Houhai Lake, the Perfect Beijing Afternoon

On July 23, 2012, in Beijing, Lakes, Parks & Gardens, by Jack Li

When you travel to Beijing, dedicate a day to visiting Houhai Lake and its surroundings hutongs. One of the most enjoyable experiences of my trip here so far was over the weekend, strolling along lakeside watching the boaters go by. The Houhai Lake area, located in Beihai park, may just well be the coolest neighborhood […]

When you travel to Beijing, dedicate a day to visiting Houhai Lake and its surroundings hutongs. One of the most enjoyable experiences of my trip here so far was over the weekend, strolling along lakeside watching the boaters go by. The Houhai Lake area, located in Beihai park, may just well be the coolest neighborhood in town. This is a great place to take a guided Beijing tour; then even better to go back and explore on your own. It has something special for everyone no matter how you enjoy spending the afternoon.

Here’s my recommended itinerary: Start at the opening entrance to Yandai Xiejie and make your way through the treasure trove that is this Hutong marketplace. Walking down this street you may get a feeling such as, “This is exactly what I was looking for in China,” I know I did. Although there are some stores with the average array of souvenirs, there are much more boutiques of unique trinkets, testable teas, handmade crafts and silks, Chinese art, and my personal favorite, plenty of Mao-morabilia. At the end of the street take a left at the Churro stand and make your way towards the lake area. Your first view will be of a quaint bridge with overhanging tree branches, the unspoiled setting for your day. After all that shopping you may need an energy boost, so stop by a number of the lakeside cafes, where you can snuggle up on a plush couch and people watch to your heart’s content. Many venues have live music performers, the perfect finishing touch to any ambiance.

Next, make your way towards the boat rental stand. The views from on land are fantastic, but the experience of Houhai is not complete without getting out on the water. Make sure you steer clear of any exploratory lake swimmers though! Houhai is overflowing with a family oriented atmosphere, night and day. However, as the night comes in Houhai turns into a buzzing, lively nightlife spot. After your boat ride, it’s time for dinner. Take your party to the rooftop or grab a candlelit meal right on the water. This area is abundant with impressive eateries prepared to offer you a great selection of entrees to aperitifs. For those then looking for a good night out, many of the bars offer great deals on drinks as well as live music. The nightlife venues are plentiful and varied, from the relaxing shisha lounges, to those energetically equipped with DJs and dance floors. Don’t forget your camera, because of all that Houhai has to offer, the most important is some of China travel’s greatest views.

A Palace Playground

Would you rather live in a castle by the sea or a castle by a lake? I always thought I would want to live in a castle by the sea however, upon visiting the Summer Palace in Beijing I am thinking to changing my dream to a castle by a lake. The Summer Palace in […]

Would you rather live in a castle by the sea or a castle by a lake? I always thought I would want to live in a castle by the sea however, upon visiting the Summer Palace in Beijing I am thinking to changing my dream to a castle by a lake. The Summer Palace in Chinese is translated to Gardens of Nurtured Harmony and it could not be given a more perfect name. The summer palace is located in the far northwest of Beijing and it was well worth the taxi ride across town and the 30rmb entrance fee.  It is one of the most popular China travel destinations so be ready to fight for photos in some areas. But don’t let other tourist scare you off the summer palace is huge covering 2.9 kilometers of mountainous terrain that is mostly man made! So there is plenty of room to just hang out and enjoy the beauty of this place considering how natural it looks. Or if you are like me there is plenty of room to run around and climb up the hills, rocks and maybe one or two of the buildings for candid photos. It is one of the longest Beijing tours though so bring walking shoes, I had flip flips and I am regretting it today after the hundreds of stair I ended up treading upon. I am told by my friends that the walk we did at the summer palace is second in line to the Great Wall, if that is any indication of how large this park is.

