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Summertime in China Posted by on Jun 24, 2015 in Uncategorized

We’ve already gone over some useful vocabulary for talking about summer in Chinese, but what is summertime really like in the Middle Kingdom? Just like in America and many other countries around the world, summer is full of family vacations, outdoor fun, and sunshine in China. Of course, people here do their best to avoid said sunshine by carrying umbrellas or even wearing face-kinis at the beach. While many Westerners do their best to get a tan in the summer months, Chinese want to fend off the sun’s rays at all costs – it’s all about being very, very white here. Other than avoiding a tan like the plague, what else is going on in China throughout the summer? Quite a lot, actually! It’s a great time to be in China, and I’ve had tons of summer fun over the years. Here’s just a quick snippet of what’s on tap for summertime in China:

Hit the Beach

Nap time?

Nap time?

Coastal cities with a beach such as Qingdao and Xiamen are at their busiest over the summer. Just one look at a crowded Chinese beach and you’ll see where the classic Chinglish idiom “people mountain, people sea” (人山人海 – rén shān rén hǎi) comes from. These places draw throngs of people who come here to swim, munch on seafood, or just sleep in the sand. Although the crowds can be intimidating, they’re not that hard to escape. In Qingdao, for example, we simply hopped over a short concrete barricade, took a little walk, and were suddenly on a nearly empty beach. Put forth a little legwork, and you’ll easily get away from the masses.

Just like that - a nearly empty beach!

Just like that – a nearly empty beach!

Take in the “Streets, Beats & Eats” of Xiamen with this video and start planning your trip!

Take a Hike

Hiking in Beijing's Yanqing County.

Hiking in Beijing’s Yanqing County.

In the big cities like Beijing and Shanghai, summer can be brutal. The concrete jungle heats up, and the crowds aren’t any smaller than they are in the colder months. A mass of sweaty people crammed into a small space is no good, especially since most of them have never heard of deodorant. Never fear, though, as it’s pretty easy to escape to a cooler place. From Beijing, heading out of the city in any direction will eventually take you to a good hiking spot. For a real adventure, why not consider camping out on the Great Wall? Get out of the city, breathe some fresh air, and enjoy the sounds of nature, even if only for a short time. You’ll get back feeling refreshed and revived; ready to take on all that Chinese cities have to throw at you.

Day Trips to Scenic Areas

Very mild rafting in Shidu.

Very mild rafting in Shidu.

Chinese people love visiting scenic areas outside of the city during the summer, and there’s no shortage of them across the country. Having been to many of them, I can tell you exactly what you’ll find, as most of them are carbon copies of each other. There’s usually a body of water with some combination of (very mild) rafting, silly boats, or bamboo rafts, plus fishing and other water-related activities. There’s probably a hiking trail or two, but 95% of the people will take the cable car, because there’s most certainly one there. Many of these scenic areas have some kind of thrill ride, whether it be a zipline or bungee jumping. In the evening, you’re sure to find tons of BBQ, beer, and karaoke. Consider staying overnight at a place like Shidu, two hours outside of Beijing, to really enjoy a summer night the local way. For more, check out this video on “5 Awesome Beijing Day Trips”:

Music Festivals

Dancing at Spirit Tribe.

Dancing at Spirit Tribe.

When I first came to China back in 2008, music festivals were a completely foreign concept here. Sure, there were a few, but they were unorganized, poorly attended, and in general very disappointing. My how things have changed! There are now music festivals going on just about every weekend throughout the country in the summer months. From the massive Strawberry and Midi festivals, to the now annual party at the Great Wall, to psytrance gatherings in the mountains of Yunnan, live music is taking the Middle Kingdom by storm.

Beer Festivals

Beijing Craft Beer Festival

Beijing Craft Beer Festival

In another welcome change over the past several years, the craft beer movement has been picking up steam in China. Gone are the days when your only choice for beer was Yanjing or Tsingtao – these days you can sample pale ales, stouts, porters, and everything in between. More and more beer festivals are popping up across the country, from the binge-drinking madness of the original Qingdao Beer Festival to the up and coming craft beer fests in places like Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzhen. So raise a glass, and get ready to hear countless calls of “Cheers!” (干杯 – gān bēi).

Bottoms up!

Bottoms up!

See for yourself what the Beijing Craft Beer festival looks like in this short highlight video:

Water Parks

Enjoying Tuanjiehu Park.

Enjoying Tuanjiehu Park.

Who doesn’t love a good trip to a water park on a hot summer day? There are plenty of options in and around the big cities of China, ranging in size and price. In Beijing, for example, you could just head to Tuanjiehu Park (团结湖公园 – tuán jié hú gōng yuán), where they have a wave pool, a fake little beach, and a few slides. You could also check out the epic park inside the Water Cube (水立方 – shuǐ lì fāng), or head out of the city a bit to spend a day at Crab Island (蟹岛 – xiè dǎo). If possible, try to plan your visit for a weekday – there will still be crowds, but they’ll be far smaller than on the weekends. Check out the Olympic Park and the aforementioned water park below:

4th of July Parties

Who says you can't celebrate the 4th in China?

Who says you can’t celebrate the 4th in China?

Just because you’re in China doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate Independence Day! There are tons of Americans living in China, making it easy to find a good ole’ fashioned 4th of July bash. Throw some burgers on the grille, crack a Budweiser, and blast the “Star Spangled Banner.” There may not be a parade or epic fireworks display, but you can still have a good time!

 

Did we miss anything? What do YOU like to do in China in the summertime? Feel free to leave your comments below!

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About the Author: sasha

Sasha is an English teacher, writer, photographer, and videographer from the great state of Michigan. Upon graduating from Michigan State University, he moved to China and spent 5+ years living, working, studying, and traveling there. He also studied Indonesian Language & Culture in Bali for a year. He and his wife run the travel blog Grateful Gypsies, and they're currently trying the digital nomad lifestyle across Latin America.


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