Beijing has thousands of years of history on its back. With all its temples, walls, and palaces, there hasn’t been much on where teens of the modern kind could hang out and bond. That isn’t to say that there aren’t any places to go and experience the newer sides of Beijing.
Real life escape room fun, a trip to 798, park walks, shopping malls and much more. Time Out Family asked 15-year-old student Pia Lozano to round up a guide to the city’s best hangout spots for teens. Without further ado, we present to you a Beijing-based teen's guide to the city!
15-year-old Pia Lozano is a student at WAB and has been living in Beijing for the past year with her family.
Mr. X Escape Rooms
Mr.X is both a board game café and more importantly a set of escape rooms. The various escape rooms will test your patience; either with the puzzles or your friends, depending on the location. Each location in itself boasts distinguishing features, such as that of Alcatraz’ water wading and Area 51’s futuristic rendition of a top-secret laboratory. The playing fee for each person is 150RMB. While that may be a hefty price for the money-minded friend of yours to pay, it pales in contrasts to the impatience, embarrassment, amount of inside jokes, and laughter that comes with teamwork being challenged.
- Tag along a good Chinese speaker in your group. They’ll be the ones to translate what the guide is explaining, just in case the guide doesn’t speak English. Though, clues itself are both in English and Chinese.
- After finishing your first escape room, you have the option to roll dice. If you land on two 6’s, you get to play another escape room for free.
- Also, you receive 20RMB coupons for each person in your group after you finish the escape room. You should use it to buy drinks or food at the counter.
- There are board games to use before while waiting, or after while cooling down from all action. You don’t have to pay to play the games, but you have to ask.
- Wear shorts or pants. Some of the escape rooms might require you to do certain actions that may be limited if wearing a skirt.
Address: 2F Shimao guangchang, 13 Gongti beilu, Sanlitun (near the north gate of Gongti Worker's Stadium) Chaoyang district
Price: 150RMB per person
RASS13区 is a VR arcade and café which provides a cheaper taste of the world’s first VR park, SoReal, found also in Beijing. RASS13区 has three open booths that can house up two players and two game-specific booths. It’s possible to play with up to four players, but the booths will have to be connected to the game you’re playing. While you’ll be given a headset and game-appropriate controllers (e.g gun controllers for the FPS’s), what you’re seeing in-game will also be projected on to a wall for others to see. Its realities range from clown-themed escape rooms, to first-person shooters, to simple music-rhythm games, and much more. RASS13区even has a membership, just in case you feel the need to trap yourself in a psychotic clown’s dressing room with your quick-to-scare friends again.
- Be prepared to shout. If you’re with three or more people, you’ll be in separate stations despite all playing the same game. The game will connect you to the audio input of your friends, though you might not hear them through the game audio or external sounds, so speaking louder than you normally do would help in communicating what to do next.
- There’s a ball pit you can use while waiting for the station to be prepared. Two teams have to throw balls at moving targets to get points.
- Visit on a weekday, where the prices will be cheaper at 100-200 per game. Weekends are pricier, at 200-300 per game.
Address: Opposite of Hualian Supermarket, Basement level, Solana Mall
Phone number: 4008097309
Price: Weekdays: 100-200RMB per person per session, depending on game. Weekends: 200-300RMB per person per session, depending on game
798 Art District
798 is the go-to place for all things modern and aesthetic, especially given its artistic atmosphere and up-to-date audience seeking a place for artistic expression seen almost nowhere else in Beijing. As such, murals, art galleries, sculptures, and statues are found everywhere in the district, catering to those wanting to snap some photos to share on their social media accounts. Once the photoshoots are over, there is a large selection of equally-artsy cafes and stores to prepare you and your friends for the next round of photos.
- Wear nice but comfortable clothes. Even if you didn’t plan on taking photos, there’s bound to be a piece that you’ll want to take a photo with.
Address: 4 Jiuxianqiao Lu, Chaoyang district
Chaoyang Park seems naturally to come to mind when discussing outdoor activities in Beijing. Aside from lots of walking and typical outdoor activities, you and your friends (or your date) can enjoy the rides and theme houses of the Brave World Amusement Park, found in the very centre of Chaoyang Park. The entrance fee is at 5RMB for adults, though the tickets for the rides themselves are around 30RMB. There are even carny games with the typical higher points equals larger prize.
