Winter’s icy grip is slowly, slowly loosening. Yesterday’s snowfall is evidence of the changing atmospheric conditions, with humidity gradually on the rise and the mercury set to follow.
Before you know it, we’ll be getting about in shorts and flip-flops, moaning about the broken air conditioning and the price of cold beers. So let’s be sure to take full advantage of winter 2018/19 before it’s over for good. With that in mind, here are nine great things to do before winter ends…
Take a dip in Houhai
No, don’t. Please. We were joking. It hurts our insides just thinking about it. No really, stop. We don’t care about all the supposed health benefits it brings. Only nutty OG Beijingers can do this on account of their tough northern skin, no-fuss attitude, and layers of fat laboriously built up from a life-long diet of hotpot and chuan’r.
Freeze your face off at Harbin Ice Festival
Everybody’s favorite gaudy spectacle of laser lights, Moon boots, and structurally dubious ice palaces is coming to end early March. If you’ve been thinking about going, now’s the time! Get more details about how and where, right here.
Burn your fingertips and tongue on a baked sweet potato
Though baked-potato-men are pretty thin on the ground these days, you can still reliably spot them selling everybody’s favorite winter street food around touristy sites like Houhai Lake (seriously, just don’t go swimming). Failing that, the trendy Bite By Callus puts a modern spin on the classic on Sanlitun’s Tidy Bar Street.
Lace up and live out your Disney on Ice fantasies
Does your triple axle need some work? There’s still time to hit Beijing’s many indoor and outdoor ice skating venues. Though time is running out and you really don’t want to be skating on thin ice (har har)… so don’t dally. Here’s a full list of the best spots to ice skate around the capital.
Take a nice, long, soothing bath
Or, as some call it “visit a day spa.” Treat your parched winter skin to a bit of pampering before you have to go and expose it to the world in shorts and T-shirts, and hit up one of the city’s many luxurious day spas. Here’s our guide to the best in Beijing.
Catch this moving exhibition
Keep your brain box warm till the breaking of spring with some intellectual stimulation. This exhibition showcases the work of British photographer and Beijing resident Cameron Hack who has spent years locating, interviewing, and photographing over 80 Chinese women with bound feet. The result is a moving insight into a rapidly-disappearing piece of Chinese history that is on display at Zarah until Mar 13. Read our interview with the Hack here.
Carve some powder
The mountains around Beijing are riddled with ski resorts, and you can expect to see even more of them appear in the lead-up to the 2022 Winter Olympics. From the kinds of luxury resorts that would keep a Kardashian happy to cheap-and-cheerful slopes where nobody has a clue what they are doing and you can hire absolutely everything, we’ve got them all covered in our comprehensive guide.
Eat a dusty donkey
Not a real donkey, you ass (though if you’re craving some Eyore, the recently opened Xiexie Tea does a decent donkey-meat baozi). We’re talking about lvdagun 驴打滚, a tasty Beijing winter dessert that gets its name from the final coating of crushed roasted soybeans prior to serving, like a donkey that has been rolling around in the dust. See all of our favorite Beijing winter snacks here, before they return indoors until Beijing’s next icing.
Photos: Anna Pellegrin Hartley, Margaux Schreurs, Kyle Mullin, Sybabite, Jinyu Fengshan Hot Springs Resort, Cameron Hack, Genting Resort Secret Garden, Jamie Penaloza, vinetalk.com