The best area to stay in Beijing

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Where to stay in Beijing? Or where is the best area to stay in Beijing? This question often lingers in the minds of those who are planning their first trip to Beijing. For international tourists using internet to arrange their own independent Beijing travel, booking a suitable hotel in Beijing is a daunting task since Beijing is a metropolis with a huge number of rated hotels, plus many hostels, Courtyard hotels, B&B hotels and an increasing number of boutique hotels.

Most internet travelers use the following 5 steps to book their hotel in a new place:

1. Choose the area where you want to stay
2. Compare the different hotels in the same area
3. Use google to locate the hotel
4. Assess the hotel by googling its feedback or checking hotel review websites (e.g., tripadvisor)
5. Reserve your hotel directly or use the hotel booking engines (e.g., expedia)

So, first of all, people should first choose the right area to stay. But what’s “the right area to stay”? Take Beijing for example, different  people have their own understanding about “Where to stay in Beijing “. But the common sense people have of their preferred area should be a comfortabel stay in the center of the city, quite and convenient, and value for money.

So what’s the best area to stay in Beijing? Based on Beijing’s historical layout, present development and Beijing hotel presence, I have sectioned Beijing into 6 areas, namely Central, North, Northeast, South, West and Northwest. I will give you a brief account of each area, which, I think, will be useful for you to finalize your hotel booking in Beijing.

Beijing Central Area ( imperial area)
The central Beijing used to the imperial area.  Now it boasts  the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, Chang’an Avenue, Wangfujing, Beihai Park, Jingshan Park, Changpu River and Zhongshan Park as well as some important museums such as National Museum of China, National Art Museum of China and Beijing Police Museum.

This is probably the best area to come and stay in Beijing, which also largely depends your taste, needs and budget.

North Beijing former living area for Manchu nobles and military officers in Qing Dynasty)
Actually the north Beijing is composed of two areas Houhai and the North Beijing Olympic Sites. It is also home to many of Beijing attractions such as Shichahai Lake (Houhai Lake), Bell and Drum towers, former residences of famous people, hutongs, courtyards, Lama Temple, Confucius Temple as well as the attractions in the North Beijing such as Science & technology Museum, Chinese Ethnic Cultural Park and the Olympic Sites.

Houhai is one of the best places where you might stay on a budget, or stay in a courtyard hotel and mix with the local people in this Beijing old residential area, once especially for Manchu nobles and military officers in Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

South Beijing (Traditional Residences for Han People)
In comparison with the north and Northeast Beijing, the south Beijing remains comparatively underdeveloped. In Yuan and Qing dynasties, Han people were forced to live in the south of the imperial city center. Unlike the grid pattern of the inner imperial city and the north Beijing, the south Beijing has a random and organic pattern.

The south Beijing has a slow pace of life without much shining architechure or the moderns tyle of the north and Northeast Beijing. The south Beijing is home to many hostels and coutyard hotels as well as a couple of mid-range and luxury hotels. It is a nice to place to see a real Beijing behind its seemingly modern and trendy backdrop.

Important attractions nearby include Liulichang Cultural Street, Fayuan Temple, Nantang Church, Temple of Heaven, Museum of Natural History…

Northeast Beijing
Northeast Beijing (Chaoyang District) is the most developed area in Beijing. It accommodates Beijing’s Central Business District as well as hundreds of skyscrapers, hotels and office buildings. It is also home to the most of the international companies, embassies and new agencies.

It is not a very tourist area, but it does have some interesting sites such as 798 Art Space, Sanlitun Bar Street, Ladies’ Street, Chaoyang Park, Dongyue Temple, Ritan Park and Tuanjie Lake Park.

West Beijing (Financial District)
The west Beijing is the financial center teemed with banks and financial institutions, also home to a few important ministries and academic institutions. Its modernity cannot deny its history as a former place where princes, government officials lived in Qing Dynasty. It is also home to the temples and the imperial canals running to the Summer Palace.

The west Beijing is home to some interesting sights such as Capital Museum, Military Museum of Chinese Revolution, Yuyuantan Park, CCTV Tower, Lu Xun Museum, Temple of Emperors of Successive Dynasties in China, Temple of Great Charity (Guangjisi), White Dagaba, Beijing Zoo, Beijing Planetarium, Five Pagoda Temple, Temple of Longevity and Purple Bamboo Park.

The west Beijing has several international chain luxury hotels as well as a few budget and standard hotels.

Northwest Beijing (Beijing’Silicon Valley)
The northwest Beijing blend effortlessly the higher learning institutions in Beijing(universities and colleges), Zhongguancun(Beijing’s silicon Valley) and the imperial gardens (Summer Palace and Old Summer Palace).

The important attractions in the northwest Beijing include Summer Palace, Old Summer Palace(Yuanmingyuan), Great Bell Temple, Western Hills, Botanical Garden and Xiangshan(Fragrant Hill).

The hotels in the Northwest Beijing mainly cater for academic and business travelers.

In my opinion, Central, North and South Beijing are most suitable for leisure travelers.

Check out Where to stay in Beijing  for more information.

Related Beijing Travel Articles

Xian Top 10 Hostels
Top Beijing Budget Hotels 

Tips for Visiting Tiananmen Square
Tips for visiting Summer Palace
Tips for Visiting the Temple of Heaven
Forbidden City Travel Tips – The Palace Museum Travel Tips
Tips for Visiting the Great Wall of China around Beijing
How to Visit Ming Tombs in Beijing
How to visit Beihai Park Beijing
How to visit Shichahai
How to visit Bird’s Nest and Water Cube
How to visit CCTV Tower in Beijing
How to Visit National Grand Theatre in Beijing
Top 10 Most Romantic Places in Beijing
How to Enjoy Beijing Nightlife
Top 10 Beijing Souvenirs
Top 10 Tourist Scams Beijing

Tip: Hassle-free Beijing Guided Tours

If you don’t want to go the do-it-yourself route and prefer the hassle-free escorted tours,  here are some options for Beijing guided tours:

Beijing Day Tour
Beijing Tour Packages
Great Wall Tour
Beijing City Tour
Beijing Winter Tour
Beijing Autumn Tour
Car Rental in Beijing
Beijing Tours
China City Tours
China Tour

Further Readings

Best Time to Visit Beijing
How to plan a trip to Beijing

Top 10 Attractions in Beijing
How to Visit Forbidden City
How to Visit Temple of Heaven
How to Visit Summer Palace
How to Visit Ming Tombs
How to Visit the Great Wall of China
How to Visit Tiananmen Square
How to Visit Hutongs
How to Visit Olympic Sites

Top 10 Markets in Beijing
Top 10 Shopping Malls in Beijing
Beijing Shopping

Wangfujing Walking Street
Qianmen Commercial Street
Gui Jie ( Ghost Street) Food Street

Any questions, just drop a line.


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