The Center of Beijing – Forbidden City

On October 12, 2011, in Beijing, Forbidden City, Must-sees, by Jack Li

The Forbidden City is a must see if you are going on a Beijing Tour. It is located in the heart of Beijing with Tiananmen Square on the south side. The Forbidden City is in a great location since it might be down the road from your Beijing hotel. History behind the Forbidden City Emperor […]

The Forbidden City is a must see if you are going on a Beijing Tour. It is located in the heart of Beijing with Tiananmen Square on the south side. The Forbidden City is in a great location since it might be down the road from your Beijing hotel.

History behind the Forbidden City

Emperor Chengzu built the city during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). The construction of the palace started in 1407 and finished fourteen years later in 1420. It was believed by the Chinese Astronomers that the Purple Star (Polaris) is located in the center of the heavens. Since the Emperor was a Heavenly Emperor he lived in a purple palace called the “Purple Forbidden City”.  The reason why it was called Forbidden was because the only way to get in was by being invited by the Emperor.

What you can see while you are there:

There are thousands of buildings you can see while you are visiting the City not including the many beautiful courtyards. A 52-meter wide moat and 10-meter high wall was built around the City. The city has over 8,700 rooms. While you are visiting the City you should count how many rooms you can see. The City is very big so you might get lost but isn’t that the fun of going to new places is by getting lost and finding your way back.

The grandest hall is the Hall of Supreme Harmony. This is where the emperor would ascend to visit with officials. Important events were also celebrated there. On the right side is where the princes would study. Off to the north lies the imperial library where the world largest encyclopedia (Sikuquanshu) was house.

To get to where the royal family resided you need to go under the Gate of Heavenly Purity. During the Qing Dynasty, Emperor Kangxi would meet high officials to give them his orders. The emperors also had a hall for the concubines so they had a resident. There is also imperial garden. It is a small garden but it has many beautiful effects.  It has towers that over looks it, pavilions, and artificial hills. They also created springs throughout it. The best part is that old tress can still be found there. Some of these trees are over 1,000 years old. These are only a couple of things you can see while you are walking around the Forbidden City, there is much more, so go and experience it for your self.

Just a reminder that the Forbidden City might restrain the number of passengers into the park, on such days as May Day, China National Day, and some summer holidays. The admission fee is 60RMBS and it opens at 8:30 o’clock AM and closes at 6 o-clock PM. Plan on staying for three to four hours since there is a lots to see and do. The best way to get there is by taking the Subway, on Line 1 get off at Tiananmen West or East Station. Go north through Tiananmen Tower. If you take Line 2 make sure you get off at the Qianmen Station and you will also want to walk north to the Tiananmen Tower.

So when you go on your China Tour make sure you have planned on seeing the Forbidden City. It is in the heart of Beijing, and will be the heart of your trip.

Dealing with Culture Shock in China: Part 2

On October 12, 2011, in Cultural Experience, Tips & Ideas, Travel Info, by Jack Li

After familiarising yourself with two of the prominent areas that are hugely different from your own country, this ‘Part 2′ will continue on to discuss other big differences you will discover once you step off your China flight. Travel to Beijing and Shanghai is generally easier than the smaller and less tourist friendly areas, however […]

After familiarising yourself with two of the prominent areas that are hugely different from your own country, this ‘Part 2′ will continue on to discuss other big differences you will discover once you step off your China flight. Travel to Beijing and Shanghai is generally easier than the smaller and less tourist friendly areas, however you will still experience the same culturally different things as many are the same across the country.

Shanghai is probably the most traveller friendly, being very international and tourist friendly. After this comes Beijing and other large cities, with rural and more unknown cities being the hardest of all – generally most of the general public won’t speak English or understand Pinyin at all.

 

One element of Chinese culture you are sure to find hard to get used to, particularly in big cities like Beijing, is the large population resulting in almost everywhere being busy and crowded. Nowhere is this more evident than on the subway, particularly during rush hour. This is a completely alien experience as tube carriages are packed full like sardines, often with subway guards cramming people in until the doors barely shut around them. Then for the duration of the journey you are wedged in, with no sense of personal space!