Thankfully the summer palace is next to Kunming Lake which is a refreshing place to take a boat ride or just hang out and eat some ice cream by the water. On the tallest hill by the Temple of Buddhist Virtues is also a great place to take a break and stare out at the city of Beijing. You can even get ice-cream here, don’t ask me how the vendors get it up I could barley carry myself up this steep hill. And if you like art there are also artists at the top of this hill who will draw out your name on paper for 10rmb. The artists are my favorite because they know a bit of English and like to make jokes. For example I said to the one who drew my friends name “This is very beautiful”. She quickly replied “No bamboo E is strength not beautiful, O is Mickey Mouse means money this is beautiful”.  The people you will meet here and the beauty of this hidden palace is well worth the trip but don’t do it right after your Beijing flights land in the afternoon because it is a day trip in itself. Oh and if possible bring extra batteries there are so many photos to take my camera ran out 4 hours in. “Of journeying the benefits are many: the freshness it bringeth to the heart, the seeing and hearing of marvelous things, the delight of beholding new cities, the meeting of unknown friends, and the learning of high manners.” – Muslih-uddin Sadi

Would this excite your taste buds?

Before you take that China flight back home there is one stop everyone has to visit in Beijing. If you want to be adventurous with your foods and see how your taste buds and stomach can handle a different perspective, head down to Wangfujing Street. This street is very well known when it comes to […]

Before you take that China flight back home there is one stop everyone has to visit in Beijing. If you want to be adventurous with your foods and see how your taste buds and stomach can handle a different perspective, head down to Wangfujing Street. This street is very well known when it comes to different foods that the Chinese people eat and cook. It is also very easy to access, the subway is the best way to go just get off on Line 1 at Wangfujing Station, exit A.  So if you want to experience a true cultural difference than compared to your Western foods, Wangfujing Street is a must for your Beijing Tour.

 


Wangfujing Street itself is a major shopping district, with many department stores and centres, souvenir stalls and has the largest bookstore in Beijing which also has a foreign selection. This upbeat area of Beijing is exciting with music and bright lights everywhere, one would definitely be very entertained and fascinated by everything that is on show. However your main destination is the Wangfujing Snack Street (Wangfujing XiaoChiJie) it is in a side alley of the main shopping area and it doesn’t pick up until 6pm. There are stalls either side of the alleyway packed with different cuisines, Chinese souvenirs and mini marts.

 

Now not everyone will be gamed enough to try some of these foods but there are foods which can be eaten by all without freaking out the taste buds. They consist of different styles of dumplings, kebabs, spices, different types of desserts and toffee covered fruits. It is highly recommended that you at least try these foods. However, it is also very entertaining witnessing someone who is game enough to try out the ‘different’ cuisine. The adventurous eater may want to try scorpions (either have a large one or three little ones), bugs, centipedes, star fish, snakes, spiders, silk worms, mutton testicles and many more. Majority of these are placed on a stick similar to a kebab. A recent review by some people in regards to the smaller scorpions on a stick is that it tastes similar to pork crackling but there were some people who disagreed with this observation, guess it is up to that person and their taste buds. It is recommended to have a beverage with you just in case you have underestimated the taste.

 

Whilst enjoying this cuisine, you can also check out the stalls. Majority of these stalls are full with Chinese souvenirs for example many silk products, key rings and figurines, as well as scarves and purses. But be warned as being a tourist they will definitely start at an interesting, ridiculous price, so be prepared to haggle with them so at the end you get a good bargain for the item. However this can only be done at the street stalls, not at the department stores and shopping markets.

 

This area is very central to everything, with many hotels in this district. This entire street has a lot to offer and one can truly spend majority of the day here. Wangfujing Street is probably one of the only pedestrian streets in Beijing, it is said that it can take about 30 minutes to walk from either end and that is without looking inside the shops. Within your Beijing trip, Wangfujing Snack Street cannot be neglected at all. The foods are famously known around the world and this is the street to get it. So definitely bring your camera or even a video camera to get shots of these foods to impress people at home and also the reactions on people’s faces when they first eat this interesting cuisine.

