Thursday, 4 February 2016

Shopping in China

Beijing Shopping/open hours

Groceries and other items
Western food items such as cereals, dairy products, chocolates and coffees are now commonly found in local supermarkets. Beijing also has an increasing number of international supermarket chains like Tesco, Carrefour and Wal-Mart, all of which stock these items in abundance. Supermarkets opening hours are from 8am to 10pm daily. There are a number of smaller grocery stores stocking a good range of imported groceries and toiletries, Jenny Lou’s being a particularly popular store. Jenny Lou’s, Jenny Wang, April Gourmet, all expatriate favourites, can be found in most “expatriate-heavy” areas. Those stores normally open from 8am to 10pm, many locations of Jenny Lou’s store open until mid-night daily.

Fresh fruit and vegetables can be found in abundance at  local markets. Beijing has a particularly good market for fresh fruits, vegetables, fish, grains and spices - San Yuan Li market. Fresh meat is best bought at any of the large supermarkets, or at the French or German butcher, both of which are popular among the Beijing expatriate community. There are also some individual butchers making good sausages without preservatives, additives or MSG and offering delivery to various collection points across the city.

Beijing has a wide range of clothing shopping options, from local markets (where clothes can be bargained down to cheap prices), to high street chains such as Zara, GAP, UNIQLO, Next, Promd, C&A, H&M, Mango, to luxury designer goods in Beijing’s many high-end malls (think Jimmy Choos, Gucci, Chanel, Guess, Giorgio Armani). Local markets such as the Silk Market attract large crowds of tourists who come in droves to get cheap designer knock offs. Although many bargains can be picked up at the markets, do not expect too much in terms of quality or durability. Bargaining is expected in the markets and is in fact part of the experience, but not in shopping malls or department stores where most items have a fixed price. French chain Decathlon is a good store for all things sports related, including sporting clothing and equipment.

For baby clothing and goods, there is a baby/toddler/kids store called Counting Sheep Boutique, which stocks new imported goods from well-known baby brands. For other options, Mothercare and Babygro, which  have several location.  Okaidi - in big malls and Leyou - have everything for newborns and toddlers, the SKP (Shin Kong shopping center), China World Shopping Mall, The Place mall, Solana mall and others have a large selection of children’s shops with everything you might need.

People in China tend to be smaller than people in the West so expect to wear a size or two bigger in China than you would at home, for example, a woman who wears an M at home could change to an XL in Beijing. People with large shoe sizes should bring enough good quality shoes for all seasons, as large shoes can be difficult to find in Beijing. 

Furniture and home decor
In Beijing, most apartments or houses are rented at least partially furnished. If you want to buy some extra items, however, there are many options when it comes to shopping for home décor and furniture. Stores, such as Dara, have an interesting range of furniture, often blending east with west.

Gaobedian in the South-East of the city is a good place to shop for people who like Chinese influenced custom-made pieces, or just want to have some custom made furniture. There are several streets in this area full of furniture makers. If you'd rather something simple and familiar, Beijing houses two IKEA stores. The second IKEA was opened in 2013. If you need to buy a mattress in Beijing, please be aware of the fact that mattresses tend to be quite hard in China. Illinois Furniture and Casa Pagoda are other, more upscale options. There are several large furniture centers both in the north and south of the city, offering a large selection of modern and traditional furnishings, in a wide range of quality. Cheng Wai Cheng (open hours: 9am to 6pm on week days, 9am to 7pm on weekends), off the south 4th ring road, is just one of these options. Similarly, mega-centers exist for lighting and other housing options. Furthermore, B&Q is great for those people who enjoy DIY or are looking to build up a home tool collection.

Shenzhen – Shopping/Opening Hours

Shenzhen was one of the first Chinese cities to open its doors to the outside world.. As a fast developing metropolis, it has a good selection of department stores and shopping centers, where everything from basic commodities to high-quality brands can be found. Shenzhen actually leads some of the consumer trends in China and the latest fashions and products from Hong Kong and Guangzhou are readily available throughout the city. Electrical appliances, fashionable clothing, jewellery and seafood are some of the best choices for you to buy in Shenzhen.

