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Beijing Sports and Activities

Cycling: An estimated 300 million Chinese people use the bicycle as a means of transport and, not surprisingly, bicycle hire shops can be found everywhere, even in smaller towns. Visitors should note that car traffic has been increasing in China, particularly in Beijing, where traffic and pollution levels are high. Major roads outside cities also tend to be busy.

Hiking and Trekking: China’s main natural attractions are its scenic mountains, waterfalls, caverns and great rivers and lakes. No permit is required for hiking, although a trekking permit is compulsory (and fairly expensive) for visiting more remote areas. For details of the necessary practicalities for individual hiking or trekking and for a list of specialised tour operators, contact the China National Tourist Office. The Qinghai-Tibet Plateau (also known as the ‘roof of the world’) is one of the world’s most famous mountaineering destinations. Some of the world’s highest mountains define the southern border of Tibet, including Mount Everest (or Qoomolangma) 8848m (29,021ft), Namcha Barwa 7756m (25,445ft), around which the Brahmaputra River carves a fantastic gorge to enter India, and Gurla Mandhata 7728m (25,355ft). Among the 14 peaks on earth above 8000 metres, five are located in Tibet. The Tibetan approach to Mount Everest provides far better views than the Nepal side. Some 27,000 sq km around Everest’s Tibetan face have been designated as the Qoomolangma Nature Reserve. For foreign travellers, the Everest Base Camp has become the most popular trekking destination in Tibet. The two access points are Shegar and Tingri, along the Friendship Highway to Nepal, but visitors should note that these treks are very demanding and that the altitude requires some acclimatisation. Four-wheel-drive vehicles can also take visitors all the way to base camp along the Shegar track. For practicalities on how to enter Tibet, see Tibet in the Resorts & Excursions section or the Passport/Visa section.

Ice skating: It is possible to ice skate on Beijing’s lakes during winter. Downhill and cross-country skiing can be practised in the North-east provinces.

Fitness centres: Many fitness centres are linked to hotels and have membership fees, however, Capital Gymnasium, 5 Baishi Qiao, Xizhimen Wai Dajie (tel: (10) 6833 5552), is open for badminton and table tennis, among other sports. The China World Fitness Centre at the China World Hotel, 1 Jianguomenwai Dajie (tel: (10) 6505 2266), has a gym, swimming pool and squash courts.

Golf: The Grand Canal club in the Tongzhou district of municipal Beijing (tel: (10) 8958 3058 or 8947 0005) and the Beijing Country Golf Club (tel: (10) 6940 1111) in Beijing’s Shunyi County both offer challenging courses and are within 45 minutes’ drive from downtown Beijing. Green fees are RMB500 on weekdays and RMB800 at weekends. Perhaps the best course in the Beijing area is the championship-standard International Club (tel: (10) 6974 6388 or 6076 2288). Its 7000-yard (6400-metre) course makes it suitable for only the most able players. Green fees are RMB650-1100.

Swimming: Many hotels have swimming pools but use of the facilities is often restricted to hotel residents or members. The Friendship Hotel, 3 Baishiqiao Lu, Haidian (tel: (10) 6849 8888), has an outdoor pool, or the Olympic Sports Center, 1 Anding Lu (tel: (10) 6491 0468) also has a pool. Waterparks have arrived in China in a big way. There are a number around Beijing, including Qingnianhu Water Park, Qingnianhu Park (tel: (10) 6421 6321), and Lakeview Waterpark (tel: (10) 6966 1696), by Yanqi Lake in Huairou County.

Tennis: Indoor and outdoor tennis courts are available at the Beijing Grand Canal Club, Hu Ge Zhuang,<