Bei­jing’s north­west­ern sub­urb draws week­end crowd in search of fun, games and learn­ing dur­ing snow sea­son

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - TRAVEL - By YANG FEIYUE yangfeiyue@chi­nadaily.com.cn

It doesn’t seem so cold in Bei­jing’s north­west­ern sub­ur­ban district Shunyi as it did in mid De­cem­ber. Green, yel­low, red, white and black ski cos­tumes spread the white snow­field at the district’s Lian­huashan ski re­sort.

“We’ve been re­ceiv­ing an in­flux of guests, who mostly come on week­ends since the chill set in,” says a re­sort em­ployee sur­named Xu.

The re­sort has up­graded all of its ski routes to sat­isfy the needs of skiers of all lev­els for the up­com­ing ski sea­son.

More­over, Lian­huashan has be­gun to of­fer night hours this year, and a chil­dren ski ed­u­ca­tion zone has been es­tab­lished.

The re­sort is just one of many high­lights vis­i­tors could ex­plore in Shunyi this win­ter.

For those who don’t have time to ex­pe­ri­ence the abun­dant ice and snow in north­ern prov­inces like Hei­long jiang and Jilin, or sim­ply cringe at the se­verely cold tem­per­a­tures there, Shunyi of­fers a happy medium.

The district kicked off two months of win­ter tourism ac­tiv­i­ties on Dec 17, in­clud­ing hot springs and a folk cul­ture park.

More than 600 spe­cial gifts with lo­cal sig­nif­i­cance are also be­ing of­fered to win­ter va­ca­tion­ers.

The event sea­son is the sec­ond ses­sion in the past year and was hosted by the Shunyi tourism com­mis­sion. The lo­cal gov­ern­ment is ea­ger to trans­form Shunyi into an international des­ti­na­tion for fash­ion, leisure, shop­ping and tourism.

Six win­ter routes fea­tur­ing par­ent-child ex­pe­ri­ences, fruit pick­ing, health preser­va­tion, shop­ping and leisure have been launched to meet the needs of var­i­ous vis­i­tors.

Fam­i­lies could warm their bod­ies and even sweat at the Lian­huashan ski re­sort, and then go to the Heyuan Jingyi hot spring to re­lax and en­joy the chil­dren’s buf­fet and recre­ational zone there.

Some fa­cil­i­ties like Shun­lixin and Shuiyun­tian still of­fer the fun of fresh fruit and veg­etable pick­ing in the chilly win­ter.

Peo­ple can also visit Qi­cai (seven- color) but­ter­fly park, where chil­dren di­rectly in­ter­act with fly­ing but­ter­flies and make but­ter­fly spec­i­mens. More but­ter­flies have been in­tro­duced this year: Now, over 20 va­ri­eties of but­ter­flies are avail­able for vis­i­tors to feast their eyes on.

The park greeted more than 50,000 vis­i­tors dur­ing Jan­uary and Fe­bru­ary at the last fes­ti­val.

“It used to be off sea­son for us, but things have picked up a lot af­ter we in­tro­duced win­ter ac­tiv­i­ties last year,” says park of­fi­cial Hu Qun.

Horse-drawn sleds, ice bi­cy­cles and ice mo­tor­cy­cles have been in­tro­duced to spice up the vis­i­tor ex­pe­ri­ence.

Par­ents and chil­dren have been the ma­jor force, and most fam­i­lies drive them­selves to the des­ti­na­tion, Hu adds.

The park has ex­panded its win­ter fun zone from 20,000 square me­ters to 30,000 this year.

The park of­fers the best of both worlds. Vis­i­tors can feel the warmth of spring and play with but­ter­flies in­doors, and go out to en­joy ice and snow re­cre­ation out­side.

For par­ents who want to in­te­grate fun with ed­u­ca­tion, Han­feng Gen­duyuan is the place to go.

It was just opened this Septem­ber and of­fers tra­di­tional Chi­nese cul­ture ex­pe­ri­ence for chil­dren.

The fa­cil­ity features Han Dy­nasty her­itage and teaches Chi­nese classics and pro­vides farm­ing ex­pe­ri­ences for vis­i­tors.

Han­feng re­ceived more than 50,000 vis­i­tors since its in­au­gu­ra­tion in Septem­ber 2016, ac­cord­ing to an of­fi­cial with the fa­cil­ity.

Chil­dren can walk down an an­cient his­tor­i­cal street and pick up some his­tory along the way. They can read an­cient Chi­nese bam­boo books and prac­tice Chi­nese cal­lig­ra­phy. Other ex­pe­ri­ences fea­ture an­cient eti­quette, in­tan­gi­ble art her­itage and the chance to play an­cient mu­si­cal in­stru­ments.

More im­por­tantly, chil­dren can get their hands dirty and do some of the farm­ing work to ap­pre­ci­ate food and where it comes from.

For group trav­el­ers whose num­ber ex­ceeds 20, they can get 10 per­cent off the 120-yuan ticket for each child.

Par­ents who ac­com­pany their chil­dren for var­i­ous ex­pe­ri­ences need to pay 20 yuan.

For those with an ex­otic taste, the Agri­lan­dia Ital­ian Farm of­fers Euro­pean charm.

One high­light in the farm is the fire­place guest rooms filled with Ital­ian el­e­ments for win­ter va­ca­tion­ers.

Vis­i­tors can en­joy au­then­tic Ital­ian cui­sine and learn to make pizza, cake and pottery at the farm.

Roughly 600-700 peo­ple paid vis­its to the farm last win­ter.

“They mostly came on week­ends,” says Zhao Lei, an em­ployee with the farm.

Play­ground, small zoo, par­entchild class and piano learn­ing ses­sions will be of­fered at the be­gin­ning of the year, ac­cord­ing to Zhao.

In­dus­trial tourism is also a choice that Shunyi presents.

One can en­joy a cup of just pro­duced lo­cal Yan­jing beer, smell the fra­grance of the cen­tury-old al­co­hol Ni­u­lan­shan er­guo­tou, and take in the highly au­to­mated pro­duc­tion process of Hyundai au­to­mo­bile.

For those who aim for fun from pur­chas­ing, Shunyi of­fers tax-free shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ences and a global grape wine fa­cil­ity. Vis­i­tors can buy things from abroad in the district.

For ur­ban­ites who want to get a break out of the crazy pace of city life, Shunyi seems to of­fer it all.

PHO­TOS BY YANG FEIYUE / CHINA DAILY

Bei­jing’s Shunyi district of var­i­ous vis­i­tors.

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