List of 25 Cheap, Fun Things to do in China to Experience Culture Up Close

Having lived in China for twelve years, sometimes it can be easy to get bored and run out of ideas about what to do in my free time. So I decided to spend a while brainstorming and writing down as many ideas as I could. The result of that brainstorming session is this list of wholesome, fun activities you can enjoy with your friends, family, or date. Most of the activities on this list are cheap or free, and require leaving your house and getting some exercise. If you pick some of these ideas to try, you are sure to experience Chinese culture up close and personal like never before.

1. Take a martial arts class.

2. In Southern China, take one morning or afternoon and go to eat Dimsum.

3. Challenge your friends to a game of ping pong. They play it a whole different way here from the way they hold the paddles to the way they spin the ball.

4. Learn how to play Jianzi (which is a game like hacky-sack, but with a feathered shuttlecock) and join a group playing in a park.

5. Go ballroom dancing. You can often do it at a local park.

6. Write a list of your most feared Chinese foods (such as stinky beancurd). Ask your friend to go with you as your overcome your fears.

7. Pack a lunch and hike up to the top of the nearest mountain.

8. Go paddle-boating in a park.

9. Rent a badminton court and invite your friends for a friendly game.

10. Fly a kite. Afterall, they were invented in China.

11. Visit a zoo.

12. Learn how to play Chinese chess and try your skills at a square or park. It won’t be long before people gather around to watch.

13. On a clear day, go to the top of your city’s tallest skyscraper and take pictures.

14. Join a group doing TaiQi.

15. Visit a Chinese history museum.

16. Invite your friends out for tea at a traditional tea shop.

17. Rent a tandem bike and go for a ride with a date or a friend.

18. Learn to play a popular Chinese card game like “Tractor” or “Big 2” and join a game in your neighborhood.

19. Go for a walk in a flower garden or by a lake.

20. Play pickup basketball at a local playground.

21. Ask your friend what is the most famous dish in your city and then treat them if they will guide you to it.

22. Ask a Chinese expert to teach you how to play Mahjong.

23. Take your Chinese dictionary and practice on the street with live people.

24. Walk through an open air market and count how many types of meats and vegetables are being sold.

25. Take a Chinese calligraphy class.