Archive for the ‘Beijing Travel’ Category

Qianmen Street, a Pedestrian Street in Beijing

Monday, June 21st, 2021
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The 845-meter long Qianmen Street runs south from Tiananmen Square, just along the Beijing central axis. It is one of the last remnants of the business centers of the old Beijing.

It has been transformed into a modern commercial pedestrian street, the most second visited traffic-free street after Wangfujing Street in Beijing.

Qianmen Street was initially formed in Ming and Qing Dynasties (1368-1911). By the time of Emperor Jiajing, the 12th Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) emperor, the street was dotted with guild halls built by different localities, providing houses to citizens from other parts of China intending to take the imperial exams.

Qianmen Street became even more prosperous in the early years of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) with the development of activities such as lantern fairs, theaters and tea houses.

Places like the Guanghe Theater  – today threatened with demolition — and the Quanjude Roast Duck Restaurant are part of Beijing’s history.

The original Qianmen Street in Ming and Qing Dynasties was burnt down to ashes in 1900 when the Allied Forces of the Eight Powers ransacked Beijing. Physically, there is nothing left for us to retrieve.

The present Qianmen Street has been rebuilt on the historical photos and the mould of the 1920s to 1930s. The 1.45-square kilometer area has been built into four zones for culture, food, shopping and entertainment. Trolley cars are back to transport and entertain tourists.

The area is home to 50 courtyards and hutongs listed as state-level heritage sites, as well as 80 famed shops that have been operating for over a century, such as the Liubiju sauce and pickle shop, Tongrentang drugstore, Ruifuxiang silk shop, Neiliansheng shoes store and Zhangyiyuan tea shop.

Follow me to explore Qianmen Street.

You may visit Qianmen Street from its northern entrance, south of Tiananmen Square.

The northern entrance to Qianmen Street with a traditional archway.

Or, you may enter Qianmen Street from its southern entrance. The distance between the north entrance and south entrance is 845m in length.

The south entrance to Qianmen Street

The Dangdang Che ( Tram) is basically in service during Chinese public holidays running from north to south.

The Dangdang Che ( Tram) will be in service during Chinese public holidays running from north to south.
The Dangdang Che ( Tram)

Walking along the street.

Walking along the street.

The father and daughter are ambling down the street.

The father and daughter are ambling on the street.

KFC is mixed with the traditional Beijing elements.

KFC is mixed with the traditional Beijing elements.
KFC is mixed with the traditional Beijing elements.

The 845m long Qianmen Street is a nice place for a walk.

The 845m long Qianmen Street is a nice place for a walk.
The 845m long Qianmen Street is a nice place for a walk.

Here you can find the West meets the East.

Here you can find the West meets the East.
Here you can find the West meets the East.

The time-honored Yueshengzhai Restaurant.

The time-honored Yueshengzhai Restaurant.

The famous Qianmen Quanjude Duck Restaurant.

The famous Qianmen Quanjude Duck Restaurant.

People are lining up for having a bite of Duyichu shaomai.

People are lining up for having a bite of Duyichu shaomai.

China Bookstore

China Bookstore

Changcuntang, a famous traditional Chinese Pharmacy

Changcuntang, a famous traditional Chinese Pharmacy

Qianmen Street is also an interesting area where the East amd the West stay peacefully and harmoniously.

MCdonald’s on the street

MCdonald’s on the street

Walking about 80 meters from the north entrance to Qianmen Street, on your right hand, you will see the entrance to the famous Dashilan, once the business center of Beijing.

The Dashilan area has gathered some of China’s oldest brands, such as Tongrentang (TCM), Neiliansheng (shoes), and Ruifuxiang (silk and fabrics).

The entrance to the famous Dashilan

The two time-honored shops selling hats and shoes inside Dashilan Area.

The two time-honored shops selling hats and shoes inside Dashilan Area

Its north entrance is just behind Zhengyang Gate ( Arrow Tower ).

