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Beijing may be the unquestioned capital of China. Although it lags behind Hong Kong and Shanghai when it comes to economic firepower, the soul of the united states resides here. It's been by doing this for hundreds of years. Genghis Khan's grand son, Kublai Khan, established the town of Beijing as his capital in 1267. Following the Ming empire overthrew the Yuans, Yongle, the Ming emperor, moved his capital to Beijing to take advantage of its more proper northern position. It had been Yongle who approved the making of the Forbidden City and also the Temple of Paradise, each of which still stand today. It had been even the Mings who approved construction from the Great Wall of China. Beijing is the hub of the "Make in Asia" trade, though its Shanghai that steals the thunder from below its foot. 

The Qing Empire required in 1644 and built on China's feudal tradition. However, its energy eroded within the centuries, and China was susceptible to war and foreign occupation for that better a part of 100 years. It had not been until Chairman Mao declared the birth from the Individuals Republic of China in 1949 that things started to stay lower again in China. Mao's contributions to China continue to be fresh. Consider the communist monuments in Tian'anmen Square, designed to help make the individual feel small as compared to the condition.

While Beijing could be loved by every traveler, it genuinely rewards the adventurous soul. It is a safe city, with lots of room for exploration. Although you will be enticed to invest much of your time near Tian'anmen Square and also the Forbidden City, it's best to not limit yourself. There's plenty to determine round the city's borders, along with a short visit to the truly amazing Wall is essential.

For just about any first-time site visitors to east Asia, China -- and Beijing particularly -- may seem overcrowded and dirty, but site visitors who are able to work through Beijing's no-apologies grittiness will discover the town has much to provide. In the " Old World " hutongs (historic communities), which line the alleyways in proof of what was previously, towards the countless eateries and great bargain shops and endless seas of folks that define what's now, Beijing will certainly help you stay busy taking everything in.

For Beijing's best weather, visit in September and October, when you'll encounter warm, sunshine with obvious skies and awesome nights. Spring is another great season to go to, unless of course you are super unlucky and really go to town a sandstorm coming lower in the Gobi Desert within the north. Beijing is oppressively cold in the winter months and predictably hot in summer time. Consider staying away from China's major extended public holidays (Chinese Year in the winter months, National Day in October and Labor Day in May), as huge swaths of domestic vacationers is going to be moving in most imaginable directions.

Docking & Local Transportation
This facility, built-in 2010, handles passenger cruise inserts. You will find two passenger cruise devices in Tianjin. The main harbor connected with Beijing is really in  Tianjin, about 150 kilometers from the city. 

Transportation is going to be provided that you should continue onto Beijing. Taxis are all around in most cases pretty affordable. Make certain the meter is running to prevent a confrontation regarding your bill when you achieve your destination. Buses in Beijing are neither comfortable nor efficient.

Two subway lines run underneath Beijing, with stops for the most part tourist locations. Beijing's flat terrain is ideal for moving by bicycle. Most hotels rent bikes out. When riding, you shouldn't be afraid of other bike riders, just ride gradually with caution. Worldwide cruise departures and arrivals make use of the Tianjin Worldwide Ferry Port (South Finish of Asia Road, Dongjiang Glued Port, Tianjin,  86 22 25705871).

Vacationers making their very own method to the pier should ensure they reach the Tianjin Worldwide Ferry Port Terminal, not the Xingang Passenger Terminal, which is often used for domestic travel. Driving time for you to and from Beijing is roughly two to three hours, based on traffic and also the deftness of the driver. For directions from Beijing Airport terminal towards the port both in British and Chinese, see Princess' Site.

Remember that porters hanging out the ship are most likely not employees of the cruise operation.

Hanging Out
The 2nd floor from the port building is really a leisure area with lots of dining and shopping options. An memorial is really a recent addition. The main harbour area also includes a museum, a synthetic peninsula along with a synthetic beach.

Making Your Way Around
From Beijing towards the Cruise Port: Although driving time between Beijing and also the port ought to be a few hrs, visitors are common and may delay your arrival by hrs. If going for a cab, bus or private driver for your ship (especially back following a day in port), leave lots of additional time.

