Beijing

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Beijing is the capital of the most populous country in the world, China, and its second largest city after Shanghai. It was the seat of the Ming and Qing dynasty emperors until the formation of a republic in 1911. Beijing is the political, educational and cultural center of the country and as such it is rich in historical sites and important government and cultural institutions. The city is well known for its flatness and regular construction. There are only three hills to be found within the city limits (in Jingshan Park to the north of the famous Forbidden City). Like the configuration of the Forbidden City, Beijing has concentric "ring roads", which are actually rectangular, that go around the metropolis. Beijing was host to the 2008 Summer Olympic Games. Beijing is a dynamic, changing city. There is a mix of old and new all around (especially within the 3rd and 2nd Ring Roads). Here you can see the most modern, envelope-pushing technologies and social innovations butting heads with the most ancient cultural norms and social settings. The people here can seem a bit cold, but once you break the ice you will find that they are very friendly and engaging. Be prepared for customs and societal norms that are different from yours; see the China article for discussion. However most Beijingers are sophisticated urbanites, so things may seem less odd here than in rural areas or cities in the interior of China. (less...) (more...)

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Points of Interest in Beijing

See the Districts articles for individual listings.

Landmarks

The centre of the city and most important landmark is Tiananmen Square in Dongcheng District. This is the world's largest public square and a must see for all visitors from abroad and from elsewhere in China. The square is surrounded by grand buildings including the Great Hall of the People, the Museum of Chinese History, the Museum of the Chinese Revolution, the Qianmen Gate and the Forbidden City. It is also home to the Chairman Mao Memorial Hall and the Monument to the People's Martyrs and was also the site of the infamous massacre of student activists by the Peoples Liberation Army in 1989.

The National Stadium or Bird's Nest in Chaoyang District is a new major landmark and the symbol of the 2008 Olympic Games. Two contemporary buildings in Chaoyang District are remarkable landmarks: the CCTV Building (sometimes called The Underpants or Bird Legs by locals) and the World Trade Center Tower III. Both are outstanding examples of contemporary architecture.

There are also a number of remarkable remains from the medieval city including the Ming Dynasty City Wall Site Park (the only remains of the city wall) in Chongwen District, the Drum and Bell Towers in Dongcheng District, and Qianmen in Chongwen District.

Palaces, temples and parks

The city's many green oases are a wonderful break from walking along the never ending boulevards and narrow hutongs. Locals similarly flock to Beijing's palaces, temples and parks whenever they have time. The green areas are not only used for relaxing but also for sports, dancing, singing and general recreation.

The most important palace, bar none, is the Forbidden city (故宫博物院) in Dongcheng District. The Forbidden City was home to the Imperial Court during the Ming and Qing Dynasties. Unlike many other historical sights, the Forbidden City was relatively untouched during the cultural revolution due to the timely intervention of then-premier Zhou Enlai, who sent a battalion of his troops to guard the palace from the over-zealous Red Guards. The Temple of Heaven (天坛) in Chongwen District is the symbol of Beijing and is surrounded by a lively park typically packed with hordes of local people drinking tea, practicing calligraphy or tai-chi or just watching the world go by. The Yonghegong (Lama Temple) (雍和宫) in Dongcheng District is one of the most important and beautiful temples in the country.

Other parks are scattered around Beijing. Some of the best are Zhongshan Park (中山公园) in Xicheng District, Beihai Park (北海公园) in Xicheng District, Chaoyang Park (朝阳公园) in Chaoyang District and Ritan Park (日坛公园) in Chaoyang District. The Beijing Zoo (北京动物园) in Xicheng District is famous for its traditional landscaping and giant pandas, however like many zoos, the conditions for the animals have been questioned.

Haidian District is home to the Summer palace (颐和园), the ruins of the Old Summer Palace (圆明园), Fragrant Hills (香山), and the Beijing Botanical Garden (北京植物园). All are quite close together and worth a visit.

