We've teamed up with the Beijing and Shanghai, written by students and interns, for students and interns. From travel tips for newbies to cheap and cheerful destinations, they'll be sharing some of their China insights and experiences. First up is Christian Pfaar (Marketing Assistant Intern at Hutong School/Internship Network Asia) with a look at some of the treasures tucked away in old Beijing.>>>
The capital of China is a marvelous place for the history freaks among us. Just thinking about all the famous places in Beijing, like the Great Wall, the Forbidden City and Tian'anmen Square to name but a few, already makes our heart beat a little faster.
Apart from these celebrated tourist spots, Beijing is home to a bunch of rather unknown treasures and with our tips and tricks, you are all set for an interesting and delicious day out. Just go, explore and see for yourself... it's all Hutong School recommended!
Treasure #1: Getting lost in the Beijing hutong
Ok, not a real 'unknown' treasure, but they're so great that we really don't want you to miss out on them. As you may likely know, Beijing is famous for its narrow alleys and streets, called hútòng (胡同). The atmosphere inside these lanes is charming and offers an insight into how the real 'Nan-luoguxiang, are filled with lots of bars, shops and restaurants. You can easily spend hours there, walking around and deciding where to have a drink and grab a bite. Plus you can buy some great souvenirs as a reminder of your trip or to give as a present to friends or family back home.
How to get there? The Bei- and Nan-luoguxiang are located near Subway Line 2 Andingmen Station. From the subway, start walking eastwards on the North Second Ring Road (Běi èr Huán Lù，北二环路). Turn left into North Luogu Alley （Běiluógǔ Xiàng, 北锣鼓巷) and enter the hutong from one of the many entrances along that street. No worries, you'll find a way out for sure as well! At least, we hope.
Tip: Be sure to check out all the side alleys in order not to miss a lovely café or interesting shop.
Treasure #2: The Muslim Quarter
A thousand years ago the Muslim community of Beijing started to gather in a place named Ox Street or 'Niǔ Jīé' (钮机锇) in Chinese. This area reflects just how well integrated the Muslim community already was back then, and nowadays still is. The center is the Niu Jie Mosque which was built in 996 and is the oldest and biggest mosque in Beijing. Its architecture combines traditional Islamic methods of construction with Chinese influences. Have dinner at one of the many Muslim restaurants there (look for the Arabic signs) and try some delicious specials like shālā (沙拉; salad), ròu jiā mó (柔佳莫; meat in a bun) or yángròu chuàn (羊肉川; lamb kebabs).
How to get there? To get to Niu Jie we recommend taking Subway Line 2 and exit at Changchunjie Station. Walk south down Changchun Street (Chǎngchūn Jiē, 长春街) for 10 to15 minutes, where the street turns into Niu Jie.
Tip: When you're there, also walk around Jiaozi Hutong, especially if you like the unrestored, authentic hutong atmosphere.
Treasure #3: Buy a piece of history
Having been the Chinese capital for six dynasties, Beijing has a long and interesting history. You'll likely visit many famous places and get to know a lot more about Beijing's past, but besides learning, you can also buy a piece of it(*Editor's note) To shop for some cultural, historic and unique souvenirs, the Pan Jiayuan Antique Market (Pān Jiāyuán Jiù Huò Shìchǎng, 潘家园旧货市场) is the place to be. This market is a massive 26,000 sq m (280,000 sq ft) and is divided into five areas: Buddhist statues, antique furniture, high-end antiques, books and scrolls and the liveliest section, the miscellaneous 'Middle Area.' Going on a Saturday or Sunday is highly recommended; although packed out with shoppers and curious walkers, the Middle Area, which is the main part of the market, only opens at weekends.
How to get there? If you want to head to the market, take Subway Line 10 and exit at Jinsong Station. From there head south on the East Third Ring Road (Dōng Sān Huán, 东三环) until Pān Jiāyuán Bridge and turn right into Pān Jiāyuán Road. After 100 m (109 yd) you'll reach the market.
Tip: Make sure to bargain and save some money!
