The 10 Best Family Friendly Activities in ChinaLast updated on 2019-10-27
China is a great place to travel with children. Not only will you find many opportunities for your children to play with other Chinese children, but there are also hundreds of things that will keep even the most active of little minds occupied in-between sightseeing in China.
Below are our 10 favorite activities to help you start planning your next family vacation in China.
Taking a hair-raising toboggan ride down the Great Wall, Beijing
A visit to the Great Wall is a must on any China itinerary and our recommended section for people traveling with kids is Mutianyu, which, while conveniently accessible and equipped with good facilities, is slightly less crowded than tour group favorite Badaling. The very best thing about Mutianyu, however, is that you can take a hair-raising toboggan ride on the way back down – don’t worry though, the toboggans are all equipped with handbrakes! (If you are traveling on one of our tours, our guide usually slides behind you in case you may get reared by others.) In fact, we found almost every one, including adults, loves the toboggan ride after a tiring climb on the Wall.
Whisper talking at the Echo Wall in the Temple of Heaven, Beijing
The visually striking Temple of Heaven is an impressive reminder of China's rich religious history and an unmissable sight for visitors to Beijing. Inside the temple, the wall around the Imperial Vault of Heaven is the well-known Echo Wall (Huiyinbi), which is 3.27 meters high and 193.2 meters long. Thanks to the design of the altar, the sound of the prayer will be reflected by the wall, creating significant resonance, which was supposed to help the prayer communicate with Heaven. Today, visitors, especially kids, are fond of whispering at one side of the Echo Wall and hearing on the opposite side, some 65m away. The wall also has Three Echo Stones where visitors can speak on the first one to hear one echo, while the second and third stones produce the corresponding number of echoes.
Seeing the pandas in Chengdu
China’s cute, clumsy national treasures will thrill little kids and big kids alike. The very best place to see them is in Chengdu. Located just 30 minutes away from the center of Chengdu, Chengdu Panda Base is an important breeding and research base where you can see pandas of all ages, including the most cute and active child pandas. Families with older kids may want to volunteer at Dujiangyan Panda Valley, where you can spend a day or two learning more about the facility and helping to prepare food for the pandas.
If your itinerary doesn't allow a visit of Chengdu, however, the zoos in other cities, including Beijing, can be a second choice. Note that whichever place you decide to visit, the pandas will be most active in the morning, so we encourage everyone to get up early!
Rafting the Yulong river, Yangshuo
Drifting along the Yulong River on a non-motorized bamboo raft is the most relaxed and tranquil way to appreciate Yangshuo's countryside and take in the otherworldly views of the surrounding karst peaks, making this a must-do activity for visitors to Yangshuo. For kids, there is also a bonus: the low dams across the river will make quite some fun and exciting moments for kids when the bamboo raft drift down the dams with the turbulent water. This is not dangerous, but it may wet your shoes a bit.
The countryside around the Yulong river is lush, green, and with a paved pedestrian route which is perfect for cycling or jogging. Note that children must be age seven or above to rent a bike.
Experiencing kung fu at the Shaolin Temple, Henan
Boys around the world dream of becoming a kung fu master like Jackie Chan or Bruce Lee. If you’ve got a couple of kung fu buffs in the family, why not take a trip to the home of the most famous type of kung fu, the Shaolin Temple in Henan province. Older kids can take a one-hour class to learn some basic principles of Shaolin kung fu, while younger ones will enjoy watching the thrilling kung fu performance. Just don’t blame us if they come back hooked on this thrilling sport!
Seeing an acrobatic show, Beijing/Shanghai
The Chaoyang Acrobat Show in Beijing is in our opinion one of the best shows to see while on tour in China. It appeals to all ages, from young children to adults — you won’t be bored taking the kids to this one! Rather than cheap "tricks," the show is full of feats of skill and fitness. It is comparable to many international Cirque de Soleil type shows but at a price much lower and an opportunity to sit much closer. Having seen all the acrobat shows in Beijing and Shanghai, we consider this one to be the best of the lot.
For travelers who visit Shanghai, the Circus World’s 'ERA Intersection of Time' is also a wonderful acrobatic show featuring incredible feats of strength and flexibility.
Hands-on handicrafts, across China
Interactive activities are a great way to help kids to engage with the culture in China. Wherever you are traveling in China, there are plenty of opportunities to get stuck in and get your hands dirty, including trying out the art of calligraphy, painting a Peking opera mask or a paper fan, making a kite, cutting a paper pattern, or molding an idol-sized terracotta warrior, just to name a few!
Traversing the skywalk on one of Shanghai's Skyscrapers
The Pudong New Area is Shanghai’s glitzy financial district and commercial center, and it’s home to the dazzling, modern skyscrapers that give the city its distinct skyline. These skyscrapers all provide observation decks for tourists. For families, the Oriental Pearl Tower and the Shanghai World Financial Center might be two good choices. The Oriental Pearl Tower is famous for its glass-bottomed sightseeing floor, which can be a thrilling experience for kids. The Shanghai World Financial Center features a 55-meter corridor composed entirely of glass on floor 100, where kids can traverse the SkyWalk. Reaching 632-meter (2,073 ft)The Shanghai Tower is the tallest building in Shanghai.
Having fun in one of China's most popular amusement parks
China may not be an ideal place to enjoy amusement park compared to some other countries, mainly because of the crowds usually seen in them. If you want to spend a day in one of the parks with your kids during your trip in China, however, we recommend the Disneyland Park in Shanghai, the Chimelong Water Park in Guangzhou, or the Happy Valley in Beijing. The Shanghai Disneyland is described as “authentically Disney, distinctly Chinese,” which means you will find classic Disney attractions alongside Chinese-themed areas, such as a garden designed around the Chinese zodiac. Chimelong Water Park in Guangzhou, part of Chimelong Paradise, is one of the best water parks in China and the largest amusement park in Asia. The Happy Valley is the largest amusement park in Beijing.
Even the pickiest eaters will find something to enjoy among China’s incredibly diverse dining options. One dish you certainly shouldn’t miss is Peking duck — kids will love wrapping up their own pancakes. Another favorite with families is nationwide chain Din Tai Fung, famous for its xiaolongbao (steamed dumplings filled with soup). Kids will love to slurp these soupy treats — just make sure they wait until they cool down a bit first! Friendly service, clean toilets, and kids’ playrooms round out the experience.
Things You Need to Know When Traveling with Kids in China
When traveling with children, it’s important to consider your hotel choice. A suite or a family room in a three-star or four-star hotel can be a good option for families. Connecting rooms are not common for hotels in China, so be aware of this if you book two standard hotel rooms.
In China, tourist attractions and public transportation base discounts for children on their height, not their age. Usually, children under 1.2 meters (approximately 3.9 feet) enjoy free admission, and children from 1.2 to 1.4 meters (approximately 4.5 feet) receive a 50% discount. However, different policies may apply at different sites since the policy is not unified across the country, and you should not always take the discount policy for granted. ■
The China Guide is a Beijing-based travel agency that customizes private tours, educational student tours, and incentive trips across China. We have more than ten years of experience creating tours for all kinds of travelers from the United States, Germany, France, Spain, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and beyond. We promise all our tours have no hidden fees, no factory stops, no touristy restaurants, just memorable experiences! Learn more about us or contact us to start planning your perfect China trip.
Images: Pixabay, The China Guide, Wikimedia, Flickr, Greg Pauline, Ayrton Tang