It is easy for you to find a place to do some shopping since Shenzhen is divided distinctly into several zones of shopping centers. It is no wonder that Dongmen Pedestrian Street is the No.1 shopping center of Shenzhen. Various kinds of shops, restaurants and cinemas are open here. In Hua Qiang Bei you will find numerous electrical products. The famous Women’s World, which is an ideal place for purchasing clothing, is also located here. Other shopping zones like Nanshan, Renmin Nan and Shen Nan Zhong respectively have their own characteristics

Shop Trading Hours
Shop trading hours are from about 9am until anywhere between 7pm and 10pm. Shops are open every day of the week.

Supermarket & Groceries
Supplies of western imported food can be found in several small shops located in Shekou. Shekou is home to many foreigners so almost anything can be found there. Shenzhen does have some international supermarket chains, like Tesco, Wal-Mart (more than 10 outlets), Carrefour (8 locations in the city), Metro, Sam’s club super store (for membership only), Jusco (Japanese brand), Ole Supermarket and local brand supermarkets. Many imported western foods can be found in those stores, as well as different brands of cheese, pasta, spices, cereals, olive oil, and some imported wine. Baby food in jars is also becoming more readily available in Shenzhen.

Fruit and vegetables are available in street markets, small street shops and supermarkets. Meat is available in small shops and street markets, however, hygiene in such places is very low. We strongly recommend that you buy meat at one of the above mentioned larger supermarkets.

Imported alcohol is very expensive. The range of wine is limited but growing steadily. Local beer is of good quality and can be purchased in almost all shops. Imported beer is widely available as well (Heineken, Carlsberg, Corona, German brand beers, etc). Beverages like cola, sprite, orange water and soda water are easily available. Supplies of tonic water, bitter lemon and cola light can easily be found in the above mentioned shops carrying imported goods.

Furniture can be found in the bigger shopping malls. Home Decoration Malls usually have the latest in furnishings. These malls are very easy to spot. Besides western furniture, there is a large supply of Chinese style (antique) furniture for sale but prices for real antiques are very high. A good place to start would be Select and Order located on Gong Ye road right next to the SOS Clinic.

Shopping Area / malls / department stores
Shenzhen has a wide range of shopping options, from local markets to high-end malls and department stores. Local market places like Huaqiang Bei area is the most prosperous shopping area. It has dozens of markets, for electronic products, home appliances, timepieces, clothing and jewellery . Some markets places have hundreds of shops, from flagship stores selling big brands to small boutiques where you can bargain. Shenzhen is a shopping paradise for both residents and visitors.

Dong Men area is also a famous shopping district, consisting of department stores, supermarkets, shops and stalls. It is centered on two parallel pedestrian streets with several smaller streets and alleys traversing it, creating a labyrinth in which every available space is used to sell something. Shops range from holes-in-the-wall to retail chains like Baleno, Giordano and the odd foreign brand shop, such as Adidas. Fashion wear, sportswear, jewellery, shoes, handbags, traditional medicine…the list goes on and on.


Whatever you're in the stores for, Suzhou has the place for you. One of Europe’s largest discount outlet developers, Value Retail, opened its first complex outside Europe in Suzhou. The Village, located on the western shore of Yangcheng Lake offers a number of European luxury shopping experiences such as “hands-free” shopping and fine dining services. 
Japanese retailer Aeon opened its largest Chinese shopping mall in Suzhou's southern Wuzhong district near Taihu. The store is the company's largest outlet in China. The shopping mall will include 190 specialty stores, restaurants, kids' play area, a supermarket and a 4D movie theater.
Shops are open from 10am-10pm in most shopping malls.
There are also other places for expats to shop for books, furniture, clothing and household goods. Here we list a few for your information.

