Ah, Valentine's Day. Whether it be your traditional February 14 or Qixi Jie, it's that universally adored, once (or twice) a year opportunity to show the person you love – and the rest of the world – how much you really care about them.
Forget birthdays, graduations or other significant life events, any true romantic knows that Valentine's Day is the only officially acceptable day to profess true love and stare into each other's eyes while your meal goes cold.
Sometimes, though, an expensive set meal for two doesn't quite cut it. Whether you're in a relationship, single, or somewhere in between, there are plenty of other ways to entertain yourself this V-Day. Here is our pick of Beijing's best alternative (and affordable) Valentine's activities.
Watch a classic movie
There are two kinds of people in this world: hopeless romantics and everyone else. If you fit into either of these categories, you’ll have something to say about the film that has ruined love for us all. The Notebook is a classic 2004 romantic drama and its screening at Cinker Pictures on Valentine's Day. Starring Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams, it follows a young couple who fall in love in the 1940s. If you can’t convince your significant other to write you love letters for a whole year or lay in the middle of the street, gazing into your eyes for an extended period of time, there’s an option to spend 298RMB on Cinker’s special Valentine's meal for two, which includes two glasses of sparkling wine.
Take a cooking class
Who wants to head to an overcrowded restaurant with a fixed menu when you and your special someone can cook together? Take a private class at The Hutong and learn how to make the best of Chinese and global cuisines. Each class is only two-and-a-half hours and you learn how to prepare three dishes that you can recreate and share back at home with candlelight and rose petals scattered on the table. After all, couples who cook together, stay together, right?
Info Various times daily. Tues-Sun. 300RMB per person (260RMB for members). Book online.
There’s nothing worse than receiving a gift from someone you love only to find out that it’s something you low-key hate. So to ensure that doesn’t happen while simultaneously taking gift giving to whole new level, try making something together. You can find a row of shops in Songjiazhuang, an eight minute walk straight from the station, that specialise in leather making. From wallets to laptop cases or something a little kinkier, you can craft anything to suit your fancy. Shop owners even help polish your finished product to make it look like more than its actually worth so it's sure to be a gift that will be cherished for years to come.
Beat your significant other
Ever wonder how you and your partner would do in a war zone? How about an intergalactic space mission? SoReal is the worlds largest VR theme park and it's insane. The hall covers 32,000 square feet, features eight main attractions and everything is wire free. Find out if you and your special someone are compatible or if one's just dead weight. In that case, good luck.
Escape a room
Teamwork makes the dream work. What's a better to test your love than to be stuck in an enclosed space solving puzzles? Mr X Escape Rooms is a fun experience that's bound to get the brain working. This challenge only works for groups with six to nine people so opt for a triple date for triple the fun.
Cupid's arrow strikes
Or maybe he missed the mark? Unleash your inner Katniss Everdeen with some healthy warfare at Jian Club, Sanlitun's archery-themed bar. If you're a novice, rest easy. The bar offers a quick tutorial to get you started so at least you can say your positioning was on point even if you cant get the arrow to fly more than three feet. Love might be in the air but a little competition never hurt anyone.
Kiln your love
If you ever wanted to recreate the famous pottery scene from supernatural romance movie Ghost, JOP Pottery Studio can make that a reality. Located in the Shuipocun village of the Beijing suburbs, this pottery studio can tailor pottery sessions to fit your wants and needs. As long as you keep your hands steady on the clay as the wheel turns, you can get cosy with your boo and hum the Righteous Brothers famous Unchained Melody as passionately as you want.