Many of us don’t know Where to stay in Beijing. The best areas to stay in Beijing, or at least the most popular are, Qianmen, Wangfujing, Houhai, and Sanlitun. We tell you why and we recommend other interesting alternatives.
After Shanghai, Beijing (Beijing) is the most populous city in China with 21 million inhabitants in its entire municipality. It is a province in itself that is directly managed by the national popular government.
In historical terms, Beijing is a relatively young city, 1300 years old. In a few years it became an important city: the dynasty of Liao, in the eleventh century, made Beijing the capital of his kingdom.
It was in the wake of the invasion of the Mongols in the thirteenth century when the invaders themselves, after destroying the city, rebuilt it to become the capital of the first Chinese empire, curiously ruled by a Mongol: the fifth Kan Kublai, first of the dynasty Yuan.
Where to stay in Beijing?
The city ceased to be capital for a time, the capital was restored in the 15th century under the Ming dynasty, under whose reign the famous Forbidden City was built. You can also find the best accommodation in Melbourne.
Since then, Beijing became one of the largest cities in the world (the most populated until the late nineteenth century) and with an economic importance in the very important area, especially when, from the 80s and 90s, the country It adopted the capitalist economy and began to develop vertiginously with new business, sports and tourism spaces.
All this development, in addition to historical places that are still preserved. Above all, the organization of the 2008 Olympic Games, has resulted in an increase in tourism and in the number of hotels so that staying in Beijing is much easier.
The highest density of accommodation is in the east and south of the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square, with 2, 3, 4 and 5 star hotels. Accommodation in Beijing is not expensive. It is possible to find with relative ease offers that can go below $30 in a 3-star hotel.
In addition to the aforementioned Qianmen, Wangfujing, Houhai, and Sanlitun, there are other interesting areas to sleep in Beijing such as Xidan, Chaoyang Park, 798 Art District or Beijing CBD. Discover the profile of each of them and what are their advantages and disadvantages.
Qianmen is an abbreviated and colloquial term for Zhengyangmen, name of the gate (built in the fifteenth century) that gave entrance to the south to the ancient imperial city and was part of the walls of Beijing, today demolished after its demolition in 1960.
The term is translated as “Front Gate”, it is located south of Tiananmen Square and gives the name to several avenues (North, East and West), a subway station, the Residential District of Qianmen and the tourist area in the old neighborhood.
Until the 2008 Olympics, it was the longest standing residential district in Beijing, but the works to prepare the area for the sporting event gave it a much more touristy and modern character, with Qianmen Street as the main attraction. In any case, there are still narrow streets or alleys (hutong in Chinese) reflecting the more traditional Beijing.
As for the places of interest, the first to visit is the Surveillance Tower or Zheng Yang Men Jean Lou, as old as the “Front Gate” and just before it. After access to the grand entrance, you reach the huge Tiananmen Square where the Mausoleum to Mao Zedong and the Monument to the Heroes of the People, and a little beyond the Forbidden City.
Returning to the south, outside Tiananmen Square, crossing the tram line, the commercial zone begins with the Zhengyang Bridge point as the beginning. From here you enter the old town where you can have a drink in a Starbucks Coffee; eat in a centenary restaurant like the Liubiju, in the Liangshidian street, or buy some shoes or silk items in Ruifuxiang.
Along Qianmen Street (pedestrianized and traversed by a tram), shops and restaurants follow one another in buildings decorated in Chinese style.
As for the perpendicular streets, they are usually alleys or hutongs, which survived the great pre-Olympic remodeling and some are considered national heritage as the Sanmiao Hutong, the oldest in the city.
Going west, following one of these alleys, you reach the old Liulichang Street, famous for its sculpture shops, Chinese calligraphy, paintings and other handicrafts.
A final must-see is the Tiantan Park where the famous 15th-century Temple of Heaven is located. Next, to this temple, it is also found at the Pearl Market (Hongqiao Market).
