The brash modernity of BEIJING comes as a surprise to many visitors. Traversed by more than a hundred flyovers and spiked with high-rises, this vivid metropolis is China at its most dynamic. For a thousand years, the drama of China's imperial history was played out here, with the emperor sitting enthroned at the centre of the Chinese universe, and though today the city is a very different one, it remains spiritually and politically the heart of the country.
First impressions are of an almost inhuman vastness, conveyed by the sprawl of apartment buildings, in which most of the city's population of fifteen million are housed, and the eight-lane motorways that slice it up. It's a notion that's reinforced on closer acquaintance, from the magnificent Forbidden City, with its stunning wealth of treasures, to the concrete desert of Tian'anmen Square, geographical and psychic centre of the city. Qianmen, a noisy market area south of here, is a bit more alive, and ends in style with one of the city's highlights, the Temple of Heaven. Outside the centre, the scale becomes more manageable, with parks, alleyways and historic sites such as the Yonghe Gong and the Ancient Observatory offering respite from the city's oppressive orderliness. To the east, the Sanlitun area is a ghetto of expat services including some good upscale restaurants and plenty of bars. An expedition to the outskirts is amply rewarded by the Summer Palace, the best place to get away from it all.
Contemporary Beijing has an international flavour reflecting its position as the capital of a major commercial power. As the front line of China's grapple with modernity, it is being ripped up and rebuilt at a furious pace. Students in the latest fashions while away their time in Internet cafés, hip-hop has overtaken the clubs, and schoolkids carry mobile phones in their lunchboxes. Rising incomes have led not just to a brash consumer-capitalist society Westerners will feel very familiar with, but also to a revival of older Chinese culture – witness the re-emergence of the teahouse as a genteel meeting place and the interest in imperial cuisine.
To the first-time visitor, Beijing seems a vast and sprawling city. It is characterized by long, wide boulevards and a labyrinthine network of overpasses and freeways that comprises the six ring roads.
Fortunately, there is order in the chaos. At the heart of Beijing lies the Forbidden City , the absolute center of the capital, from where the ring roads emanate in concentric circles. First Ring Road surrounds the former imperial complex and land that is now mostly parks and museums. More important to travelers is navigating the Second and Third Ring Roads. Second Ring Road was built where Beijing's ancient city walls once stood, and the old city is comprised within including the districts of Dong Cheng, Xi Cheng, Chong Wen and Xuan Wu. The area within Third Ring Road is also considered the center of the town where the most concentrated portion of public transit exists, including Chao Yang and Hai Dian districts. The fourth, fifth and sixth rings are useful for commuting to the airport, university and technology district, and outlying suburbs. These ring roads are designated according to points of the compass, so "East Third Ring Road North" means the northernmost stretch of the eastern section of the Third Ring Road. Easy!
There are 16 urban districts and two rural counties in Beijing municipality proper, with each district containing distinctive neighborhoods. Most areas of interest are in the eastern Chao Yang and central Dong Cheng and Xi Cheng districts. Dong Cheng District With Tiananmen Square , the Forbidden City , and Mao's Mausoleum within its boundaries, this district is one of the most visited places in Beijing. Not surprisingly, major hotels such as the Grand Hotel Beijing are found here. Dong Cheng is the district where many of Beijing's distinctive neighborhoods are found, including Wang Fu Jing Shopping District , the area surrounding the Drum Tower and Yong He Gong Lama Temple .
Wang Fu Jing
This is Beijing's premier shopping area. It is partially closed to cars and crowded at all times of the day and night. The wide, sprawling central street is a showcase the best of Beijing's commercial success. Stop off at the Beijing Foreign Language Bookstore to pick up a Chinese dictionary or the latest John Grisham potboiler. Dip into Sun Dong An Plaza , Beijing's mammoth shopping mall, to browse the big name labels that are feeling more at home in China. Feeling peckish? Try some deep-fried scorpion or other heavily spiced oddities on a stick at the Wang Fu Jing Night Market . If the idea of chomping on insects does not appeal, try upscale dining at one of several four- and five-star hotels in the area such as Huang Ting in the Peninsula Hotel for a taste of traditional Beijing cuisine.