Book Store
Foreign Language Book Store    
580 Ren Min Lu, OT 

Furniture Shop
Coco Mat (Swedish style furniture store)
206 Xinghai Jie, SIP

Department Stores
International Department Store
Shi Lu

Matro Shopping Centre 
Guan Qian Jie & Ren Min Lu, OT

Tailor shops

Wuzhijian Western Clothing

12-14 Diyi Tianmen

The Pas Western Clothes

338 Yangyu Xiang


Shopping in Shanghai is a very enjoyable experience. Big brands are setting up branches and small unique shops exist in many corners of the city. You can find many international and local brands in Shanghai. There are also many expat- run online shops and markets for imported items from all over the world. Here we will provide a list of stores for expats who are looking for convenient shopping or who want to have a taste of home.

Shops are open from 10am-10pm in most shopping malls.

Furniture and Appliances
There are some excellent furniture warehouses in Shanghai, many of them concentrated along Hongqiao Lu on the way to the airport and in western Changning.

Asia View
No. 233 Shaanxi Nan Lu

Markor Furnishing
No. 388 Fushan Lu.

No. 126 Caoxi Lu, by Zhongshan Xi Lu.
No. 550 Linyu Lu, by Hunan Lu.

Books and Magazines
Garden Books
No325 Changle Lu, French concession

Shanghai Foreign Language Bookstore
No. 390 Fuzhou Lu
Imported & Organic Food
City Shop
The largest supermarket chain in Shanghai offering a range of imported foods and necessities, from packaged food and drink, to fresh fruit, to toiletries and more.

Green & Safe
A one-stop-for-all organic shop with a deli counter that serves a variety of salads, sandwiches, and pasta, as well as a grocery store with a selection of local and imported organic goods.
Xuhui: No. 6 Dongping Lu, near Hengshan Lu.
Changning: No.1438 Hongqiao Lu, near Manao Lu.

Ole supermarket
Imports over 70% of its products from overseas, with a great seafood counter and cheese selection.
Gateway B/F, No.1 Hongqiao Lu

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Beijing Vegetarian Restaurants

For those of you who enjoy Vegetarian food, there are some excellent vegetarian restaurants in Beijing. Ms. Alina Wu has published a small folding map focused solely on vegetarian restaurants. With her permission we have included some of them here.

King’s Joy 京兆尹 
No. 2 Wudaoying Hutong, Dongcheng District
(west of the Lama Temple) 东城区五道营胡同 2 号(雍和宫西侧)Direction: Subway Line 5 or 2, Yonghegong Station, Exit D 地铁 5 号线/2 号线 雍和宫站 D 口 
Telephone: 8404 9191

No. 30 Yonghegong DaJie, Dongcheng District 东城区雍和宫大街 30 号 Direction: Subway Line 5, Lama Temple Station or Beixinqiao Station 地铁 5 号线雍和宫站/北新桥站 Telephone: 5844 4596

 Yunwei Restaurant
B1-107, Fortune Time Building, No. 11, Fenghuiyuan, Taipingqiao Street, Xicheng District
西城区太平桥大街丰汇园 11 号 丰汇时代大厦 B1-107 号
Direction: Subway Line 4, Lingjinghutong Station, Exit D, go straight to the west, it’s about 500 meters 地铁 4 号线灵境胡同站 D 口,往西直走约 500 米 Telephone: 5836 2560
Muyu's Cause
Stall 5-3, Building 5, Zhidi Xingzuo Mansion, No. 9, Huayuan Street, Xicheng District (on the west side of Grand Pacific Mall) 西城区华远街 9 号置地星座大厦 5 号楼 5-3 号(君太百货西侧) Direction: Subway Line 1 or Line 4, Xidan Station 地铁 1 号线/4 号线西单站 Telephone: 5851 8108
Zhenglongzhai Vegetarian Store

No. 58, Xisi East Street, Xicheng District
西城区西四北大街 58
Telephone: 6603 1053 / 6615 8388