There's a stop in Tianjin having a high-speed train into Beijing (half an hour). The train might be the quickest and least costly approach to dealing with/from Beijing, but you will need to navigate purchasing tickets and dealing with the best train platform by yourself station employees typically don't speak British. You must also have a cab between your port and also the station.

In Beijing: Although a variety of motorized craft rule the streets nowadays, flat-as-a-pancake Beijing is made for cycling. If you're able to pay the time for you to rent a bicycle, you'll have the ability to experience Beijing inside a truly authentic way. For that relaxation of times, you will find lots of taxis, subway cars and buses to go upon.

City buses are shockingly affordable, but, to ride them effectively, you will have to attend least adept in decoding Chinese pictographs, since many buses don't offer British instruction. While using subway is simpler ticket machines come with an British menu option, the line is designated and color-coded, and also the stops and transfer points are Romanized for non-Chinese visitors. Taxis are an inexpensive option, too -- you are able to have a metered cab almost anywhere in Beijing without investing greater than you'd purchase a packet of any nicotine products. 

Pricier your taxi driver to understand British. Possess a manual or something like that else together with your destination designed in Chinese that you could show towards the driver.

Be Careful For
Like a city with nearly 20 million people, Beijing can claim a greater population than some nations. Exactly what does this suggest for you personally? People, people. Everywhere. Whatsoever hrs during the day as well as in the most remote corners from the metropolis, Beijing is teeming with individuals.

Traffic can gridlock in a moment's notice. You'll witness old males hawking great mouthfuls of spit to the pavement with no grain of consideration for anybody walking by. Roads are usually full of thrown away packaging. Riding a bus or subway vehicle packed because of so many people who you start to question the safety and health of the procedure is a typical event. Individuals will push you from their way without thinking it's rude. Actually they most likely don't even mean to become rude, they are just attempting to manage. You shouldn't be afraid to break the rules. This may all hark to the times when China was operating within more oppressive political regime and food and assets were scarce -- people needed to fight their way with the crowds to outlive then -- and also the sentiment may lengthy be ingrained within the psyche from the Beijinger today.

Also, be familiar with a gimmick round the Wangfujing area. If you're contacted out-of-the-blue by good-searching, British-speaking Chinese women suggesting that you go consuming together, don't take their offer as genuine. This can be a common scam where they lure you right into a bar and finish up adhering you with absurdly high bill. One method to steer clear of the scam but nonetheless maintain face would be to insist that put forth a bar of the selecting.

Things to See
The Imperial Palace and the Forbidden City
The Imperial Palace and the Forbidden City Share:
The Imperial Palace, also known as the Forbidden City, is China's most significant building and can trace its origins back to the Yuan Dynasty of the 13th century. Its immense size is the result of enlargements made during the Ming Dynasty between 1406 and 1420 after the capital was transferred here from Nanking. All told, this beautiful palace has been home to 24 Ming and Qing Emperors, earning its nickname of the Forbidden City due to the fact ordinary citizens weren't allowed access. The complex covers 720,000 square meters, all of it surrounded by a 10-meter-high wall with towers in the four corners and a 50-meter-wide moat, and is divided into an area used for ceremonial and administrative purposes, as well as the private quarters used by the Emperor and his concubines. Highlights include the Meridian Gate, built in 1420; the Golden River Bridges, five richly decorated white marble bridges; the 35-meter-high Hall of Supreme Harmony containing the splendidly decorated gilded imperial throne; the Hall of Preserving Harmony, which functioned as the Emperor's banquet hall; and the Hall of Military Courage, a permanent residence and private audience hall for the emperors. Also of interest is the nearby Imperial College, founded in 1287 by Kublai Khan and only closed in 1900.Official site: www.dpm.org.cn/index1280800.html

