Paddle power: The best spots for boating and water sports in Beijing

Take in the some of Beijing's best lakes while chilling on a boat of your choice

It seems like just yesterday that we were telling you which of Beijing's lakes was best to ice skate on. But those lakes since have now not only thawed, but are also open for boating. This spring, test the waters at these stunning spots around Beijing.

Side note: Make sure to bring cash as a few of these locations don't accept online payments. Additionally, avoid visiting on windy or rainy days because there's a chance that the boats won't be available for use as well.
Beihai Park

Beihai Park

Boats abound on the lake in Beihai Park. You’ll find small pedal boats, mid-sized boats in the style of a lily pad, large and imperial dragon boats for big groups, and duck boats as far as the eye can see. Visit during off-peak hours to avoid the crowds. Pedal boats are 60RMB per hour, four-person motorboats are 120RMB and six-person motorboats are 140RMB. Deposits are 300RMB. 

Hours Open 6.30am-9pm daily (boats only available from 9am-6pm).
Park entry 10RMB for adults; half-price for students and the elderly; free for kids under 1.2metres.
Find it 1 Wenjin Jie, Xicheng district (6403 1102).

Beijing Olympic Rowing-Canoeing Park

Beijing Olympic Rowing-Canoeing Park

It has been more than a decade this year since the Summer Olympic Games transformed Beijing and left the city with some incredible sporting venues. This lake in Shunyi that previously hosted rowing, canoeing and open water swimming is now a popular spot for sailing, kayaking, paddle boarding and wakeboarding. Classes, with Chinese instructors, are available for learners: Sailing classes cost 300RMB per hour while kayaking and paddle boarding is 200RMB. If you already know how to kayak and paddle board, you can just rent them for 300RMB for half the day. And if your whole crew wants to be out on the water together, put down a 400RMB deposit on electric boats which rent at 150RMB per hour for four-seaters and 180RMB for six-seaters.

Hours Open 9am-5pm daily (boats only available from 9am-4pm).
Park entry 20RMB for adults; 10RMB for kids 1.2-1.4m; free for kids under 1.2 metres.
Find it 19 Baima Lu, Shunyi district (8948 2008).

Chaoyang Park

Chaoyang Park

Head left from the south entrance of Chaoyang Park and you’ll find rows of boats on Shuizhui Lake. With the help of a skipper, drift by sculpted greenery and lily pads for a change of pace from the amusement park. Four-seater electric boats are from 100RMB per hour while pedal boats are from 60RMB per hour. Deposits start from 200RMB.

Hours Open 6am-10pm daily.
Park entry 5RMB; kids under 1.2 metres get in for free.
Find it 1 Nongzhan Nan Lu, Chaoyang district (6506 5409).

Hanshiqiao Wetland Nature Reserve

Hanshiqiao Wetland Nature Reserve

This beautiful natural wetland is only about 30 minutes from Beijing Capital Airport but a world away from Beijing’s urban sprawl. Raised wooden walkways skirt the area’s lakes, perfect for walkers and bicycle riders. But if you're keen to see the wildlife up close, the best option is to rent a boat. Migratory birds reach the wetlands between March and April each year, making spring a great time to make the trip. Boats and bikes require a 400RMB deposit. Pedal boats are 80RMB an hour, four-seater electric boats start from 140RMB an hour, five-seaters are 160RMB an hour and classic animal-shaped boats (think rubber ducks) are 280RMB per hour. 

Hours Open 8am-4.30pm.
Park entry Free.
Find it Haishiqiao Village, Yangzhen area, Shunyi district (6141 1200).

Longtan Park

Longtan Park

If crowds aren't your thing, then head off to Longtan Park where boat options may be fewer, but so are people. This picturesque park boasts elegantly arched bridges and towering rock formations. Pedal away in duck boats or vintage boats with your loved ones and enjoy the scenery alongside the lake's resident (real-life) ducks. Electric boats require a deposit of 400RMB, and four-seater boats cost 140RMB while six-seater boats cost 120RMB per hour.

Hours Open 6am-9.30pm daily (boats only available from 9am-4pm).
Park entry 2RMB; free for kids under 1.2m.
Find it 8 Longtanhu Lu, Dongcheng district (6714 4336).