  • Nanluoguxiang(南锣鼓巷) Nanluoguxiang a total length of 786 meters and 8 meters wide. The Lane is a north-south channel during Yuan Dynasty, as the Beijing Hutong protected areas. That "the capital city of Square Lane alley set of five," said Luo Guo Lane.
  • JuYong Guan. Juyongguan Pass, also known as Juyongguan in Chinese, is located 20 kilometers (12 miles) north of Changping County, about 60 kilometers (37 miles) from Beijing. It is a renowned pass of the Great Wall of China. Enlisted in the World Heritage Directory in 1987, it is a national cultural protection unit.
  • Olympic Water Park (奥林匹克水上公园). Covering a planned area of 162.59 hectare and a floor area of 32,000 square meters, Shunyi Olympic Rowing-Canoeing Park is designated as the venue for rowing, canoeing and marathon swimming competitions of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, and also rowing events during the Beijing Paralympics.

Museums and galleries

The museums in Beijing are generally not yet up to the standard seen in cities such as Paris, Rome and New York. However the city contains one of the largest and most well known museums in Asia, the Palace Museum also known as the Forbidden City. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. China's government is determined to change the backward perception of its museums and has invested heavily in their development. It has also made most of them (not the Forbidden City) free to visit. However, for some museums tickets must be reserved three days in advance.

One of the most well-known museums in Beijing is the National Museum (国家博物馆) in Dongcheng District, which was recently renovated in 2011. The Military Museum (军事博物馆) in Haidian District has long been a favorite with domestic and foreign tourists. The Capital Museum (首都博物馆) in Xicheng District is a new high profile museum with historical and art exhibitions. The China Aviation Museum (中国民航博物馆) located in the Beijing/Northern Suburbs is surprisingly good and hosts 200+ rare and unique Chinese (mostly Russian) aircraft. Finally, a number of restored former residences of famous Beijingers, especially in Xicheng District, give a good insight into daily life in former times.

The contemporary art scene in Beijing is booming and a large number of artists exhibit and sell their art in galleries around the city. The galleries are concentrated in a number of art districts, including the oldest and easiest accessible, but also increasingly commercial and mainstream, Dashanzi Art District in Chaoyang District. (Bus Line 401 - departing from Dongzhimen or San Yuan Qiao)Other newer and perhaps more cutting edge art districts include Caochangdi in Chaoyang District and Songzhuan Artist's Village in Tongzhou District.

Itineraries

  • Three Days in Beijing — A fast-paced introduction to the history, culture, food and night-life of Beijing, designed for a first-time holiday.

Hall of Supreme Harmony

Forbidden City

Gate of Heavenly Peace

Tiananmen Square

Chairman Mao Memorial Hall

National Museum of China

Front Gate (Qianmen Gate)

National Aquatics Center

Jingshan Park

National Indoor Stadium

Dazhalan

Beihai Park

Beijing Working People\'s Cultural Palace

National Grand Theatre

National Centre for the Performing Arts

China Museum of History

China World Trade Center

National Stadium (Birds Nest)

Beijing Planning Exhibition Hall

Summer Palace

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About Beijing

History

Beijing literally means Northern Capital, a role it has played many times in China's long history. Beijing's history dates back several thousand years but it first became notable in Chinese history after it was made the capital of the State of Yan under the name Yanjing. Yan was one of the major kingdoms of the Warring States Period, some 2,000 years ago. After the fall of Yan, during the later Han and Tang dynasties, the Beijing-area was a major prefecture of northern China.

In 938, Beijing was conquered by the Khitans and declared the capital of the Liao Dynasty. The Mongols seized the city in 1215. From 1264 Beijing served as the capital of a united China under Kublai Khan. His victorious Mongol forces renamed the city, Great Capital (大都). From there, Kublai and his descendants ruled their empire from a northern location closer to the Mongol homelands. During this period, the walled city was enlarged and many palaces and temples were built.