It is quite interesting to watch the chaos as people try to make it on and off the subway without losing shoes, handbags or dropping something. However, once you become familiar with the protocol it is fairly simple, just be sure to get as close to the doors as possible when you wish to alight, and as far away when you wish to remain in the carriage! Another thing to be aware of (although it is changing) is queues aren’t particularly commonplace in China, and although initially there may be a queue formed, as soon as the carriage doors are open it is every man for himself.

 

The sense of hustle and bustle is not only limited to the Subway. In general the traffic on the roads is just as hectic as the Subway lines and attempting to cross the road can at first be very intimidating as cars, buses, rickshaws and motorbikes will not stop or move around you. The best thing to do is follow some locals the first few times and before long you will be weaving in and out of the traffic confidently. One thing to know is the Chinese love to toot their horns, which generally makes you freeze on the spot convinced they are going to hit you, but usually those hooting are infact nowhere near or heading in a completely different direction to you, so just keep moving!

You will get used to the constant noise, whether it be from the roads, the locals talking at maximum volume or the lullaby constantly being blown out of McDonald’s speakers. It is quite exhilarating to experience and sometimes it is great fun to just step back and watch the madness.

 

If you are a bit intimidated by the idea of navigating China by yourself, look into a China tour or multi city tour for a milder introduction to China.

Buddhist Lama Temple- Yonghe Lamasery

On October 11, 2011, in Beijing, China Attractions, Cultural Experience, Temples, by Jack Li

When people think of the Buddhist they think of Asia. Since Buddhism is a popular religion in China it would be unwise to take a China Tour without visiting a Buddhist Temple. One of the oldest Buddhist temples is the Lama Temple and it is located in Beijing. The Lama Temple might be far from […]

When people think of the Buddhist they think of Asia. Since Buddhism is a popular religion in China it would be unwise to take a China Tour without visiting a Buddhist Temple. One of the oldest Buddhist temples is the Lama Temple and it is located in Beijing. The Lama Temple might be far from your Beijing hotel, but just remember you can take the subway there. The Lama Temple is the only temple in Beijing to have its own stop, so make sure you take line 2 and get off at Yonghegong/Lama Temple.

Buddhism was introduce to China in the 6th century, from India. Many of the Chinese Emperors were Buddhist so they built monasteries and temple to promote the religion throughout China. Buddhism have many aspects, first it guilds the people to behave, and to be honest and to be responsible. Second it helps people to create harmony and have a peaceful mind. Thirdly it focuses on sharing and having compassion toward other people. Fourthly is emphasizes in awakening the mind, people can do this by learning. Once someone has developed intellectual capacity then they understand how to love and be kind to other beings.

 The Lama Temple (Yonghe Temple) was built in the Qing Dynasty. It was first used has Emperor Yongzheng place of a residence. Then in 1744 it was converted into a lamasery.   The Lamasery is described as a mini-palace that occupies an area 16 acres (66,400 sq ft).  There are six parts to the temple-

South courtyard- as visitors enter the courtyard a bell tower and drum tower greet them.

Hall of the Heavenly Kings- has four Heavenly Kings enshrined in the hall. The middle one is Maitreya he is glowing with a smile and has his legs crossed.

Hall of Harmony and Peace- has three Buddha’s that represent the Past, present and future. Hall of Harmony and Peace also holds four wings. In the fourth wing is where the lamas study Tibetan medicine, astronomy and geography.

Hall of Everlasting Blessings- holds the Medicine Buddha, and Lion Buddha.

Hall of the Dharma Wheel- this is where the lamas read sutra and hold ceremonies. On one of the wall there is a mural it shows the viewer of the life of Sakyamuni, and it also displayed some Buddhist scriptures.

Pavilion of Infinite Happiness- in the middle of the hall there is a statue of Maitreya, he is 85 feet in height and is 26 feet in diameter and with 26 feet buried under the ground.

If you are asking your self why you should visit the Lama Temple, you should tell your self I want to visit it because it will introduce me to China culture and religion. Many monks still live on the temple grounds. So many lucky visitors are able to get a glimpse of the monks chanting sutras in the morning and during certain periods, while they are wondering around the grounds. They might also get a change to see the Buddhist carryout the Tibetan Buddhist ceremonies.