Tian'anmen Square
Tian'anmen Square (the Square of Heavenly Peace) is the world's largest inner-city square, designed to hold a million people and built to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Chinese Republic in 1958. Considered the center of communist China, the square's symbolic importance dates back to May 4th, 1919, when students demonstrated against the Chinese provisions of the Treaty of Versailles. Highlights include the Monument to the People's Heroes (Rénmín Yingxióng Jìniànbei), a 38-meter tall obelisk consisting of 17,000 pieces of granite and marble, and the splendid Tian'anmen Gate - the Gate of Heavenly Peace - completed in 1417 and once the main entrance to the Imperial City. Other features of note are the Museum of the Chinese Revolution with its exhibits illustrating the various stages of the Chinese revolution from 1919 and the development of the Communist Party, and the Chairman Mao Mausoleum where the body of Mao rests in a crystal sarcophagus. Address: Dongcheng, Beijing City Coach Tour: Beijing Essential Full-Day Tour including Great Wall at Badaling, Forbidden City and

Beihai Park
Just a short distance from the Imperial Palace, Beihai Park is one of the oldest surviving imperial gardens in Beijing. Laid out at the beginning of the 10th century, this beautiful open space takes its name from nearby Lake Beihai (North Lake) and offers many good reasons to pay a visit. Among the most important structures are the Round Fort dating from the Yuan period of 1271-1368; the spectacular Hall of Enlightenment, built in 1690 and home to a one-and-a-half-meter-tall Buddha carved from a single block of white jade; and a large black jade vase from the early 12th century. Other notable features are the opulent residence of Song Qingling in which the widow of the founder of the Republic, Sun Yat-sen, lived for 18 years until her death (it's now a museum); the Living Quarters of Mei Lanfang (Mei Lanfang Guju), a famous male star of the Peking Opera who specialized in playing the role of a woman; the residence of Guo Moruo, where the famous writer and historian lived from 1963 until his death in 1978, built in traditional Chinese courtyard style; and the beautiful 17th-century White Pagoda on the Island of Exquisite Jade. Address: 1 Wenjin St, Xicheng, Beijing
The Temple of Heaven
The Temple of Heaven (Tiantán) dates back to 1420 and incorporates a group of some of Beijing's most sacred buildings. Surrounded by lush vegetation, these lovely old temples and shrines are set out in two sections - one rectangular, the other semi-circular - which together symbolize heaven and earth. It was here that, on the day of the winter solstice, the emperor would ascend the Heavenly Altar in solemn ceremony to pray for a good harvest and offer sacrifices in the brightly decorated Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests (Qinian Dian). Built in 1420 in customary Chinese fashion of wood and entirely without nails, the hall sits on a three-tier marble terrace with balustrades and a roof covered with 50,000 fine blue glazed tiles (a marble plaque on the floor represents the dragon and the phoenix stone, symbols of the emperor). Another highlight is the Hall of the Vault of Heaven (Huangqiong Yu), erected in 1530 and boasting a blue-tiled conical roof (it was used to store the ceremonial plaques of Heaven and the Officials). Be sure to also visit the temple's Echo Wall, which echoes to even the quietest of voices, an effect exaggerated by three unusual echoing stones.
Address: Dongcheng, Beijing
Beijing National Stadium
Recognized the world over for its role in the spectacular Summer Olympics held in Beijing in 2008, the National Stadium (Guójia tiyùchang) - also affectionately nicknamed the Bird's Nest - is well worth a visit. Built at great cost, this remarkable structure owes its unique design to the influences of traditional Chinese ceramics and has, since the Olympics, been used to host large cultural events and performances including opera, pop concerts, and football matches. In winter, it's turned into the world's largest manmade indoor ski slope. (English language and self-guided tours are available.) Another nearby attraction is the National Aquatics Center, also known as the Water Cube for its attractive night-time display that sees it lit up and looking like a giant ice-cube. In addition to being the site of Olympic swimming events, part of the building has been turned into the fun Watercube Waterpark.
The Lama Temple
Also known as the Yonghe Temple, the Lama Temple is one of Beijing's most attractive and best-preserved temples. Completed in 1745, the building served a political purpose by giving Lamaism, the religion of the then just annexed Tibet, an official seat in the capital. Built to generous proportions and equipped with many valuable works of art, the most important feature is the Hall of the Kings of Heaven (Tian Wang Dian) with its statue of Buddha surrounded by the four kings who are provided with symbolic objects (a toad, a sword, a snake, and a shield). Also noteworthy is the statue of Weituo, the protector of Buddhism, holding an iron staff. Other important buildings include the Pavilion of the Four-tongued Stele (Yubi Ting), which houses a stele dating back to 1792 that contains the history of the Lama religion written in Chinese, Manchurian, Tibetan, and Mongolian; the Hall of the Buddhist Wheel (Falun Dian), the teaching and assembly hall of the monastery, its interior dominated by a six-meter-tall statue, two thrones, and numerous sacred manuscripts; and the largest building at the Lama Temple, the Pavilion of Four Thousand Fortunes (Wangfu Ge) with its enormous 18-meter-high sandalwood statue.Address: 12 Yonghegong Street, Dongcheng, Beijing
Beijing Capital Museum
Arts and culture buffs are extremely well catered to in Beijing. Of particular interest is the excellent Beijing Capital Museum, one of the country's leading art museums. Opened in 1981, the museum boasts a vast collection of artifacts including ancient items of porcelain and bronze, traditional calligraphy and artwork, along with many fine statues from Chinese and other Asian cultures. Other highlights of its collection of more than 200,000 important cultural artifacts - many originating from in and around Beijing - include the huge stele of Emperor Qian Long, weighing more than 40 tons, standing nearly seven meters in height, and containing ancient scripts and writings. Another modern Beijing landmark worth visiting is the National Centre for the Performing Arts (Guójia dà jùyuàn), also nicknamed the Giant Egg. Considered one of the best opera houses in Asia, the building opened in 2001 and has since hosted many of the world's leading operatic performers (it's particularly worth visiting if you're able to take in a performance).
Address: 16 Fuxingmen Outer St, Xicheng, Beijing

