You don’t want to leave Beijing regretting not having lived it up. You’ve probably done all the big hits by now, so we’ve concentrated our must-see list on some lesser-known activities designed to take your family down narrow hutongs and into the heart of Beijing.
eat weird street food
If someone back home asks if you ate any of weird street food in Beijing, you should be able to say, "But of course!" Head to Wangfujing Snack Street to sample deep-fried, well, anything: starfish, beetles, scorpions, centipedes, testicles. Dare to try at least two morsels, then tell everyone back home about the weird foods you didn’t try – showing them you still have some standards. The night market also makes for some amazing photo-album-worthy family snaps.
Daily 10am-10pm. 277 Wangfujing Dajie, Dongcheng District
make and fly a kite
In some parts of the world, telling someone to go fly a kite is insulting.In China, it just sounds like a good idea. You and your family can make your own kites – the China Cultural Centre (CCC) offers a class about once a month – and afterwards, head to nearby Chaoyang or Si’de Park to fly your new creations. Plus, these kites will make great souvenirs for your kids’ rooms.
China Culture Center
Kent Center, 29 Anjialou, Liangmaqiao Lu, Chaoyang District (6432 9341) www.chinaculturecenter.org
family cooking class
Knowing your way around a wok can only broaden your culinary horizons. It may also give you ideas on how to spice up your own home cooking. Plus, cooking classes are a great family activity. The Hutong offers a slew of regional-Chinese cooking classes, as well as market tours.
1 Jiudaowan Zhongxiang Hutong (southeast of Beixinqiao subway station), Dongcheng District (6404 3355) www.thehutong.com
do kung fu
Imagine your whole family dressed up as kung fu legends – this can be a reality. Various schools offer kung fu courses that can be tailored to your skill level, from black belt to little tiny belts. Try Jinghua Wushu Association, run by kung fu master Liu Xiaoyun and his experienced team. Classes are available at various international schools and clubhouses for both children and adults.
Jinghua Wushu Association
Beijing Riviera: Mon 4.30-5.30pm (ages 4-7), Wed 5-6 pm (ages 4-7). Kempinski Pulse Club: Thu 5-6.30pm (ages 7-9), Sat 3-4.30pm (ages 7-9), Sat 4.30-6pm (ages 7-9), Sun 4-5.30pm (ages 4-6). Adult classes and private lessons also available. RMB 700/ten classes. (135 2228 3751 English/French, 131 4107 2677 English/Chinese) www.jinghuawushu.com
dine at the top of the town
Make one last romantic memory with a dinner to remember at one of Beijing’s high-end, high-up restaurants. Grill 79 is Beijing’s highesteatery at the near-top of the World Trade Centre. Known for excellent-but-simple steaks and seafood, there is more than just novelty to this glitzy restaurant. Not far away is the China Grill at the top of Yintai Centre, which offers elegant takes on traditional Chinese dishes and serious cuts of beef. If dining at China Grill, we recommend Mom and Dad hire a babysitter and head over to China Bar (located on the same floor as China Grill) for post-dinner cocktails with a view. Alternatively, go a few floors down to Xiu for a nightcap out on what is arguably the best inner-city patio in Beijing.
Sun-Thu 5pm-1am, Fri-Sat 5pm-2am. 65/F, Park Hyatt, 2 Jianguomenwai Dajie, Chaoyang District (8567 1838/40)
Daily 6-10.30am, 11.30am-2.30pm, 5.30-10.30pm. 66/F, Park Hyatt Beijing, 2 Jianguomenwai Dajie, Chaoyang District (8567 1234)
Mon-Thu and Sun noon-2am; Fri-Sat noon-4am. 79/F, China World Summit Wing, China World Trade Center Phase 3, 1 Jianguomenwai Dajie, Chaoyang District (6505 2299 ext 6424)
Sun-Wed 6pm-2am, Thu-Sat 6pm-3am. 6/F, Park Life (entrance across from the Park Hyatt hotel lobby), Yintai Center, 2 Jianguomenwai Dajie, Chaoyang District (8567 1108)
It’s time to bust out your best rendition of "Don’t Stop Believing" with your kids doing backup vocals. KTV might not sound like a family affair, but trust us when we say that it is seriously fun for all ages and will give you something to laugh about for years to come. If you’re going to do karaoke, it’s best to do it right. Wain Wain in CBD offers sleek private rooms, a 35-story view, and perhaps the best selection of English songs in Beijing. Booking an afternoon or early evening session will help you avoid the too-cool-for-school twenty-somethings and cashed-up businessmen – it’s cheaper, too!
Wain Wain 和饮轮饮
Daily 11am-2.30am. Rm 3512, Bldg A, Soho New Town, 88 Jianguo Lu, Chaoyang District (8589 4383)
children of the revolution
Relive the idealism and kitsch of the height of the communist era by visiting the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong. Follow this up with dinner at the Red Capital Club – a restaurant that "wraps yourself in the dream of the 1950s." The dining experience will resemble that of a Communist Party banquet, with ornately carved vegetables alongside some of Mao’s favorite dishes.
Red Capital Club 新红资俱乐部
Daily 6pm-midnight. 66 Dongsi Jiutiao, Dongcheng District (6402 7150) www.redcapitalclub.com.cn 东城区东四九条66号
english corner at renmin university
Locals who have a thirst for English conversation head to the open-air English Corner at Renmin University. This is a great opportunity for your kids to ask locals questions about life in China, or simply try an informal language exchange session.
Fridays 7-10pm. In a garden inside the east gate of Renmin University (Haidian District) 人民大学东门花园 (海淀区)
take a bike tour to the great wall
Everything looks better from the seat of a bike. Visit the Great Wall and other Beijing-area attractions with an organized bike tour. Bike Beijing is a well-known club that offers a variety of trips – from family-friendly two town tours to serious seven-day adventures.
Bike Beijing 康多
Trips to the Great Wall start at RMB 950 (adult) and RMB 600 (child). 34 Donghuangchenggen Nanjie, Dongcheng District (133 8140 0738) www.bikebeijing.com
No stay in Beijing is complete without experiencing life in a traditional Chinese hutong. Templeside Delux Hutong House Hotel is quaint, charming and centrally located. Sip tea in the courtyard or rent a bike and explore the surrounding hutongs.
Templeside Deluxe Hutong House Hotel
2 Baitaxiang, Zhaodengyu Lu, Xicheng District (6617 2571)