There is an admission fee of 25RMBs. The Lama Temple is open at 9:00 AM and closes at 5:00PM daily.  So after you get off your China Flight make sure you have planned to visit the Buddhist Lama Temple.

Dealing with Culture Shock in China: Part 1

China travel adventures can seem to many as an exotic cultural mix of opposites to what they are used to at home. From all the new varieties of food to the unusual language and the hustle and bustle of the big cities, there is a range of new experiences to conjure up thoughts of excitement […]

China travel adventures can seem to many as an exotic cultural mix of opposites to what they are used to at home. From all the new varieties of food to the unusual language and the hustle and bustle of the big cities, there is a range of new experiences to conjure up thoughts of excitement and adventure. However many first time visitors are unaware of the culture shock they will face when their China flight touches down at the airport.

This post will discuss a few factors to be aware of before you arrive, so things don’t come as such a surprise when you exit the airport feeling jet lagged and nervous.

 

One of the first things, and something that is impossible not to notice or find difficult to adjust to (unless you already know Mandarin) is the language. Signs, sounds and everyday objects which were once commonplace become replaced by complex looking characters, hard to decipher sounds and items you can’t tell the function or contents of.

An essential item for making this easier is a Mandarin Phrasebook. Ensure you have one that displays words in both Pinyin and Chinese characters and it will make adjusting to China much easier.

 

Another factor to consider is the local food. Chinese food is far different from the dishes available in western countries which have been adapted to suit the western palette. There is a huge choice available and it varies dependant on the cuisine or province the food originates from. For example Sichuan food tends to use a lot of spice and chilli, whereas Beijing food tends to feature noodles and heavy buns due to the harsh climate in winter.

Although in the large cities there is western food available, it is often ‘Chinese Western’ and not fully authentic. Many staple ingredients back home are difficult to source and overpriced out in China especially Cheese, Wine and Steak. Breakfast is far different as well and often consists of savoury rice porridge and dumplings or something similar.

Often different parts of meat are used which can be difficult to get used to, and it helps to know the Chinese view chicken breasts as the most ‘tasteless’ part of the meat so it is less often used. Chicken feet on the other hand are a delicacy and found in many different varieties, including dried, fried and boiled!

 

Once you have got your head around the new cuisine choices, there is the method of eating it! Generally unless you are in a tourist frequented restaurant or a Western place there will not be a knife and fork available. Your utensils of choice will be chopsticks and occasionally a spoon! Chopsticks aren’t too tricky to use after a few tries, and you gain a sense of satisfaction from finishing a meal using them (it also impresses the Chinese locals).

If the thought of this terrifies you, your China Hotel may well have western restaurants or buffets which will provide cutlery. In addition street food and fast food outlets such as KFC, Mcdonalds and Pizza Hut are everywhere if you wish to avoid utensils completely!

 

 

Beijing on a Budget

On October 10, 2011, in Beijing, Cultural Experience, by Jack Li

If you want to travel to Beijing and you enjoy saving money, then Beijing is right place for you. There are multiple of places to visit. Some of these sites should be close to your Beijing hotel. The first place you should see is the National Museum of China. You can get there by taking […]

If you want to travel to Beijing and you enjoy saving money, then Beijing is right place for you. There are multiple of places to visit. Some of these sites should be close to your Beijing hotel. The first place you should see is the National Museum of China. You can get there by taking Subway line 1, but please make sure you get out at the Tiananmen East stop. 

The National Museum of China is the largest history museum in China. It opened in 2003. In the museum there is Chinese ancient history Section. The ancient history sections dates back to 1,700,000 years ago and ends in 1921. This section holds the most amazing historical objects, such as the Terracotta Warriors. Another section of the museum is the Revolutionary section this section holds a great deal of material such as pictures, books, and models, these materials represent the development of modern day China.

The second place you need to visit is Tiananmen Square. You can also get there by taking line 1 of the subway and stopping at either Tiananmen West or East stops. Tiananmen Square is a historical place; it is where Chairman Mao Zedong proclaimed China to be the “People’s Republic of China” on October 1, 1941. There are also many sites to see while you are visiting Tiananmen Square like, Monument to People’s Heroes, Tiananmen Tower, Great Hall of the People, and Memorial Hall Of Chairman Mao. The admission is free; unless you want to explode Tiananmen Tower then it will cost you 15RMB. If you take the subway make sure you are on line 1 and get off on Tiananmen West or East.

