“It’s ironic that sometimes the very security features designed to keep people out, are the features I use to get in.”
In Beijing security is often just an illusion. The city may have the world’s most CCTV cameras, but is anybody watching them? Huge rusted locks snap open with enough pull, and the bars on the windows are great ladders up onto the roofs of buildings, which is exactly how Burbex got into Beijing’s legendary film sudios.
Fans may recall that in March Burbex posted pictures of Beijing’s historic film studios. You can check those at this link The Back Lot at Beijing Film Academy. Burbex was very pleased to receive a lot of emails about that post asking how to get in, but a little bit sad that mostly people got caught and kicked out by the lazy janitors. Burbex decided to pay another visit to the site, and even better managed to get into the main studios.
Beijing Film Corporation has been running since after the revolution in 1949, and has been renowned for pumping out streams of Communist propaganda movies, as well as the more recent <Kung Fu Kid> (also known as <The Karate Kid> in the USA) starring Jackie Chan and Will Smith’s son, Jaden.
The main gate is huge and green, with the blazing red logo painted on the front. That didn’t put off Burbex as he climbed the window bars to the flatroof avoiding the glances of the gang of stray dogs that live in the area.
Jumping down from the flatroof and into the main courtyard of the studios, you notice that there is one huge studio on the right and a labyrinth of three studios on the left. Below you can see the gates to the huge right-hand studio.
Inside the studio it is black as pitch, but Burbex brought along his new LED flash and lit up the whole space. In each corner, steps zig-zag up to the heavens, and even onto the roof of the studio. That was a bit too high even for Burbex.
Burbex decided to leave that for another day, and went back to the central courtyard to explore the smaller studios, which lay through another massive green gate.
Ad then on the inside, an internal gate with a massive warning not to smoke inside the studios.
Climbing the zigzag stairs in this studio, Burbex was glad that he had brought his mask, as the walls of the studio were lined with crumbling asbestos to fireproof the room. Once in the heavens though, there was a treat to be found.
Rows and rows of walkways hang high above the ground. The wooden boards are rotting and creaking, and the asbestos ceiling is falling in. With hands gripped tightly in the half darkness, Burbex made a run to the other side. Securely on the other side, peering down into the darkness you start to realise the scale of the studio.
These smaller studios are all connected, and the walkways lead from studio two right through to studio five at the end of the building. Between the studios are huge blast doors and rotting pipes.
Coming out of Studio Five, you enter into the the makeup department of the studios, which is definitely the most fun to be had here.
Each room has all kinds of weird objects and equipment left over from the movie business. Especially in the special effects and prosthetic department. There are Plaster of Paris heads everywhere.
Plus there is a very professional makeup department…
Could you really ask for more? Oh yeah! Uncle Fester’s head!
After all that excitement in that steaming hot studio, it was time for Burbex to leave the way he came into through the lucky green doors. He of course left it unbolted so that next time he doesn’t have to climb onto the roof again.
By the way, if you liked this, then be sure to check out the previous post about The Back Lot at Beijing Film Academy which is just next door, and also check out the whole set here on Flickr. Of course, if you want to come along to any other kitschy leisure sites like Floating Dragon Amusement Park or The Great Mall of China, be sure to send Burbex an email at email@example.com.
When it comes to urbexing in Beijing, or indeed anywhere in the world, there are certain features that urbexers search for. Some people go for the tunnels, some people go for the high places, others like a place with a good story. When you can find a site which combines all of these features and more, that’s when you know you have found a classic site.
Longyun International Park has all of these features and more. Burbex stumbled across this site by chance. Passing in a taxi from the airport, the top of a dome poked its way into the smoggy sky begging to be explored.
Scouting the outside perimeter there are Communist slogans encouraging citizens to be “civilised” and make Beijing a “centre of development”. Burbex took a knife to one of the slogans and cut his way through to the other side.