Qianmen is undoubtedly an ideal option to stay in Beijing if you are close to the main tourist attractions of the Chinese capital. In addition, the great offer of restoration and shopping gives you a difficult plus of the same. As a disadvantage: housing prices. It is an expensive area compared to others.
The great avenue of Wangfujing, east of the Forbidden City, is famous for its numerous shops, street food stalls and restaurants. It is located very centrally, very close to the Forbidden City, and is very well connected to the rest of the city. It is not surprising that it is one of the most sought after locations to stay in Beijing.
In Wangfujing Street (pedestrian street like Qianmen Street) you can visit the Catholic Church of San Jose, not far from the main avenue and whose construction took place in 1653, although it underwent renovations to the current aspect. A little further north, highlight the great Capital Theater, built in 1954 and with a large hall capable of hosting nearly 1000 people.
But, if Wangfujing stands out for something, it is to have more than three hundred stores where you can buy all kinds of products.
As for gastronomy, the area has Wangfujing Snack Street, a block full of Chinese restaurants, sweet shops and stands where you can try fresh snails, worms, scorpions and other animals present in Chinese cuisine. This large commercial space also opens at night.
To end the evening, in such a tourist area you could not miss pubs like Molly Malone’s or fashionable places like the Beijing Sunshine Club, in Wangfujing Street.
Just like Qianmen is somewhat more expensive than the average area. Even so, there is a wide variety of accommodations that make it affordable for everyone.
3. Houhai | Nanluoguxiang
To the west and northwest of the Forbidden City, there are three large lakes connected by canals, which make up the area called Shichahai. The northernmost is Lake Houhai, which also gives its name to a residential neighborhood within the Xicheng District.
To the east of this area, there is also a much visited and 800-year-old place: Nanluoguxiang, a hutong of just under a kilometer and which, like Houhai, symbolizes a whole leisure area.
Both areas are well connected to the rest of the city by avenues such as Gulou, Di’anmen or Deshengmen Inner, all with bus lines and metro stops.
Lake Houhai itself is already an attraction in itself. One of the favorite activities of locals and tourists is to take a boat ride. In addition, the lake has around with other attractions such as the Towers of the Drum and the Bell, in the street Gulou; the Prince Chun Mansion, facing the lake, and that of Soong Ching-ling.
The Houhai area also has good restaurants such as Haiyuexuan, or one of those around the Xiaoshibei Bridge, a building with a spectacular tower. Precisely in this area is Yandai Byway Street, full of shops of all kinds. And to the south of it, an area very visited by young locals and tourists for its numerous bars and pubs such as Reggae Bar or Free, all on the south shore of the lake.
If you leave Houhai Lake to the east, then you come to Nanluoguxiang Street, which stands out for its combination of classical architecture in its 16 adjacent hutongs and a more modern one for the latest renovations. Both the main street and the alleys are full of restaurants, shops and bars where to end the day.
As for the possibilities of sleeping in Beijing in both areas, the offer is quite extensive, especially east of Lake Houhai, with hostels, hostels and even five-star hotels in the vicinity of Nanluoguxiang.
To the west of the Forbidden City, there is another very commercial street, surrounded by hutong and which also gives name to a tourist area: Xidan. The Xidan Norte avenue itself is already an important means of communication due to the number of buses stops that it contains and that connect with other areas of Beijing.
Like the rest of the places mentioned, in these areas, the residential environment of the Hutong is mixed with the tourist one of the main street. Precisely in this street are the largest number of accommodations in the area.
Besides Xidan Street, there are other places not far away from such as the Cathedral of Xishiku, to the east, or the Middle Sea and Northern Sea lakes. In the latter is the island Qiongdao that houses the temple of the White Dagoba, as well as other Buddhist places of interest.
Unlike other streets such as Nanluoguxiang, Xidan Norte stores are larger, and also has several shopping centers such as the great Joy City. To the south, there are also cultural attractions such as the Xidan Culture Square, near the Xian Commercial Street shopping center.