After the fall of the Mongol-founded Yuan dynasty in 1368, the capital was initially moved to Nanjing. However, in 1403 the 3rd Ming emperor, Zhu Di, also known as Emperor Yongle, moved it back to Beijing and gave the city its present name. The Ming period was Beijing's golden era. The Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven and many other Beijing landmarks were built in this period. The capital developed into a huge city becoming the religious and cultural center of Asia.

In 1644, the Manchus overthrew the declining Ming dynasty and established China's last imperial line - the Qing. Despite the changing political climate, Beijing remained the capital. The Manchu imperial family moved into the Forbidden City and remained there until 1911. The Qing built both the Summer Palace and Old Summer Palace. These served as summer retreats for the emperors and their entourages. During the 19th century, Western countries established foreign legations in the Qianmen area south of the Forbidden City. These came under siege during the Boxer Rebellion in 1900.

The Qing dynasty fell in 1911. In the chaotic first years of Republican China, Beijing was beset by fighting warlords. Following the Northern Expedition, the Kuomintang moved the capital to Nanjing in 1928, and renamed Beijing as Beiping ("Northern Peace") to emphasize that it was no longer a capital. Beijing remained a center for education and culture throughout the Republican Era. When the Kuomintang was defeated by the Communists in 1949, the new government proclaimed a People's Republic with its capital at Beijing.

Recommended reading includes Peking - A Historical and Intimate Description of Its Chief Places of Interest, by Juliet Bredon (written in the 1930s (ISBN 0968045987 and Twilight in the Forbidden City by Reginald Fleming Johnston (ISBN 0968045952)

Climate

Beijing has a monsoon-influenced continental climate with hot, humid summers and cold, dry winters. The best time to visit is in September and October, during the "Golden Autumn" (金秋). Spring is the season for dust storms and is otherwise warm and dry. Summer can be oppressively hot and the tourist crowds tend to be the largest as well; prevailing winds from the south trap pollutants (mountains lie to the north and west), making summer the worst season for air quality. Winter is cold and dry, with infrequent, but beautiful, snow. Temperatures can easily fall below −10°C in winter and or just as readily rise above 35°C in summer as well.

Activities

See the Districts articles for individual listings.

Walks and rides

  • The Great Wall of China (长城 chángchéng) about a 1 hour train trip or 1.5 hour bus ride from the city (be aware of bus scams). See Great Wall for general information on the Great Wall and see the suburb article for individual listings. The Badaling section is the most famous, but also over-restored and crowded. Jinshanling, Huanghuacheng and Simatai are more distant but offer a better view of the wall away from the crowds. (As of March 2011, Simatai is closed for restoration. It is expected to re-open in the 2012-2014 timeframe) Mutianyu has been restored, but is far less crowded than Badaling. Crowds are a definite issue with the Great Wall: at popular sections at popular times, it becomes not the Great Wall of China, but rather the Great Wall of Tourists. It is possible to rent a taxi for ¥400-800 for the round trip including waiting time. You may want to bring a jacket against the wind or cold in the chillier season - in the summer you will need lots of water, and it will be cheaper if you bring your own.
  • Hutongs (胡同 Hútòng). Beijing's ancient alleyways, where you can find traditional Beijing architecture. They date back to when Beijing was the capital of the Yuan dynasty (1266-1368). Most buildings in hutongs are made in the traditional courtyard (四合院 sìhéyuàn) style. Many of these courtyard homes were originally occupied by aristocrats, though after the Communist takeover in 1949 the aristocrats were pushed out and replaced with poor families. Hutongs can still be found throughout the area within the 2nd Ring Road, though many are being demolished to make way for new buildings and wider roads. Most popular among tourists are the hutongs near Qianmen and Houhai. The hutongs may at first feel intimidating to travellers used to the new wide streets of Beijing, but the locals are very friendly and will often try to help you if you look lost.
  • Rent a bicycle. Traverse some of the remaining hutongs. There is no better way to see Beijing firsthand than on a bicycle but just be very aware of cars (Chinese driving styles may differ from those you are used to). See above for bike rental information.