Handelin Vegetarian Restaurant

No.11, Liubukou Street, West Chang’an Avenue, Xicheng District (on the west side of Beijing Concert Hall)
西城区西长安街六部口街 11 号(北京音乐厅西侧)
Direction: Subway Line 1, Xidan station, Exit D, go straight to the east, to the third hutong
地铁 1 号线西单站 D 口,往东直走第三个胡同
Telephone: 5943 5596

Lotus in Moonlight (Beijing Workers’ Stadium)
Inside the East gate of Beijing Workers’ Stadium, No.8, Gongti North Road, Chaoyang District
朝阳区工体北路 8 号工人体
Direction: Subway Line 6, Dongdaqiao Station, Exit A. Go straight to the North, find east gate of Beijing Workers’ Stadium, it’s about 1.3 kilometer
地铁 6 号线东大桥站 A 口出,
Telephone: 6268 0848

Pure Lotus Vegetarian

Tongguang Building, No. 12, Nongzhanguan Nanli, Chaoyang District (Northeast corner of Changhongqiao) 朝阳区农展馆南里 12 号通广大厦院内
Direction: Subway Line 10, Tuanjiehu station, Exit B
地铁 10 号线团结湖站 B 口
Telephone: 6592 3627 / 8703 6669

Suzhi Vegetarian Restaurant

East side, 1/F, Nanxincang Business Building, No. A22, Dongsishitiao, Dongcheng District
北京东城区东四十条甲 22 号南新仓商
务大厦 1 楼东侧
Direction: Subway Line 2, Dongsishitiao Station, Exit D.
地铁 2 号线东四十条站 D 口 / Telephone: 5218 5148 / 5218 5149

Tianchu Miaoxiang Vegetarian Restaurant

Room 0260, 2/F, Building D, Chaowai SOHO, No. B6, Chaowai Dajie, Chaoyang District (West of Jingguangqiao)
朝阳区朝阳门外大街乙 6 号朝外 SOHO
大厦 D 座 2 楼 0260 号(京广桥西)
Direction: SubwayLine 6, Dongdaqiao Station, Exit D2
地铁 6 号线东大桥站 D2 口
Telephone: 5900 1288 / 59001088

The Purple Bodhi Vegetarian Food and Tea

No. 3, Beiyuan Road, Xiaoguan Beili, Chaoyang District
朝阳区小关北里北苑路 3 号
Direction: Subway Line 10, Anzhenmen Station
地铁 10 号线安贞门站
Telephone: 6494 5266

Guihe Wonderland

South Park of Olympic Forest Park, Anli Road, Chaoyang District (near the dock at East Gate)
Telephone: 6452 9307

Suhu Jingsu Restaurant (Fulllink Plaza)
素虎净素餐厅 (丰联广场店)
3/F, Fulllink Plaza, No. 18 Chaoyangmen Wai Dajie, Chaoyang District
朝阳区朝阳门外大街 18 号丰联广场 3 层
Telephone: 6588 7016

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Social Etiquette in China

Social Etiquette in China: How to save your ‘Face’ in everyday situations!

Successfully navigating social interactions and events in China may seem a daunting prospect to foreigners. Countless unspoken rules govern interpersonal conduct, and it is all too easy to accidentally offend or embarrass your companions or hosts.
Pay close attention to our top tips in order to avoid committing a faux-pas in public.

Doing Business:

·           Pay close attention to the social hierarchy amongst your colleagues and business partners, and make sure to respect it by acting with deference towards those in more senior positions
·           At formal dinners don’t talk about topics your Chinese business partners might not understand (such as foreign sporting competitions). Use a meal to get to know business partners personally.
·           Present your business cards with both hands as a sign of respect. Receive those others with both hands as well.

Social Occasions:

·           Greet the eldest person in a Chinese family first, as a sign of respect
·           Be effusively grateful if somebody gives you a gift, but then set it aside to open in private, later on.
·           Take your guests to the front door of the restaurant or to their car at the conclusion of a meeting or a meal. It is offensive not to.

