Lived in Beijing for one year 2006/07 as my time comes to an end want 2 share some experiences and impart some wisdom lol!
Firstly the Forbidden City is a disappointment everyone from China goes there! And if u have blond hair god help you as you are stared at and asked constantly to take photos. Also beware of people who claim to be students and offer their services they want money but I think you should go just for the experience and Tiananmen Sq is massive and so are the buildings around it and is typical of Beijing in general big and wide. Actually the most beautiful part is coal hill with the pagoda at the top which gives great views of Beijing after all those stairs! The summer palace is a must and also lama temple and temple of heaven are great.
Also Houhai (lakes area) with all its alleyways and Hutongs are a glimpse of an older and fast disappearing China. Culture over!
Nightlife in China is great! If you know where to go. The place we go on most weekends is SanLiTun! Not the actual bar street (SanLiTun Lu) with Chinese bars, tacky lights and plastic chairs but the alleys behind 3.3 shopping centre there you have Shooters, Kai, Butterfly and the more classy but pricier Bar Blu and the bars inside Tongli Studios. This area has a more international crowd and is more atmospheric especially at night with all the taxis and street food! Some small bars are hit and miss u decide what u like. Entry is free except to all except poachers which becomes free in the early morning for my taste it’s too packed and sweaty. Another area in SanLiTun is around the Workers stadium (a football stadium) North Gate where you have Vics and Mix. Vics has just reopened bigger than ever I get free entry that’s why I love it but entry prices are never more than 50 RMB £4 unless there is a special party.
Also across the road and down an alleyway is Alfa which has a great Summer Terrace and legendary 80’s nights every Fri and further down inside a car park with lights outside is NanJie’s which is good for cheap drinks. Everything in SanLiTun is walking distance just ask other westerners and you should find these places. If you can try to catch Lush in Wudaokou the university area it’s a bit further away but they are cool spots and you meet tons of foreign students.
Having a good night depends on what music you like those places mostly play R&B, Dance, Hip Pop and Rock. It depends what budget you are but these places are pretty affordable and China in general is cheap! Be careful to think in RMB not pounds as you will think something’s cheap but for China its not! BEWARE OF AGGRESSIVE BEGGARS! In areas where westerners are the children are the worst and be careful with your belongings. They take advantage of you also be prepared to see disabled children etc. but normally just ignore them and the staff at bars deal with them. Shopping in China is cheap if you are not a tourist!!!! And the sales staff can be very rude and take every opportunity to rip you off and lie.
Just walk away and don’t show too much interest if u like something as the price will double. Normally they capitulate state your price and stick to it they go down pretty fast.
Try and learn some Chinese words for shopping e.g. How much and it’s too expensive. It helps reduce the price you should really pay between:
30-50 RMB for tops
50-100 RMB for trousers/jeans
60-100 RMB for handbags and no more than 30 RMB for wallets
20 RMB for sunglasses
70-100 RMB for shoes
£1 is roughly 15 RMB.
These prices are rough but I would pay no more than 100 RMB for one item unless it’s obviously of good quality, a good fake or I love it! Take their prices with a pinch of salt its quite fun if you just laugh and they will know you are not a dumb westerner they can rip off. Good places to shop are:
Silk Market • good quality items so more expensive but you can still bargain
Yashow in SanLiTun- massive and easy to spot close to Bar Street.
Both these places have tons of tourists and westerners go there so prices are inflated. LaiTai/Women’s street is cheaper as it’s more of a Chinese market but it has the same stuff mostly but still BARGAIN!
Well Restaurants in Beijing are fantastic!!! You can eat at the fanciest restaurant in town for £10.
You have Chinese Places on the Street, Hutongs and restaurants or international food e.g.
Japanese • Matsuko
Thai • Purple Haze
African •Pili Pili
Mid East • Souk/1001 Nights
Those are a few examples of places I have been and loved.
I have told you tons of places to go but haven’t told you where they are!!!! Well the best tip I have for you is as soon as you get to Beijing get that’s Beijing or City Weekend expat magazines.
They have listings, address in English and Chinese which you can show a taxi driver. It has all you can need and they are normally found in restaurants, hotels just ask around. Going about in Beijing is easy just grab a taxi! It’s inexpensive and I catch it like a bus! The subway is very small and doesn’t cover most of Chaoyang District that’s where most foreigners live, embassies etc. Make sure you never get into an unmetered taxi and the drivers should never negotiate a price with you they should turn on the meter which should be at 10 RMB for the first 3km and it goes up by 2 for every 1km after.
China is great but be prepared its not somewhere you come for a relaxing holiday!!! Most people still don’t speak English its busy, crazy drivers around and its not very beautiful! And people have no concept of queuing, they push and shove so don’t be too polite but most ppl are warm, friendly and helpful! ppl also tend to spit a lot! Must say it becomes normal once u live here! and they still haven’t eliminated it for the Olympics! But you can have a great time you just have to be a patient person.
Hope that’s enough info have a great time.