Theaters and concert halls

National Centre for the Performing Arts in Xicheng District was finalised in 2007 and finally gave Beijing a modern theatre complex covering opera, music and theatre. This is worth a visit even if you do not go to a performance.

The Beijing Opera is considered the most famous of all the traditional opera performed around China. This kind of opera is nothing like western opera with costumes, singing style, music and spectator reactions being distinctly Chinese. The plot is usually quite simple, so you might be able to understand some of what happens even if you do not understand the language. Some of the best places to watch Beijing Opera are found in Xuanwu District including Huguang Huguang Theatre and Lao She Teahouse. There are also a number in Dongcheng District including Chang'an Grand Theatre.

Acrobatics shows are also worth a visit if you want to see some traditional Chinese entertainment. Some of the best shows are found in Tianqiao Acrobatics Theatre in Xuanwu District and in Chaoyang Theatre in Chaoyang District.

Drama plays have had a slow start in Beijing and are still not as widespread as you might expect for a city like Beijing, and you will most likely not be able to find many Western plays. However, some good places for contemporary Chinese plays do exist including Capital Theatre in Dongcheng District and Century Theater in Chaoyang District.

Classical music has got a much stronger foothold in Beijing than drama plays. Some of the best places to go are the National Centre for the Performing Arts and the Century Theater both mentioned above as well as Beijing Concert Hall in Xicheng District.

  • LIYUAN Theatre.
  • Opera/Kung Fu Show at LAOSHE tea house (near tien an men square).

Other

  • Foot massage. Have a highly enjoyable and relaxing foot massage and/or pedicure etc (for a fraction of the price in the West) from any of the respectable and professional offerings in central Beijing (in the vicinity of the Beijing Hotel for example).
  • Debate!, Runqiyuan Tea House, 65 Andingmen Dong Dajie. 润琦缘茶馆 安定门东大街65号. W 20:00-22:00. If you think yourself a very argumentative person, are looking for intellectual exercise or just want to meet people you should attend at least one of the meetings of "The Beijing Debate Society" (BDS). BDS is a not-for-profit, non-religious, non-political organisation that seeks to improve argument-building skills. BDS is governed by the British Parliamentarian Debates rules. The debating language is English. free.

Food

See the Districts articles for individual listings.

The best way to eat well and cheaply in Beijing is to enter one of the ubiquitous restaurants where the locals are eating and pick a few different dishes from the menu. Truth be told, anyone familiar with Western currency and prices will find Beijing a very inexpensive city for food, especially considering that tipping is not practiced in China.

Some of the cheapest and most delicious meals can be had on the streets. Savory pancakes (煎饼果子 Jiānbĭng guŏzi) are one of the most popular street snacks, eaten from morning till night with most carts operating during the morning commute and then opening again at night for the after-club crowds and night-owls. This delicious pancake is cooked with an egg on a griddle, a fried dough crisp is added, and the whole thing is drizzled in scallions and a savory sauce. Hot sauce is optional. Diehard fans often go on a quest for the best cart in the city. This treat should only cost ¥2.50, with an extra egg ¥3.

Lamb kebabs (羊肉串儿 yángròu chuànr) and other kebabs are grilled on makeshift stands all around Beijing, from the late afternoon to late at night. Wangfujing has a "snack street" selling such mundane fare like lamb, chicken, and beef as well as multiple styles of noodle dishes, such as Sichuan style rice noodles, but the brave can also sample silkworm, scorpion, and various organs all skewered on a stick and grilled to order.

A winter speciality, candied haw berries (冰糖葫芦 bīngtáng húlu) are dipped in molten sugar which is left to harden in the cold and sold on a stick. You can also find variations with oranges, grapes, strawberries, and bananas, or dipped in crumbled peanuts as well as sugar. This sweet snack can also sometimes be found in the spring and the summer, but the haw berries are often from last season's crop.