Another great place to visit while you are in Beijing is the Olympic Green. There is so much to see here. During the day you can walk around the Forest Park. The park is a great place to go since it makes you feel like you left the busy life of Beijing to walk through a forest. There are many different paths you can take and each one is peaceful. While you are walking you can hear birds singing and see different types of flowers and trees.

When it gets dark you can walk around the Olympic Green. It’s better to walk the Olympic green in the dark since everything light up. On the Olympic Green you can see the Olympic Torch and the Birds Nest that is where they held the Opening and Closing Ceremonies. While you are on the Olympic Green you can see the night life. Sometimes there are groups of people dancing and some people playing instruments and other flying kites. Going to the Olympic Green and the Forest Park is a pleasant way to spend a day.

So if you are on a budget and you want to travel to Beijing makes sure you plan on seeing The National Museum of China, Tiananmen Square, and the Olympic Green, given that all three of these places has free admissions. So it is a great way to send your day and stay debt free. So plan on starting your China tours soon.

Ganges Indian Restaurant – A Must Visit!

On October 10, 2011, in Beijing, China Travel Gossip, Restaurants, by Jack Li

Chinese food is interesting, varied, cheap and tasty, however whilst on a China travel trip sometimes you just crave familiar food or your favourite take out/restaurant cuisine from back home. There are many varieties of alternate cuisine around including American, Italian, Indian, Mexican and Middle Eastern, and this post is focused on one of the […]

Chinese food is interesting, varied, cheap and tasty, however whilst on a China travel trip sometimes you just crave familiar food or your favourite take out/restaurant cuisine from back home. There are many varieties of alternate cuisine around including American, Italian, Indian, Mexican and Middle Eastern, and this post is focused on one of the greatest Indian restaurants in central Beijing. Ganges is a restaurant which consists of 5 different branches across the city so you are sure to find a restaurant near to your Beijing hotel location.

 

Ganges Indian Restaurant

The restaurant has properties in five central areas within the city. One of the most centrally located is situated in Sanlitun Village shopping complex (nearest subway Tuanjiehu) and there are other locations in The Place shopping mall (Yonganli subway), Haidian (Wudaokou subway), the Lido area and opposite the Australian Embassy.

Opening times are 11am and depending on the location they close between 10.30 and 11pm. They will also deliver to your hotel and have an English speaking telephone number to place orders over the phone.

Ganges has won many awards for it’s excellent food, ambience and service including ‘Best Indian’ in The Beijinger magazine, ‘Outstanding Indian’ in That’s Beijing magazine, and ‘Best Indian in Beijing’ for four consecutive years in City Weekend magazine.

 

The prices at the restaurant are very reasonable, and about equal to the average take out price at home for an in restaurant meal. There is also a weekday lunch time buffet which is extremely good value at 48rmb per person, this includes unlimited starters, mains, bread, sides and desserts. There is a large variety of food on offer at the self service buffet table, and there are various meat and vegetable dishes from mild to very spicy.

The menu itself has a huge selection featuring traditional and fusion dishes from both North and South Indian cuisine. Familiar Indian dishes available include Tikka Masala, Biryani, Korma, Vindaloo and Rogan Josh (available in Chicken, Lamb, Prawn or Vegetable). All food served in Ganges Indian restaurants is halal.

If you are visiting for a meal in the evening, there are often entertainment performances with Indian style belly dancing alongside traditional and modern music videos projected on a large screen. The restaurant’s can also provide catering for private events and host parties at their restaurant locations. Eating at Ganges is a must on your next trip to Beijing!

 

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Visit the Zoo Market for a Local Shopping Experience!

