A growing economy—and a boost from the 2008 Summer Olympics—has turned China’s capital city into a popular destination for fit travelers
Hike the Great Wall If you go off the tourist track a bit you’ll reach un-restored sections of the Wall and have large stretches to yourself-and if you want to pretend to shoot at invading Mongolians from the watch towers, were not here to judge. The trek from Jinshanling to Simatai used to be a popular route, but the Simatai entrance is often closed for renovations these days, so check with your hotel or driver in advance. Or hook up with Beijing Hikers for a guided trip to an obscure portion.
Find us on Facebook! If you want to go on your own, your hotel or hostel can help arrange a car for a day-a car that drops you off at Jinshanling and picks you up at Simatai is usually around 700RMB. If you go with a group like Beijing Hikers, transportation is included in the price. Yuandadu Relics Park (also called the Yuan Dynasty City Wall Relics Park) On rare clear days, run along this narrow, canal-bisected park on the north side of town. The five-plus-mile park stretches along the top part of subway line 10 (just above the North Third Ring Road) and past the Olympic Park. Check out the ancient monuments-sculptures and bits of city wall dating to the 1200s-along the way. After all that running, you deserve a break, so treat yourself to at Tsingtao at the bar strip on the east side of the park, near the Shaoyaoju subway stop. Since the park runs along the subway line, you can get off at any of the stops between Shaoyaoju and Xitucheng on line 10. Indoors
Happy Magic Water Cube Water Park The Water Cube, where champion bong-ripper Michael Phelps picked up eight gold medals in swimming, is now home to the Beijing Happy Magic Watercube Waterpark with sides, a wave pool, and a lazy river. Try the Aqualoop, which starts with a 40-foot vertical free-fall. At 200RMB, a day on the giant slides is way more fun than the Olympic competitions. Open daily 10am-9pm. Take line 10 to Beitucheng at the south end of the Olympic Park. Nike 6.0 Summer Lab In the winter, snowboarders and skiers flock to Nanshan Park to the north of Beijing, where they keep the hills ready with a fresh supply of powder. But during warmer months, catch some air at the Nike 6.0 Summer Lab inside the Qiaobo Ice and Snow World, a massive wintry complex in Beijing’s northeast. At 180RMB (includes rental gear) for two hours on weekdays, you’ll get access to their two jumps, including one with a giant airbag at the end to ensure a soft landing when you try out new tricks. Qiaobo Ice and Snow World is inside Chaobai River National Forest Park, Mapo, Shunyi District (+86-10-6941-9999).
Da Dong While in Beijing, you need to try the duck, specially roasted with crispy golden skin that literally melts in your mouth. Eat it like the locals: place slices of duck and garnishes like scallion and cucumber in a thin pancake, wrap, and eat like a mini-burrito. While there are plenty of places to try the local delicacy, Da Dong gets top marks for its duck as well as modern takes on seafood and classic Chinese dishes. Nanxincang International Plaza, 22A Dongsishitiao, Dongcheng District (+86-10- 5169-0329) and other locations in Beijing. Din Tai Fung Din Tai Fung, a popular chain of dumpling restaurants, specializes in soup-filled steamed crab and pork dumplings-eat them with a spoon since the soup tends to squirt out onto your shirt when you bite into the delicate wrappers. Add a side of green vegetables cooked with garlic and wash it down with Yanjing, the local beer. 24 Xinyuanli Zhongjie, Chaoyang District (+86-010-6462-4502) and other locations in Beijing. Guo Li Zhuang The different varieties of animal penis on offer at Guo Li Zhuang purportedly improve your skin and boost libido. Do they really? Does it matter? Are you really going to pass up a chance to sample water buffalo, yak, duck, and deer members all in one place? 34B Dongsishitiao, Dongcheng District (+86-10-6611-2008).
Yugong Yishan Catch the brightest stars of Beijing’s indie rock scene at Yugong Yishan, a midsized venue with a lounge upstairs. Check local listings magazines like Time Out Beijing, City Weekend, and The Beijinger for gigs and look out for performances by glam rockers Rustic, Mongolian folk and rock act Hanggai, and dance-punk band Queen Sea Big Shark. The venue also hosts visiting international acts like Peaches and Secret Machines. 3-2 Zhangzizhong Lu, Dongcheng District (+86-10-6404-2711). Twilight You wouldn’t expect it based on Twilight’s location in a shopping complex and behind a Starbucks, but this whiskey lounge will have you feeling like you’ve stepped onto the set of Lost in Translation-unfortunately you’re not likely to meet Scarlett Johansson at the bar. Order a whiskey (try one of their rare Japanese varieties) or a cocktail made with an infused liquor. Eat the Japanese-style fried chicken. Jianwai Soho, Villa 5, 3rd Floor (the entrance is around the corner from Starbucks), 39 Dongsanhuan Zhong Lu (+86-10-5900-5376). Punk A hip, subterranean lounge in the basement of the boutique hotel The Opposite House, Punk serves up cocktails and a rotating cast of DJs, including the occasional international act. Stop by one of their wildly popular Hotpot parties-you’ll find relentlessly chic Chinese scenesters and wasted expats grinding to DJ Wordy’s latest mashups. Basement, The Opposite House, 11 Sanlitun Bei Lu, Chaoyang District (+86-10-6410-5222).