The most famous street for food in Beijing is probably Guijie (簋街/鬼街 Guǐjiē), see Dongcheng District for further detail.

Street food in Beijing: Gui Street (簋街) is located within Dongzhimen, East of the street from Second Ring Road of the Western part of the Dongzhimen overpass and West of the street from East Main Street eastern end crossing.

Gui Street now showcases many excellent cuisines, the centre of a food paradise. Stretching over one kilometre, 90% of the commercial shops in the street house more than 150 eateries. You can definitely find most of the larger restaurants in the capital here.

Peking Duck is a famous Beijing speciality served at many restaurants, but there are quite a few restaurants dedicated to the art of roasting the perfect duck. Expect to pay around ¥40 per whole duck at budget-range establishments, and ¥160-200 at high-end restaurants. Peking duck (北京烤鸭 Bĕijīng kăoyā) is served with thin pancakes, plum sauce (甜面酱 tiánmiàn jiàng),and slivers of scallions and cucumbers. You dip the duck in the sauce and roll it up in the pancake with a few slivers of scallions and/or cucumbers. The end result is a mouthwatering combination of the cool crunchiness of the cucumber, the sharpness of the scallions, and the rich flavours of the duck.

  • Guolin Home-style Restaurant (郭林家常菜 Guōlín Jiācháng Cài). This well-kept secret among Chinese people has some of the tastiest and most inexpensive ducks in all of Beijing. Half a duck is just ¥58. And all its other delicious, innovative dishes keep customers coming back: be prepared for a bustling, noisy atmosphere, though the interior is often quite nice. Locations all over Beijing—look for a sign with two little pigs—including at Fangzhuang, Zhongguancun, Wudaokou, Xuanwu, and more. You can find one on Xisi Beijie between subways Ping'anli and Xinjieku, south of a Macdonald. See also Dadong restaurant in Beijing/Dongcheng or Quanjude in Beijing/Chongwen

Beijing is also known for its mutton hotpot (涮羊肉 shuàn yáng ròu), which originally came from the Manchu people and emphasizes mutton over other meats. Like variations of hotpot (general name 火锅 huŏ guō) from elsewhere in China and Japan, hotpot is a cook-it-yourself affair in a steaming pot in the center of the table. Unlike Sichuan hotpot, mutton hotpot features a savory, non-spicy broth. If that's not exciting enough for you, you can also request a spicy broth (be aware that this is flaming red, filled with peppers, and not for the weak!). To play it safe and satisfy everyone, you can request a yuan-yang (鸳鸯 yuānyáng) pot divided down the middle, with spicy broth on one side and regular broth on the other. Raw ingredients are purchased by the plate, including other types of meat and seafood, vegetables, mushrooms, noodles, and tofu, so it's also perfectly possible to have vegetarian hotpot. A dipping sauce, usually sesame, is served as well; you can add chilis, garlic, cilantro, etc., to customize your own sauce. While "raw" sounds dangerous, boiling the meat yourself is the best way to ensure that more risky meats like pork are fully cooked and free of germs. In the city center, hotpot can run as much as ¥40-50 per person, but on the outskirts it can be found for as little as ¥10-25. Low-budget types may reuse the spices or cooking broth from previous guests, although it has been boiling for several hours.

Beijing provides an ideal opportunity to sample food from all over the country. Some of Beijing's best restaurants serve food from Sichuan, Hunan, Guangzhou, Tibet, Yunnan, Xinjiang, and more.

For vegetarians, Beijing's first pure vegetarian buffet restaurant is located a Confucius Temple, see Dongcheng District for further detail.

Origus has numerous locations throughout Beijing, and offers an all-you-can-eat pizza/pasta buffet for ¥39, including soft drinks and dessert bar. If you're in the mood for Texan fare, head for the Tim's Texas BBQ near the Jianguomen subway station. They'll happily provide you with your favourite American food and drink. Tony Roma's has a location in Wangfujing (in the Oriental Plaza). Korean restaurants are also very common in Beijing. A frequent meal is the grill-it-yourself barbeque, including beef, chicken, and seafood items as well as some vegetables including greens and potatoes.

