children to enjoy. There are also two separate swimming pools each containing elaborate child-friendly playthings. At Liu Lang, the apparatus is certainly not as extravagant. However, the two climbing frames with their accompanying slides are adequate and capable of keeping children occupied for several hours. Liu Lang also has a designated swimming pool with clearly marked lanes where serious swimmers can swim without obstruction. Being that I had two small children with me, doing laps in the pool was not at all my focus. However, I’m sure this is a feature that many appreciate.
Both establishments offer the facilities that one might expect a pool to provide—changing rooms, toilets, showers, food vendors, and a safe place to leave valuables. The swimming pools are also relatively clean and well maintained. At Qingnianhu there are picnic tables strategically located beside the pool thus making it possible to sit at the table and eat while keeping an eye on other children who may still be in the water. Liu Lang also has a designated eating area. However, this is located not very near the pool.
At both pools, mornings seem to be a lot quieter than afternoons. However, it may be that the mornings become busier as the summer progresses.
The lake-like pools that can be found at Liu Lang offer a peaceful setting to cool of this summer. The facility is walkable from the closest subway station (Bagou, Line 10). It is also cheaper and attracts fewer visitors than most of the other outdoor pools in Beijing. When it comes to outdoor swimming pools, Liu Lang is a smart choice.
Liu Lang Swimming Pool
RMB 40 for adults. Free for children under 120cm. Daily 9:00am-9:00pm. 50 Kunming Dong Lu, Haidian. (6263 5992) 海淀区昆明湖东路
Photo: Courtesy of Pamela Djima