Beijing Ancient Observatory
Completed in 1442, the fortress-like Beijing Ancient Observatory (Beijing Gu Guanxiàngtái) lies in the east of the city near the station quarter and was continuously in use right up until 1929. It is widely considered one of the oldest such observatories in the world. Among the 10,000-square-meter facility's many fascinating old pre-telescopic instruments are a celestial globe dating from 1673 and an 18th-century armillary globe depicting the planets (at least those that were known at the time), along with a number of large bronze instruments designed by the Jesuit missionary Ferdinand Verbiest. Once part of the old city walls, this tall brick tower serves as a museum offering a glimpse into the surprising amount of knowledge of the stars and planets that existed at the time. Address: 2 Dongbiaobei Hutong, Dongcheng, Beijing

The Fayuan Temple
dates back to the year 645 AD and consists of several halls where many ancient stone inscriptions are kept, the oldest dating from the 7th century. The temple has witnessed many of Beijing's most important historic events, including serving as a prison for Emperor Huizong in the 12th century, a place of examination for the highest offices of state, as well as botanical gardens. Today, the temple is a place of worship and the seat of the Buddhist Academy, the most important educational establishment in China. Other highlights include the bell and drum towers in the first courtyard; the Hall of the Kings of Heaven with its fine statues; the Mahavira Hall housing Buddhas of the present, past, and future represented in 18 Luohan figures; and, one of the temple's most precious objects, a Han Dynasty (25-220 AD) ceramic statue in the Dabianjue Tang Hall.
Another Buddhist site worth visiting is the Zhihua Temple, dating from 1444 and one of the most important original Ming period complexes in Beijing's old town. Of particular note is the two-story Tathagata Hall (Rulai Dian), named after its statue of the transcendental Buddha (it's also known as 10,000 Buddha Hall for the many small Buddha figurines adorning the walls). Address: 7 Fayuansi Front St, Xicheng, Beijing