Plunging into the darkness beyond, underground canals snake their way hundreds of metres forward. Faint glints of light barely seen in the pitch black.
The frozen canals meander from left to right, and along the way there are plenty of unusual water features to be taken in. Small flags warn of the water’s edge like flashes of colour at the village fete.
Getting lost is inevitable in this underground labyrinth. Tunnels weave off in all directions, and circle around and around in circles. Only the lucky will find the Tiffany roofed exits.
These are the most heavily guarded areas though, and the security guards shout down curses at intruders but do not dare penetrate the labyrinth.
The inner dome is a smaller version of the first, and does not have the balconies or the grandeur of its big brother. It feels no less dangerous though.
The mouth of the canal leads out into a half-completed Suzhou style water garden. Missing the colour of flowers and trees, it is just a cement garden. From here though, the villas and the upper areas can be accessed.
Entering through the glassless windows, the villas are easily accessed. Running up the stairs and through unlocked doors, the rooftop dome yawns at the sky.
The beginning of this post mentioned a good story behind this location. According to local taxi drivers, it was shut down because of the death of several workers on the site. Due to this the Fengshui is now considered too bad to continue. This is a curse for construction companies who cannot battle against the entrenched superstition in China.
This is very similar to Chaoyang 81, which has remained empty for decades simply because of its ghostly reputation. Probably this site will be left to rot until it becomes too dangerous or too much of an eyesore for the local government to stand.
In retrospect this is the only site that has ever given Burbex nightmares, so maybe its ghostly reputation is true. Whatever the case, with or without ghosts, this is a first class site for urban exploration and earns a solid A-.
Don’t forget that no matter what your taste, from industrial sites like Jiaohua Chemical Works, to tall places like Guosen Towers, or ghostly locations like The Nationalist Hotel, or Chaoyang 81, Burbex is only an email away ready to help you on your way.
Sometimes you get the feeling that the only urbex sites in Beijing are huge industrial sites like Jiaohua and Capital Steel, or projects that have been abandoned halfway and left to rot like Guoson Mall and Sunshine Park. Sometimes what the Beijing urbexer needs is a little bit of nostalgia to add to the diet of rebar and concrete. That’s where Beijing Film Academy steps in.
In Beijing one of the characters that the urbexer is always looking for is 拆 which means to cut down or demolish. This character is often painted on buildings slated for demolition. The buildings may remain for years without anything happening. You can see the character painted on both sides of the back lot gate in the picture below.
Once over the wall and safely in the lot, there is the feeling of a one-horse cowboy movie, you’re always expecting a Chinese John Wayne to stride through the Chinese-style gate and challenge some dupe to a shootout at midday.
The only heroes here are the dogs who will follow you everywhere around the site. They are a strange breed of mutt specially designed to make as much noise as possible, while at the same time attracting nobody’s attention.
Hidden in the back lots are props of warriors and buddhas left over from older productions. There is a strong sense of China’s histories overlapping and blending on the lots which is probably not that far from reality.
Some areas of the lot are burned down or have fallen into serious disrepair. Alleyways lead from more modern hutong scenes into ancient China.
China’s own Last Chance Saloon contains tonnes of props and relics from the height of the movie age.
Climbing up to the roof of the studio, you can get a great overview of the entire site. Be very careful though, the concrete balcony is crumbling and it is three floors down.
You don’t really realise the scale of the site until you get up on top. The main studio is all locked up. That calls for another midnight trip.
The site combines Western and Eastern styles, probably as was seen in Shanghai in the nineteenth and twentieth century.
Huge lot doors are overgrown with tumbleweeds and thick Beijing dust chokes the air.
In a hidden garden Laughing Buddha overlooks an army of plaster soldiers and demi-gods.
There are myriad doors and gates to get lost in, and the whole place has a strong sense of the film Labyrinth with its grey bricks and twisting turns.
With all this in mind, Beijing Film Academy is a perfect slice of nostalgia from a mixture of Chinese eras that never existed. It confuses the senses, and as the sun sets you are left feeling even more confused.