Photo: Kenneth Tan

Purple Bamboo Park

Purple Bamboo Park

Get ready to paddle off as you explore the Purple Bamboo Park's 88,000 square metres of water with more than 190 battery boats available for use, sightseeing boats that can seat between four to eleven individuals, vintage-style boats and, of course, animal boats. Take your pick among the many smiling panda boats, rubber duck boats and caterpillar boats available for use. Battery-powered boats are from 120RMB and require a 300RMB deposit. For those considering checking out the popular ride from the Purple Bamboo Park to the Summer Palace, there's no news yet on when it will be opened or if it will reopen fingers crossed that it comes back soon.

Hours Open 6am-9pm daily (boats only available from 9am-4pm).
Park entry Free.
Find it 35 Zhongguancun Nan Dajie, Haidian district (8841 2830).

Photo: Purple Bamboo Park official WeChat account

Qinglonghu Park

Qinglonghu Park

For those looking make a day out of it by the waterside, head west of Beijing to Qinglonghu Park with its wealth of options. Its lake has the usual gigantic duck pedal-boat and electric-powered boat rentals you'll find at most parks. But since you've already made the trip here, you might want to try its more unique offerings such as windsurfing, sailboats, a mini cruise ship and, for adrenaline junkies, a literal hair-raising ride on speedboats.

Hours Open 8am-5.30pm daily.
Park entry 30RMB for adults; 20RMB for kids 1.2m-1.4m and senior citizens; free for children under 1.2m.
Find it Wangzuo Village, Fengtai district (8331 0645).

Photo: Wenwin12/Pixabay.com

Summer Palace

Summer Palace

The Summer Palace has a lot of different boats, and the scenery is second to none. Go for the small pedal boats or, for an easier time of it, try the motorboats for a glide across the emperors' old stomping grounds. There are nine whares, each with different boating options. Click here for full boating options and prices.

Hours Open 6.30am-6pm daily (boats only available from 8.30am-4.30pm).
Park entry 30RMB for the park; 60RMB includes access to attractions.
Find it Qinglongqiao Jiedao, Haidian district (6288 1144).

Photo: iStockPhoto

Yuanmingyuan

Yuanmingyuan

There's no better place to ponder China's imperial past than by riding in a Chinese imperial boat at the Old Summer Palace. Yuanmingyuan's boating season has just begun, and guests are welcome to ride across Kunming lake while admiring Fragrant Hills in the distance. There are currently two boat routes available. One starts from the dock near the park's south gate that ends at the Fanghu Scenic dock by the west entrance of Xiyanglou ruins (25RMB per person, one way). The other option is from the Haiyue Kaijin docks to the park's exhibition hall dock by the Black Swan district (15RMB per person, one way). Boat rental deposits range from 200-400RMB depending on type of boat. Four-seater electric boats cost 100RMB per hour, six-seater electric boats 150RMB per hour and pedal boats will set you back 60RMB for each hour. 

Hours During March, April and October, its hours are 7am-8pm with last tickets at 6pm. From May to September, entry is from 7am-9pm with last tickets at 7pm.
Park entry 25RMB for entrance to the park and attractions; 10RMB just for park access; free for children under 1.2metres.
Find it 28 Qinghua Xi Lu, Haidian district (6254 3673).

Photo: Official WeChat account

Yuyuantan Park

Yuyuantan Park

Catch a boat from the pier at Yuyuantan Park’s south entrance and take a ride on Beijing’s longest canal tour: a 26 kilometre trip along the Yulong line from the park to Longtan Lake. But your floating options don’t have to end there. Rent a boat to steer around the park’s lakes or float inside a giant plastic bubble. Four-seater pedal boats require a 200RMB deposit and are 80RMB per hour while a six-seater pedal boat requires a 300RMB deposit and is 100RMB per hour. Prices and deposits for electric boats vary; four-seater electric boats require a deposit of at least 300RMB and are 100-150RMB per hour depending on your boat of choice. Six-seater boats are from 150-180RMB per hour and require a deposit of 400RMB. For more (Chinese) information, call 8865 3721. 

Hours Open 6am-8.30pm until May and 6am-9.30pm from June to August (boats available from 9am).
Park entry Currently 10RMB until the Lupine festival is over. After that, it's 2RMB, then half-price for students and kids, and free for kids under 1.2metres.
Find it 10 Xisanhuan Zhong Lu, Haidian district (8865 3806).

Photo: iStockphoto

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