View from Coal Hill Park
Directly opposite the North Gate of the Imperial Palace, Coal Hill Park (Jingshan) offers some of the best views in Beijing, particularly over Beihai Park Lake and the Forbidden Palace. Taking its name from the coal that was once stored here for the Ming Emperors, this largely man-made hill - one of just a handful in Beijing - was started around 1416 during the construction of the Imperial Palace when the dumping of rubble from the old city wall and large quantities of soil from excavation of the moat surrounding the palace resulted in the once-low natural mound soaring in height. A highlight of a visit, in addition to the many splendid gardens and walkways, is an old acacia tree from which the last Ming emperor was supposed to have hung himself in 1644.
The Beijing Temple of Confucius
A short walk from the Lama Temple in a pleasant side alley spanned by ornamental gates is the Beijing Temple of Confucius, built in 1302 and dedicated to the great philosopher and teacher, Confucius, whose teachings dominated public and private life for centuries. One of China's best-known Confucius temples, the Beijing Temple once hosted many elaborate ceremonies honoring its namesake under the leadership of the emperor. The forecourt harbors 198 steles with inscriptions naming all 51,624 Confucian scholars who, after 1416, successfully passed the highest examinations of the state until abolished in 1904. A highlight is the Hall of Great Achievements (Dacheng Dian), home to numerous shrines dedicated to Confucius, his students, and other Confucian philosophers, as well as many old musical instruments and other ritual items used in the celebrations, which take place on the large terrace in front of the hall. Another religious site worth a visit for its fine exterior (non-Muslims aren't permitted to enter) is Niu Jie Qingzhen Si Mosque, built in 995 AD. Beijing's oldest and largest mosque, it's in the Muslim quarter and includes a minaret, a six-cornered moon observatory tower, and two pavilions featuring numerous steles with Chinese and Arabic inscriptions.
Don't Miss
Passing up on Tiananmen Square while touring Beijing could be like not consuming Chianti much more Tuscany. The legendary square bustles with activity while exuding an aura of old Soviet grandeur. 

The Forbidden City would be to famous Beijing monuments as fried grain would be to a Chinese menu. Laying just beyond Tiananmen Square, the sprawling, walled encampment once located the Imperial Court throughout the Ming and Qing dynasties and it is so huge that lots of erstwhile citizens are stated to possess gone their whole lives without departing the 30-feet-high walls from the city. To determine every corner from the UNESCO World Heritage site would surely take a whole day -- and to tell the truth, it might all start looking exactly the same before long -- so make certain you hit the impressive (and liberated to enter) Structure Museum inside the city walls before you decide to put on yourself too thin.

 The Bird's Nest and also the Water Cube might be the wedding venues associated with a Olympics in the recent past. Though most likely the type of factor you are able to appreciate equally well from the postcard, the monuments should have closer inspection when you are within the Olympic Park area in east Beijing.

 If you're able to only visit certainly one of Beiing's parks, think about the huge public park that surrounds the Temple of Paradise. The temple complex was built underneath the command of the identical emperor who purchased the making of the Forbidden City. Dating back 1420, the temple (that was visited by emperors to wish towards the heavens for any good annual harvest) is really a UNESCO World Heritage site. The nearby park may be the greenest devote Beijing.

 A classic Chinese proverb states, "Not visited the truly amazing Wall, not really a great guy." And even, no visit to China is finished without viewing the countryside's raw, moving hillsides in the Great Wall. Most tours towards the wall will go to the Badaling section. This really is convenient since it is not far from Beijing, and also the website is fitted to focus on the public. (Think cable cars, recently paved steps, hand railing or even a toboggan slide to consider you to walk out.) But Badaling is substantially touristy, replete with shops and food suppliers and various touts chilling out on your wall itself. A quieter, more peaceful choice is visiting the Jinshanling section. Its distance in the metropolis (some three hrs by bus) causes it to be a less popular option, only one still worth thinking about. You will see less vacationers (as well as less touts!), and you will be face-to-face with scenic beauty without parking lots or hand railing sullying the vista.

Nearly every hotel in Beijing will sell outings towards the Great Wall. Remember that most organized tours towards the Great Wall includes extended stopovers at jewel, ceramic or any other craft wholesale suppliers where everyone concerned will attempt making a commission off your tourist dollar. Some tour operators walk out their method to advertise "no stops" outings towards the wall. 

There's ample to do and see in Beijing. Since you are on the short time budget, make sure to ration your time and effort effectively. You will find some miss-miss sights in Beijing, but a lot of what you will want to see is centrally situated.

