The cultural and political capital of China is a sprawling megalopolis with a wealth of interesting sights to see, things to do and foods to be eaten. The concierge experts at Quintessentially recommend a few of the best family-friendly activities to rouse flagging spirits in between checking out the likes of Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, Olympic Stadium and cheap and cheerful markets.
Beijing Happy Valley 北京欢乐谷
Bearing no relation to the Hong Kong Happy Valley, this gaudy entertainment park is ENORMOUS! Since it opened in 2006, it has become pretty popular with both adults and children, mostly because of its 40 different rides and quite cool themed areas named Lost Maya, Wild Fjord, Aegean Harbor, Shangri-La and Ant Kingdom. These different backdrops host some thrilling adventure rides as well as mini trains, swings and shows suitable for little ones. Until the end of October, the park is also open at night.
Beijing Sea 北京海洋馆
One of the biggest sea parks in Asia, Beijing has a good central location. Actually part of Beijing zoo (which we can’t bring ourselves to recommend – it’s horribly depressing), the aquarium on the other hand is packed with healthy- and happy-looking exhibits. From an adventure through the rivers of the rainforest to the coral reefs, a shark harbour, Chinese sturgeon hall and a fun touch pool, the emphasis is on engaging kids in a fun (and quietly educational) way. Try and time your visit with one of the performances in the Ocean Theatre, a 3,000 seat auditorium, and watch the dolphins, seals and sea lions frolic.
Also worth an honourable mention is the Beijing Blue Zoo (富国海底世界) which has a 120m-long indoor aquarium glass walkway. The sharks are circling…
Great Wall of China
This section of the great wall is more accessible and slightly less crowded than the well-known Badaling. There are three different ways to ascend – cable car, ski lift, or walk – and one fantastic way down: a toboggan. Saddle up for an exhilarating and curvy ride down the slope (and you’ll be pleased to know the sleds are equipped with handbrakes to prevent you soaring off). OK, you can walk, but where’s the fun in that?
This section of the great wall has been restored so it won’t pose a huge danger to kids, but it goes without saying – keep a close eye on them and be prepared for some heavy lifting when they get tired!
If you’re visiting Beijing in the middle of summer or winter, or it’s a particularly polluted day, you probably won’t (or can’t!) spend much time outside. Step up Fundazzle, your emergency babysitter – a supersized play area complete with gigantic ball pit, climbing frames, play areas, a jungle gym and parent-friendly seats to oversee the action.
There’s something for everyone at this accessible park, which is one of the largest in Asia. It’s huge and it’s green – quite a change from HK’s petite concrete public spaces. There’s also plenty to do. We recommend you hire pedalos and explore the 2 enormous lakes, get topsy turvy on the roller coasters at the amusement park and chill out on the lush lawns. If you get peckish, there are good restaurants at Solana on the west side of the park.
Sassy Mama tip:
Hire a babysitter for the night and head out to the very romantic Dali Courtyard (东城区鼓楼东大街小经厂胡同67号). Hidden away in an old hutong (traditional residential area), the restaurant serves a Yunnanese-inspired fixed-price menu meaning no tricky ordering decisions…just sit back and enjoy the fairy lights twinkling in the background.
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