For these reason Burbex awards Beijing Film Academy with a B+ grade. If you would like to come along and see the site for yourself, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A bit further afield for this Burbex, Dalian is a coastal city in the North East of China. Hidden at the end of the one of the most popular beaches in the city, is this hidden gem, the ultimate in Urbex chic, that’s right, it’s an abandoned waterpark. Not only that, but it has a huge faux-mansion beside it.
There’s more than one way to kill a cat, an electric cable through the gut is pretty novel though.
To escape, you must pass a festering sewage outlet. It smells much worse than it looks.
Don’t forget that if you ever want to come to Beijing and see one of these great locations, just drop me a line on email@example.com, or leave a comment in the box below. Don’t forget to bring your goggles and swimsuit!
How many times have I been to Capital Steel, and how many times have I found new areas to explore. This latest trip was a bonanza of new finds.
Along with entering the lofts where coal was moved along on mile-long conveyor belts, co-explorer Vom and I went further into the plant than ever, coming clear out of the other side where the cooling towers are located.
Along the way we found the laboratory where we found everything pretty much as the scientists had left it on the last day. So many bottles, flasks and crazy machines.
Unfortunately, Vom got a touch of heat stroke, and threw up (hence the nickname), but are adventures have seen the whole plant covered now.
In the cool and shady labs, mosquitoes buzzed in circles while we investigates rooms ransacked by looters.
Plus there was enough lab equipment and machines left over to make even Walter White happy.
Most of the chemicals have either dried up or grown out of their bottles and onto the work surfaces.
The other part of the factory that was new to us, was the conveyor lofts which stretch across the complex.
These are covered in a thick layer of coal dust. In the operator’s room there still remains an old bag of sugar and a plastic spoon.
Oil sticks to all the surfaces, and then catkins stick to the oil, so everything has a tarred and feathered look.
But from atop the machines there is some beautiful symmetry to be found.
Capital Steel Laboratory – we salute you – Burbex is giving you a solid Grade A, but with the heatstroke comes an important reminder to take candy and water with you when you go urbexing.
Of course, if any time you want to come urbexing with me, just leave a message on firstname.lastname@example.org and we can arrange a time, make sure you bring a sick bag though.
Be sure to check out the other great Capital Steel pages:-
Nestled near the entrance to the Hutongs (alleyways) near Qianmen Gate, the entrance to the famous Tiananmen Square, lies this haunted hotel.
Upon asking locals about the hotel, they said that it used to be the residence of a Nationalist leader before the revolution in the nineteen-forties, but after the revolution it was abandoned and then later turned into a cheap hotel.
Outside, the hutongs are bathed in yellow light from the street lamps. Inside you are shrouded with cloak of thick velvet darkness.
Unlike much of the surrounding area which has been demolished and gentrified to give Beijing’s history a more polished look, this building exerts power and more than a little menace over its small corner.
The architecture of the building crosses western and Chinese styles which was very typical of the period. On the outside it looks like a western orphanage, but on the inside it is one hundred percent Chinese.
Going in you can hear every door in the whole place creaking in the wind. Entering into the hotel rooms you get a strong sense that these rooms have seen a lot of visitors and that some of them might never have left.
It has three floors, and there is possibly a cellar which might connect to the underground city, but this is still yet to be found.
Stairs snake up to bricked off and boarded up rooms, through which only the spirits of long-deceased residents can pass.
This is an easy place to get into, but beware the balconies as they are very rickety and could collapse at any time adding you to the list of guests who never check out.
Gusts of wind brush past your face and tickle the base of your spine. Look round fast enough and you might catch someone watching you.
Be sure to bring a flashlight and an extra pair of batteries. The residents don’t need much excuse to jump on you once the lights are out.
The full moon was half-visible through the murky light of the glass skylight.
