Beijing – The Northern Capital City Guide (part 2)
Want to know what to do in Beijing? Thursday, I told you something about the places to visit and I gave you some insider tips (click here for part 1 of the Beijing city guide). This second blogpost will tell you about all the hotspots and how to get around in this fascinating city.
Places to shop
Wangfujing is one of the most famous shopping streets of Beijing. You can find most upscale and luxurious shopping brands in this street. Personally, I do not like shopping for clothes when I am on holiday, but I still recommend you to visit this street. Especially in the summer, there is always something going on. There are many small sidewalk cafes where you can sit and watch people. The restaurants in this street vary from McDonald’s to Peking Duck.
Pearl Market & Silk Market
Souvenirs! That is the kind of shopping I like to do. The pearl market and silk market are two indoor markets that provide silk, tea, clothes, bags, shoes, make-up, pearls, jewellery, toys, and most importantly: souvenirs! I prefer the silk market over the pearl market, because from my experience the sellers were a little bit less aggressive here. It is important you haggle about the price in these markets and the sellers will not easily let you go. The pearl market is close to the Temple of Heaven and luckily for me, the silk market is in Chaoyang district, right next to the hotel I used to work. So that is where I spend a lot of my free time.
Qianmen street is, just as Wangfujing, a high-end shopping street, but it is good for taking pictures. The architecture of the buildings resembles the Qing Dynasty. Next to the nice buildings, there are also many places to eat and take a rest.
Places to go at night
Sanlitun Bar Street
Most expats and backpackers hang out in Bar Street at night. Many clubs and bars with western music can be found here. During the day, Sanlitun (Soho) is also good for shopping.
Hou Hai Lake
Go to Hou Hai if you want to relax and have a drink next to the lake while listening to live music. Hou Hai has a cosy atmosphere, because the traditional style of most of the buildings and the Chinese lanterns. If you want a relaxing night out, go to Hou Hai. If you want to party all night, Sanlitun is the better option.
What and where to eat
Wangfujing Snack Street
Right next to Wangfujing shopping street is a snack street where you can get all the weird foods, such as spiders, scorpions, snakes and even seahorses on sticks. But do not worry, if you do not want to eat this, there are also many traditional Beijing snacks. Try the bean juice, steamed buns, rice cakes, fried pork liver or preserved fruits which you can buy at many of the stands.
Jianbing Chinese Pancake
The Jianbing pancake is my favourite Beijing snack. It is very spicy so ask for less pepper when ordering it. You can find it at the food stands which can be found in most parts of the city in the morning.
Peking Duck is a famous duck dish from Beijing. The most important part is the crispy skin, so the authentic restaurants will serve mostly the skin and little meat. It is eaten with cucumber, scallion, sweet bean sauce and small pancakes.
Hot Pot is a kind of stew. A hot metal pot is placed in the middle of the table and ingredients are put in the pot and cooked at the table. Ingredients can include mushrooms, meat, vegetables, seafood, dumplings and wontons. My favourite kind of hot pot is the Sichuan Hot Pot. It’s not from Beijing, but can be found in many hot pot restaurants. Be careful, this hot pot is spicy.
Getting around the city
The best way to get around the city is by metro. You can buy a travel card and get around the city easily for only 2rmb per one-way trip, no matter how far you go. The subway can be extremely busy during rush hour, so try to avoid it during this time. There are also many city buses driving around and these are only 1rmb per line. However, busses are not reliable in Beijing because of the many traffic jams, so they do not have a time schedule. If you want to take a taxi, make sure you have your destination written down in Chinese. Hotels are happy to help you writing it down. Do not go with the rickshaw taxi’s, because they often will try to scam passengers. If you do use them, carefully check the change they give because chances a high it is fake money.