On October 8, 2011, in Beijing, China Travel Gossip, Shopping, Tips & Ideas, by Jack Li

For anyone planning to travel to Beijing who enjoys shopping and getting off the beaten track to where the locals hang out, it is definately worth making a trip out to the Beijing Zoo Market. This is an underground clothing market located opposite the Beijing Zoo, with the nearest subway stops being Xizhimen or Beijing […]

For anyone planning to travel to Beijing who enjoys shopping and getting off the beaten track to where the locals hang out, it is definately worth making a trip out to the Beijing Zoo Market. This is an underground clothing market located opposite the Beijing Zoo, with the nearest subway stops being Xizhimen or Beijing Zoo. The market is located between the second and third ring road in the west of the city, close to the student areas surrounding the big universities. It may be a short trip from your Beijing Hotel but the subway is simple, fast and the most practical transport mode to take. There is also an aquarium nearby worth a visit.

 

The market itself is predominantly clothing and accessories, generally focusing on women’s apparel however there are stalls selling menswear and children’s clothing. There is less of a focus on imitation designer goods, however these are still available just at a smaller volume than the notorious tourist markets such as the Silk Market and Yashow. You can often find many high street branded items, often these are a mix of copies with tags sewn in and genuine overstock from the factories. In my recent visit there was very convincing knitwear and clothing from H&M, Fornarina, ASOS, Topshop, New Look and Zara, which is probably a combination of genuine and imitation. Prices here are very good and not subject to the huge inflation you will experience at the other markets for having a western face.

 

Haggling is possible here but generally only a small margin from the quoted price. Many items such as jewellery, scarves and other accessories are sold at fixed prices. During my visit in the busy Golden Week public holiday I found a range of bargains at the cheapest price available in the city. Here is a short list of rough prices as of October 2011:

Scarves (depending on thickness) 25-40rmb

Purses (branded and unbranded) 35rmb

Necklaces/Earrings 10-35rmb

Tights (many styles and patterns) 10-20rmb

Vest tops (branded and high street) 12-30rmb

Cardigans 40-65rmb

Jeans 50rmb

Shoes/Sandals (high heels are more) 40-70rmb

Coats and jackets 70-140rmb

Skirts 30rmb

 

Once you are all shopped out there are a few budget options for food within the market itself, mostly vendors dotted about selling ice cream, drinks or grilled corn on the cob. If you are after a more substantial meal before heading back to your Beijing Hotel there is a McDonalds just outside the subway entrance and a short walk away (directly joined on to Xizhimen subway station) is the large Capita Mall which has a range of eating options, alongside more shopping if you still have money left over!

 

Shopping Mall Heaven in Xidan!

On September 29, 2011, in Beijing, Modern Architecture, Shopping, Tips & Ideas, by Jack Li

Anyone with a love for shopping will love a China Travel adventure. Whether you travel to Beijing, Shanghai or elsewhere, you will find plenty of markets, malls and department stores to keep you busy, and help to part you with your money! This blog will discuss the area of Xidan, which is not commonly top […]

Anyone with a love for shopping will love a China Travel adventure. Whether you travel to Beijing, Shanghai or elsewhere, you will find plenty of markets, malls and department stores to keep you busy, and help to part you with your money! This blog will discuss the area of Xidan, which is not commonly top of the list for the average tourist to visit, but shopping central for students, expats and the general public in Beijing!

 

You can get to Xidan on subway line 1, the Xidan stop is just past Tiananmen and you will exit right into the heart of the shopping district. Line 4 also stops here aswell. When you leave the subway you will find yourself at the beginning of Xidan Commercial Street, which is a three and a half mile long commercial centre, with malls and department stores propped up side by side.

 

Opening times are generally 10am til 10pm, with some stores opening at 9 or 9.30am. Generally malls have a fast food style food court on the lower floor, and a more upmarket restaurant food court on the upper floor. However in the bigger malls restaurants are interspersed with shops, cafe’s and stalls.

 

The Top Malls to check out in Xidan:


Joy City

This is the mother of all malls in Xidan, with thirteen floors packed with fashion, cosmetics, home ware and everything else inbetween. Joy City features the largest cosmetic store in Beijing, the largest cinema in China and the largest escalator in the world. It has a huge variety of shops and restaurants with a mix of Chinese, international and high end stores.

 

Grand Pacific Mall

Grand Pacific is less flashy and a fair bit older than Joy City (it opened in 2003), however it is still a big mall with a large selection, particularly if you are looking for denim products. The mall hosts many big denim brands including Miss Sixty, Replay and Diesel.