- Wear comfortable shoes, especially if you plan to be there all day. While you’re at it, toss in some sun protection, like caps or sunscreen.
- Pack in, at the very least, 100RMB. Three rides are often enough for a visit.
- Cheesy as it may sound, the distance between points of interest within the park makes for a great excuse to chat while surrounded by nature.
- Otherwise, rent a surrey bike to speed up the travel time. Plus, you get to test your cooperation and coordination skills with everyone else in your group.
Address: 1 Nongzhan Nan Lu, Chaoyang district
Hours: 6am - 10pm
Beijing's super malls
Solana consistently comes up in the list of hangout places; owing, to its proximity to other locations. Right across the parking lot to its right is the Chaoyang Park’s West Gate 4, which means it could serve as a meet-up point or a resting spot for you and your friends. In and off itself, it has tons of eats and shops, both indoor and outdoor, that aren’t Hermes-priced, for anyone willing to astound their parents with their latest shopping splurge.
Sanlitun Tai Koo Li and Sanlitun SOHO
Sanlitun is Solana but flashier and bigger. These two malls are right across from each other, so consider a hangout here to be a downtown package, especially for those living in Shunyi. It’s mostly just shops and restaurants, though there are arcades, and Mr.X is right behind the Sanlitun SOHO. The prices depend on which mall you’re in; SOHO presents smaller businesses, while Tai Koo Li takes up big-name brands. Behind the Tai Koo Li is a street of restaurants the pave the way for the southern part of the mall.
Indigo Mall is the mall to go to when you need a quick and easy mall to visit, with the subway station entrance right in front of it. More so, It mostly has foreign brand stores. While you might not be inclined to spend on big brands, definitely go check out its CGV XING XING International Cinema. However, don’t watch a newly-released movie, as it would be a 100RMB more expensive than if you waited for the hype to die out.
- Bring the amount of money you want to spend.
- Given that most of us would be in a budget, malls, at the very least, allow for you guys to simply chat.
Explore the hutongs: Nanluoguxiang and Beiluoguxiang
Nanluoguixiang may end up as one of the more touristy locations in Beijing. That isn’t to say it isn’t enjoyable to anyone who’s living in Beijing. The hutong has souvenirs and knickknacks of similar styles in each corner, ranging from mobile additions to school stationery, to knockoffs of Chinese artifacts. If that isn’t up your alley (ha), then there is the occasional retail/chain store. There are loads of different and wacky desserts, like churro ice cream, rose-shaped ice pops, and gold leaf-covered ice cream.
Beiluoguixiang is found to the north of Nanluoguxiang and attracts significantly less than its southern sister. Regardless, it has a charm of its own in the silence. Similar stores are found here as they are found in Nanluoguixiang, albeit sparser. As it’s basically Nanluoguxiang but quieter, it would definitely be a lot easier to snap some photos. Also, there’s a pet café called The Little Time Café (“小时光咖啡厅”), where you can pet the dog sleeping next to your leg while waiting for your hotpot to be served.
- Visit on a weekday, where there’ll be a significantly lesser amount of people visiting.
- Should you go on a weekend, bring only the necessities and wear light clothing. Bringing only the necessities will lessen the chances of your belongings being stolen, and wearing light clothing for your comfort when walking through the crowds of people.
- When travelling far distances, Didi would be a good option for a safe and convenient way of traversing the city. Drivers follow directions provided on their phone, so there shouldn’t be much problems in terms of where to go and how to get it. You might need to know the essentials to communicate when you either can’t find the car, or instructing the driver on where to drop you off.
- Take the metro for a cheaper way alternative. Use bills when reloading your IC card, as the machines don’t accept coins or bills of smaller values.
- When travelling smaller distances, you could use the colored taxis. This is also safe to use, but be wary of drivers who might try scam you. Just be sure to know the Chinese essentials (i.e your zuǒ guǎi’s, yòu guǎi’s, yī zhí zǒu’s, etc.), have a Chinese speaking friend with you, or have an online translator in hand. You could also show a screenshot of its Chinese address or an address card, for when you don’t know where it is.
- An Ofo, Mobike, or any other bike sharing app would be convenient to have on your phone, when travelling short distances, perhaps while mall-hopping, or biking to the nearest metro station.