‘The Place South of the Colourful Clouds’

Yunnan is Chinas most south western province which borders the countries of Burma, Laos and Vietnam and neighbours fellow provinces of Guizhou, Guangxi, Chongqing, Sichuan and Tibet. Yunnan is referred to as ‘the place south of the colourful clouds’. Yunnan is known for its breath taking views of beautiful landscapes, its diverse population of ethnic […]

Yunnan is Chinas most south western province which borders the countries of Burma, Laos and Vietnam and neighbours fellow provinces of Guizhou, Guangxi, Chongqing, Sichuan and Tibet. Yunnan is referred to as ‘the place south of the colourful clouds’. Yunnan is known for its breath taking views of beautiful landscapes, its diverse population of ethnic groups and creatures. This area is very accessible with many domestic flights arriving in Yunnan, it is best to check out Air China to see the best deal. Yunnan should be highly considered in your China Travels!!

Yunnan is a mountainous area and is surrounded by many lakes
and rivers. On the North West side of the province it is in a high elevation area and the South East it is in a low elevation area. Majority of the population lives on the east side of Yunnan and the population of Yunnan exceeds 45 million people. The capital of Yunnan is Kunming and it is one of the main destinations tourists go to. Majority of tourists are from the mainland but in recent years the number of tourists from other countries have been increasing. The weather in Yunnan is quite adaptable and is relatively good all year round, in January the temperature is roughly 8°-17° and in July the temperature is roughly 21°-27°. However the summer months which are June to August, they get over half of the year’s predicted rain. But it is still a good time to go especially if you do love the rain. This mild climate is very attractive to all.

There are over 600 lakes and rivers in Yunnan which contributes to the beautiful scenery. The main popular lakes which attract the attention of the tourists are the Dianchi Lake, Fuxian Lake, Erhai Lake, Lugu Lake, Qilu Lake, Yangzong Lake, Yilong Lake, Xinyung Lake. Majority of these lakes averages about 30 square kilometres each. Yunnan is also a source of two main rivers they are the Xi River and the Yuan River. Because of this agriculture is a very strong focus and Yunnan is rich in natural resources. Yunnan has the highest reserves of aluminium, lead, zinc and tin in all of China. This province also has a large diversity of plant life. In all of China there are roughly 30,000 different plants and Yunnan has 17,000.


There is a diverse culture in Yunnan; there are many different ethnic groups. Out of the 56 which is recognised by the mainland there are 25 different ethnic groups in Yunnan which are in compacted communities and majority of them are from the minority groups. Some of these groups are part of the Tibetan, Yao, Va, Hui, just to name a few. Therefore when visiting this area one would be able to experience and see many diverse cultures and try out very different foods, cultural events and locations.

 

The main appeal to Yunnan is its glorious landscapes it has to offer from extremely large mountains to beautiful never ending lakes. If you love nature, Yunnan is the place to be. The temperatures of Yunnan is very appealing as well but if you want to go hiking expect to see snow-capped mountain tops, so pack something suitable. Being able to see many different cultures in one or close areas is also a great advantage. So get away from the big cities of Beijing and Shanghai and go to China Tours to see ‘the place south of the colourful clouds’ and enjoy the spectacular views Yunnan has to offer.

Can’t Leave China Without Seeing a Panda

On October 21, 2011, in Cool Places, Must-sees, Shanghai, by Jack Li

When you plan your China tour make sure you plan on seeing a Panda, because it would be a sin to go all the way to China and not see a panda. A fun place to go see Pandas is the ‘Wild Animal Park’, in Shanghai. Here you will also be able to see 200 […]

When you plan your China tour make sure you plan on seeing a Panda, because it would be a sin to go all the way to China and not see a panda. A fun place to go see Pandas is the ‘Wild Animal Park’, in Shanghai. Here you will also be able to see 200 different animals from all over the world.  Seeing the wild animals will make your Shanghai tour.

The ‘Wild Animal Park’ is China national 1st grade zoo. It coves over 300 acres, don’t worry you don’t have to walk all of those acres. Part of the zoo is a bus tour. There are 200 different animals from all over the world including rare animals. There are five main animal sections which include the animal performing Hall, area for wild beasts, herbivores, penned animals and other animals.

If you love to watch performers then you are going to love watching these animal actors. Elephants, dogs, sheep, bears, tigers, lions, monkeys and parrots all have superior acting skills and they all work well with each other. If you get a chance make sure you go see one of their shows they will surprise you on how good they really are. Another part of the performing hall is the dog racing course, not only do dogs use this course but other animals do to. So you better time your time just right so you can see camels, or ostriches, compete on this course.