Common Mistakes to Avoid:

·           Beckon someone by waving them over to you with your palm down. Don’t point or beckon using your finger, as these gestures are offensive
·           Don’t feel offended if your Chinese partner asks personal questions the first time they meet you, as it’s just a way to get to know you and to show you kindness.
·           Don’t give the following gifts: clocks, shoes, umbrellas, and knives. In Chinese these carry a double-meaning; for example, umbrellas and knives can symbolise separation

These tips are a selection of the help and advice contained within our illustrated guide:
 “Do’s and Don’ts in China: A Guide to Culturally Sensitive Behavior in China”.
Visit our website to order your copy today

Sunday, 27 September 2015

LGBT Life in China

(LGBT = Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, and Transgender)

Historically, homosexuality, so long as it didn’t interfere with the Confucian duty to marry and produce offspring, was generally accepted. As a matter of fact, ten emperors in Chinese history were said to be openly bisexual and were even listed with the names of their lovers. However, when the communists came to power in 1949, homosexuality was considered disruptive to a stable society. During the Cultural Revolution, the persecution of gay people was sanctioned by the government.

In 2001, attitudes began to change when the government rescinded a 1989 law that made homosexuality a psychological disorder. However, no civil rights law exists to address discrimination or harassment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The media tends to censor positive depictions of gay couples in films and television shows and households headed by same-sex couples are not permitted to adopt children and do not have the same privileges as heterosexual married couples.

Photo from the recent Shanghai Pride Festival

In general, homosexuality is ignored by the population. This is made all the easier because open affection between same sex friends, regardless of the sexual orientation, is very common.  Nevertheless, the social stigma of being homosexual is still very much alive, and it will still be quite a while until homosexuality is widely accepted. Chinese/Taiwanese culture is very family oriented and parents expect grandchildren, therefore many people still choose to hide their sexual orientation, and end up marrying and having children.

In the majority of cases, LGBT expats living in China are not met with significant difficulties. It isn’t hard to find other members of the LGBT community, and it doesn’t do any harm to ask around and be inquisitive about the local scene. Conservatism should be the rule, however; China is still a conservative society, and public displays of same-sex affection are best avoided.

Although more prominent in first-tier Chinese cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen, gay clubs, bars, tea houses, saunas, and support centers are also becoming more widespread in second-tier cities like Xi'an, Dalian, and Kunming. However, it is still forbidden to advertise or list gay or lesbian bar in magazines and newspaper. Instead, they are listed as “alternative lifestyle bars.”

The Beijing LGBT Center (The Center):
 A non-profit, community-based organization that empowers the Beijing lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community through offering social services, organizing advocacy programs, and providing a safe, fun, and inviting social space. (

Beijing Gay, Lesbian, and Allies Discussion (BGLAD):
An organisation of people who wish to support the local gay, lesbian and bisexual community. The group meets regularly for various activities. :
An online forum to organize social events for the LGBT community in Beijing

Bars and Clubs:

Adams (#40 Sanlitun Road 三里屯酒吧街,40)
A newly opened but well-reviewed bar offering good food, drinks, and a mellow space for the queer and straight community.

