Beijingers take full advantage of the well-below-zero temperatures during the city’s long and brutally cold winter months.
The lakes at Houhai freeze over from November to March each year, and are normally solid enough to skate on safely from around the end of December to mid-February.
But it’s not just plain-old ice-skating that’s on offer here. There’s a whole gamut of weird-and-wonderful ice vehicles for rent; from wooden-chair sleds and ice-bicycles, to electric bumper-cars and robot-pulled rickshaws.
For help on choosing your ice machine, read this article I did for the Lonely Planet website.
You can, of course, just walk on the ice without renting anything at all (although you’ll have to pay a Â¥10-15 entrance ticket), but if you want to rent stuff you must first go to a ticket booth and load up a swipe card with enough cash to cover whatever you want to use. Price are as follows:
skates: ¥20 per day; deposit ¥100
chair sled: ¥20 per day; deposit ¥30
bike: ¥30 per hour; deposit ¥100
bumper car: ¥20 per 10 minutes; deposit ¥100
kids rickshaw: ¥10 per 10 minutes; no deposit
(Note, deposits seem to have increased to ¥200 – see comments below. I shall check next winter).
Your card will get swiped as you hire stuff. Once you’re done, return the card and get back any unused credit.
In warmer months these lakes and their shores are good for boating, swimming, table tennis and even a spot of dancing.
Gulou Dajie (1km)