Chao Yang District
As the most concentrated commercial and residential area in Beijing, Chao Yang offers many areas of interest for visitors. Within this district are Chao Yang Park , the San Li Tun diplomatic and nightlife area, and the Jian Guo Men and Ri Tan business and embassy districts. Chao Yang is also home to Beijing's pulsing artistic community, Da Shan Zi, which grew out of an abandoned factory. Outer Jian Guo Men and Ri Tan You will always see a wide mix of international faces here: tourists, businesspeople and locals. The main street, Jian Guo Men Wai Avenue, is a mad hustle of people, cars and vendors selling everything from pirated CDs to rickshaw rides. There are many major hotels and office buildings in the area, including the massive China World Hotel , where the fabulous restaurant and wine bar Aria is located. Tourists can try their hand at bargaining at the ever-crowded Silk Alley. Just a few blocks away, however, one can find peace and quiet in the graceful tree-lined streets of the embassy area and in serene Ri Tan Park where you can sit by the lake with a cup of coffee at the famous Stone Boat Cafe .
San Li Tun
Originally the embassy district, San Li Tun is home to some of the best of Beijing's nightlife. This is a loosely designated area of bars and pubs with San Li Tun North and South Streets at its heart. With the recent reconstruction efforts for the Olympics, the actual street and its many fabulous bars and restaurants have shifted, much to the confusion of return visitors to Beijing. Besides the ubiquitous cafes and bars, you will also find numerous boutiques selling everything from framed prints to Tibetan handicrafts and clothes. The lending library and gourmet cafe Bookworm is one of the unofficial community centers of the international community here, as well as home to an annual literary festival. The nearby Yashow Market is a good place for bargains on designer goods. The fourth floor is outfitted with tailors ready to whip up any clothing item you desire, made to order at bargain prices and in a very agreeable amount of time. Nighttime always reveals the decadent side of San Li Tun. Bar and club goers can start out the night at Q Bar for top notch cocktails, and then head to VICS . Gong Ti Bei Lu (North Workers Stadium Road) lights up with dance clubs and restaurants such as Loft .
Chao Yang Park
The expansive Chao Yang Park rivals San Li Tun for nightlife fun. Upscale bars, pubs, restaurants and shops have recently located here, catering to Beijing the relaxed community of young families that centers itself near the park. Legendary staples like Annie's Italian Cafe have been in Beijing long enough to achieve institution-status. World class clubs can be found within the park, such as 1920s Shanghai-flavored World of Suzie Wong Club and the ultra fashionable Block 8 . During the 2008 Summer Olympics Chao Yang Park was the venue for the volley ball competition.
Da Shan Zi
The Bauhaus-inspired factories and workshops of Da Shan Zi once produced the audio equipment for the Workers' Stadium , and Tiananmen Square , now they house tinkering sculptors, paint-smudged artists and lots of space to display the energies of Beijing's avant-garde art community. Central to Da Shan Zi is 798 Space where events, fashion shows, and exhibitions are often held. If you are in Beijing in October, they also host the most outstanding Halloween party in town. The former factory grounds are open to the public free of charge and offers a campus-like feeling of quiet tree lined paths, creative whimsy and plenty of galleries to see artistic history in the making.
Xicheng covers a great deal of the old city. It is just west of the Forbidden City and epitomizes the blending of an old and new China. Once the home of wealthy merchants and people loosely associated with the court, it is now considered the cultural, historical, business, financial, and political district of Beijing. The financial and commercial districts, centered at Jinrong Jie, are located here. For the ultimate experience of Old Beijing visit Bei Hai , Beijing's oldest park, dating back to the 10th century. The Hou Hai area offers entertainment and dining (Beijing punk made its early debut here) and is also the gateway to Beijing's famous hutongs, an architect's delight. For good drinks and music visit the East Shore Live Jazz Cafe or the Buddha Bar .