Its north entrance is just behind Zhengyang Gate ( Arrow Tower ).
Its north entrance is just behind Zhengyang Gate ( Arrow Tower ).

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:
Old Beijing Walking Tour
Beijing Highlight Day Tour from US$59 P/P
(Tiananmen + Forbidden City + Mutianyu Great Wall)
Beijing Classic City Tour from US$65 P/P
(Tiananmen + Forbidden City + Temple of Heaven + Summer Palace)
Beijing Excursion Tour from US$59 P/P
(Mutianyu Great Wall + Ming Tomb)
Beijing Hutong Highlight Tour from US$59 P/P
( Hutong + Rickshaw)Mutianyu Great Wall Half Day Tour from US$55 p/p
Hike from Jiankou to Mutianyu Great Wall Day Tour from US$69 p/pMutianyu Great Wall Layover Tour from US$65 p/p
Beijing Highlight Layover Tour from US$75 p/p

Further Readings


Night View of Qianmen Street in Beijing
The Central Axis of Beijing
Qianmen Area 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 Night Snack Street
Qianmen Commercial Street
Beijing Huguosi Street

Chinese version of the travel guide:

前门大街 -北京的一条步行街

Any questions, just drop a line.

Tips for Visiting the Temple of Heaven

Sunday, June 20th, 2021
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Dear Travellers,

We’d like to have the following quick guide to be always updated for the benefit of new visitors visiting the Temple of Heaven ( Tiantan 天坛) in Beijing.

If you have any questions or anybody having used the piece finds necessary updates, please leave a message or feedback. Thanks!

Temple of Heaven Map www.willgoto.com

Plan your Beijing tour? Temple of Heaven is a big draw in Beijing. The name of the Temple of Heaven is a little misleading. It is more than just a temple, it is a huge park as well.

Inside the huge park, there is a lovely temple complex, which is composed of three main parts – Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests Imperial Vault of Heaven and Circular Mound Altar sitting along an axis from south to north.

The Temple of Heaven is called ‘Tiantan Park’ ( 天坛公园) in Chinese, literally meaning ‘Temple of Heaven Park”. It was first constructed in 1420, the 18th year of the reign of Ming Dynasty (1368–1644) emperor Yongle. It was the place where the emperors of the Ming Dynasty and and later Qing Dynasty (1644 to 1912) would worship the god of heaven and pray for good harvest.

Tip 1: Get up early to feel the local vibes in the park

Though everyday the temple and historical buildings within the park are open to the public basically from 8:00 till 17:00 ( subject to change due to different seasons), the park itself opens a bit earlier at 6:00 and closes at 22:00 ( again subject to change due to the seasons). Many local people have annual passes for easy access to the park.

An old man writing Chinese calligraphy with a big brush dipped in water

Getting there about 7:00 or 7:30am, especially on a Sunday morning, you will see local people, most of them are middle-aged or seniors doing various kinds of light physical activity you can imagine, like singing, dancing, playing instruments, playing chess, practicing kung fu, tai chi… After 9:30 a.m. it will be slammed with group tourists.
Check out: Morning Stroll in Temple of Heaven for more information.

Tip 2: ABC of the historical buildings in the park

Be prepared for a guidebook or hire a Beijing Tour Guide for your lifetime trip to the temple complex in the park. Three historical buildings are not missed from north to south, namely the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, the Imperial Vault of Heaven and Circular Mound Altar.

The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests:

where the emperors sacrificed animals and burned incense sticks to pray for good weather for the crops.

the Hall of Pray for Harvest above the Wall

The Imperial Vault of Heaven: 

A single gabled circular building, built on a single level of marble stone base. It is located south of the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest.

Inside the compound, a circular wall, an echo wall where you can whisper something from one end and the voice will transmit to the other end.

Imperial Vault of Heaven under the sunset glow

Circular Mound Altar

 Used to worship Heaven at the winter solstice where the principal construction is a large round marble terrace named the Circular Mound.