Within the Dongcheng area, near Houhai Lake, you can acquire a peek at everyday existence within the hutongs, the centuries-old houses of Beijing of yore. Many hutongs happen to be destroyed and changed using the sky scraping apartment structures that dominate Beijing's skyline. But current hutong citizens (and experts of over development) have fought against for that remaining hutongs to become maintained. The town government has recognized the hutong's tourist appeal and it has labeled them protected areas. Obtain a map, find Nan Luo Gu Xiang Street, and employ it like a beginning point.

These Houhai Lake constitutes a lovely place for any stroll within the warmer several weeks. Site visitors can paddle around in leased motorboats or go fishing. The river is well-liked by foreign site visitors and it has become famous recently due to an outburst in restaurants, coffee shops, bookstores and night life in the region.

If you are overnighting, going for a stroll through certainly one of Beijing's parks each morning hrs is a terrific way to begin a day within the city. Watch old males in a few days games, admire categories of people practicing tai-chi, and obtain an idea of (sometimes contrived) Chinese landscape designs. Beihai Park, Chaoyang Park and also the Crimson Bamboo Park are good options.

 An astounding variety of counterfeit footwear, luggage, apparel and purses are available in the Sanlitun Yashow Clothing Market as well as in the Silk Market near Yong'anli station online Among the metro. These marketplaces cater almost solely to people from other countries. The costs is going to be greater there, however the employees all speak British and therefore are pretty fun to interact. Knowing Mandarin or are shopping with somebody that does, you're going to get far better deals.

For worldwide brand-title (legitimate) goods, go to the Wangfujing shopping street, the department stores at Oriental Plaza or even the Sanlitun Village Shopping Mall. Plenty of high-finish shopping are available in the Dawang Lu subway station within the Xinkong Tiandi Center. For additional brand-title shopping and dining (including Beijing's recently opened up Nobu restaurant), browse the Guomao area.

Visit the Gem Market close to the Temple of Paradise for an opportunity to purchase barrier, amber, turquoise and, obviously, pearls. This multistory market has lots of high-finish jewelry retailers on top flooring, minimizing flooring possess the usual variety of mementos and crafts.

Panjiayuan, also known as the "grime market" or "weekend market," may be the biggest (and perhaps most entertaining) flea market in China. It's open every single day and will get began early, at 7 a.m. (4 a.m. on weekends). There you are able to look for antiques (watch out for knockoffs), porcelain, jade and wood designs and carvings, in addition to works of art, adornments, knick knacks and nearly anything else you can imagine. Be sure to bargain hard and look around, too, because most of the stalls is going to be selling exactly the same merchandise.