Chong Wen District
Located in the south of the city, this is a long-established commercial area, selling everything from eyeglasses to sporting goods. Check out the Qian Men Shopping Area for some of Beijing's oldest stores. The area is also worth visiting to see the beautiful Temple of Heaven and the Hong Qiao Market a treasure-trove of objects both banal and bizarre. The open markets still capture some of the Old Beijing atmosphere and are fun for browsing even if you are not shopping.
Feng Tai District
This southwest district Beijing houses the Yangtai Sports Center where the Olympic softball tournament was held. Mainly an industrial area, there are several cultural and historical sites worth visiting, such as the China Space Museum, Feng Tai Park and Marco Polo Bridge .
Hai Dian District
This northwestern part of the city is also known as the university district. Along with Beijing University and Qinghua University, who compete to be China's top school, there are ten major national universities within a four mile radius here. Owing to the young student population, this area has a reputation for being hip and full of cheap eats and dive bars. Hai Dian district is also designated a high-technology zone, so this is where you will find start-ups and high tech companies, such as Sohu and Google's China headquarters. Interesting shopping can be found along Chengfu Road. Check out the old map section in 02 Sun Bookstore or get an incredible chocolate confection at Awfully Chocolate . The Summer Palace , a World Heritage site, and Ruins of the Old Summer Palace , or Yuan Ming Yuan are also in Hai Dian.
Xi Dan and Xuan Wu
Like Wang Fu Jing, these areas are known largely for their shopping. While the former is a place to be seen, Beijingers shop in Xi Dan and Xuan Wu. In imperial times Xuan Wu was home to the lower classes unconnected to court life. After the republic was established, it became known as “Little Lanzhou” because the large number of Hui or Uighur families, restaurants and shops here. Browse the small shops and stalls for bargains on clothing, shoes and CDs. Shopping centers here include Parksons and the Xi Dan Department Store .
Beijing offers a staggering supply of places to eat, drink and be merry, and the number only continues to grow. As capitol, the cosmopolitan flavors available should not be shocking except to those who remember the days when choices were limited to incredibly sumptuous Peking duck banquets or greasy attempts at Western cookery. How times have changed.
Chinese cuisine is a regional affair. Southwestern Sichuanese food is notoriously spicy, Cantonese food includes dishes familiar to the west but best known for unusual ingredients combined in absolutely inspirational fashion. Northern Chinese cuisine includes Mongolian hotpot and plenty of lamb. Beijing specialties include imperial delicacies (think Peking duck) but also the everyday cuisine of the lao bai xing or regular folks not connected to the court. North China eats more wheat than rice, as is reflected in the delicious and cheap snacks widely available. Breakfast items such as dou zhi with you tiao, or warm fermented meng bean milk (not unlike soy milk) with an unsweetened Chinese style doughnut, also make an excellent midnight snack. Steamed baozi and jiaozi are two kinds of meat or vegetable dumplings within a doughy wrap. Chinese style crepes with scallions, or you bing are also a popular, widely available, and cheap.
If you are ready for a different flavor, there is not shortage of international cuisine from any part of the globe, including a number of cozy Western comfort food stops of increasing quality. Just about every kind of food in Asia is available, as is a great variety of Russian staples.
You will find most of the city's restaurants in east and central Beijing, in the Chao Yang and Dong Cheng districts, respectively. Due to the wealth on offer, it is not possible to cover them all here. However, the places in the following areas are highly recommended.