 

Xidan Shopping Centre

Xidan mall is a large (and again fairly ageing) mall, with an interesting market on the ground floor selling Chinese food, snack and candy items. These would be ideal for gifts to take back home, as there is a huge variety and prices are very reasonable with no need to haggle! Stores here are arranged by category, so there is are floors for ladies fashion, another for accessories, one for electronics – and so on. The top floor features a food court with many cheap dining options.

The upper floors of the mall are filled with tiny stalls, similar to the markets, selling all sorts of items, mostly fashion and accessories. Come here prepared to haggle, as although prices won’t start as high as the Silk Market, being a westerner you may still be subject to price inflation.

 

If you manage to see all of these and are still not ready to head back to your Beijing Hotel with your bags, then there are still many more shopping options. There are plenty of high end shops and department stores including Xidan CVIK Store, Chung You Department Store, Xidan Department Store and The Parkson Building.

A Mini Guide to Street Food Delights in Beijing!

On September 27, 2011, in Beijing, Cultural Experience, Restaurants & Food, Tips & Ideas, by Jack Li

When planning your China Travel trip it is worth researching the varieties of local food available to see what dishes and cooking styles appeal to you. For adventurous eaters or those on a strict budget planning to travel to Beijing, you should definitely check out the variety of street food available within the city.   […]

When planning your China Travel trip it is worth researching the varieties of local food available to see what dishes and cooking styles appeal to you. For adventurous eaters or those on a strict budget planning to travel to Beijing, you should definitely check out the variety of street food available within the city.

 

There is quite a variety of street food available, although some items may only be for sale during certain months of the year, or at certain times of the day. This ranges from breakfast items, drinks, desserts and main meals. Those looking to find the more exotic offerings should check to one of the Night Markets in Wangfujing (however, even though called ‘night’ markets, they do tend to close up around 10pm).

 

Some types of Street Food on offer in Beijing:

Chuan’r (Meat Kebabs)

These are skewers of barbecued meat with spices. They are available in beef, pork and chicken amongst others with the most popular being lamb. Chuan’r originate from Xinjiang in the west. They are often found at night markets as well as down side streets and roads around the city, although less often in the direct centre.

Xianer Bing

This is a savoury pancake, stuffed with various fillings. The most popular is minced beef or pork, but there are vegetable versions on offer.

Noodles

A safe bet for even the pickiest eaters, noodle stands are available across Beijing. Most commonly found at the night markets, outside hotels and by metro stations. These can be found with meat and/or vegetables added, and there are usually varying spice levels.

Ice Cream

Various flavours of ice cream can be found throughout the city, locations are all over the place, including inside the Silk Market. It is recommended to visit a stall that is nice and busy to ensure a good quality result!

Jiaozi and Baozi

These street snacks, more commonly known in the west are filled dumplings. The name differs with the method used to cook them and flour used. The standard filling is pork, but other meat alongside seafood and vegetarian fillings are common.

Jian Bing

A common, filling breakfast item with a very low price tag. Jian Bing is a pancake filled with egg, cilantro and onion, spread with a fine layer of bean paste and fried dough before being wrapped up. There are usually other ingredients available, although it may take some good hand gesturing skills to get what you want. These are often seen each morning outside hotels, residential areas and office buildings.

Grilled Vegetable/Meat Skewers

These are usually available all year round, well into the small hours of the evening. Popular varieties include skewers of mixed vegetables, grilled corn, chicken wings and potato slices. Often seen in the nightlife districts of Sanlitun.

Fresh and dried fruit

Same as the skewers of meat and vegetables,  fruit is easy to find in the city alongside sellers at tourist sights such as The Great Wall. It is very cheap for a nicely sized portion, and you can usually mix varities of fruit together. Plenty of selection at night markets and around Sanlitun area. Take care with all fresh fruit as it is recommended to rinse with bottled water before eating.

Hongshu

Hongshu are sweet potatoes baked in their skins, commonly seen around mid afternoon. These are often found in side streets and around hutongs, and are also available at Olympic Park, just outside of the square.

Caramelised fruit skewers

These are popular throughout the city and come in many flavours including strawberry, kiwi and apple. Similar to toffee apples seen at home around halloween, these sugary delights are found all over, with a large selection at Wangfujing night markets and Tianan’men Square.