Alfa (6 Xingfu Yi Cun Hutong, 朝阳区幸福一村6号工体北门对面的胡同里 ):
Gay-friendly club that has gay events during weekends. They support the Beijing LGBT center by donating more than 60% of the income from their gay events. Reasonable admission fee includes one free drink (juice, beer or cocktails). Mostly young, trendy, local crowd, but there are also visitors, expats, mid-aged and mature gays, lesbians and straight partiers
Funky  (6/F, 8 Gongti Xilu, 工体西路86):
Above par music and generous cocktails.
Kai  (3/F Tongli Studio, Sanlitun)
Basic, no-frills black box with bar, DJ, small dance floor and booth seating. Very diverse, younger crowd.
Mesh  (The Opposite House, 1 Sanlitun Bei Rd, Sanlitun, 地址 三里屯北街 1号 ):
The Thursday night gay crowd (mostly the expat portion as this 5-star bar is expensive) starts their evening here about 10pm. This world-class bar and its spectacular Japanese-designed hotel setting are well worth a visit for fans of contemporary design. From the non-lobby which is more a Chinese modern art museum, to Mesh's Duchamp-inspired collection of resin castings of plastic drinking bottles, The Opposite House is pure eye candy. Ask to see the rooms and the stainless-steel swimming pool.
Chill Café & Bar (2 Andingmen Xidajie, Dongcheng Dist, 安定门西大街2号院,安定门桥西南角)
Gay-managed, LGBT-friendly bar and cafe in a modernized hutong courtyard setting. Manager, Henry, is plugged into the local gay scene and is happy to offer the latest news. Every Wed night LGBT visitors, expats and locals gather at 8pm for their Pink Wednesday social when Y$10 is donated from each cocktail to support local LGBT projects and initiatives.
Two Cities (46 Fangjia Hutong, Dongcheng Qu, 东城区,方家胡同46 )
Run by two gay friends from Taiwan. Coffee, teas and desserts in a spacious hutong building with large picture windows ideal for people watching. Indoor and outdoor seating. A good, quiet spot for talking with friends. Open 1-11pm Mon-Thu and Sun; 11am-midnight Fri and Sat.
An Club, at Amnesia (Ground Floor, SOHO, Guanghua Lu, Chaoyang district. Saturdays only. 朝阳区光华路SOHO一层):
Run by legendary lesbian impresario An Shao and now celebrating its second year of existence in a brand new venue. An represents one of the most diverse, exciting, and best value for money nights in the city.

Destination (7 Gongti Xi Lu,Chaoyang district, 朝阳区工体西路7):
Despite being Beijing’s longest-established LGBT venue (it was launched around 2004), Des, as it’s affectionately known to locals, has managed to remain top dog. The popular Friday and Saturday spectaculars are among the best-attended and most colourful in town, and the multi-level layout prevents most spaces other than the heaving dance floor from ever being intolerably overcrowded. The confidential and free HIV testing clinic on the top floor, run by golden-hearted volunteers from LGBT NGO Danlan, is also a valuable addition. Drinks are buy-one-get-one-free before 10pm. Entry charges vary and usually include a free drink. Regulars can purchase membership cards (500RMB or 1,000RMB) for discounted entry and drinks deals.

ShanghaiLGBT (
 An online community of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and straight individuals in Shanghai, China. The main organizer of ShanghaiPRIDE which happens in June.

Angel @ ICON (Shanghai Stadium -access by Gate 7 on Lingling Road (near Xietu Road), Xuhui District 上海市 徐汇区 八万人体育场 零陵路7号门进, 近斜土路,):
The most popular weekend gay dance party in Shanghai.  Angel moved to a new home at club ICON in March 2014. ICON is the largest gay dance venue in Asia, with state-of-the-art light and sound system. Special events are held regularly, including the ever-popular Heaven party

Lucca (390 Shanghai) (390 Panyu Road (near Fahuazhen Road), Changning District 中国上海市长宁区番禺路390, Shanghai):
One of the most popular gay venues in Shanghai.   This award-winning bar & restaurant hosts live music during the week and turns into a fabulous dance club with live DJ and party-goers filling the dance floor at weekends. Weekly themed event usually takes place on Saturday.

Eddy’s Bar (1877 Huaihai Middle Road, Xuhui DIstrict, Shanghai):
A Shanghai institution.  Eddy’s Bar opened in Weihai Lu in 1995 but moved to Huaihai Lu in 2002. It is the longest-running gay venue in the city and still pulls in crowds of locals and expats on the weekends.  A great place to hang out before heading to Shanghai Studio. Eddy’s has an interesting décor, combining grey slate, Chinese lanterns and Asian art.  Great service and affordable drinks.  Busy after 10pm.

