Centres of attraction

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 08 April, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 08 April, 2012, 12:00am


Beijing Zoo
137 Xizhimenwai Main Street, Xicheng district

Animal lovers be warned, the Beijing Zoo can be depressing and visitors are not discouraged from throwing food at the animals. That said, the conditions of the panda facilities are way ahead of the rest of the zoo. If you want to see pandas and can't get out to Sichuan, then the Beijing Zoo is worth the trip. The park is also full of original Qing dynasty buildings, which may appeal to youngsters with a historical bent.

Beijing Aquarium
18 Gaoliangqiaoxie Street, Haidian district

Located in the Beijing Zoo complex, the aquarium is truly world class. Much more modern and impressive than the zoo, children are sure to be entertained. Don't miss one of the seal or dolphin shows, and check the schedule for fish feeding times. The aquarium can get very crowded and not all of the live shows are offered in English, but it is still well worth a visit.

China Science and Technology Museum
5 Beichendong Road, Chaoyang district

A great choice for little scientists, this relatively new museum is full of interactive exhibits and hands-on fun. An inability to read Chinese could cause some minor frustration, but for the most part, the museum is accessible to foreigners and locals alike. Make sure you stop at the Glory of China exhibit for a bit of nationalist colour. Also, if the kids need perking up, rumour has it there is pizza in the basement.

Happy Valley
Xiaowujibei Road, Dongsihuan, Chaoyang district

This massive amusement park opened in 2006 and is worth checking out if the kids are craving a bit of adventure. The rides, especially the water ones, are a blast, but the crowds can mar an otherwise great experience. With long lines and waits that can last up to two hours, you may spend more time standing in the sun than actually playing in the water. With few attractions for the littlest visitors, the very young may not enjoy the park as much as their older siblings.

Military Museum of the Chinese People's Revolution
9 Fuxing Road, Haidian district

Nothing lights up boys' eyes like a bit of war. The Military Museum has plenty to keep the kids entertained. A lack of good English information shouldn't be much of an impediment; a tank is a tank in any language. The museum showcases modern military equipment and historical weapons, along with a healthy dose of propaganda. The large military hardware on display outside the museum is especially crowd pleasing. The museum is currently undergoing renovation so check ahead before visiting. The outdoor exhibits will remain accessible throughout. It's free, but bring photo identification.