The distant view of the Circular Mound Altar under the sunset glow

Tip 03: Don’t miss the Cypress Grove

Always keep in mind that here is a huge park, a huge garden. Old cypress trees are worth having a close look.

Some of the cypresses are more than 600 years old. Dr Henry Kissinger, when he visited the temple, stated that while the USA could recreate the Temple of Heaven if it desired, it could not create the trees!

the Cypress Grove

Tip 4: Choose the right entrance

Originally the Temple of Heaven had only one main gate, which faced west, but after it was made a public park in 1949, entrances were also opened on the northern, southern and eastern sides.

So now it mainly has four gates – East, South, West and North. Both East Gate and South Gate are highly recommended.

East Gate:

If you want to see the local people engaged in all kinds of morning activities, you are advised to enter the east gate since most of the morning activities are carried out around the east gate area.

The East Gate entrance is also close to the subway line 05. If you enter the east gate, then your walking itinerary would be east gate – long corridor – The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest – The Imperial Vault of Heaven – Circular Mound Altar – South Gate.

After your north – south tour of the temple, you may turn back and go out of the east gate again and head to the Hongqiao Market across the road.

South Gate:

Start your tour by entering the south gate, then walk along the central way to visit Circular Mound Altar – the Imperial Vault of Heaven, the Hall of Prayer for Harvest – Long Corridor – North Gate or East Gate (Hongqiao Market).

Tip 5: How to get to the Temple of Heaven

If you visit the Temple of Heaven through the east gate, you take subway line 5 to Tiantan Dongmen Station (East Gate of Temple of Heaven) and then take exit A, close to the East Gate entrance to Temple of Heaven. For the public buses to the east gate, you may try bus 6, 35, 36, 39, 41, 43…

If you use south gate, you also can take a taxi or take bus 36, 120, 122, 800, 803, 958

Address for Temple of Heaven:
No. 7, Dongli, Tiantan Nei, Dongcheng District, Beijing Zip code: 100061
Telephone: 010-67012483 (daytime)
010-67013036 (night)

Tip 6: Opening time for the buildings and the park itself

Peak season : ( April 01- October 31 each year)
Off season : ( November 01 to March 31 of the following year )

The Park opening time
Peak season opening hours: 6:00-21:00
Off-season opening hours: 6:30-21:00
Park clearance : at 22:00

Opening time for the historical buildings inside the park
(mainly the Imperial Vault of Heaven, the Circular Mound Altar, the Imperial Vault of Heaven)
Peak season opening time: 8:00-17:30
Off-season opening time: 8:00-17:00
also including the North God cook, the North slaughtering house, the Fast House and Divine Music Administration (神乐署中和韶乐)inside the park.

The sights above are closed on Mondays (except public holidays).

Tip 7: Entrance tickets at Temple of Heaven

Basically there are two kinds of entrance tickets – Entrance ticket for the park only and through tickets for entering the park as well the three main historical buildings within the park.

Entrance Ticket:  An entrance ticket charges RMB 15 (April – November) and RMB 10 (December – March). With the ticket, you can get into the park, see local people do morning exercises and have an outside look at the historical buildings in the park as well.

Through Ticket: The ticket charges RMB 34 (April – November) and RMB 28 (December – March). With a through ticket, you can enter the park and go to visit the three areas in the park – Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, The Imperial Vault of Heaven and the Circular Mound Altar.

Notice:
1. The ticket for Divine Music Administration inside the park:10 yuan ( a separate ticket)
2. During the present pandemic period, people are requested to use Wechat App to book the tickets online. If you are not able to use Wechat, the park staff will help you use the app. If still that doesn’t work, you are still allowed to buy your tickets on the spot.