Following a lengthy day, a conventional Chinese massage might be to be able to acquire some much-needed relaxation. Reflexology and pressure-point-based massages are common throughout the city. 
Dining Out
From Peking duck to the ultimate dumplings, here are five outstanding restaurants in China's capital. In less than a decade, Beijing has gone from a hidden dragon to a crouching tiger. Its 17 million residents have witnessed a crowded, humble, mysterious collection of 19th-century neighborhoods transform overnight into a 21st-century megalopolis that makes any North American or European city seem positively sleepy and quaint. Everything about Beijing seems dizzying, especially for first-time visitors, and that is especially true when deciding where to eat. Out of the tens of thousands of restaurants, most are dumpling-sized mama and baba (ma and pa) shops that specialize in northern Chinese cuisine, although every region is well represented due to Beijing's almost thousand-year standing as China's capital. While the iconic dish is Peking duck, Mongolian hotpot and spicy Sichuan dishes are also ubiquitous. But wherever you eat, this is not your corner Chinese takeout. Few places serve a menu loaded with what Americans think of as China's greatest hits of noodles, dumplings, and rice dishes. In Beijing, rice often comes at the end of the meal; fortune cookies, General Tso's chicken, and BBQ spare ribs are rare; and most dishes rank in the middle to high range on the Scoville (spiciness) scale. That said, the food is almost always good, whether from a street vendor cooking radish cakes or from a techno-reverberating hipster spot serving tongue-scorching shrimp. Below are five restaurants where the ni hao (welcome) is warm and the food hot.
Peking Duck:
There are almost as many restaurants that specialize in Peking duck as there are bicycles on Beijing's streets, but few places do it as well as Da Dong Roast Duck Restaurant. The first location debuted almost three decades ago; lines formed daily for so many years that the owners finally opened two more spots. Despite the fact that the menu is the size of the yellow pages, it's the Peking duck that's the universal draw. Glazed and roasted, the skin is extremely crisp, the meat juicy, and the pancakes paper-thin. The accompaniments include a thick, sweet hoisin sauce, radishes, scallions, and a garlickly aïoli, all a cut above what you'd find at other duck spots. The chef carves the bird tableside, and the dishes are presented artfully. The location at Dongsishitiao is perhaps the most upscale, and it seems to be celebration central, guaranteeing an always festive atmosphere. (22 Dongsishitiao; 86-10-5169-0328; no Web site)
To get your fill of dumplings, you have to go to restaurants that specialize in jiaozi and Bao Yuan Jiaozi Wu does just that. This very casual "dumpling heaven," as the Savour Asia blog describes it, also has a multilingual menu, which sets it apart from other dumpling dives. Everything is made to order: The dumplings come in a rainbow of colors, such as purple and orange (naturally dyed with vegetable juice), and have fillings like pork with chives, chicken with mushrooms, and shrimp with chiles. (Maizi Dian Jie Building, 6 ChaoYang Park; 86-10-6586-4967; no Web site)
Mongolian Hotpot:
If Austin Powers could design a restaurant, Ding Ding Xiang would be it. Within its 1960s mod vibe—white circular banquettes, metal curtains, and bright colors as decorative accents—Ding Ding Xiang serves up one of the most ancient Asian dishes but with a modern stamp. Diners are presented with individual mini cauldrons (instead of a communal pot) filled with boiling homemade broth in which to cook raw lamb, beef, pork, noodles, and veggies. The accompanying dipping sauce, jin pai tiao liao, a sumptuous treat, is made with sesame paste laced with garlic and chiles. Besides the delicious, stick-to-the-ribs fare and hipster feel, this place is also popular because it's open until midnight, which is unusual in Beijing, a city that does sleep. To see the restaurant in action, check out this video from Epi's sister site Concierge (Yuanjia International Apartments, 14 Dongzhong Jie, Chaoyang; 86-10-6417-9289; no Web site)
Hand-pulled Noodles:
While there is no surfeit of noodle joints in this city, the doughy wide zhajiang mian (noodles) at the boisterous Old Beijing Zhajiang Noodle King near the Temple of Heaven are truly, well, heavenly. Made on the premises and boiled or fried, they are delivered to the table with an array of sauces, meats, and greens, which the waiter then adds to one bowl for you to mix. The Chinese cognoscenti come for traditional noodles with beef (or lamb) with scallions, pork and green beans, or chicken and chilies. This is the perfect place to chow down for a few yuan but it's not exactly plush—picture benches around worn wooden tables and waiters who loudly greet diners. Still, it's one of the few places left that is reminiscent of old Beijing, so get there while you can. (29 Chong Wai Street, Chong Wen District; 86-10-6705-6705; no Web site)
Haute Pan-Asian:
Standing in the chic outdoor shopping mall, the Village at Sanlitun, you'd swear you were in Beverly Hills, and that's also true of the adjacent Opposite House, one of the most beautifully designed boutique hotels in all of Asia. A minimalist-lover's haven, locals and tourists come to the Opposite House to eat at Sureno, an award-winning Mediterranean restaurant with a wood-fired oven that churns out delicious pizzas, and to Bei, which specializes in pan-Asian, mixing Korean, Japanese, and Chinese on the menu. This glammed-up version of a Chinese restaurant attracts locals who come not just for the hipster vibe but also for the suckling pig with tofu and sushi rice; chicken breast simmered in local beer, garlic, and peanuts; and duck fried rice. Bei points to the future of Beijing's restaurants—sleek, sophisticated, with whiffs of the West. (The Village at Sanlitun, Building 1, 11 Sanlitun Road; 86-10-6417-6688; Opposite House)
Writer Wang Shuo once observed that there were still devout Communists to be found in China, all of them safely under lock and key in a mental asylum. Consumerism is the official ideology of China, and shopping is the national sport. Spend, spend, and spend some more is the message drummed into China's willing citizens at every turn.
Dusty, empty, and useless state-run department stores are thankfully a thing of the past, though the Friendship Store still stands as an amusing reminder of the old days. Megamalls, shopping streets, and the few remaining open-air markets fight for a share of the spoils. Avoid shopping forays on weekends and evenings, when it can feel as if all of Beijing's 15 million residents line up at the cash registers to do their bit for the economic miracle.
Note: Unless otherwise noted, shops are open daily from between 9 and 10am to 9 or 10pm.
The Shopping Scene
Western-style shopping malls are flexing their muscles in Beijing, replacing the traditional storefronts, Chinese department stores, and alley markets. Even the new, privately run stores on major shopping streets tend to be versions of the boutiques and specialty outlets familiar to shoppers in the West. But there are still plenty of open-air markets and streetside vendors offering more traditional arts and crafts, collectibles, and clothing, usually at prices far below those in the big plazas and modern stores.
Beijing's Best Buys -- Stores and markets in Beijing sell everything from cashmere and silk to knockoff designer-label clothing and athletic wear, antiques, traditional art, cloisonné, lacquerware, Ming furniture, Mao memorabilia, and enough miscellaneous Chinesey doodads to stuff Christmas stockings from now until eternity. Prices are reasonable (certainly lower than in the Asian goods boutiques back home), though increasingly less so. Cheap one-time-use luggage is widely available for hauling your booty if you get carried away.
Before you rush to the ATM, it is important to remember that not all that is green and gleams in Beijing is jade. Indeed, the majority of it is colored glass. The same principle holds for pearls, famous-brand clothing, antiques, and just about everything else. If you plan to make big purchases, you should educate yourself about quality and price well beforehand.
Beijing's Top Shopping Areas -- The grandest shopping area in Beijing is Wangfujing Dajie, east of the Forbidden City. The street was overhauled in 1999, and the south section was turned into a pedestrian-only commercial avenue lined with clothing outlets, souvenir shops, fast-food restaurants, and two very popular malls -- the Sun (Xin) Dong An Plaza and Oriental Plaza (Dongfang Guangchang). Dong Dan Bei Dajie, a long block east, is a strip of clothing boutiques and CD shops popular among fashionable Beijing youth. On the western side of town is the mirror image of Dong Dan, bustling Xi Dan, and farther north, Xinjiekou Dajie.
The extremely popular The Village at Sanlitun is a new shopping and entertainment complex in the heart of Beijing's famous bar district. On any given evening you will run into a fascinating cross section of Beijing all commingling in the Village's courtyard: migrant workers walking through after a hard day's work, Beijing yuppies shopping for new threads, and local expats sipping on iced lattes.
South of Tian'an Men is the newly constructed Qianmen Dajie. Originally built in 1436, it is one of the city's oldest commercial streets. All the buildings here are new, but modeled after traditional Chinese architecture.
Other major Westernized shopping areas include the section of Jianguo Men Wai Dajie between the Friendship Store and the China World Trade Center, and the neighborhood outside the Northeast Third Ring Road North, southeast of San Yuan Qiao around the new embassy district.
Beijing's liveliest shopping zone, beloved for its atmosphere and Chinese-style goods, is the centuries-old commercial district southwest of Qian Men. Liulichang is an almost too-quaint collection of art, book, tea, and antiques shops. The stores are lined up side by side in a polished-for-tourists Old Beijing-style hutong, running east-west 2 blocks south of the Heping Men metro stop. The street is good for window-shopping strolls and small purchases -- like the unavoidable chop (tuzhang; stone or jade stamp), carved with your name. But beware of large purchases: Almost everything here is fake and overpriced. In a similar setting but more raucous, Da Zhalan ("Dashilanr" in the Beijing dialect) is the prole alternative. Located in a pedestrian-only hutong 2 blocks south of Qian Men, it is jammed on either side with cheap clothing outlets, restaurants, and luggage shops.

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