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 is the most populous city in China with 21 million inhabitants throughout its municipality, which is a province in itself that is directly managed by the national popular government.
In historical terms, Beijing is a relatively young city, with 1300 years old. However, in a few years it became an important city: the Liao dynasty, in the eleventh century, made Beijing the capital of its 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 Mongolian: the fifth Kan Kublai, first of the dynasty Yuan.
Although the city ceased to be capital for a time, the capital was returned in the fifteenth century under the Ming dynasty, under whose reign the famous Forbidden City was built.
Since then, Beijing became one of the largest cities in the world (the most populated until the end of the 19th century) and of economic importance in the very important area, especially when, from the 80s and 90s, the country He adopted the capitalist economy and began to develop vertiginously with new business, sports and tourism spaces.
All this development, in addition to historical sites that are still preserved, and, above all, the organization of the 2008 Olympic Games, has led to an increase in tourism and the number of hotels so that staying in Beijing is much easier.
The best areas and neighborhoods to stay in Beijing
The highest density of accommodation is to 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 lower than € 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 of Zhengyangmen, name of the gate (built in the fifteenth century) that gave entry to the south to the ancient imperial city from the south and was part of the walls of Beijing, today demolished after its demolition in 1960.
The term is translated as “Front door”, it is located south of Tiananmen Square and gives its name to several avenues (North, East and West), a subway station, the Qianmen Residential District and the tourist area in The old quarter.
Until the 2008 Olympics, it was the longest residential neighborhood 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 its 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 Watchtower or Zheng Yang Men Jean Lou, as old as the “Front Door” and just before it. After access to the grand entrance, you will reach the huge Tiananmen Square where the Mao Zedong Mausoleum and the People’s Heroes Monument are located, and a little beyond the Forbidden City.
Back to the south, outside Tiananmen Square, crossing the tram line, the commercial area 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 at a centennial restaurant like Liubiju, on Liangshidian Street, or buy some shoes or silk items in Ruifuxiang.
Along Qianmen Street (pedestrian and tramway), shops and restaurants follow each other 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 such as the Hutong Sanmiao, the oldest in the city.
In the west direction, following one of these alleys, you can access the old Liulichang street, famous for its sculpture shops, Chinese calligraphy, paintings and other handmade products.
A final must-see is the Tiantan Park where the famous Temple of Heaven of the fifteenth century is located. Next to this temple, it is also located in 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 wide range of restaurants and shopping offers a difficult plus. As a disadvantage: accommodation prices. It is an expensive area compared to others.
Accommodations in Qianmen
The great avenue of Wangfujing, east of the Forbidden City, is famous for its many shops, street food stalls and restaurants. It is located very central, very close to the Forbidden City, and is very well connected with 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 like Qianmen Street) you can visit the Catholic Church of San José, not far from the main avenue and whose construction occurred in 1653, although it underwent remodeling to the current aspect. A little further north, highlight the great Capital Theater, built in 1954 and with a large hall capable of accommodating almost 1000 people.
But, if Wangfujing stands out for something, it is for having more than three hundred stores where to buy all kinds of products.
As for gastronomy, the area has Wangfujing Snack Street, a block complete with Chinese restaurants, candy stores and stalls where you can try freshly made snails, worms, scorpions and other animals present in Chinese cuisine. This large commercial space also opens at night.
To end the late night, in a tourist area could not miss pubs like Molly Malone’s or fashion sites like the Beijing Sunshine Club, on the same Wangfujing Street.
Like Qianmen, it is a somewhat more expensive area than the average. Even so, there is a wide variety of accommodations that make it affordable for all budgets.
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 farthest north 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 very visited and 800-year-old place: Nanluoguxiang, a hutong of just under a kilometer and which, like Houhai, symbolizes an entire entertainment area.
Both areas are well connected with the rest of the city by avenues such as Gulou, Di’anmen or Deshengmen Inner, all of them with bus lines and subway stops.