Tip 8: Self-guided audio & in-person tour guides

Self-guided audio service

  1. Location: four gate areas;
  2. Time: 8:00 — 17:00;
  3. Language: Chinese, Cantonese, English, Japanese, Korean, French, German and Spanish;
  4. Rent fee:
    A) For Chinese, the deposit is 100 yuan, which will be returned to the tourist when the machine is replaced. The rent for the machine is 10 yuan.
    B) For other languages: 100 yuan deposit, return to the tourist when returning the machine; The rent for the machine is 40 yuan.

In-person tour guides

  1. Location: South gate of the park;
  2. Time: 8:00 — 17:00;
  3. Language: Chinese and English;
  4. Fees:
    A)100 yuan for five Chinese speakers ( including few than five) ; 200 yuan for more than five people.
    B.) There will be an extra charge of 50 yuan for the English speakers.
  5. Tips: The tour guide should be booked two days in advance; Contact number: 67028866 ( Tour Guide Team)

Tip 9: Dress for the Hot Weather

Though there are many trees in the park, all the trees are lined on the both sides of the north-south axis. So no single tree on your axis trip – Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, the Imperial Vault of Heaven and the Circular Mound.

For summer time, be ready to bring an umbrella for sun protection, bottles of water, and comfy walking shoes. Check Beijing Climate for more information.

Tip 10 Wear Comfortable Shoes

The park is so huge.  You are advised to wear your most comfortable shoes. It’s a long walk!

Tip 11:  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 Highlight Day Tour from US$59 P/P
(Tiananmen + Forbidden City + Mutianyu Great Wall)
Beijing Classic City Tour from US$65 P/P
(Tiananmen + Forbidden City + Temple of Heaven + Summer Palace)
Beijing Excursion Tour from US$59 P/P
(Mutianyu Great Wall + Ming Tomb)
Beijing Hutong Highlight Tour from US$59 P/P
( Hutong + Rickshaw)

Mutianyu Great Wall Half Day Tour from US$55 p/p
Hike from Jiankou to Mutianyu Great Wall Day Tour from US$69 p/p

Mutianyu Great Wall Layover Tour from US$65 p/p
Beijing Highlight Layover Tour from US$75 p/p

Chinese version of the travel guide

如何坐地铁去参观天坛

Further Readings


Morning Stroll in Temple of Heaven
Sunset Glow over Temple of Heaven
Zhonghe Shaoyue at Temple of Heaven
Tips for Visiting Tiananmen Square
Tips for visiting Summer Palace
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

Any questions, just drop a line.


Beijing’s Top 10 Iconic Landmarks

Friday, June 18th, 2021
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The earliest settlements in China’s capital can be traced as far back as 1100 BC. As one of the eight ancient capital cities in China, Beijing was designated as the ancient capital city for 8 dynasties during a span of over 800 years. Not much ancient city architecture left of Beijing’s history prior to 1406 when the Yongle Emperor of Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644) began to build the Forbidden City in a large scale.

After that time, much of Beijing’s splendid heritage and culture can still be found in the well-preserved architectural landmarks. Each city’s iconic landmarks change with the times. Beijing’s top iconic landmarks feature China’s classical and traditional architectures, modern and postmodernist ones. Here are ten that shouldn’t be missed on your Beijing tour.

1. Hall of Super Harmony at Forbidden City 1406

Built in 1406 to 1420, the Forbidden City was the imperial palace for Ming and Qing dynasties ( 1420 – 1911) for over 500 years. The complex comprises 980 buildings with 8707 rooms with an area of 72 acres. Listed as a UNESCO site in 1987.

 The Hall of Super Harmony at Forbidden City
The Hall of Super Harmony at Forbidden City

The Forbidden City epitomizes the traditional China palatial architecture, which has had great influences on the culture and architectural developments in East Asia. The original Hall of Super Harmony was built in 1406 and was destroyed seven times by fires during the Qing Dynasty and last re-built in 1695–1697. For more information, check out How to visit the Forbidden City.

