Things to do in heavy Beijing pollution

The best pollution-friendly activities for a smoggy day in Beijing

The only thing less appealing than Beijing pollution is moaning about it like a big ol’ grump. Maybe not the only thing. But even when the air becomes chewy there's a still a squillion ways to enjoy our beloved capital. So if everyone promises to be optimistic about the city we live in, we’ll make good with the awesome ways you can use it already – smoggy or not.

Action

Escape from a room

Escape from a room

Mr. X Escape Rooms

Escape rooms. In a nutshell, a real wise-guy locks you and five to eight others in a room for an hour, and you pay him for that honour (from 120RMB per person). The rooms are intricately themed – could have a hidden door, maybe a revolving bookcase, probably a dark secret. Is it cursed? Hard to say. Now, when you’re in there, the first thing you’re going to want do is try to escape, but your insolence will only work against you. There will be puzzles and brain-teasers of all shapes and forms – solve them all and boom, you're out. Fail and the wise-guy will come back after an hour and unlock the door, let you out and then you’ll feel like a real chomsky honk.

Mr X. Escape Rooms has multiple locations. See full venue details.

Shootin' arrows (and drinkin')

Shootin' arrows (and drinkin')

Jian Club

The next thing you should think about is shooting stuff with an arrow. Lock and load. You can also drink bourbon here, that's what makes it a bar, and the two combined make it 'barchery'. It's 120RMB per lane.

B1-308 Sanlitun Soho Building 3, 8 Gongti Bei Lu, Chaoyang district (5290 2981). 11am-midnight daily. See full venue details.

Shootin' lasers

Shootin' lasers

Star Trooper laser tag

Another fine choice. Especially because you'll have people to shoot at. Sounds heartless, but the stakes are sky-high. Out here it's shoot or be shot, and you damn-well better lift if you want to make nationals. This place also lets you order pizza in or bring a cake. That's actually the first half of its motto. No joke. The other half is 'fun for all is what we make.' Cute, but you'll be the judge of that. The Judge Dredd, that is.

50RMB per person will get you in the game. Bring more money than that though, a game goes for just 15 minutes.

B1 7 Days Hotel building, 316 Wangjing Xiuyuan Sanqu, Chaoyang district (6475 8329). Tue-Fri by reservation only, Sat-Sun 9am-10pm. See full venue details.

Straight leisure

Go to the movies

Go to the movies

Watching a movie is a great way to beat the smog, and you weren't really going to the gym today, anyway. Sounds pretty simple, but finding a good cinema in Beijing can be a thorny quest. So we've created a carefully curated list of Beijing's best cinemas.

Ten-pin bowling

Ten-pin bowling

Commonly associated with rainy days in the West, ten-pin bowling works just as well in times of heavy haze. Those who haven't scattered the skittles in a while will be pleasantly surprised by the prices here in Beijing – from 30RMB per game, per player. For us, East Gate Plaza Bowling in Dongsishitiao takes the cake, though those around the Lido area should check out Shamingjian Bowling Club.

East Gate Plaza Bowling B1-Tower A, East Gate Plaza, 9 Dongzhong Jie Chaoyang district (6418 1808). 7am-midnight daily. 30RMB per game. See full venue details.

Shamingjian Bowling Club 3F Lido Hotel, 6 Jiangtai Lu, Chaoyang district. 10am-1am daily. See full venue details.

Museums

Museums

There's a lot to cover here. Beijing has an absurd number of museums. Some fruit-forward, some slightly racist, but all angelically earnest and many of them free. The hard part is picking your niche. Concrete curious? There's a museum for that. Tap water enthusiast? Museum for that, too. There's museums for kids, there's... look, you should probably just check out our guide to Beijing's best museums.

Hyper leisure

Bath houses

Bath houses

You know what? If it's really as terrible outside as you say it is then take the freakin' plunge and go to a bath house! Why not? They're amazing! You can soak your troubles away, fish will exfoliate your feet and there's usually a buffet. Actually, these hedonistic hideaways are disappearing off the map quicker than the Oriental Tower on a day like today, so get in while the water's still warm. Check out Beijing's best bath houses.

Blind massage

Blind massage

Now we're talking. Chinese blind massages are pretty much what you might expect: a massage from a blind masseur. And boy are they good. An hour-long full body rub down targeting all your pressure points costs around 100RMB. But choose wisely, while blind-massage parlours are everywhere in Beijing – look out for signs saying ‘盲人按摩’ (mangren anmo) – there are a number of disreputable establishments to avoid. When in doubt, ask for certificates of qualification, or check out recommended blind-massage parlours should you need stronger persuasion.

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