Surviving the Smog: How to Deal with Beijing’s Air Pollution

Surviving the Smog: How to Deal with Beijing’s Air Pollution
By Kara Banker ,

When you live in Beijing, you face bad pollution days. Sometimes the air is thick with lung-harming particles and you just don’t want to be outside in that. If you live in Beijing it should not be the biggest surprise if you wake up one morning, open the window and realise the visibility is only 10 metres. So the first thing any true Beijinger will do is to prepare for these days.

1) Get an Air Filter!
A great way to keep those hazy days out of your home sweet home is with a quality air filter. Electronic stores like Dazhong and Suning will have models to choose from, and online shopping site Taobao has a large variety of purifiers available from prices as low as 300 RMB but any decent one will cost around 2,000 RMB. These will work for a room, but especially if you live in a large apartment or actual house, be aware that you’ll need more than one purifier to really clean the air. You may also want to consider buying nature’s air purifier, a plant.

To buy a plant take a trip to an indoor flower market. A great area to begin your search is just off the Liangmaqiao subway on line 10. From there, two large flower markets are only a few blocks away. The first, the Laitai Flower Market, is located at Ladies Street (Nurenjie) and is a massive building with almost anything your green thumb could desire. Look for the building with large stone elephants out front. The other market, the Liangmaqiao Flower Market, isn’t as well-known but can be just as busy. This one is a bit harder to find, but if you cross the small bridge over the canal behind the Kempinkski Hotel and Lufthansa Center, you’ll find yourself right there. It’s a bit smaller but still packed with all kinds of plants and other home decorations. This is also where many in-the-know expats find Christmas decorations come the holiday season; the second floor becomes a winter wonderland of sorts around November.

Laitai Flower Market 莱太花卉交易市场View In Map
Add: 9 Maizidian Xilu, Chaoyang District, Beijing
地址: 北京市朝阳区麦子店西路9号
Tel: 010 6463 6554
Opening hours: 09:00–18:00

Liangmaqiao Flower Market 亮马桥花卉市场 View In Map
Add:  Dongsanhuan Beilu, Chaoyang District, Beijing
地址: c(燕莎商城的南侧)
Tel: 010 6504 2446
Opening hours:  08:30–18:00

2) Dress for the Occasion
If you do have to go out then it’s best to take a clue from the locals. As the air gets thicker, you’ll notice many of them will don cool-looking surgical masks. With masks in a variety of colors and sporting various cartoon characters and pictures, these masks are probably more of a fashion statement than a true guard against the pollution; the masks that make a large difference in pollutant reduction are ones with replaceable filters (not Hello Kitty!). Still, you can block out some of the particles with the masks available at any local market around town.

3) Indoor Shopping at Guomao
If you are in the mood for a material shopping experience just make sure you stay indoors.
The massive China World shopping complex, located at the Guomao subway stop in the CBD, is an excellent place to go. It is connected by tunnels underground and has enough going on to keep you entertained for hours, whether you’re window-shopping, people-watching, or actually buying the newest fashions. There’s a skating rink, all kinds of great restaurants, almost every retail store imaginable, and plenty of little shops and cafes where you can work or play a card game with a friend as you sip some coffee. If there’s any one place you can spend hours at without once going out into the pollution, it’s Guomao.

China World Shopping Center 国贸商城View In Map
Add: 1 Jianguomen Waidajie, Chaoyang District, Beijing
Tel: 010 6505 2288 
Opening Hours: 10:00-21:30pm

4) Eat In
If you’re like most of the expats currently living abroad, you probably have a few ingredients tucked away in your kitchen cupboards that are specifically for a special occasion. Although an extra-smoggy day may not seem like that occasion, it’s a great time to stay inside and make an elaborate meal, one that reminds you of the places you’ve known that were not quite so smoggy. If you’re out of groceries, you may be able to order from Jenny Lou’s or Jenny Wang’s and have it delivered that day, depending on your location. You can also get delivery within 24 hours from CityShop.

Jenny Lou’s (Chaoyang Branch)
Tel: 010 6501 6249
See website for information on other branches in Beijing

Jenny Wang’s (Beijing Euro Village Branch)
Tel: 010 8046 2316
Website: (See website for information on other branches in Beijing)

City Shop (Grand Summit Branch)
Tel: 01085310188

5) Food Delivery
If you don’t feel like making a home-cooked meal, you can still order plenty of food to be delivered to your home. McDonald’s and Papa John’s both have English hotlines for ordering, and many of Beijing’s most popular Western restaurants (Annie’s, Peter’s, etc.) have English-speakers to take your delivery order. The one thing you’ll need to be able to say is your address. If you happen to be living on the west side of the city, fewer non-McDonald’s options will be available, but it never hurts to try a couple.

Tel: 4008-517-517

Papa John’s Pizza
Tel: 4008-88-7272

Annie’s (Chaoyang Park Location)View In Map
Add: South of the West Gate of Chaoyang Park, Chaoyang District, Beijing
地址: 北京市朝阳区朝阳公园西门南侧
Tel: 010-6591 1931
See website for information on other locations in Beijing.

6) Take Your Time
Whatever you decide to do, though, do it slowly; the more active you are outside, the more you’ll breathe in those harmful particles. Give yourself a bit of extra time to get anywhere you need to be. Use the pollution and your own health as an excuse to slow down for a few hours, especially in a city that will keep you going every minute of the day if you let it. 

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Keywords: Beijing smoggy day activities protect yourself from Beijing pollution pollution problems Beijing fun in Beijing pollution


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I wear mask anywhere in Beijing for years, not from now. I am not sure if the masks from medicine shop are very safe, I only use that bleu color medical masks. I think in Beijing is need anywhere have a mask on your face, as here the education from the 7 years from home absent..... anywhere peoples cough without to cover their mouth, you can take a virus instantly or TB ! Be careful anywhere ! Is not a shame to use mask in a so crowd city,. I am foreigner and I am really tired of this city and in the morning is horrible, in the evening same ! Subways are full always, distance are long... is too tired living here ! Anywhere around subway they are cooking in the street, probably this is chiense fast food ??? Is smell horrible and i would never buy the food from street ! I am cooking at home every day , I am a very clean person, I don't know how some peoples here can living yet eating the food from dirty street air , from dirty hands, etc... The sellers also cooking without hands protection, with dirty hands... I don't know Chinese what imunity have... But foreigners should be careful what eat here ! There ar elots of virus more powerful than in Europe for our organisms ! We have no imunity for them ! Same for Americans or any foreigners came here, we have not imunity for all viruses and bacteria from here . I am looking at cmall baby , they play outside in this polution, I am wonder how they grow up ... Will them be healthy ? Probably they develop imunity to this air since born here, but for us is not the same . Wish you all be more careful and good luck !

Oct 15, 2011 02:22 Report Abuse