2. Tiananmen Tower 1417

Built in 1417, Tiananmen Tower ( Gate of Heavenly Peace ) was an important gate to enter the Forbidden City. Now it is a famous monument on the northern edge of Tiananmen Square in Beijing, a national symbol of China.

A closer look at Tiananmen Tower
A closer look at Tiananmen Tower

The gate building is 66 meters long and 37 meters wide and 32 meters high with imperial roof decorations. The tower itself is accessible with an entrance fee 20 yuan for a panoramic view of Tiananmen Square. But you are free to walk through the archway under the tower leading to the Forbidden City.

Two giant stone lions stand in front of the gate, supposed to protect against evil spirits in China culture. Two decorative stone columns known as Huabiao also stand in front of the tower building. Check out How to visit Tiananmen Square.

3. Prayer Hall at Temple of Heaven 1420

Built 1420, The Temple of Heaven was an Imperial Sacrificial Altar in Beijing during Ming and Qing dynasties. It was a complex of religious buildings where the emperors in Ming and Qing dynasties for annual ceremonies for prayer to Heaven for good harvest.

Prayer Hall at Temple of Heaven
Prayer Hall at Temple of Heaven

The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest is an important landmark and symbol in Beijing. It is one of the three main buildings in Temple of Heaven. It is a massive circular building, 36 meters in perimeter, 38 meters tall, built on three layers of marble stone base.

It was the place the Emperor prayed for good harvest. The building is a total wooden structure without a single nail, a masterpiece of China architecture and a UNESCO site in 1998. Check out How to Visit Temple of Heaven.

4. Great Hall of the People 1959

The Great Hall of the People is located on the western edge of Tiananmen Square. It is used for legislative similar to the parliament in the west as well as for ceremonial activities by the PRC and the Communist Party of China.

It is the meeting place for the national session of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), and the National Congress of the Communist Party of China.

Grand Hall of the People
Great Hall of the People

Built in 1959 in 10 months by volunteers, it was one of the “Ten Great Constructions” of that time completed for the 10th Anniversary of the PRC. The building covers 171,800 square meters of floor space, it is 356 meters long and 206.5 meter wide. At the eaves of the main gate hangs the national emblem of the PRC.

5. Bird’s Net ( National Stadium ) 2008

The Beijing National Stadium, also known as Bird’s Nest, is the legacy of the successful 2008 Summer Olympics and Paralympics, which has left a deep impression on people’s mind around the world.

Beautifully Lit-up Beijing National Stadium (Bird’ Nest )

It is a stunning landmark building featuring the world’s largest steel structure with 26km of unwrapped steel used. innovative structure was designed by Herzog & De Meuron Architekten, Arup Sport and the China Architecture Design and Research Group, and has been nicknamed the “bird’s nest” due to the web of twisting steel sections that form the roof. It can house 91,000 visitors. Check out How to visit Bird’s Nest and Water Cube.

6. CCTV Headquarters 2008

The new China Central Television ( CCTV ) is designed by Arup and constructed by Rem Koolhaas and Ole Scheeren of OMA. It started to build in 2004 and was operational in 2008.

The main building of CCTV Headquarters is a 44-story skyscraper 234 meters high located on East Third Ring Road in Beijing’s Central Business Center area. It is not a traditional building, but a loop of six horizontal and vertical sections.

The Lit-up CCTV Building

As a graceful and sturdy sculpture-style edifice, the planned new CCTV building doesn’t not only represent the new image of Beijing, but also express, in the language of architecture, the importance and the cultural nature of the TV industry. Check out CCTV Headquarters Building for more information.

7. National Center of Performing Arts 2007

Located on the west of the Great Hall of the People, it was designed by French architect Paul Andreu. Construction started in December 2001 and the inaugural concert was held in December 2007.

The total cost for its construction is said to be over RMB 3 billion. The theatre has total 5473 seats with each seat costing about half million!