All luxury hotels have at least one restaurant, which can be of any cuisine they believe their guests will enjoy. You will find French, Italian, American, and Chinese restaurants in most hotels. Restaurants that serve abalone and shark fins are considered the most expensive restaurants in the city. Expect to pay upwards of ¥800 for a "cheap" meal at one of these restaurants, much more if splurging.

Drinks

Tea, tea, and more tea! Some shops are in malls and others are stand-alone establishments. Whatever their location, always ask the price before ordering or else brace yourself for the most expensive egg-sized cup of tea in the world. You can experience different styles of tea ceremonies and tea tastings at tea houses especially in the Qianmen area south of Tiananmen Square. These can range widely in quality and price. Some tea houses are really tourist traps whose main goal is to milk you of your money (See warning box). You can get a free tea demonstration at most Tenrenfu tea houses which are located throughout the city and at some malls. A private room or a quiet back table in a tea house with mid-range tea for two should cost ¥100-200. After an afternoon in such shops the remaining tea is yours to take home. Once tea is ordered, the table is yours for as long as you like.

As a tea-loving country and grower of much of the world's tea, coffee is not as easy to find but a taste for it—along with more expats dotted throughout Beijing—has seen more emerging middle class and students drinking it. For example, the city alone has 50 Starbucks locations. Most are situated around shopping malls and in commercial districts of the city. Other international chains such as Costa Coffee, Pacific Coffee and so on also have locations around Beijing. Coffee of varying qualities is also available in the ubiquitous Taiwanese style coffee shops such as Shangdao Coffee. These are usually located on the second floor of buildings and oftentimes offer Blue Mountain Styled Coffee, making places like restaurants seem a real bargain. Most coffee shops will offer wireless. Baristas in non-chain coffee shops may not be educated on how to make generally accepted espresso drinks, like lattes and cappuccinos. Espressos of Kaffa Cafe, a local coffee enterprise and coffee technical developing organization, usually taste better and are more consistent.

Chinese beer can be quite good. The most preferred beer in China is Tsingtao (青岛 Qīngdǎo) which can cost ¥10-20 in a restaurant, or ¥2-4, depending on size, from a street vendor, but in Beijing, the city's homebrew is Yanjing beer (燕京 Yànjīng), and has a dominating presence in the city (Yanjing being the city's name from its time 2,000 years ago as capital of the state of Yan). Beer mostly comes in large bottles and has 3.1%-3.6 alcohol content. Both Yanjing and Qingdao come in standard (普通 pǔtōng) and pure (纯生 chúnshēng) varieties; the difference mainly seems to be price. Beijing Beer (北京啤酒 Běijīng Píjiǔ)is the probably the third most popular brand. Craft beers are also making an appearance in Beijing, with specialty beers found in various German-themed restaurants throughout the city, as well as Beijing's first dedicated microbrewery, Great Leap Brewing (大跃), located in East Beijing's charming hutongs.

Great Wall is the most popular local brand of grape wine. Wine made in China does not have a great reputation, though this is changing. Giving wine as a gift is not a common custom in most places in China and most people will not be accustomed to wine etiquette or appreciation (white wine is often mixed with Sprite). Imported red wines are usually of a better quality and can be found in big supermarkets, import good stores, and some restaurants.

The most common hard liquor is baijiu (白酒 báijiǔ), made from distilled grain (usually sorghum) spirits. It comes in a variety of brands and generally for very cheap prices (¥8 for a small bottle) and should be avoided if you want to have a clear mind for your travels on the next day. The most famous local brand is called Erguotou (二锅头 Èrguōtóu), which has 54% alcohol content. It should be noted that the local Erguotou is sold in gallon containers, often on the same shelf as water and with a similar price-range and indistinguishable colour. Care must be made not to confuse the two. Maotai (茅台 Máotái), the national liquor, is one of the more expensive brands, and it used to cost about as much as an imported bottle of whiskey—but now it costs a lot more, from ¥1000-2000. Wuliangye (五粮液) is another high-end brands, costs around ¥1000. Due to its mild taste, Wuliangye might be a better option for first time baijiu drinker. A large selection of imported liquor can be found at most bars and big supermarkets. One should better buy expensive liquor (both domestic and imported) from big supermarkets in order to avoid fake ones.

