Things to do in Beijing for 50RMB or less: chill out

Where to relax and unwind without spending a load of cash

Alejandro Alvarez 
It’s a week more until payday and that horrible practice of coughing up three months of rent at a time is fast approaching. You need to get out of the house, there are only so many films you can watch and you've exhausted Netflix, but you need to save money. We’ve got your back. Here’s a bunch of ways to chill out in the city – all for 50RMB or less.

Stretch those this sick beat


Everyone’s favourite Swedish exercise lifestyle is a total blast, and it’s a real bargain too. One-off Heyrobics classes are 50RMB, which should be cheap enough for commitment-phobes to give the feel-good sweat sessions a whirl.

Looking for dirt-cheap? If by ‘dirt-cheap’, you mean ‘free’, then the good people at Heyrobics have that, too. Several times a week, certain classes are promoted as ‘social workouts’ where you can bring an unlimited number of friends free. The fine print is that one person in the group needs to cough up 50RMB and everyone needs to sign up at least 12 hours before the workout. Check for schedule and sign-up details.

Mountain peace

Admittedly, Fragrant Hills Park is only really peaceful on weekdays or the dead of winter, but then it’s serenity at its best. At 395 acres, the park is sprawling and has a history since 1186 to boot. It’s about an hour out of town on public transport. A few routes exist, but try bus 360 (runs 5.30am-10pm), which departs from the station near Beijing Zoo (subway Line 4). Get off at Fragrant Hills (Xiangshan,香山) after 25 stops. The fare is under 10RMB. Tack on 15RMB park admission, a few steamed pork buns and tins of beer for a packed lunch, and you’ve got a solid day out. Wintertime is a steal (Monday 16 to March 31) with park entry a competitive 5RMB.

Master inner tranquillity

Yoga Yard

Working on your best self can get really pricey nowadays. The cost of a simple juice cleanse is truly through the roof and those Crossfit classes just aren’t the bargain they used to be. Are you with us? Once a week though, you can find your inner Zen at Yoga Yard for the price all self-actualisation should be: zero. It’s the perfect number. Starting at 8.20am, the 70-minute Tuesday morning meditation sessions are led by Henryk Szmidt, who focuses on the technical aspects of meditation. Reservations are necessary, so call in advance (6413 0774) to book your spot.

Catch a half-priced flick

Get this: all cinemas in the city are half-off all day on Tuesdays. Well, at least at the mainstream picture shows, which are the ones that have that blockbuster you’ve avoided all social media for, in fear of spoilers from friends at home. And now, months later, it’s finally in China. So, how do the maths work out? At the Megabox in Sanlitun’s Taikoo Li South, tickets for regular films are knocked down to 45RMB (and those for 3D flicks are 65RMB). Other cinemas around town sport similar pricing.

Swap your old books for new ones


Ah, where it all started: bartering. Trading things for other things is basically the world’s oldest money. The Beijing Bookswap and Board Games Meet-up limits the things you can trade to books, but that might be just what you’re in the market for. It’s simple: bring a book, take someone else’s book. Or bring 12, take 12. It’s up to you really. No money involved. The only off-limits material is textbooks, classics and Chinese-language books. The meet-up has been going strong since 2007 and happens the first Saturday of every month from 2-6pm at Moroccan restaurant Caravan. While the high-stakes swap is on, there’s also some intense board gaming off to the side.

Flex your creative side

You can try to culture yourself all you want, but really you’ve got it locked up inside. And it costs absolutely nothing to let your inner artist out. We believe in you. Every Tuesday from 9.30pm Modernista hosts Drink and Draw, a pencils-to-paper session with live models – and the chance to win drinks.

Materials are provided; you just have to bring the talent... or at least the enthusiasm. Plus, the bar offers two daily happy hours – one from 6-9pm with a 35RMB cocktail special and another from midnight to 2am with 10RMB shots. Wobbly lines are artistic anyways, right?
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