(3 Yongjia Road, Lane 15, Huangpu District, Shanghai) :
Popular LGBT hangout that has re-enforced its gay-friendly credentials by sponsoring the 2013 Shanghai Pride. Blend offers a great selection of smoothies, ice creams, pastas and pizzas, along with a wide selection of coffees, sodas, cocktails, beer and wine and free WiFi. Regular weekday evening happy hours and excellent weekend brunch menu.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Keeping Fit in Beijing

Keeping Fit in Beijing

This week Beijing comes under the world sporting spotlight when it hosts the World Athletics Championships at the iconic Bird’s Nest Stadium. Away from professional track and field though, what is sport like in Beijing?

One of the most difficult aspects of relocating to anywhere is managing to preserve a fit and healthy lifestyle; particularly in the first few weeks of living in a new place. This is especially true when it comes to China. Often new expats find themselves struggling to keep into shape and notice deterioration in fitness and health. This blog will act as a brief guide to explain why a healthy lifestyle can be difficult to achieve abroad and aim to alleviate these problems by providing tips and a list of recreational sport clubs in Beijing.
For more detailed information, please contact

Why is it so hard to keep healthy in China?
l  New Surroundings. On first moving to a new city, it takes time to adjust and find your way around your new environment- whether it is finding your way to work, locating and mapping out the nearest supermarket or navigating the public transportation system. It therefore takes considerably longer to get things done and this bites away at any leisure time you would otherwise have to socialize or exercise.
l  Language Barrier. Often without knowing the native language it can be more difficult to join local clubs or even gyms. While this is not always the case, the daunting thought of such an undertaking is often enough to dissuade new expatriates from joining.
l  New Diet. If you are a choosey eater and have yet to find a supermarket that sells homely goods, you may find yourself returning to something that reminds you of home- such as fast food chains like McDonald’s or KFC. Many expat workers find themselves eating fast-food many times a week because not only is it cheap, but it is something that you know is safe and recognizable.
l  Pollution. Beijing is infamous across the world for its pollution problems; it was even a concern before the 2008 Summer Olympics. Many expats are dissuaded from outdoor exercise because they fear the health ramifications of the high pollution.

Top Tips
l  If you are not immediately comfortable with joining a local sports club or gym, be sure to exploit the large expatriate scene in Beijing and join an expatriate sports club; some of which are listed below
l  Having said that, try your utmost to eat locally. Chinese food is substantially healthier than Western food with less fattening dairy products. This way, even if you don’t have time to exercise regularly, you can still maintain a healthy diet.
l  Download Apps that will help you overcome the language barrier and be able to order from a Chinese menu. Top picks for this are Waygo which allows you to scan and translate a written Chinese menu, and Pleco which acts almost as a Chinese Dictionary.
l  Be sure to utilize public gyms. They are located in most parks in Beijing and provide an excellent opportunity to even do a few reps on resistance machines. While you probably don’t want to be spending hours at these, they are ideal to stretch out and make a big difference.
l  The importance of drinking enough water, particularly in the summer months, cannot be stressed enough! Without it you’ll become sluggish and not have the energy to perform at work or to exercise.
l  Don’t be afraid to ask to join locals in a game of football or a session of Tai Chi. More often or not they would be more than happy for you to join and you don’t need a strong grasp of Chinese to be able to ask. If you have the confidence to do this it is a great way to make new friends and find out more about events and life in the surrounding area.
l  Get out of the city! This is the best solution if you suffer heavily from the side effects of air pollution. Beijing is easy to leave via public transportation and nearby (within an hour) there are numerous areas to hike or cycle.
l  Try commuting by bike. If you don’t have time to get down to the gym every day before and after work then why not try riding a bike there. Beijing has many cycle lanes and while the roads might seem incredibly busy, the traffic moves slow enough for cyclists to be safe and comfortable. What’s more, a decent bike can be bought for as little as 350RMB.
Sport Clubs

There’s a reason that the Chinese Olympic team dominates the badminton events every year- they practice it almost religiously.

Beijing International Badminton Club Meeting twice a week on Wednesday evenings and Sunday mornings, the BIBC welcomes everyone to join them. Contact: 6433 5226.