Chao Yang District
Anything you want to eat is found here. For Chinese cuisine try Green T. House , with its devotion to taking the culinary history of China to a new level. Craving Peking roast duck? Beijing Da Dong Roast Duck Restaurant , with its long standing popularity, will surly provide you with the experience you seek. Chinese dumplings reach their height at Bao Yuan Jiaozi Wu . What about Japanese? Try Hatsune with its plethora of fresh sashimi and delectable rolls. There is also Brasserie Flo , the famous French restaurant which is as close to Paris as you can get in Beijing. An evening at Lan will not soon be forgotten with its scrumptious cuisine and decadent decor. Vegetarians will be delighted by the Lotus in Moonlight . The ultra hip can cool down over a shaved ice desert at Bellagio . It has been unofficially agreed that a visit to Taj Pavillion is an integral part of a journey through Beijing. Although the selection of native beer in China may be on the light side, good selections of Belgian beers can be found at both Tree and Schiller's . The truly chic martini lounge Centro is a place to see and be seen as well as enjoy a chocolate martini with some live jazz.
Chao Yang Park
This once humble park is rapidly becoming one of the hippest spots for dining and drinking. Beijing's favorite Italian restaurant, Annie's , can also be found here. For new interpretations on Chinese classics give the cozy Andie Anniang a try. If you prefer to participate in sport via the barstool, check out the Goose 'n' Duck Pub . French inspired authentic Vietnamese has found a home at Muse . If you would like to sample an imperial style meal, reserve a private room at Summer House . Their meals fit budgets from affordable to royal, and are truly a one of a kind experience. The evening destination Ultra-i not only has regular events but also an interesting drinks menu.
San Li Tun
The cozy cafe in The Bookworm , offers delicious dining and excellent atmosphere for conversataion. Down the street from there you will find the intimate Golden Elephant , which serves well-prepared Indian and Thai food. For something more sophisticated try the award winning Morel's where you can get some of the best Belgian food and beer in town. If you are looking for upscale Thai cuisine, try Purple Haze , the much talked about restaurant and bar that has received honorable mention from several different Beijing city guides. A late night pizza carving will meet its match at the Kro's Nest . Any place on San Li Tun Bar Street is good for a drink, but for those who want more ambience with their beer, Havana Cafe is alive with Cuban rhythms and beats. Q Bar , the bar sporting Beijing's best cocktails, can also be found here. With so much to choose from picking the perfect drink is a difficult task so don't limit yourself to one. A drinking tour through San Li Tun is best ended at Rickshaw , where it does not matter the hour, breakfast is served all day. If you seek a place to dance and drink, VICS by the Workers Stadium offers patrons space to do both. Speaking of space, long time Beijing nightspot Public Space is still going strong.
Jian Guo Men Wai & Ri Tan
From fast food to fine dining, this area has it all. Naturally, you will find the standard Pizza Hut, McDonald's and Starbucks franchises. For those who want more variety, Mexican Wave , an expat favorite, serves decent Tex-Mex. For Chinese food at affordable prices and in a romantic courtyard atmosphere, the Xi He Ya Ju Restaurant near Ri Tan Park is an excellent choice. Also located near the park is the fabulous Schindler's Tankstelle , a which serves delicious cold beers and tasty German food you won't get anywhere else. If you are craving wood-fired pizza, then Adria is the spot to head towards. Tradition and comfort are taken to new heights at Xiao Wang's , where classic Northern Chinese flavor dominates the menu.
Northeast Third Ring Road
This area is renowned for its plentiful restaurants. For those who crave Thai but are on a budget, the Asian Star is a good bet. You can also sample a variety of Chinese, Indian and Malaysian dishes here. For American food with hearty servings, the Hard Rock Cafe and T.G.I. Fridays are hard to beat. For something out of the ordinary try Whale Inside for a meal in the dark! The fabulous Zeta Bar is a fashionable stop, although a quick drop in can turn into a whole evening.
Dong Cheng District
With many different styles of restaurants from east to west, this part of town is yet another of Beijing's culinary treasures. For classic and delicious Chinese fare order yourself a hot pot at Ding Ding Xiang . Their sesame sauce will be hard to forget. Looking for a place to take a date? Head over to the famed Court Yard Restaurant , for exotic cuisine and romantic ambiance. Rain Club offers fresh cuisine straight from their own garden made to order while Waiting for Godot is a cafe and meeting ground only possible in Beijing. For dinner accompanied by Beijing style live theater head to East is Red for a musical supper. Within the twists and turns of the hutongs here, folks on foot often find themselves at Pass By Bar for either a meal or a drink. With an extended library of titles and a lovely courtyard, it is easy to see why.
