20 ways to get high in Beijing on 4/20

Legal ways to get a buzz this April 20

Kevin Poh via Flickr
For some reason lost in the annals of marijuana history (perhaps because the the scribes were blissing out with a fat one themselves), April 20 is the international day for lighting up. In some parts of the world this is legal – and all power to them – but in Beijing it most definitely is not. So stay safe, stay legal and check out our list of alternative ways of getting high in Beijing this 4/20.
Walk the roof of the Bird's Nest

Walk the roof of the Bird's Nest

The Bird's Nest stadium is one of Beijing's most famous architectural marvels. If you've had enough of gawping at the layers of steel from the outside, you can now climb on top of it and take in the views of the whole of Beijing – on a clear day, of course.

Go to Happy Valley

Go to Happy Valley

Drugs are illegal but that doesn't mean all chemicals are off-limits: adrenaline is nature's gift to thrill-seekers who want to stay on the right side of the law. Head to Happy Valley, Beijing's biggest and best amusement park (for now), to get your hit on one of the speeding roller coasters. 

Climb up the Drum and Bell towers

Climb up the Drum and Bell towers

Right in the heart of Gulou are the Drum and Bell towers, a matching pair of high-rises that date from the Yuan Dynasty. Although the drums and the bells are no longer used for city-wide timekeeping, there are still drum performances multiple times a day. Check the times at the entrance of the Drum Tower, and for 30RMB you can climb up and enjoy the view while having your ear to some of the biggest beats in Beijing.

Try a TCM aphrodisiac

Try a TCM aphrodisiac

Certain plants might be off-limits on 4/20, but the world of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has got you more than covered when it comes to natural highs. Try these magic numbers, all of which are said to have aphrodisiac qualities.

Head up the CCTV Tower

Head up the CCTV Tower

At 238 metres high, the CCTV Tower – not to be confused with the 'Big Pants' CCTV Headquarters over in CBD – offers a pretty panoramic view of Beijing from it's 360-degree viewing platform. There's also a somewhat overpriced restaurant a few floors down, but really you're here for the visual feast rather than a gastronomic one.

Plunge into Houhai lake

Plunge into Houhai lake

Okay, so diving into Houhai is going down rather than up, but we reckon the water is still icy enough to give you an adrenaline-fuelled high as you swim or scramble across the lake. These guys swear by it as a health tonic, and to still be going so strong in their older years they must be doing something right.

Go rock climbing in Ritan Park

Go rock climbing in Ritan Park

Get yourself above ground level with nothing but your core strength, nimble feet and maybe a rope or two to pull you up. Ritan Park has a pretty sizeable rock climbing wall with a range of routes and easier options for kids. One session costs 60RMB and the shoes can be rented for 10RMB.

Head up Jingshan Park

Head up Jingshan Park

One of the best spots to get high in Beijing is right in the centre. Prospect Hill in Jingshan Park is a popular post-Forbidden City hill-climb, as this man-made pile of earth offers spectacular views over the imperial palaces and beyond. 

Get inked

Get inked

There's no greater high than marking your body with your own stamp of approval, so why not celebrate this special day with few drops of tattoo ink? Read our guide to the best places to get tattooed in Beijing (and maybe think twice before inking yourself with a marijuana leaf).

Try indoor skiing

Try indoor skiing

The season may be over, but that doesn't mean you can't ski through the summer. Qiaobo Snow and Ice Park offers indoor ski sessions all year round, so there's no reason not to get the adrenaline pumping. 

Climb up the Olympic Park Observation Tower

Climb up the Olympic Park Observation Tower

Beijing's fourth-tallest building is also one of its best vantage points. For a 70RMB entrance fee you can make your ascent and take in stunning views of the Forbidden City, the CBD and the Western Hills.

Have a drink with a view

Have a drink with a view

Atmosphere in the China World Summit Wing is officially the highest bar in Beijing. It's pretty high-end, too, befitting of it's CBD location. The prices ain't cheap, but on a clear day you'll be too busy gawping out the windows to do your bank balance too much damage on luxury cocktails.

Go to Fragrant Hills Park

Go to Fragrant Hills Park

Escape to the hills this spring to enjoy the calm and yes, fragrant, idyll of Fragrant Hills Park. The clue is in the name – abundant cypress trees imbue the air here with a gentle aroma. There are plenty of temples and pagodas here to marvel at, and make sure to pop into Shuanqing Villa, the halls of residence from which Mao oversaw the final months of the 1949 revolution.

See the Great Wall in style

See the Great Wall in style

There’s no way we’d be leaving this one off the list. Remember when Badaling used to be cool? It’s still a fine option for those looking for a quick fix who are willing to brave the crowds, but now there’s every which way to visit this Unesco World Heritage site. Outdoorsy chaps might choose a several-day hike and camping along un-restored sections (try Great Wall Adventure Club) or village stays.

For romantic getaways, there’s the rustic Brickyard or upscale Commune by the Great Wall boutique hotels. But our new favourite way to see The Wall is an aerial tour, which offers expansive, panoramic views. Okay, so the Great Wall might not be visible from space, but it looks damn good from a helicopter.

Turn up the heat with some spicy Chinese food

Turn up the heat with some spicy Chinese food

China surely has some of the most exciting and varied spicy food in the world, and luckily for us much of it is available in Beijing. Whether it's some Sichuan mala that you're chasing or the chilli-oil goodness of some Chongqing noodles, this city's got you covered. Get your sweat on with our guide to Beijing's best spicy dishes. 

Shoot your mates with arrows

Shoot your mates with arrows

There's no greater high than being alive, so why not celebrate the fact by trying to kill each other? We jest – the arrows at Whizzing Arrow Guest are made of foam (although they still pack a punch). The combination of archery and dodgeball is a thrilling one and you'll have to be on high alert, so all the more reason to lay off the leaves for this one.

Eat at altitude

Eat at altitude

April and May is the sweet spot for al fresco dining in Beijing, so make the most of it by heading to one of the many joints that have rooftop seating. We particularly like Café Zarah and Arrow Factory, but check out our complete guide to outdoor eating in Beijing for some more options.

Climb a mountain

Climb a mountain

Just a couple of hours from central Beijing is Miaofengshan, a site of Taoist pilgrimage and also a stunning mountain and temple combination. At 1,219 metres, we're pretty sure this is the biggest natural high you can get in a day in Beijing. Get Line 1 to Pingguoyuan, then haggle with a driver to drop you in the village at the bottom of the mountain, so you can enjoy every step of the ascent for yourself. 

Drink a Fat Americano at Soloist

Drink a Fat Americano at Soloist

Obviously, one way of getting a natural buzz is by having a big hit of caffeine at one of Beijing's many cafés. If you're after something a little more memorable though, try Soloist's newest menu item: the Fat Americano (40RMB). It's like a regular Americano, except instead of water you have Coke. So that's caffeine, caffeine and sugar all in one jittery drink. You have been warned.

Play bubble football

Play bubble football

Okay, so perhaps we're stretching the definition of 'high' here a little, but we reckon there's enough of a tenuous connection between the floating nature of bubbles and the exhilarating nature of bubble football to make this a very legit recommendation on 4/20. Plus, you never know how high you could bounce if you smash into each other hard enough.

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