The Dome and the Great Hall of the People

The exterior of the theatre is a titanium accented glass dome that is completely surrounded by a man-made lake. It just likes like an egg cut half.

Inside there are 4 major performing halls: The Opera Hall in the middle is used for operas, ballet, and dances with seats 2416; the Music Hall in the east side accommodates 2,017 seats; The Theater Hall in the west side is functioned for Chinese traditional plays and the Beijing opera. with 1040 seats.

Ticketing selling hours
The box office of the National Centre for the Performing Arts is located at the north entrance of centre. It is open between 9:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. every day. Entrance Ticket for Visiting only: 30 yuan per person. Check out How to Visit National Grand Theatre in Beijing for more information.

8. China World Trade Center Tower III 2010

China World Trade Center Tower III is 330 meters high, the 3rd tallest skyscraper in Beijing with 81 floors, 4 underground floors, and 30 elevators. It is located in vicinity of Beijing Business District, close to China World Hotel and Dabeiyao. It is the third phase of development of the China World Trade.

China World Trade Center Tower III 2010
China World Trade Center Tower III 2010 (from internet)

The building was completed in 2010. It is a huge complex designed for office and hotel space,with retail at its base. The building also houses a 278-room 5-star hotel. The China World Trade Center complex is located in Beijing’s Central Business District at the junction of the East Third Ring Road and Jianguomen Outer Street ( the east part of Chang’an Avenue).

9. Galaxy SOHO Beijing 2012

Galaxy SOHO Beijing is a multidimensional miracle in the world among other iconic landmarks in Beijing. Galaxy SOHO has changed the city skyline a bit.

Built 2009-2012, the Galaxy SOHO Beijing is located on the southwest of Chaoyang Bridge over the East Second Ring Road with a total construction area of 330,000 square meters including office floors of 166,000 square meters and retail floors of 86,000 square meters.

Aerial View of Galaxy SOHO
Aerial View of Galaxy SOHO (from internet)

Galaxy SOHO is developed by SOHO and designed by Zaha Hadid Architects. It is a new type of office and entertainment complex devoid of corners or abrupt transitions. It is an re-invention of the classical courtyards that produce immersive and enveloping experiences at the heart of Beijing.

The four tower-shape buildings are connected dynamically by many bridge with attractive appearance that gives much imagination. People will get immersed excitedly in the 360-degree architecture in the world.

10. China Zun 2019

Designed by architecture firm Farrells, China Zun is 528 meters high, ranking the 9th in the world, the 5th in China and the 1st in Beijing among all the completed skyscrapers in the world.

The skyscraper was commissioned in July 2013, and finished in 2019. It is located in Beijing CBD core area, adjacent to the CCTV building. It is known as one of the China’s top ten contemporary buildings. Its architectural inspiration comes from the traditional Chinese ritual vessel “Zun”, which means “the heaven is round and the earth is round”.

The CCTV Building and China Zun (under construction)
China Zun ( finished in 2019, the photo is from the internet)

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Tip:  Hassle-free Beijing Guided Tours

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

Beijing Highlight Day Tour from US$59 P/P
(Tiananmen + Forbidden City + Mutianyu Great Wall)
Beijing Classic City Tour from US$65 P/P
(Tiananmen + Forbidden City + Temple of Heaven + Summer Palace)
Beijing Excursion Tour from US$59 P/P
(Mutianyu Great Wall + Ming Tomb)
Beijing Hutong Highlight Tour from US$59 P/P
( Hutong + Rickshaw)

Mutianyu Great Wall Half Day Tour from US$55 p/p
Hike from Jiankou to Mutianyu Great Wall Day Tour from US$69 p/p

Mutianyu Great Wall Layover Tour from US$65 p/p
Beijing Highlight Layover Tour from US$75 p/p

Further Readings


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 Night Snack Street
Qianmen Commercial Street
Beijing Huguosi Street

Any questions, just drop a line.