In this district, there is a good assortment of international restaurants, but also 100% Chinese such as the Yuxin Chuancai or the Hai Di Loa Hotpot, both in Xidan North Street itself. The area also offers nightlife with the Jazcu Juice Bar, among other pubs.
Between the second and third circular roads of Beijing is Sanlitun, an area full of embassies and specifically renovated as a commercial and leisure area in the Western style.
About 500 meters away from Sanlitun street is the large Worker’s Stadium football stadium, surrounded by large green areas, an aquarium, restaurants and several well-known clubs such as Vics and Mix Club.
Back in Sanlitun, the atmosphere is very cosmopolitan and there are places of interest like the Yashow market, famous because you can find counterfeit clothes and other products. It is also very famous the shopping center The Village, a meeting place for locals and tourists.
To eat, in addition to the shopping centers, in the afternoon the streets are filled with street food stalls, a cheaper gastronomic option than eating in restaurants.
In any case, the strength of this area is the offer of nightlife both in the vicinity of the Workers’ Stadium and in Sanlitun Street itself. To emphasize, the club Poachers and the Club Suzie Wong. If you are looking for nightlife, without doubt, it is the best option to stay in Beijing.
The accommodation offer is very varied and ranges from simple hostels and small hotels to higher-end options. It is a very popular area and that is noticeable in its prices that on average are somewhat more expensive.
6. Chaoyang Park
Further east, between the third and fourth circular roads, is this large park, one of the most visited in Beijing and designed on the former Prince’s Palace. Built in 1984, it is the largest park in the city. The park itself is divided into several zones separated by canals and lakes.
Beyond the limits of the gardens, in the northwest area is the La Solana complex, where there are cinemas, restaurants, clothing stores and attractions to spend all day.
Its proximity to the center and areas such as Sanlitun, in addition to the attractiveness that has a green area, make it an option used to stay in Beijing for many travelers. Another advantage is the value for money that is better than other central areas or Sanlitun itself.
7. 798 Art District
It is the street that gives the name to an area far from the center – northeast – but well connected by public transport to the center. Once it was an industrial and military area and today it is almost an open-air museum with all kinds of artistic expressions.
It mixes the residential environment with a tourist one. The accommodations are mostly to the north and west, and a large part of the artist’s studios and art spaces of the city are in this district.
In its streets, you can see sculptures and performances of contemporary art that adapt to the buildings of the industrial era. Also, in those buildings, there are great galleries like the 798 Photo Gallery, 798 Space, Long March Space or the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art.
Tourism has led to the opening of stores such as Dior and other major brands, in addition to the stores of the galleries themselves such as Feng Ling Fashion Art Design.
As for places to have a drink, there are plenty of cafés, such as Ace Café 751, which also serves cocktails at night, and there are also fashion restaurants such as Time Zone 8 and Bodhi Vegetarian, or Shenji Cai Guan, if you prefer to try traditional food.
8. Beijing CBD
The financial district, also called GuoMao, is located west of the Chaoyang District and south of the park of the same name. A large number of skyscrapers, companies, hotels, shops and leisure establishments cause it not to be very residential, while the tourist influx is increasing.
Among the most spectacular buildings we must highlight the CCTV Building, the headquarters of Chinese public television and with an impossible design; the World Trade Center Tower III, the tallest skyscraper in the city with 330 meters; or a more modest building with a lot of history, like the Confucian temple of Dongyue, from the 14th century.
To make purchases, to the west there are several shopping centers such as the China World Trade Center, with clothing stores of major international brands; the Silk Street, oriented to Westerners, or the great Soho Shangdu to the north.
Also in the area west of the neighborhood is where the best restaurants such as the Tibetan Makye Ame, or the Chinese restaurant Xiao Wang Fu, a few meters north of the park where the Temple of the Sun is located.
And to end the day, there is an interesting variety of pubs and clubs to go to like the Havana Bar or the Centro pub.
The number of hotels is large, the vast majority of luxury. It is not an area especially suitable for those seeking to sleep in Beijing at low prices. However, if you are looking for category hotels with better prices than the most central areas, it is possible to find very good offers in this neighborhood.