Entering a new city without any bearings can be hard. If you’re like me then you need to have a general understanding of the city’s layout, design and what districts hold things that appeal to you. Luckily Beijing is a pre-planned city, which means it is logically organized so that transportation is easy and getting anywhere is logically done. Unfortunately, the district boundaries are a bit confusing, but with a little research you’ll be more than oriented. To learn about all the neighborhoods, click here. Otherwise, read on to learn about the ones most pertinent to you!
For the expat or visitor to Beijing, there are only a few areas of the city you will likely want to explore. The residential areas can be skipped, as can the larger factory and business zones. Depending on what you are in Beijing for, you are likely to be staying in either Dongcheng or Chaoyang district. For drinking, shopping and high-end, pricier activities, Chaoyang is your place. You’ll find several malls and dozens of bars and clubs. You’ll even find some of the bigger international company headquarters in this area. Dongcheng boasts Sanlitun, the city’s biggest bar area and home to the famous Apple store as well as dozens of the best restaurants and shopping venues. Because of these amenities, many expats and tourists stay in these areas.
If you are interested in cultural events or visiting the city’s historical landmarks you might want to steer clear of Dongcheng and Chaoyang and hug the center of the city. Since the Forbidden City is in the exact center of Beijing, with major roads and the subway making circles around it, what better place to be? This area has great access to Tiananmen Square, Qianmen Cultural area and the subway.
The Gu lou, Nanluoguxiang and Houhai area is especially nice for dining, bars, pubs and cute little one-of-a-kind shops. This is a great area to explore at length and has many hostels and boutique hotels. Walking around Huohai Lake at night is sure to be one of the highlights of your visit to Beijing.
The north-west district called Haidian is where the universities are. This is a great place for students and has the normal cheaper bars, clubs and restaurants. You’ll also find some of the city’s major companies in Haidian because of lower real estate costs.
Unless visiting the zoo or some of the city’s museums, the south-western area of Beijing can be skipped. Although there is much on offer across the city, your makin areas of interest will be in the center or east side of the city.
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