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Beijing Memo

Waiting To Cross

Wait­ing To Cross

Here we are, the Bei­jing series is almost over! Fall is set­ting in Canada and I’ll soon post pic­tures of the beau­ti­ful leaves col­ors we have over there.

To fin­ish this Bei­jing 2008 series, I’d like to give you a few tips for your next trip to China’s capital.

Where to stay

We stayed in two bud­get places in Bei­jing, first in Dongzhi­men, then in Wangfujing.

The Golden Pineap­ple Youth Hos­tel (56RMB258RMB): the hotel opened in 2008, so it’s brand new. It actu­ally look like an proper hotel rather than an hos­tel! The dou­ble room were small but very com­fort­able, with TV, A/C, phone, bot­tled water and pri­vate bath­room. The staff was nice but I over­heard a lot of argu­ments and mis­un­der­stand­ings at the front desk because the employ­ees don’t really speak Eng­lish. The loca­tion of the hotel was very good: it is about five min­utes walk from both sub­way sta­tions, in a small alley, close to restau­rants and busi­ness. A Seven Eleven is right next door, handy for last minute snacks and drinks.

Address:
Golden Pineap­ple Youth Hos­tel (金菠萝国际青年酒店)
N0.18, Xinzhong Jie, Dongcheng Dis­trict
(oppo­site The No.55 Mid­dle School And South Gate Of Sea­sons)
Bei­jing, China 100027
Phone: +86–10-84472899
Fax: +86–10-84473458
Email: bih-yh@sohu.com
Sub­way: Dongzhi­men or Dong­sishi­tiao

Wang­fu­jing Inter­na­tional Youth Hos­tel ($6-$15): this place was def­i­nitely more hostel-like, with dorms beds, a pool table and a few drunk trav­el­ers. The dou­ble room with pri­vate bath­room are located down­stairs between the recep­tion, the pool room and the restau­rant: very noisy! The dou­ble upstairs with shared bath­room are qui­eter and cleaner. The shared show­ers are clean. There is free WiFi access, even though the net­work is pretty weak. The staff is young and speaks good Eng­lish. The loca­tion is great, just a few min­utes walk from Wangfujing.

Address:
Wang­fu­jing Inter­na­tional Youth Hos­tel (王府井青年酒店)
No.21 Xi Tang Zi Hutong (behind Tai­wan Hotel), Dongcheng Dis­trict
100006, Bei­jing
Sub­way: Deng Shi Dong Kou

We book the Pineap­ple hos­tel online before we left due to the new visa require­ments. We used hostels.com and it did a great job.

How to get around

  • Buses (1RMB; 0.40RMB with an IC Card): buses runs through­out the city. Stops are writ­ten in Chi­nese and in Pinyin so if you know where to get on/ get off, you will be fine. How­ever, buses are often crowded and chaotic, not to men­tion the hor­t­i­zon­tal queue­ing to get on… Check the Bei­jing Pub­lic Trans­porta­tion web­site for buses routes (in English).
  • Sub­way (2RMB): this is prob­a­bly the most effi­cient way to get around. Sub­way sta­tions are writ­ten in Chi­nese and in pinyin and stops are announced in both lan­guages. There are cur­rently 8 sub­way lines, more will be added in the next few years. You can get a mag­netic card (一卡通)for a 20RMB deposit and refill the card instead of buy­ing sin­gle tickets.
  • Taxis: they are plen­ti­ful and cheap. Taxis are now metered and rides in the city are usu­ally between 10-30RMB, to the air­port it’s about 100RMB. Dri­vers almost never speak Eng­lish, so carry the name of your des­ti­na­tion in Chi­nese on a piece of paper.

What do visit

So many places! Just to name a few: Qian­men; Tianan­men Square; the For­bid­den City; Bei­hai Park and the Sum­mer Palace; the Tem­ple of Heaven and the Lama Tem­ple… I guess the Olympic Park will also be open for tourists and trust me, the Bird Nest is worth the visit!

You can also just wan­der in the street to soak up the atmos­phere, or mar­vel at how mod­ern Bei­jing can be.

The Great Wall is also a must see!

Where and what to eat

  • A tra­di­tional Bei­jing Duck at the famous Quan­jude restau­rant (Qian­men or Wangfujing)
  • Baozi at Goubuli (in Wangfujing)
  • Great Thai food at Serve The Peo­ple (Sanlitun)
  • Snack at the Wang­fu­jing night mar­ket (insects included)
  • Cheap meals from all over China at the Xidan shop­ping mall or in the Wang­fu­jing shop­ping mall

Where to shop

  • Expe­ri­ence the Silk Mar­ket… love it or hate it! (sub­way: Yong An Li)
  • Shop with trendy young peo­ple in Xidan (sub­way: Xidan)
  • Find any­thing you need in the Fucheng­men mall, from clothes to Ipods, from sou­venirs to pens and pen­cils (sub­way: Fuchengmen)
  • Bring home some sou­venirs from the busy Wang­fu­jing mar­ket (sub­way: Wangfujing)

Nightlife

You can always head to San­l­i­tun, the tra­di­tional nightlife dis­trict. But I rec­om­mend you to take a walk in Houhai (sub­way: Gulou). The scene is much bet­ter and the loca­tion is just magic, with all the lights reflect­ing in the lakes.

Last tips…

  • Hang out in the parks early in the morn­ing to spot the elderly doing Taichichuan, writ­ing cal­lig­ra­phy on the street, or singing.
  • Visit Lao She’s house (Fengfu Lane, West St., Deng­shikou, Dongcheng Dis­trict) to have a look at one of Beijing’s best writer’s life… and admire the small court­yards, typ­i­cal of Beijing.
  • Head to Tianan­men for the flag cer­e­mony, every­day around 7:30am and 5pm (sched­ules available)
  • Expe­ri­ence a Chi­nese mas­sage!

Have a good trip! 一路平安!

9 comments

  1. that sounds like so much fun, zhu. i’d prob­a­bly visit the for­bid­den city first, because i like any­thing with the word for­bid­den in it.

  2. I thought Wang­fu­jing is an upscale shop­ping area? Sur­prised that a youth hos­tel has opened there.

    Beijing’s taxi dri­vers attended Eng­lish class before the Olympics but they still don’t speak Eng­lish. Hmm…

    Regard­ing Bei­jing Duck, I sug­gest ask the locals. Quan­jude can be com­pared to McDonald’s. It is famous and has opened many stores, but cer­tainly not the only choice.

  3. @Priyank — Give it a try if you have a chance, I’m sure you will love it!

    @Annie — I hope I can brain­wash peo­ple so that they go travel! ;-) But you are really tempt­ing me for India as well…

    @beaverboosh — I promise I’ll sell my guides cheaper ;-)

    @Bluefish — Yes I did, and I will add it to my tro­phy room. Thanks!

    @DianeCA — And it’s not that far from Nor­way you know, just a quick ride above the North Pole.

    @Seraphine — I must admit I was keen on vis­it­ing it for the same rea­son :lol:

    @Khengsiong — There are a few bud­gets places in the hutong around Wang­fu­jing actu­ally. The place we stayed in was a block from the Penin­sula hotel!

  4. Con­vert this temp­ta­tion into invi­ta­tion! Do come to India; its one of those must visit places :)

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