Treasure #4: Mr Shi's DumplingsMr. Shi's Dumplings (Shí Xiānshēng de Jiǎozi, 石先生的饺子) is a tiny little restaurant where you can choose from a wide range of delicious handmade dumplings. Fried or boiled, the choice is yours. If you're not a big dumpling fan, Mr. Shi also serves a lot of typical Chinese dishes. This is a well hidden restaurant that is definitely worth a visit and if not for the food, for the interior. The walls are covered with customer's signatures and notes, while tables are covered with foreign bills and lots of business cards. And for those who can't manage Mandarin (yet), the owner speaks English and is very friendly, so you might even end up having a nice conversation. Enjoy!
How to get there? Take Subway Line 2 and exit at Gulou Dajie Station. Walk south down Jiuguluo Dajie and turn left into Doufuchi Hutong. After 400 m (438 yd), turn right into Baochao Hutong and follow the street until you see Mr Shi's Dumplings on the left side.
Tip: To complement your stop at Mr Shi's, order a Yànjīng (燕京啤酒), the beer of Beijing!
Treasure #5: Hutong Pizza
If you are searching for some familiar food, try Hutong Pizza (Hútòng Pǐsà, 胡同比萨). This cute little two story restaurant serves all kinds of square-shaped pizzas and the upper section is a no-smoking area. While waiting for your pizza take a look at the indoor fishpond. The cozy atmosphere, nice service and affordable prices mean there's always a good time to be had at Hutong Pizza!
How to get there? Take Subway Line 2 and exit at Gulou Dajie Station. Walk along Jiuguluo Jie (Jiùgǔlóu Dàjiē, 旧鼓楼大街) all the way down to Guluo Xi Jie (Gǔlóu Xi Jiē, 鼓楼西街). Head west and turn left into Dashibei Hutong, then turn right into Xiaoshibei Hutong and cross the Yinding Bridge. Follow the lake southwards and enter Nanguanfang Hutong where you'll find Hutong Pizza one minute in on the right hand side.
Tip: The restaurant is rather small, so make reservations if you're planning to go there at peak time— (86 01) 8322 8916.
Treasure #6: Fubar!
Beijing is home to a lot of bars, and there are countless places to grab a beer and end your day (or start the night). Still, there is one that manages to be quite unique—if you can find it that is! Fubar (Fú Bar,福吧) is located directly by Beijing's Workers' Stadium, but is not easy to find (believe me). Why? The entrance is a hidden door at Stadium Hotdog. But once you make it inside, you'll find a classy bar with flair that serves great drinks including traditional Chinese liquor, báijiǔ (白酒) and creative baijiu cocktails.
How to get there? To make it to Stadium Hotdog (and therefore Fubar) exit Subway Line 10 at Tuanjiehu Station and walk down Gōngtǐ Běi Lù (工体北路). Turn into Gōngtǐ Dōng Lù (工体东路) and pass through the East Gate (Gōngtǐ Dōng Mén, 工体东门). Turn to the left and you're there. All in all it is about a 15-20 minute walk.
Tip: Seeing as you are so very close to Stadium Hotdog, grab a snack... their hot dogs and nachos are great!
Treasure #7: Migas Bar
The Migas Bar (Mǐ Jiā Sī Jiǔbā, 米加斯酒吧) is a nice rooftop bar that hosts some of the best local DJs and great live music acts. Divided into a small bar and a big dance floor it is obvious this bar is meant for one thing: dancing! When taking a break from shaking your bootie, make sure you try one of Migas' special cocktails like the frozen strawberry margarita, or just sit up on the rooftop, grab a beer (around RMB 30-50) and enjoy the view.
How to get there? Take Subway Line 10 to the Agricultural Exhibition Center Station. From there, walk east on Dongzhimen Outer Street (Dōngzhímén Wài Dàjiē, 东直门外大街) until you reach Sanlitun North Alley. The walk will take about 15 minutes.
Tip: Migas is the hottest spot in town for dancing. Go to Fubar if you're looking for a quieter ambiance.
Hutong School was founded in 2005 to provide internships and Chinese language courses in China for Western students, graduates and young professionals. It is the only fully licensed Chinese language school under European management and is the school of choice for anyone looking to study Chinese or find an internship placement in China.
* Shopping for antiques anywhere in China is troublesome. Expect lots of fakes (sure, that may not be a real Song Dynasty ceramic bowl, but it will still make a cool gift for mom) and real antiques should come with certificates of authenticity if you plan on taking them out of the country. Unless you know the difference between fakes and antiques (it's not easy), expect the former. Back to top.