Of course, if you are ever in Beijing and you want to check out this great urbex location, or any of the other great haunted locations in Beijing like Beijing Steel Works, where thousands of people lived and died over the years, or a spooky Abandoned Theme Park, just get in touch on email@example.com, bring a flashlight, and we’ll go ghost-hunting together.
Just a stone’s throw from The World Trade Towers and right next to An Hua Qiao Subway Station is the derelict site of Beijing Space and Science Museum.
Along with the Planetarium and the The Natural History Museum nearby in the compound, all of these buildings are due for demolition soon.
The Space Museum has recently been abandoned by the security guards which makes entering much easier than before.
The museum is spread over nine floors, and the sixth floor opens out onto this awesome roof area affording some great views of the local area.
Unfortunately most of the building has been gutted, but there are a few exhibits remaining in a few hidden corners.
It is also very easy to get lost in the maze-like basement, but there are some great rooms to be found.
There are lots of bottles and specimens on display and in storage within the building.
One of the best features of the museum is the display about how ancient mines were dug.
Manikins of the miners are still down there in the dark gathered around their little fires.
The museum also has a great number of open spaces which are ideal for light-painting.
The central roof is made of glass panels which from the atrium below looks magnificent.
Like a lot of buildings in Beijing, it was built in the run-up to the Olympics and then just abandoned after the finish of the games. This is a relatively easy place to get into, and there is a lot to see, which is why this earns itself a hearty B-.
Beijing Amusement Park based around the Floating Dragon Lake used to be the premier theme park in Beijing attracting 2.4 million visitors a year.
It was famous for its roller coasters, 4D cinema, and the biggest Ferris Wheel in the capital.
Now all that remains is the Ferris Wheel which dominates the landscape, and the ruined remains of the aquarium which has lots of graffiti.
The site is sealed off from the public, but a quick hop, leap and jump make it pretty easy to enter.
The site is connected by a series of bridges between each of the islands, and while most of them are padlocked, you can just jump into the dried out lake bed and run to the islands.
The aquarium and the horror house are easy to get into, but not much remains, but the Ferris Wheel is safely contained behind a metal fence. It slowly turns creaking in the wind.
The central island is assessable by a Disneyesque bridge with turrets and a huge gate.
Once you are past the gate, you have free rein over the park, the security guards are far too lazy to chase you this far.
Beyond the bridge is the aquarium and the horror house. Pedlo boats line the empty basin of the lake also the lakeside.
This is a perfect Scooby-Doo location as you poke around the horror house and listen to the creaking of the Ferris Wheel. The site is a little bare now, which is why Burbex is giving Floating Dragon Amusement Park a B+ grade.
By the way, if you liked this post, be sure to check out these other great leisure sites like Olympic Homko Ghost Town and Dalian Waterpark, plus feel free to contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to come along. Don’t forget to bring those Scooby Snax though.
On the smoggy outskirts of Beijing, far beyond where the subway line finally ends, and the dust dunes roll over the border into Hebei Province, right there on the border, that is where you will find the Great Mall of China.
Construction started five/six years ago when the small border town Yanjiao was slated to become the next border boom town. This led to a run on house building and general craziness in the area.
Years later, these dreams never came true, and the town, like the Great Mall of China, is deserted.
Getting into the mall is quite simple: find the tunnel under the nearby hospital…
go through it in the dark…
emerge and find the pipe under the bullet train railway…
go through the tunnel…
walk down the causeway and you are in.
While there is security, and by the sound of it heavy work going on, the place is virtually empty, and the two guys on the roof didn’t even pay any attention to me.
There is a vast underground complex of tunnels full of dust and supplies, but no workers to be seen.
Welding lights can be seen in the very distance at the end of the tunnels, and there is the occasional crash of metal on metal, but still no sign of people.
There are various tunnels that weave under the complex, and probably under the hospital too.
The blind bear stands on the road marking the way out. Be careful, there is a man who sells guard dogs nearby.