The best part of the zoo is the tour bus. It will be an unforgettable experience. You will be able to get close to the animals and see how wild animals act when they are in the wild. The zoo feeds the tigers and lions live animals so that they will keep their survival instincts. So keep your eyes open since you might be able to see these animals catch, kill and eat their prey.  One of the benefits on going on the bus tour is that you are able to feed and take pictures of the animals, such as bears who will come up to the bus and beg for food and you will  be able to feed giraffes leaves.

When you go to the Wild Animal Park, make sure you go see the Penned animal’s area, because this area includes the giant panda hall. And you can’t leave China without seeing the Pandas. In this area you will be able to see a white lion, white tiger, kangaroo and crocodiles and much more. This area will teach you about how the animals lives and what they like to eat. So when you leave the zoo you will be educated. Don’t forget to see the bird garden and young animal garden.

While you are at the zoo you can ride the Ferris wheel and be able to see the bird’s eye view. If you are getting tried and don’t want to walk any more then you can ride the electric power cart it will carry you around the zoo. If you bring children and they want to play there is an amazing outdoor playground. Don’t worry about getting hungry since there are restaurants located around the zoo. Also don’t forget to buy a souvenir when you are there. 

Just remember you can’t leave China without seeing a Panda. So when you get off your China flight make note that you want to see a real Panda. If you go visit Shanghai make sure you stop by the Wild Animal Zoo, it will cost 120RMBs for adults and 60RMBs for children who are 4 feet tall, and free for children you are less than 2 feet tall.

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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.

Top Music Festivals in China..

On September 19, 2011, in Beijing, China Travel Gossip, Festivals, Shanghai, Sichuan, by Jack Li

If you are a big music fan and planning a China tour you should definitely check to see if your visit coincides with a music festival. There are a variety of music festivals every year all over China (particularly if you travel to Shanghai or Beijing) with many genres having a place on the stage. […]

If you are a big music fan and planning a China tour you should definitely check to see if your visit coincides with a music festival. There are a variety of music festivals every year all over China (particularly if you travel to Shanghai or Beijing) with many genres having a place on the stage. I attended the Black Rabbit Festival this weekend which is a new festival for 2011 playing in Beijing and Shanghai. There was a mix of international and local talent including Yellowcard, PK 14, Ludacris and 30 Seconds to Mars.

 

Ticket were a fraction of the cost expected in the west, with prices at 210RMB for the full day event. Generally a ticket to see just one of these bands would cost that price. The festival itself was an interesting mix, where indie, rock and hip hop fans all came together to experience their favourite acts performing.

 

 

The festival in Beijing was located at Chaoyang Sports Park on the outskirts of the city, it was only a 32RMB cab ride there, however the journey back was a little difficult as taxi’s were not willing to stop and pick anyone up! So we resulted to hopping on the 350 bus back to Tuanjiehu (Sanlintun area) and continuing our travels by subway.

 

The grounds of the festival had a variety of entertainment, with a Chinese style market, food vendors and a bouncy castle. We were lucky enough to acquire some freebies of t-shirts and rabbit ears which helped us blend in to the festival crowd further!

 

Here is a short selection of some other popular festivals across China you may wish to check out!

 

MIDI Festival

Midi is China’s largest and longest running festival and usually runs for four consecutive days. It runs every year at the beginning of May in Beijing and the bands are usually within the Rock, Punk and Metal genres. Tickets cost around 200RMB for the weekend, and there is usually a combination of Chinese and International artists.

 

Strawberry Festival

Strawberry is another big rock festival held annually in Beijing (alongside other cities). It appears to be competition against Midi festival as they generally schedule to run at the same time, in the same city, just an hour apart from one another.

 

Zebra Festival

Zebra music festival is held each year in Chengdu, Sichuan province. Again it is a rock festival and tickets are 80RMB (for a day pass as weekend tickets aren’t available) with the festival running for three days.

 

Beijing Pop Festival

This festival, contrary to the name, is infact another rock festival! It was held every year (until 2007) in Beijing’s Chaoyang Park and features a combination of local and international bands. Notable acts that have performed there include Nine Inch Nails,  Public Enemy and New York Dolls. However, there haven’t been any performances over the past few years meaning it possibly could be extinct, considering Black Rabbit Festival has popped up in the month this festival usually takes place.

