Beijing’s summer heat tests even the most tropical of souls. Despite the city’s landlocked status, urbanites can still weather the heat wave at the beach.
The water park inside Tuanjiehu Park in the heart of the Central Business District (CBD), is the most conveniently located cool-off spot in Beijing. Locals and foreigners of all ages gather here to play in the sun, sand and waves.
The water park’s artificial beach is dotted with bikini-clad women sunning themselves and children burying their mothers in the sand, just like at any real ocean-side spot. But swimmers heading from the sandy shore into the wave pool must travel through a tunnel that sprays water at all angles.
When the waves start, the pool fills with revelers relaxing in inflated tubes and playing with their friends. The waves seemingly come from under two large ships recently constructed to add ambience to the park.
“We built those ships as part of our renovations over the last two years,” said Yu Hngmiao, Assistant to the Director of Tuanjiehu Water Park. “They add to the beachside atmosphere.”
The fun at Tuanjiehu Water Park goes beyond a sandy beach scene as there are plenty of other ways to enjoy the water. In the middle of the large pool, swimmers can climb an artificial hill to try out a couple of short waterslides. In the corner of the park sit two large slides, one straight and one with curves.
A jungle gym equipped for water play and complete with a large bucket that spills water on eagerly waiting children at set intervals means hours of fun for the tikes.
All the bells and whistles at this water park can’t detract from the popularity of an ordinary pool, and the one set between the park’s two waterslides is a popular hangout for teens through adults who are just looking to cool off and joke with their friends.
A separate pool, built last year, is reserved for the youngest swimmers.
“It was specially designed for children, and the shallow waters are safe for new swimmers,” Yu said.
With the sheer amount of water facilities here, combined with the artificial sand beach, safety and sanitation are definitely a big issue for the park. According to Yu, the water park passes a yearly government sanitation check, and the water is constantly purified through a complex filter system, even during off-hours.
A strong crowd of both locals and foreigners patronize the pool. Yu says the park is especially popular with expatriates because of its facilities.
“Beijing has a number of swimming pools, but expats prefer ours because we offer a variety of water activities,” she says. “Plus, it’s outdoors, which feels more natural.”
Weekends are obviously the busiest times for the park, but weekdays can’t escape the crowds either.
“We don’t have as many visitors during the week as on the weekends, but since summer vacation started, a lot of grandparents have brought their grandchildren here to play,” Yu said. “By the end of June, you almost couldn’t tell whether if it was a weekday or weekend judging by the number of visitors.”
While Tuanjiehu Water Park is definitely a popular summer spot, the crowds aren’t unmanageable, and swimmers can enjoy themselves without being significantly disturbed by other groups.
Hungry visitors can visit the snack bar for some kebabs, hot dogs or prepackaged snacks. And there’s even a swimsuit shop for forgetful patrons.
Tuanjiehu Water Park is open daily from 10:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. from June 1 to August 31. Weekday tickets are 40 yuan per person, while weekend tickets cost 50 yuan each.