Everybody has heard the song ‘Nine Million Bicycles in Beijing’, and the number in the whole of China is around 300 million! Cycling is not only a great form of exercise but also an excellent way to see and learn your surroundings in both the city and countryside. A list of five trails can be found here but if you want to join a cycling community there is also plenty of opportunity

The Beijing Peloton This is the prominent road cycling group in Beijing. It is a popular group because it caters for cyclists of all skill ranges and meets regularly. Furthermore the group organizes trips to Mongolia for the most avid cyclists. Contact: 135-1102-3672,

Beijing Road Cycling A smaller group than the Beijing Peloton aimed at more experienced riders, Beijing Road Cycling typically ride on Tuesdays and Thursdays from Chaoyang park depending on the air quality. On weekends they take to the mountains around Beijing. Contact:


Even though the national team is famously unsuccessful in China, football is immensely popular and the most watched international sport in China. One statistic predicts there are 100 million Manchester United fans in China! Participation is therefore easy in both expat and local communities. APA would recommend you to try both because it is a great way to communicate with the local people and bridge the culture gap.

Beijing Barbarians FC Labelling itself as the ‘United Nations of Football, Beijing Barbarians are one of the largest and most internationally diverse amateur football clubs in the city. Training occurs every Tuesday evening at Chaoyang Park. Contact: ,

Forbidden City FC With more local players than BBFC, but still with international membership, Forbidden City FC ensures that you can enjoy playing with local people without being completely overwhelmed by the language gap. Training occurs every Wednesday evening at Lido Park. Contact:


In China golf is well regarded in business circles. However this sometimes means that courses are difficult to access for the general public. There are nevertheless several golf clubs, both for expats and locals, which can be joined in Beijing.

Beijing Golfers Club Having been around for 20 years, Beijing Golfers Club is a well established club with over 200 members. Rounds are played every Sunday at different courses in Beijing and even non-members can join. Contact: 138-1144-1543,

Beijing Ladies Golf Very similar to the Beijing Golfers Club, Beijing Ladies Golf is a club exclusively for women who play every Thursday Contact: 8532-1306


China has many health clubs and easy to access, particularly in Beijing. While popular Western gym chains have a strong presence here, they are often more expensive than their Chinese counter-parts.

B Active Is one of the most popular 24 hour gyms for expats in Beijing located in Sanlitun. With its state of the art clean air systems ensuring the air remains crisp and clean, it is ideal for exercise if you suffer from respiratory problems stemming from pollution. Pay for a membership or pay as you go. Contact: 5900 4748, 

California Fitness Situated by the CBD in Guoma, this gym is all about the atmosphere. It includes a basketball court, a boxing ring and steam rooms. Contact 4008 100 988,


Unlike Shanghai, Beijing is surrounded by magnificent countryside. With national parks easily accessible from the city it is the ideal location to take up hiking; whether along the Great Wall, through dense forest or even around the outer suburbs of the city.

Beijing Hikers With walks ranging from an easy hike around Intelligence Valley to braving the trek up the hillsides of the Great Wall, Beijing Hikers offers a great opportunity to get fit and discover Chinese culture. Free meals are also often provided. Contact: 6432-2786

Beijing Outdoor Adventure Club If you enjoy walking off the beaten track then this group of young adventurists might be for you. With no required level of fitness, Beijing Outdoor Adventure Club is open to anyone who wishes to explore the city and beyond. Contact


If you are particularly prone to the health implications from pollution, a great way to avoid doing exercise outside is to join a swimming club that often operates indoors. There are plenty of pools around the city if you wish to swim alone, however APA would recommend you make a social event out of it and join a swimming club.

Dragon Fire Swim Club Dragon Fire is an international swim club exclusively for children from 4- 17. It gives them an opportunity to make friends, get fit and compete in events. Training is offered 7 days a week at 3 different times. Dragon Fire also organize dance lessons so it’s easy to ensure your children also keep a healthy and energetic lifestyle. Contact:

More than anything to have a healthy body you need to have a healthy mind. Moving abroad can be a stressful time in your life. APA China works with you to ensure that you can thrive in China in both mind and body.