Wang Fu Jing
Dining in Wang Fu Jing is akin to shopping here, with the high class selection, everything looks fabulous, but after awhile, it also begins to look the same. Several of the hotels have restaurants with excellent reputations and well known chefs. Jing in the Peninsula is just one example. If you are feeling adventurous, you are in for a treat at the Dong An Night Market , where traditional night market foods (i.e., fried or grilled and eaten off a kebab stick) are served up every night. This may be your best chance to try garlic fried scorpion, or indulge in chili covered grasshoppers with a chaser of roasted squid. Not feeling THAT adventurous? Then try the sweat pasty desert served from a dragon kettle.
Xi Dan & Xuan Wu
For Peking Duck, you cannot go wrong at any one of the Quan Ju De Roast Duck Restaurant branches in the city. But for sheer opulence, try the flagship branch on Qian Men Avenue. For a total tea experience accompanied by healthy organic food try out Geng Xiang Shi Fu . Jin Yang Restaurant offers a unique dining experience as the restaurant is over 100 years old, an elegant rarity in Beijing.
Xi Cheng and Hou Hai
Lotus Lane at the entrance to Hou Hai sports an ever changing make up of small restaurants and bars. Some of the music venues here are the best places to hear live music in Beijing. Within the immediate area are also some of Beijing's oldest and most reputed restaurants, such as Hong Bin Lou , at over 100 years old and serving traditional Hui cuisine, it is not to be missed. The Beijing opera star Mei Lan Fang used to live here, and his home is now the excellent Mei Mansion restaurant, serving imperial style cuisine. Zhejiang cuisine reaches inspirational levels at Kong Yi Ji . A dinner here may inspire you to rethink your travel plans and dip down to see the southern province that inspired the food. If you are looking for a more quiet location on your night out, try Taozhi Yaoyao for a special spot with a particularly traditional feeling. Another peaceful spot that is also quite social is found at Shui Bar . Guangfuguan Greenhouse was originally a Taoist temple complex. As a bar and music spot, it is especially wonderful on a warm summer evening.
Hai Dian District
To fit the student budget, there are many cheap "hole-in-the-wall" style establishments that serve some of the best Chinese food in town. Wu Dao Kou, known as Korea Town, has many small, authentic Korean restaurants catering to the large, Korean student population. If you want to eat like the locals and love Korean barbecue, Han Na Shan is an absolute must. For those seeking an exciting and non-traditionalist dining affair, a trip to Blu Lobster is in order. The cook's innovative style will have you eating combinations you have never tried before including hot rice with cold ice cream. Vegetarians can eat to their hearts content at Buddhist-run Still Thoughts . To try unique regional cuisine from Shandong head to Feng Ze Yuan Fanzhuang . For an extra treat reserve one of their 17 private rooms for a party. Old school and always open, Lush is a bar, a 24 hour restaurant, a music venue, and just about anything else you might want it to be, just as long as you ask. Part of the punk legend of Beijing, D-22 serves up plenty to drink.
Touring this ancient city is one way to transport back in time as well as experience the transformation of modern Beijing.