Houhai Lake 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 other attractions such as the Drum Towers and the Bell, on Gulou Street; Prince Chun’s 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, full of shops of all kinds. And to the south of it, an area very visited by young locals and tourists for its many 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 will reach Nanluoguxiang Street, which stands out for its combination of classical architecture in its 16 adjacent hutongs and a more modern one for the latest remodeling. 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 wide, especially to the east of Lake Houhai, with hostels, hostels and even five-star hotels in and around Nanluoguxiang.
Accommodations in Houhai | Nanluoguxiang
To the west of the Forbidden City there is another very commercial street, surrounded by hutong and which also gives its name to a tourist area: Xidan. Xidan North Avenue itself is already an important communication route because of the number of bus stops it contains and that connect with other areas of Beijing.
Like the other 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 the greatest number of accommodations in the area are concentrated.
In addition to Xidan Street, there are other places not far away, such as Xishiku Cathedral, to the east, or the Middle Sea and Northern Sea lakes. In the latter is the Qiongdao Island that houses the White Dagoba Temple, in addition to others Buddhist places of interest.
Unlike other streets such as Nanluoguxiang, the shops of Xidan North are larger, and also has several shopping centers such as the great Joy City. To the south, there are also cultural attractions such as 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 on Xidan North Street itself. The area also offers nightlife with the Jazcu Juice Bar, among other pubs.
Accommodations in Xidan
Between the second and the third circular road in Beijing is Sanlitun, an area full of embassies and specifically renovated as a commercial and leisure area in the Western style.
About 500 meters from Sanlitun Street is the large Worker’s Stadium football stadium, surrounded by large green areas, an aquarium, restaurants and several well-known nightclubs such as Vics and Mix Club.
Back in Sanlitun, the atmosphere is very cosmopolitan and there are places of interest such as the Yashow market, famous because you can find fakes of clothes and other products. The Village shopping center, a meeting place for locals and tourists, is also very famous.
To eat, in addition to shopping centers, in the afternoon the streets are filled with street food stalls, a cheaper dining option than eating in restaurants.
In any case, the strength of this area is the offer of nightlife both around the Workers Stadium and on Sanlitun Street itself. Notably, the Poachers club and the Suzie Wong Club. If you are looking for nightlife, this is the best option to stay in Beijing.
The offer of accommodation is varied and ranges from hostels and simple hotels to higher-end options. It is a very popular area and that is noted in their prices that on average are somewhat more expensive.
Further east, between the third and fourth circular road, 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 areas separated by canals and lakes.
Beyond the edge of the gardens, in the northwest area is the La Solana complex, where there are cinemas, restaurants, clothing stores and attractions to spend the whole day.
Its proximity to the center and to areas such as Sanlitun, in addition to the attractiveness that it has as a green area make it an option used to stay in Beijing by many travelers. Another advantage is the value for money that is better than other downtown areas or Sanlitun itself.
Accommodations near Chaoyang Park
798 Art District
It is the street that gives its name to an area far from the center – to the northeast – but well connected by public transport with the center. It was once an industrial and military zone and today it is almost an open-air museum with all kinds of artistic expressions.
It mixes the residential environment with the tourist, the accommodations are mostly to the north and west, and much 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 large galleries such as the 798 Photo Gallery, 798 Space, Long March Space or the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art.
Tourism has caused 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, cafes abound, such as Ace Café 751, which also serves cocktails at night, and there are also trendy restaurants such as Time Zone 8 and Bodhi Vegetarian, or Shenji Cai Guan, if you prefer to try traditional food.
798 Art District Hotels
It is a financial district, also called GuoMao and is located west of the Chaoyang District and south of the park of the same name. The 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, home of the 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 but 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 West-facing Silk Street, or the great Soho Shangdu to the north.
Also in the western part of the neighborhood is where the best restaurants such as the Tibetan Makye Ame, or the Chinese restaurant Xiao Wang Fu, are located a few meters north of the park where the Temple of the Sun is located.
And at the end of the day, there is an interesting variety of pubs and clubs where you can go like the Havana Bar or the Centro pub.
The number of hotels is wide, the vast majority of luxury. It is not an area especially suitable for those looking to sleep in Beijing at low prices. However, if you are looking for category hotels with better prices than the more central areas, it is possible to find very good deals in this neighborhood.
Accommodations in Beijing CBD