 

Other festivals to look into are Modern Sky Festival, China Music Valley Festival and Blossom Festival. However, festivals throughout China seem to be disappearing as fast as they begin, so it is best to continually check the line up and stability before planning any China Travel around this!

 

 

Sample Some Snake, Scorpion, Seahorse or Starfish at Wangfujing!

On September 16, 2011, in Beijing, China Travel Gossip, Cultural Experience, Restaurants & Food, by Jack Li

For adventurous eaters or those just curious to see the range of unusual creatures deemed edible, you should definitely not miss a trip to the night markets in Wangfujing. This is an experience that usually isn’t on offer in other countries, except slightly less bizarre offerings such as fried grasshoppers in South East Asia! Therefore […]

For adventurous eaters or those just curious to see the range of unusual creatures deemed edible, you should definitely not miss a trip to the night markets in Wangfujing. This is an experience that usually isn’t on offer in other countries, except slightly less bizarre offerings such as fried grasshoppers in South East Asia! Therefore when you travel to Beijing it is a must see, if only for some interesting photographs to show people back home! Also if you plan to travel to Shanghai there are also similar streets to sample the delicacies.

 

Wangfujing is fairly central to access on Subway line 1 and the stop is conveniently also called Wangfujing. Take exit A and it is a short walk to most of the action. Wangfujing is also more than just the night market location, being a popular attraction and one of the busiest shopping areas. It is also a pedestrian only street which is a rarity in Beijing, and has a variety of shops and smalls.

 

There are a few night market areas but the main streets are ‘Xiaochi Jie’ and ‘Donganmen’. These stalls are a little more expensive and tourist orientated however you will find an exciting array of insects, animals and other edible deep fried delicacies to try. Examples of the variety available include everything from starfish, scorpion, lizard and snake to silk worms, millipedes, spiders and birds.

 

If you are a fussy eater there is plenty of ‘normal’ food available at the stalls aswell, including noodles, spring rolls and rice dishes. There are also plenty of stalls selling a variety of kebabs using lamb or chicken. In addition to this if you require a full meal there are plenty of both Chinese and Western restaurants in the area, and you can walk north to the many hutongs to sample some authentic dishes down any of the small side streets.

 

The market is opened every evening from around 5pm and starts to close at 9.30pm, with it clearing away completely by 10pm. It is also located reasonably nearby Tianamen Square so you may be able to walk from your Beijing hotel.

 

 

Entertainment in Beijing: Acrobatics, Opera & Kung Fu Shows!

On September 15, 2011, in Beijing, Entertainment, Nightlife, by Jack Li

A must see experience on any China tour is a visit to an acrobatic show. Attractions like this can be very hit and miss but Chinese acrobatics is definitely a hit and has to be seen to be believed! The shows are an eclectic mix of dance, gymnastics, contortion, martial arts and incredible stunts, with […]

A must see experience on any China tour is a visit to an acrobatic show. Attractions like this can be very hit and miss but Chinese acrobatics is definitely a hit and has to be seen to be believed! The shows are an eclectic mix of dance, gymnastics, contortion, martial arts and incredible stunts, with insane acts such as five men on motorbikes whizzing around a gigantic hamster like ball.

 

The history of Chinese Acrobatics dates back over two thousand years and when you travel to Beijing the best and most recommended location to see the extravagance is the Chaoyang Theatre. The theatre is easy to get to and located in the east of the city, the nearest subway stop is ‘Hujialou’ on line 10. Performances are available each night, with a viewing at 5.15-6.30pm and another at 7.15-8.30pm with the cost being around 200RMB for the cheapest seats, however this can rise up to 800RMB for those with the best views.

 

Chaoyang Theatre has a souvenir stall selling merchandise related to the performance including a DVD of the show, and there is also a small shop selling drinks and snacks to bring into the theatre with you. Performances are around 75 minutes.

