5 OF THE BEST SOUVENIR SHOPS
1. PANJIAYUAN MARKET
The Chinese market of your dreams. Open air, noisy and chaotic, you can bargain till your heart’s content. From genuinely old propaganda posters and ‘antique’ buddhas, to beautiful Miao minority embroidery and hand-crafted shadow puppets. Panjiayuan Lu, Chaoyang district. Nearest Subway: Panjiayuan Station, Exit B (walk west along Panjiayuan Lu until you see the busy entrance to the market). Open Saturdays and Sundays before 3pm only.
Young, home-grown ceramicists design affordable, limited edition pieces that are all made in the ancient home of Chinese pottery, Jingdezhen. So popular they opened a branch in NYC where prices are 4x higher.
2 Dingfuzhuang Xili, 24H Gear Factory Building 2-108 , Chaoyang District (北京市朝阳区定福庄西里2号，24H齿轮场2号楼108). Nearest subway: Communication University of China (Batong Line), Exit A, walk north up Dingfuzhuang Dong Lu for 15 minutes: check Google Maps first).
3. PLASTERED T-SHIRTS
Hip local illustrators create high quality, tongue-in-cheek t-shirts and accessories that cleverly celebrate the nation’s in-jokes, history and life in the capital. Probably the best-designed store in Beijing. 61 Nanluoguxiang, Dongcheng district. Nearest Subway: Nanluoguxiang Station, Exit E (walk north along Nanluoguxiang for about 350m. The shop will be on your left).
4. LOST & FOUND
A tranquil spot on gorgeous Guozijian street to buy homewares, repros of mid-century Beijing furniture and local textiles. 42 Guozijian Street, Dongcheng district. Nearest Subway: Yonghegong Lama Temple Station, Exit C (cross the street, walk south to the decorated archway and head north along Guozijian).
5. UCCA STORE
Expertly curated souvenir store inside the city’s premier contemporary Chinese art gallery. Full of unique and off-the-wall art and design pieces. Loads of fun if you have cash to splash. 1F, No. 4 Jiuxianqiao Lu, 798 Art District, Chaoyang district. Take a taxi and once inside the area, look for the red caged dinosaurs.
5 OF THE BEST RESTAURANTS
1. SHENG YONG XING
This may just be the best all-rounder in the city. Serving great Peking Duck and unbelievably moreish, well-presented takes on classic Chinese dishes, it also has great ambience, a solid wine list and good service. Oh, and it’s reasonably priced. Hard to beat. 5 Xindong Lu (southwest corner of Xindong Lu and Dongzhimenwai Crossroads). Nearest Subway: Agricultural Exhibition Center Station, Exit D2 (walk west for 15+ minutes to crossroads).
2. CRESCENT MOON
A (tasty) reminder that Chinese cuisine is more diverse than you think. The country’s Xinjiang Province borders Afghanistan, and this Uighur-run Muslim restaurant serves up the tastiest lamb skewers, naan bread and yoghurt in town. 16 Dongsiliutiao (aka Dongsi 6 Alley) Dongcheng district. No nearest subway. Located closer to the alley’s east end.
3. DALI COURTYARD
Hidden in a pretty courtyard that’s perfect for summertime dinners, Dali serves a no-hassle set menu of dishes from China’s Yunnan province . Think lemongrass chicken, spicy mint salad and fried goats cheese. All for 150RMB per person. No.67 Xiaojingchang Hutong (off Gulou Dong Dajie), Dongcheng district. Nearest subway: Beixinqiao Station, Exit A (walk west for 12 minutes). A pharmacy and small shop flank the entrance to this alley closer to Gulou Dong Dajie’s east end. Once in alley, take first left.
4. HAI DI LAO
You’ll need to wait in line with everyone else for Beijing’s most popular hotpot, but it’s worth it. A fun communal dining experience with tons of fresh meat and veg. Service is great too. 2A, Baijiazhuang Lu, Chaoyang district. Nearest Subway: Tuanjiehu Station, Exit D (walk south along the Third Ring Road until you hit Baijiazhuang Road, then west to the resto).
If you’re going to go all-out on a special, ‘last night’ meal, it should be here. Whether you go to the branch overlooking the Forbidden City, or the one housed in the grounds of a 600-year-old temple, you won’t be disappointed. Fine dining in unique settings.
TRB Hutong: 23 Shatan Beijie, Dongcheng district (off Wusi Dajie’s west end, where the road bends). Go right to the very end of this hutong. No nearest subway. TRB Forbidden City: Donghuamen (East Gate of the Forbidden City), Dongcheng district. No nearest subway.
5 OF THE BEST BARS
1. GREAT LEAP #6
The city’s original and best craft brewery lies in a gem of a courtyard buried in the maze of hutongs near Houhai lake. Globally-recognized beer that uses unique local ingredients like Sichuan peppercorn, Beijing honey and Chinese watermelon. No.6 Doujiao Hutong, Dongcheng district. Nearest Subway: Shichahai Station, Exit C (take first hutong to the south – Mao’er – to get to Doujiao Hutong). Look this one up on Google Maps first.
The best bartender in the city (Frankie Zou) runs this quirkily decorated speakeasy in an apartment building in Sanlitun. He makes truly exceptional cocktails. Try the Tokyo Bay.
Room 1209, 12th Floor, Unit 2, Yonglee Plaza Apartments (go into carpark for access), Chaoyang district. Nearest Subway: Dongsishitiao Station, Exit B. Walk west for 15 minutes.
3. JANES & HOOCH
This classy, low-lit spot is a failsafe option for well-mixed cocktails and a good time in a setting where you can have a conversation but get your party on too. Courtyard 4 (about 60m south of the Nan Sanlitun Lu and Gongti Bei Lu cross section). Enter via the car park toll booth, pass The Bookworm and take a right. Nearest subway: Tuanjiehu Station, Exit D. Walk west until you hit the Adidas/Uniqlo crossroads, then south as above.
4. THE DISTILLERY
The bar that elevates Beijing’s (in)famous baijiu liquor by serving taster flights and genuinely delicious drinks made from the stuff. The shabby chic hutong setting is a plus. No.16 Xinsi Hutong, Dongcheng district. Closed Mondays. Nearest Subway: Zhangzizhong Lu, Exit B. Look this one up on Google Maps first so you don’t get lost. Access Xinsi Hutong via Dongsi 12 Alley.
5. MIGAS MERCADO
Beijing does ‘authentic’ better than it does sleek and sexy, but Migas stylish rooftop bar might just be the exception. With views of the spectacular CCTV Tower and the bright lights of the CBD twinkling all around, you’ll feel like you’ve arrived. 7th Floor, China World Mall Phase 3, 1 Jianguomenwai Dajie. Nearest subway: Jintaixizhao, Exit D, walk south. In actual fact, this mall is just west of where Guanghua Lu meets the Third Ring Road. Find Hotel Jen. The entrance to this mall is a door to the south of this hotel’s main entrance. Go to the top floor via the elevator then take the escalators to the top.
All venues were open at the time of going to press (Apr 10, 2018). But for a fully up-to-date, curated trip to Beijing, Shanghai or Xi’an, Bespoke’s Trip Customization Service and Local Tour Guides have you covered.