Weekend Getaway

Saturday, 28 March 2009

Aching for some greener pastures and a blast of fresh air outside Beijing? Tania McCartney heads out of town in search of kid-friendly daytrips and getaways


A 90-minute train ride from Beijing, Beidaihe beach resort stretches along the coast southwest of Qinhuangdao. Once known as the Party’s summer retreat, the area is still caught in a retro haze, with holiday villages and bathing houses harking back to 1949 (Mao had a retreat here). The pebbled sands are packed in the height of summer, so go early and avoid weekends.

In the north of Qinhuangdao, don’t miss Laolongtou (Old Dragon's Head), the easternmost part of the Great Wall, which lolls 20 metres into the water, lapping up the Bohai Sea (0335 515 2996, open 8am-6pm daily, 50RMB). Qinhuangdao Safari Park is enormous and features tropical, herbivore and African animals, just to name a few (0335 418 2208, open 8am-5pm daily, 60RMB). Xin'Ao Underwater World has porpoise and sea lion performances (81 Haibin Road, Haigang district, 0335 801 1111, open 8am-5.30pm, 60RMB).

The area is still caught in a retro haze, with holiday villages harking back to 1949

A true salt-air experience for kids of all ages can be found at the Beijing Sailing Centre. With qualified English and Chinese instructors, Topper Omegas are also available for older teens and adults wanting spinnaker and trapezing experience. The Centre can organise weekend packages including accommodation in a tent or hotel (22 Wenti Road, Haigang district, Qinhuangdao, 0335 856 0916, www.beijingsailing.com, 秦皇岛市海港区文体路22号, open May-Oct; weekend packages from 2,000RMB (tent) to 3,390RMB (Holiday Inn) twin-share, including return train fares, meals, accommodation, sailing equipment and tuition.


Around one hour from Beijing, the Goose ‘n’ Duck Ranch is a real China experience – think large-scale Chinese kids’ park on a lakeside promenade, and you’ll get the picture. If you’re happy to kip in rustic accommodation and find a frog or two in the pool, then this is for you. Stay the weekend in a cabin, cabana or boardwalk bungalow (300-800RMB/night), or just enjoy a day trip, stuffed with fun activities for the kids including soccer, bowling, archery, volleyball, mini-golf, go-karting, basketball, fishing, paintball and swimming in the gigantic pool. There are also hiking trails nearby, and caving tours and trips to the Great Wall can be arranged.

If your kids want a little kitsch with their adrenaline rush, Shijingshan fits the bill

Make it super-easy by catching a shuttle bus from the Goose ‘n’ Duck Pub, and be sure to enquire about their overnight packages which include food, beverages and round-trip transportation (Huairou Beizhai, Huairou district, 怀柔区北寨, 6067 1097, open 24 hours, www.gdclub.net.cn; Goose ‘n’ Duck Pub, S1, Green Lake International Tower (east of Chaoyang Bridge), Chaoyang district, 5928 3045, open 24 hours).


Perhaps the ultimate form of flattery (and bravest – who wants to take on Walt’s Empire?), Shijingshan’s operators have insisted their Mickey Mouse rip-off is not a mouse but rather “a cat with very large ears”. Donald Duck, we suppose, is really a chicken, complete with sailor suit. Nonetheless, if your kids want a little kitsch with their adrenaline rush, Shijingshan fits the bill.

Little ones will love Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, Snow White and other Chisney characters, while older kids will enjoy high-tech rides like the Spinning Coaster, Worm Coaster, Crazy Mouse and Space Trip (think Space Mountain). There are also the typical bumper car and boat rides, race car circuits and a water park with slides. Each ride attracts a fee. (10RMB adults, 5RMB kids, 25 Shijingshan Lu, Shijingshan district, take subway number 1 line and get off at the Bajiao amusement park station, 石景山区石景山路25号, 6886 2547, open 8.30am-6pm daily).

First published, in part, in Time Out Beijing magazine.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...