 

The show is a spectacular combination of movement, lighting and sound and makes for some beautiful photos. Other theatres in Beijing offering shows are the Tiandi ‘Heaven and Earth’ Theatre (nearest subway stop is Dongsishitiao on Line 2) with shows daily at 7.15-8.30pm and Tianqiao Theatre (best accessed by taxi) with shows at 7.15pm. Both cost in the region of 180RMB for the cheaper seats.

 

In addition to Acrobatics there is also an energetic Kung Fu performance on show at the Red Theatre (closest subway stop is Tiantandongmen, Line 5) entitled ‘The Legend of Kung Fu’. There is more than just martial arts to this show which follows a narrative, as it involves dangerous stunts with variety of props and sharp instruments. There are performances every evening beginning at 7.30pm and tickets cost from 180RMB. Shows last 1 hour and 20 minutes.

 

Another traditional attraction is the Beijing Opera (known as Jingxi) which, although not as comprehensible as the above attractions, is still worth a visit – if not for the impressive costumes, make up and stage design. The most popular theatres for this are Liyuan Theatre (accessed via the Liyuan stop on the Batong line) and the National Centre for the Performing Arts (subway stop Tian’anmen West (Xi)), both have evening performances starting at 7.30pm. Alongside the original opera performances many popular Chinese teahouses also combine the traditional tea tasting experience with Opera entertainment, and often this can be combined with a Peking Duck dinner too.

 

If you are unsure about organising any of these activities or would rather be a part of a group visit many Beijing Hotels and online travel companies offer tours or package deals to all of the above attractions.

The Best Aerial Views Over Beijing..

On September 14, 2011, in Accomodation, Beijing, China Travel Gossip, Nightlife, by Jack Li

You may be interested to learn the best spots around Beijing for catching an interesting view of the city. When you travel to Beijing, although it is not quite as mesmerizing as Hong Kong’s skyline the views are still well worth the trip. The trickiest part is timing your visit with a clear sky for […]

You may be interested to learn the best spots around Beijing for catching an interesting view of the city. When you travel to Beijing, although it is not quite as mesmerizing as Hong Kong’s skyline the views are still well worth the trip. The trickiest part is timing your visit with a clear sky for good visibility. China hotels generally are some of the best spots for good viewing opportunities, particularly the high floor bars and lounges typical of the more upmarket establishments.

One such place is the Atmosphere Bar. This is a relatively new high end bar with drinks prices to match (cocktails starting at 65RMB), however on a clear day or night it easily takes the title for best views across Beijing. It is located on the 80th floor of the China World Tower 3, officially known as ‘China World Summit Wing’, which can be found on the Beijing east 3rd ring road. It is also easily accessed via the metro, simply catch Line 1 to Guomao.

Atmosphere is open from 12 noon until 2am, and specifies a ‘smart casual’ dress code. There are both smoking and non-smoking areas, and the bar offers views of the CBD, Sanlitun and the Tian’anmen area.

Another recommended bar is ‘China Bar’ located on the 65th floor of the Park Hyatt Hotel, this previously held the title for Beijing’s highest bar before the China World Summit Wing was built. Being another luxury hotel the drink prices are steep starting at 70RMB for cocktails and 60RMB upwards for beer, however the views are great across the Central Business Disctrict taking in the CCTV headquarters (known as the ‘pants building’) and the Bird’s Nest Stadium on a clear night. Opening times are 5pm until 1am, and it is accessed from the same metro as the Atmosphere Bar so you could visit both in an evening.

The Park Hyatt also has a restaurant called China Grill on the floor above which is Beijing’s highest restaurant. The panoramic 360 degree views are stunning, and they serve a range of Western food alongside Chinese and Japanese.

For unmissable views over the Tian’anmen and Forbidden City area, head for Jingshan Park (admission 2RMB). The park is located just north of the Forbidden City and on a clear day has fabulous views across Beijing, including Lake Beihai to the west and the Bell and Drum towers in the north. Whilst here you can visit some traditional Chinese temples and also the spot where emperor Chong Zhen hung himself in 1644, after the Imperial Palace was broken into by rebel troops.

Other good views across the city can be found at the Drum Tower and CCTV Tower (not to be confused with the CCTV Headquarters), and many Beijing Hotels also have great views of the city, particularly toward the higher floors.

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