Hidden City Game – A unique adventure in Beijing

A good game makes people feel happy when they win; but a great game makes people happier even when they lose. The Hidden City Game is undoubtedly such a game, as you can not only win something from it, but more importantly, have fun and learn something from it.

Organized by Improbable Guidebooks, and similar in nature to a treasure hunt, the game is currently one of the most popular outdoor activities in Beijing both among foreigners and locals.

The goal of the game is for participants to run specific sections of Beijing and to explore, compete, and most importantly, have fun.

The 7th edition of the Hidden City Game just concluded in Shichahai on Sunday.

Each team of two to four members, with an entrance fee of 60 yuan per person, was provided with a large paper map and one answer sheet. Encircling the map were a series of questions and tasks that each team was supposed to complete by running through the assigned hutongs and looking for answers hidden in architecture, history, or logic. The timeframe was 2 hours and 30 minutes.

Map provided to each team.  Photo: Ding Yi

The answers to the questions could not be found through online searches, but only through extremely careful observations on every detail of the installations and houses located in the hutongs.

Starting from Beihai North railway station, the game on Sunday covered around 10 hutongs in Shiachahai (Houhai) area. While the game began with some easy to find questions and warm-up activities like kicking shuttlecock, it became harder and more intense as participants went deep inside the hutongs looking for a very specific statue or painting.

With a total of 61 points, there were some extra challenges which helped teams to increase their overall points, such as taking photos for pigeons and walking around 50 meters by putting a cup of water on the head.

The prizes were also amazing, such as a big meal at a fancy restaurant like Yummy Box, a drink at a cool bar like Moment Café, and a luxurious SPA experience at GIN SPA.

With nearly 200 participants taking part on Sunday, the game was highly applauded by the foreigners and Chinese alike.

Rob has lived in China for years, and is now working in Beijing as a salesman. Photo: Ding Yi

“I used to live around Shichahai and ran around here all the time, but I never learnt more about hutongs than I did today,” Rob who has been working and living in China for many years, told sino-us.com, “and I really love it.”

It was the second time Wu Fan joined the Game. Winning the Game and making new friends were wonderful experiences for him. Photo: Ding Yi

“I think this game not only helps foreign friends to better understand Chinese culture, but also Chinese natives too to learn something that they didn’t know before,” Wu Fan, a post-90s sunshine boy who is now studying in America and came back to China for summer holiday, said, “and I think this Game is really well-organized.”

This is the second time that Wu joined the game. While the first time he aimed to make friends, this time, partly because of being a senior player, his team won a full-point prize.

The Hidden City Game is a frequently organized outdoor activity, and the game will soon be held in September. For detailed information about the coming event, please keep a close eye on the homepage of sino-us.com so as to be the first to be informed. 

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