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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 (56RMB – 258RMB): 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.

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.

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)


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!

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