Běijīng Planetarium 北京天文馆
The basic entrance ticket only admits you to this space-age building with its rippled glass front, but there are optional chances to visit a 3D space simulator, 4D and digital theatres showing a variety of different films, with tickets at between ¥30 and ¥45. The special effects should carry children through the lack of English.
But the static displays are also impressively high-tech and well thought out, with plenty of touch-screen animations (some in English), buttons to push, and some video games child-pleasingly short on educational merit.
Detailed exhibitions with holograms present the sun, moon, and all the planets down to the smallest bodies. None of this is worth travelling to Běijīng to see, but any small bodies you take with you should find enough to amuse them.
▶ Běijīng Tiānwén Guǎn, Xī Zhí Mén Wài Dàjiē 138, t 6835 2453, www.bjp.org.cn, 9.30am–3pm, Wed–Sun; 4pm weekends and pub hols. ¥10. m Běijīng Zoo (Line 4) or Xī Zhí Mén (Lines 2, 4, & 13) exit D and walk west. b to 动物园: 特4, 7, 15, 19, 27, 45, 65, 102电车, 103电车, 运通104线, 运通105线, 105电车, 运通106线, 107电车, 111电车, 运通205线, 319, 332, 334, 347, 360, 360快车, 362, 534, 563, 608, 632, 685, 697, 714.
The Paleozoological Museum of China is a short walk to the west, and panda viewing at Běijīng Zoo across the road, altogether enough to keep children amused for at least half a day. There are large markets around the bus station just to the east selling everything from electronics to clothes, shoes, and toys.
For discussion of China travel, see The Oriental-List.