The Great Wall
Without a doubt, the Great Wall is one of the most amazing structures ever built. Seen from a distance, the Wall is an awesome spectacle, snaking across the hills of northern China seemingly without end. The Wall stretches from Shan Hai Guan Pass on the east coast to the Jia Yu Guan Pass in the Gobi Desert, far to the west. Originally built 2,000 years ago during the Qin Dynasty (221-207 BC), the Wall was designed to keep out foreign invaders—in which capacity it succeeded at times and failed at others. Constructed with beacon towers, it also served as an enemy alert system by using smoke systems to warn of approaching enemies. In peacetime, the Wall has proved useful as a highway, transporting people and supplies over large distances. Most stretches of the Wall close to Beijing were rebuilt or fortified during the Ming Dynasty. Of the eight sites of the Great Wall, there are four sections near Beijing open to tourists: Badaling , Mutianyu , Huanghuacheng and Simatai . The majority of visitors see Badaling, which at 70 kilometers (44 miles) is relatively close to the city. Restored in 1957, Badaling is the most commercial section of the Wall and comes with such modern conveniences as restaurants and a cinema. Here you can also visit the Great Wall Museum to acquaint yourself more with this historical marvel. Mutianyu, 90 kilometers (55 miles) from Beijing, is the second site of the wall open to tourists and is also fairly commercial. For those who want to see the Great Wall in an unspoiled state, Simatai is the place to go. You can spend an enjoyable day hiking there and the site is quieter and less crowded than Badaling or Mutianyu. Although both peaceful and beautiful, Simatai is also a physical challenge. Some parts of the wall are very steep and can be dangerous so it is best not to go alone. Wear sturdy shoes and keep your hands free.
Forbidden City (Gu Gong)
Home to two dynasties, the Ming and the Qing, the Forbidden City was constructed in the 15th century, and was home to about 24 emperors. Under the reign of Yong Le of the Ming Dynasty, the construction of the Imperial Palace complex required the effort of a million laborers. Most of the buildings have been rebuilt or restored as the originals were destroyed during the tumultuous events of recent Chinese history. Many people choose to join the tours that start at Tiananmen Gate . Others sign up for the self guided audio tour. Located inside is the Palace Museum , where you will see various grand temples and halls but the main highlights are the Three Great Halls and the Hall of Supreme Harmony. The latter hall was traditionally the most important structure used for imperial ceremonies such as the Emperor's birthday. Immediately surrounding the outer walls of the Forbidden city to the north and west are two ancient parks. Zhong Shan Park to the west offers paddle boats for hire, which make a fun way to view the outer walls of the palace from its former moat. Behind the palace is Jing Shan Park and Bei Hai Park . Jing Shan was created as a quarry for stone during the construction of the palace and now serves as a peaceful outdoor retreat for Beijingers. It is also the site where the Ming Dynasty came to an end. Bei Hai holds some incredible traditional gardens and the Mao Ying White Stupa , constructed in part by Genghis Khan's tolerance for many faiths. On an island within the park is the famous Fangshan Restaurant , where Empress Dowager Ci Xi once enjoyed 112 course meals. Mere mortals and tourists can try out imperial style cuisine in the opulent halls if they make reservations. Continuing through Bei Hai Park it is possible to walk to Hou Hai lake district's Lotus Lane. Or, if you have not yet gotten a sense of Old Beijing, head to the Beijing Museum of Ancient Architecture , which elaborates on the the achievements of the tradition of unique Chinese architecture. Highly recommended is a visit to the beautiful Courtyard Restaurant , within view of the palace's east entrance. The Wang Fu Jing Shopping District is a short walk up Riverside Street from here.
Directly in front of Tiananmen Gate , the traditional entrance to the Forbidden City , symbol of China's ancient past, is Tiananmen Square , a more fitting symbol to China's recent history. It was from the Tiananmen Gate the Mao Ze Dong declared the founding of the People's Republic of China on October 1, 1949. The square was designed as a military parade ground, similar to Red Square in Moscow. In the center of the square is the Monument to the People's Heroes, with representations of the workers, laborers, soldiers and farmers who participated in the revolution. To the east of the square is the Great Hall of the People where the Communist Party Politburo meets. Mao's Mausoleum is also located within the square, where the Great Helmsman's body lays on display, dimly lit in a crystal coffin. Directly behind the Mausoleum is the ancient Zheng Yang Men Gate and across the street is Qian Men . These two gates were the original entrance to the now gone cloistered warren that surrounded the Forbidden City, filled with servants to the court. Continue walking passed the recently renovated Qian Men and enter Beijing's oldest shopping district, Qian Men Walking Street , which received a face lift shortly before the 2008 Olympics. Some of Beijing's oldest shops and well reputed restaurants are found here. Particularly of note are the tea shops.
