Browsing Beijing

On April 6, 2012, in Beijing, Restaurants, Shopping, by Jack Li

Before jetting-off on holiday, it is well worth considering visiting Beijing with many of the great China Flights to choose from. Most visitors who travel to Beijing will probably visit the sights such as The Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven and Summer Palace. Yet walk through the Beijing Gates, off Tiananmen Square, and surround yourself with the very best of what local Beijing has to offer. Here is where visitors can walk the main pedestrianized street called Qianmen Dajie which is set to resemble the late Qing-dynasty. One way in which to reach Qianmen Dajie is to travel by line 2 on the subway to Qianmen station.

Branching off from Qianmen Dajie, visitors can explore the many connecting hutongs at their leisure. Steeped in at least 500 years of history, this area exhibits a blend of old and new Beijing. For example, you could either choose from the selection of traditional teas from Zhangyiyuan Tea Shop, or go to Starbucks if you prefer. Needless to say, regardless of what the shops are trading, all the buildings appear in the glorious style of the old city.

There are many eating places in which to dine. Established in 1864, the Quanjude Roast Duck Restaurant is undoubtedly the
most famous eating place along Qianmen Dajie. Without doubt, Qianmen Dajie and the nearby hutongs symbolise a vibrant mix of Chinese tradition and the city’s cosmopolitan nature. Other recognised dining experiences, for instance, include the Yitiaolong restaurant, an authentic Muslim restaurant which typically sells mutton. Alternatively, you do not need to travel far to discover a store selling beautiful Tibetan artwork.

Qianmen Dajie is not totally pedestrianized, as a visitor you may like to experience a ride on the street’s two trams. Since 2008, these trams have been restored and are now in operation after over forty years out of service. The main street of Qianmen Dajie is spacious, lively and family-friendly. Street sellers, for example, can be seen selling toy birds and many other quintessentially Chinese gadgets.

Some of the abovementioned attractions may be more expensive than other parts of the city, but nevertheless these are unique to Beijing. The more curious traveller can venture towards the hutongs surrounding Qianmen Dajie where you can find plenty of stalls, all shapes and sizes, to buy souvenirs. Unlike the larger stalls on Qianmen Dajie, the advantage of the hutongs is that you will able to haggle and discover some fascinating souvenirs at a lower price. Furthermore, if you are a keen shopper, you might like to try some of the famous clothing shops around the hutongs such as Beijing Silk Shop, Neiliansheng Shoeshop or Liulichang amongst others.

Indeed, for the backpacker-types there are hostels in the hutongs such as Helen’s café where many westerners can be found, which may be of interest. That said, accommodation in the city is altogether plentiful, and there are many superb Beijing Hotels.

Jack Li

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