Five Fun and Free Things to do in Beijing, China

Beijing is filled with things to do that are fun and free. They start with "collecting" humorous signs and end with strolls around various neighborhoods. You don't have to open your wallet to have fun when you travel. Here are some tips for fun and free things in Beijing, China. 

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Five Fun and Free Things to do in Beijing, China

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1. Start a photo collection of “silly” signs

The signs may make perfect sense in Chinese characters, but something is lost when they're translated into English. For example, a museum's “don't stroke the works” sign really means “do not touch.” A sign that translates as “No entry who be sloppily dressed” really means, “no shirt, no shoes, no service.” And “visitors are forbidden” is the Chinese way of saying “keep out." You can also look for signs displaying the names of businesses. There's the “Peking Thai Chalet,” “God-chosen Travel 
Service,” “Fine Feet Clinic,” “Margaret's Fine Eating Establishment” and “Ladies Shopping City.”

Five Fun and Free Things to do in Beijing, China

2. Visit Panjiayuan Flea Market

The Panjiayuan Flea Market is located in the southeast corner of Third Ring Road in Beijing. It's the largest flea market open Monday thru Friday with more market shops open on Saturday and Sunday. You can find classical furniture, a stone carving area, old items, crafts, and collectibles. There will be plenty to look at and see as you wander through the stalls. Window shopping doesn't cost you anything!

3. Make a list of weirdly-named dishes found on restaurant menus

English menus in top Western restaurants will be error-free, but not as much fun as those found in neighborhood restaurants where the menu may have been translated by someone with limited English. How about a bowl of “three fried things?” A plate of “three odd fellows” certainly has possibilities. Many restaurants these days provide picture menus with the English translation below the dish's picture. This cuts a lot of mystery out, but lets diners see what they'll be eating.

4. Work out on street "gyms"

No time for a workout at the gym? Not to worry. There's exercise equipment located throughout Beijing's residential areas. The Beijing government put the equipment there in an effort to stem growing obesity among its citizens. The equipment is pretty basic but gets the job of working off last night's Peking duck dinner done. Two good areas to look for the exercise equipment are between the Drum and Bell towers on Gulou Dajie, and along the east side of Houhai Lake. There's even a ping pong table there, but paddles and balls are not provided.
Five Fun and Free Things to do in Beijing, China

5. Take a walk

Not only is walking good exercise, but it allows visitors to get up close and personal with Beijing. Good places to walk and people watch are Tian'anmen Square and the Olympic Green {there is a fee to tour the Bird's Nest and Water Cube}. The buildings in the Olympic Village are best seen at night when they are lit up. Take a leisurely stroll along Houhai Lake and the lakes north, with detours to explore what's left of the hutongs. Hutongs are quaint residential neighborhoods which are falling prey to the wrecking ball as Beijing rushes to modernize.

These ideas are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to fun and free things to do in Beijing. Imaginative travelers will quickly be able to put their own list together.

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