 

In addition to these there are many other foods available to sample throughout the city. Similar street food is available throughout China, so if you are planning to travel to Shanghai or another Chinese city you will find more options there, probably differing slightly for local tastes.

Veggie Heaven in Beijing!

On September 26, 2011, in Beijing, Restaurants, Tips & Ideas, by Jack Li

When considering China as a potential holiday destination, it is often confusing for those with specific dietary requirements to understand what food options will be available for them once they arrive. If you plan to travel to Beijing this article will hopefully give you a bit more information on Vegetarian and Vegan options. There are […]

When considering China as a potential holiday destination, it is often confusing for those with specific dietary requirements to understand what food options will be available for them once they arrive. If you plan to travel to Beijing this article will hopefully give you a bit more information on Vegetarian and Vegan options. There are a decent amount of restaurants available within the city and most Beijing hotels, alongside fast food and western restaurants will also have guaranteed meat free dishes on the menu for Vegetarians.

 

For a larger selection you could head to a pure Vegetarian restaurant. There are a variety of such places available and you will find a high concentration in the area surrounding the Lama Temple. It is not unusual for monks and tourists to dine in these places at the same time which makes for an interesting experience.

 

A popular place and well worth a visit is ‘Xu Xiang Zhai‘. This restaurant is nearby the Lama Temple and directly opposite Conficus Temple, with the nearest subway being Yonghegong on line 5. The establishment offers a buffet starting at 5.30pm, and a large menu which is available all day. It is quite a serene atmosphere, upon walking in you feel as though you are entering a spa complete with fish swimming around in pools. It is one of the most reasonably priced Vegetarian restaurants with the buffet costing around £6, which includes drinks and desserts. This consists of Chinese and Western dishes alongside some unusual and interesting creations.

 

Those with a larger budget may consider ‘Pure Lotus Vegetarian‘. This restaurant has two locations in the Chaoyang district and has fairly western prices, with a meal costing between £12 and £20 per head. Similarly to Xu Xiang Zhai it offers Vegetarian dishes alongside mock meat imitations, including Veggie versions of Peking Duck, Kung Pao Chicken and Kobe Beef. Other purely Vegetarian restaurants worth a look are Lotus in Moonlight, Tianchu Miaoxiang, Fairy Su and Beijing Vegan Hut.

 

In addition to the specific Vegetarian places, many Chinese dishes such as stir fries, noodles and hot pots have Vegetarian varieties, and tofu is a popular ingredient replacing meat in many dishes. The only issue to be aware of is sometimes these dishes may be cooked in animal fat, seasoned with fish sauce or accompanied with meat toppings so it is best to bring a phrase book or download an English to Chinese dictionary application on your phone so you can effectively communicate with the waitress.

 

Some key phrases to learn before your trip which will come in very useful are:

I dont eat meat - Wǒ bùchī ròu

I am vegetarian – Wǒ sù shí zhě

I am Vegan -Wǒ chún sù shí zhě

Do you have Vegetarian food? – Yǒuméiyǒu sù shí zhě

I am on a special diet – Wǒ zài jiéshí

I am allergic to (insert food) - Wǒ duì (insert food) guòmǐn

Could you make a meal without (insert food)? – Néngbùnéng zuòyīge bùfang (insert food) de cài?

fish – yú

eggs - jīdàn

poultry - jiāqín

red meat – niúyángròu

gluten - miànjīn

seafood – hǎixiān

shellfish – bèiké

peanuts – huāshēng

meat – ròu

pork – zhūròu

beef – niúròu

(note these phrases can be incomprehensible or mean something else entirely if pronounced incorrectly, so it may be worth downloading an application for your mobile phone with an Audio component to become familiar with the pronunciation.)

 

Another possible option to consider would be sampling the varieties of street food in Beijing, as there are many vegetarian snacks and meals, including baked sweet potatoes, savoury pancakes, fresh fruit and grilled vegetables on sticks. Additionally it may be worth heading for a large supermarket like Carrefour or Wal Mart if you have self catering facilities, as they have a large selection of both western and Chinese foods to create meals from. These are some of the bigger hypermarkets but there are plenty of small to medium supermarkets and stores located near most Beijing Hotels.

 

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