Temple of Heaven (Tian Tan)
The Temple of Heaven was built during the Ming Dynasty and was considered sacred until the end of the dynastic era. The Emperor would perform ceremonial rites to the gods here to ensure a good harvest. This place is also remarkable for its outstanding architecture and is located within the grounds of the Beijing Museum of Ancient Architecture and the Beijing Museum of Natural History . The upper parts of the temples are circular while the bases are square (reflecting the traditional Chinese belief that heaven is round and the earth square). Next venture to the most significant Tibetan Buddhist temple outside Tibet itself, is the Lama Temple , a beautiful structure containing a massive statue of Buddha carved from sandalwood (the largest such statue in the world). This temple has a rich and turbulent history, having survived wars, uprisings and rebellions. Declared as a historical relic in 1949, the building escaped the Cultural Revolution without a scratch. There are five "must see" halls in total: Lokapala, Yong He Dian, Yong You Dian, the Hall of the Wheel of Law, and Wan Fu Pavilion. After walking through the temple complex, head over to Vineyard Cafe to enjoy their courtyard dining room and their wood fired pizza. If you are still in the mood to stretch your legs, head over to Di Tan Park , a less visited park created around the alter the emperor of China once used to pray for good harvests and especially pleasant in the late afternoon.
Districts of historical architecture were preserved in the preparations for Beijing's 2008 Olympics. Located at the city center, these intricate alleyways wind around classic courtyard houses, called siheyuan. The most visited of these neighborhoods lies between Hou Hai and the Lama Temple . While exploring on foot can lead to exciting discoveries, bicycle rickshaw tours are also available. The Former Residences of Soong Ching Ling , wife of Sun Yat-sen, Twentieth Century writers Mao Dun and Lao She have all been preserved for visitors. The former residence of Mei Lanfang , most recognized Peking Opera singer in the West, has been turned into the decadent restaurant Mei Mansion . Tiny shops, beautiful embellishments at gates and many other surprises await the traveler to these tiny lanes too small to fit a car through. The street facing Qian Hai is called Lotus Lane. Several bars and restaurants are located here and the nightlife is vibrant. Walk along here, then pass over a foot bridge at Xiao Shi Bei and walk along the narrow ancient street Yan Dai Xie to find some revolution era souvenirs and plenty to point your camera at. From Yan Dai Xie turn left onto Di'an Men Wai Street and walk up to the Drum Tower and its nearby companion the Bell Tower . Around sunset the swallows that were once ubiquitous around Beijing can be seen flying up to nest here. After all that walking, hop in a cab and head to the Pass By Bar to treat yourself to a lovely courtyard meal.
Scenic cruises throughout Beijing will leave you wishing your visit was longer. With so much to see and do, try one of the various tour companies to fulfill your stay in Beijing.
Beijing Join In Bus Tour ( +86 10 51660915 25/ http://www.beijingimpression.com/bus.htm/ )
Beijing eTours Travel Service ( +0 086 10 67160201/ http://beijing.etours.cn/tours/beijing_bus_tours/ )
Tour Beijing ( +00 86 10 6716 0201/ http://www.tour-beijing.com/ )
Sinoway Travel ( +1 415 287 0878/ http://www.chinadiscover.net/china-tour/beijingguide/beijing-boattour.htm/ )
Travel China Guide ( +86 29 8523 6688/ http://www.travelchinaguide.com/package/beijing.htm/ )
China Highlights ( +1 800 268 2918/ http://www.chinahighlights.com/tour/cht-29a/ )
Beijing Culinary Tour ( +1 800 773 0862/ http://www.chinaodysseytours.com/tour_beijing.html/ )