Beijing off the Beaten Track
Once you’ve seen the Forbidden City, the Great Wall, Tiananmen Square, 798 and Nanluoguxiang, you’ll probably want to dive a bit deeper into all that Beijing has to offer. With that in mind, this week we present a list of 10 lesser known Beijing attractions you should definitely check out, as recommended by our Beijing team!
Yandaixie Street (Tobacco Pipe Lane)
Nearby Dianmenwai Main Street; Shachahai Station, Line 8
Chinese name: 烟袋斜街
Beijing’s oldest commercial street links Di An Men with Houhai Lake and the Drum and Bell Tower, but it’s an attraction in and of itself and not simply a thoroughfare. Lined with charming handicraft shops, bars, and cafes, it’s the perfect place for a stroll or to buy a souvenir.
Ditan Park and Liuyin Park
Ditan Park (Temple of Earth): A2, Andingmenwai Dajie, Dongcheng District; Yonghegong Station, Line 2
Chinese Name: 地坛公园
Chinese Address: 东城区安定门外大街甲2号
Liuyin Park: Jiangzhaikou, Andingmenwai, Dongcheng District; Andelibeijie Station, Line 7
Chinese Name: 柳荫公园
Chinese Address: 东城区安定门外蒋宅口
Both open Daily, 6:00am-9:00pm
Tired of the loud voices, gaggles of square-dancing aunties and tourist stands that plague other parks? Try out one of these parks, or both! These hidden gems are smaller than other parks like the Temple of Heaven or Ritan Park, yet as picturesque. With duck-and lotus-filled lakes, lush willows, hilly gardens and a pavilion with excellent fengshui, it’s precisely that quiet getaway from the crowds, located right in the city center, that you need.
Jian Archery Club
B1-308, Bldg 3, Sanlitun Soho, 8 Gongti Beilu, Chaoyang District; Tuanjiehu Station, Line 10
Chinese Name: 戬射箭俱乐部（三里屯店）
Chinese Address: 工体北路8号三里屯商场3 B1-308
Ever wanted to be Legolas/Katniss, but with less danger and more cocktails/craft beer? Invite your friends to Jian archery club and compete to see who hits bullseye first! Or brag that you totally will after a drink at the bar attached to the shooting range.
Panjiayuan Antique Market
No.18 Huawei Li, Panjiayuan Road, Chaoyang District; Panjiayuan Station, Line 10
Chinese Name: 潘家园旧货市场
Chinese Address: 朝阳区潘家园路华威里18号
The biggest and best market for knick-knacks and curios in Beijing is a great place to buy souvenirs, decorations for your apartment/office, or even just people watch. Most (i.e. 100%) of the jade and Ming vases are probably fake, but if you’re just looking for something interesting or fun and are willing to bargain, there is plenty to be had from Cultural Revolution memorabilia to Tibetan rugs and of course knockoffs of every variety.
North end of the street intersects with West Andingmen Main Street, Dongcheng District; Andingmen Station, Line 2
Chinese Name: 北锣鼓巷
You guessed it! Just north of the infamous Nanluoguxiang (南锣鼓巷) is a street called Beiluoguxiang. From cosy (cat) cafes to crazy bars, some of the best Indian food in town (restaurant Santoor) and cute little stores that sell everything and nothing at the same time, this place is great for just strolling around at any time of the day (or night).
Ritan Park Rock Climbing Wall
6 Ritan Beilu, Chaoyang District; Dongdaqiao Station, Line 6
Chinese Name: 日坛公园攀岩场
Chinese Address: 朝阳区日坛公园6号
Daily, 6:00am-8:00pm (Summer only)
Surely you’ve at least heard of the Temple of the Sun and it’ surrounding park, located right in the embassy district. But did you know you can get some serious adventure here too? When you walk just past the temple and can find a real climbing wall! Climb all day for under 100 RMB, and challenge yourself and/or your friends to see who reaches the top first!
Penghao Theatre Cafe
35 Dongmianhua Hutong, Dongcheng District; Nanluoguxiang Station, Line 6/8
You don’t have to be a theatre lover to like this rooftop hutong bar attached to the Penghao Theatre. ‘Spacious’ is an understatement for the size of its rooftop, which is surrounded by trees and offers a great view over the hutongs of Nanluoguxiang. Get one of the great homemade cakes, coffee or wine, and relax on the roof or in the little library if it’s raining. Feel like watching a play instead of your regular Netflix or Youku series? The theatre venue offers weekly performances for a reasonable price. The only bad thing about this place is the relatively early closing time, but it’s close enough to other bars for the night-owls amongst us. Tip: you want their brownies.
Gui Jie (Ghost Street)
Dongzhimen Station, Line 2/13/Airport Line
Many restaurants are open 24 hrs, but the street is at its most lively in the evenings.
This mile-long food street features more than 150 restaurants and has been serving up late night noms since the Qing Dynasty. With its iconic red lanterns, it’s difficult to miss and provides a lively night market experience that won’t break the bank. The restaurants here serve specialties from all over China, with some of the most popular being crayfish, bullfrog, hotpot, and chuan chuan (spicy skewers in soup).
113-02 Jiaodaokou Dongdajie, Dongcheng District; Beixinqiao Station, Line 5
Craving that burger but tormented by guilt over the dead cows? Or ate all the burgers in Sanlitun for the 37th time already and down for a little change of scenery? Try Side street! A no non-sense bar and restaurant located in the heart of old Beijing serving some of the best burgers and fusion food in town along with local and international craft beer from 13 taps. They even have 3 vegetarian burgers on the menu that are actually tasty! Also known for hosting Deep House/Techno DJ and other activities such as art markets, trivia nights and weekly specials on drinks and food. Going is sure to be worth every RMB you’ll spend!
67 Xiaojingchang Hutong, Gulou Dongdajie, Dongcheng District; Nanguoluxiang Station, Line 6/8
Chinese Address: 东城区鼓楼东大街小经厂胡同67号
Love Yunnan food, but think you tried it all? Think again! Dali courtyard, an outstanding Chinese restaurant famous for its candle-lit terrace and varied menu is the ideal place for a nice cozy dinner with that special person, your best friend, or your dear family member (or all three of them, saves time). Making reservations in advance is recommended (Phone number: +86 8404 1430) as it’s quite a popular spot to get good food, friendly service, and amazing drinks. Starting from RMB 100 per person, guests are served an assortment of five to 12 Yunnan standards (depending on how much you pay) prepared by a chef native to the region. Vegetarian is no problem here too, as long as you ask for it.