Places to drink

See the Districts articles for individual listings.

Most of Beijing's bars are located in one of the bar clusters around the city. A few years back, the only one was Sanlitun, but almost every year the last few years have seen a new area emerge. The most important areas are:

  • Houhai in Xicheng District located around the lake, Houhai
  • Nanluogu Xiang in Dongcheng District located in the middle of the hutongs
  • Sanlitun in Chaoyang District was once the centre of nightlife in Beijing and still popular with expats but increasingly uninteresting for travellers and locals.
  • Workers Stadium in Chaoyang District has taken over part of the action in nearby Sanlitun.
  • West Gate of Chaoyang Park in Chaoyang District is one of the newest bar areas in Beijing
  • Ladies' Street in Chaoyang District. By day it has some fashion shops, as its name suggests, but it is also home to some interesting new bars, restaurants and clubs.
  • Yuan Dynasty Wall Bar Street in Chaoyang District is a new ready-made bar area located nicely along a small river and a park but with quite uninteresting bars.
  • Wudaokou in Haidian District, where most of the foreign and local university students hang out. There are a number of bars and restaurants which serve a great variety of wine, beer and liquor for cheap. This area is also well known for its huge Korean population and a good place to find Korean food.
  • Dashanzi in Chaoyang District, Beijing's trendy art zone, this old warehouse and factory district has been taken over by art galleries, art shops and bars. Well worth the t

Shopping

See the Districts articles for individual listings.

Throughout nearly all markets in Beijing, haggling is essential. Especially when browsing through large, "touristy" shopping areas for common items, do not put it beneath your dignity to start bargaining at 15% of the vendor's initial asking price. In fact, in the most "touristy" markets final prices can often be as low as 15%-20% of the initial asking price, and "removing a zero" isn't a bad entry point in the bargaining process. After spending some time haggling, never hesitate to threaten walking away, as this is often the quickest way to see a vendor lower his or her prices to a reasonable level. Buying in bulk or in groups may also lower the price. How high or low the vendor sets the asking price depends on the customer, the vendor, the product's popularity, and even the time of day. Vendors also tend to target visible minorities more, such as Caucasians or people of African descent.

The are a number of interesting markets around Beijing where you can find all kind of cheap (and often fake) stuff. Some of the most popular places are Xizhimen in Xicheng District, Silk Street or Panjiayuan in Chaoyang District and Hong Qiao Market in Chongwen District.

As an alternative to the markets you can go to some of the shopping areas lined with shops. This includes Nanluoguoxiang in Dongcheng District and Qianmen Dajie Pedestrian Street, Dashilan and Liulichang in Xuanwu District.

If you are looking for traditional Chinese food shops try Yinhehua Vegetarian in Dongcheng District, Daoxiangcun, Liubiju or The Tea Street in Xuanwu District and Chongwenmen Food Market in Chongwen District.

Visiting hotel shops and department stores is not the most characterful shopping in China, but worth a look. While generally significantly more expensive, they are less likely to sell truly low quality goods. The old style of Chinese retailing is gradually being transformed by shops with a better design sense and souvenir items are getting better each year. Silk clothing, table settings and so on and other spots around town, are worth a look, as are porcelain, specialty tea and other traditional items. Some of the most popular areas for this kind of shopping are Wangfujing and The Malls at Oriental Plaza both in Dongcheng District as well as Xidan in Xicheng District.

Antiques

The carpet business is strong in Beijing and you will find all manner of stores selling silk carpets and other varieties.

This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article Beijing on Wikivoyage.

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