50 things to do in Beijing: get active

Make the most of the great outdoors with these active things to do

Beijing has plenty of must-see historical sights but there are also plenty of present day things to do and see that we reckon are pretty unmissable.


It's a huge city and there are plenty of things to do outside (when the smog's not too heavy) where you can get fit while soaking up the Beijing life. Here are the things to try when the weather is peachy.

Exercise like a Beijinger

Exercise like a Beijinger

Put your Fitbit in the drawer. Cross-fit is for sissies, the 82-year-old at our local outdoor gym told us on his hundredth pull-up. The government’s been dropping these exercise areas since 1998 and locals have taken to them with gusto. Get involved.

Get down with the ladies

Get down with the ladies

Image credit: TonyV3112

As soon as the evenings hit 15 degrees, every public square in Beijing is teeming with dancers. Out come the boom-boxes, the speakers pounding with intolerable Chinese pop. Mostly, it’s the middle-age woman demographic, but older men join in too. On warm summer nights, we’ve always enjoyed having a beer as spectators, but one day we’ll get over it and join the club. Subway stations are your best bet to have a dance. We hear Xisi off Line 4 has a popping scene.

Cycle Beijing

Cycle Beijing

Beijing’s a city meant for two wheels. The day when bicycles outnumbered cars on the road is not far from many residents’ memories. Arguably, riding through hutongs on an old Flying Pigeon bicycle is the only way to experience China’s capital. City blocks are unusually long, making walking tiresome, and taxi cabs have a difficult time navigating the smaller streets – not to mention the traffic. Bike Beijing: Bicycle Kingdom Tours offers various lengths of guided tours around the city as well as offering daily or weekly bike rental. For fixed gear rental, check out Natooke or our guide to renting a public bike.

Try a Hey!Robics class

Try a Hey!Robics class

Let's face it, working out in the (almost) fresh air as part of a group is way better than slogging it at the gym alone – especially with some sexy Swedes leading the way. Hey!Robics is a Swedish based company that offers a variety of unusual workouts around Beijing for all levels of fitness. If you fancy shaping up and don't mind trying something different, these classes could be for you.

Take a dip in Houhai

Take a dip in Houhai

We’re not really certain if there should be hygiene concerns here, but one dip couldn’t hurt, could it? Anyway, enough people are popping in and out of Qianhai and Houhai, so it must be safe. This might not be on the average tourist checklist, but if you’ve signed a lease, go the next step and baptise yourself in the waters of Shichahai.

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