Go to Tian’anmen Square
You might’ve already seen Tian’anmen Square during the day, packed with people, with lines in front of the security checkpoints that seem to be never ending. But do you know that Tian’anmen Square at night is a completely different story? The red and golden rostrum under the bright lighting seems to be even more solemn against the dark night. If you decide to watch the flag-raising ceremony that takes place everyday during sunrise, arriving early on the night before can pretty much secure you a good spot.
Have a Walking Tour Along the Nanchizi & Beichizi Streets
The Nanchizi Street and the Beichizi Street to its north are the street next to the outer wall of the Forbidden City. They used to be part of the imperial city back in Qing Dynasty, and only the nobles can live here. Now it contains over 200 traditional courtyards where hundreds of ordinary families still reside. Along these streets you’ll experience the past and the present, the imperial and the civil at the same time. It’s especially pleasant to walk on the street at night, with less people and less cars, so you can really take in the sites.
Night View from the Dingdu Peak
Forget about the roof-top bars or high-end restaurants on top of the five-star hotels. If it’s the night view of Beijing that you truly care about, then what’s the fun of viewing through a thick (and probably not very clean) window? The Dingdu Peak at west Beijing is a secret place for the locals to look out over Beijing. But remember to come early; the place closes at 9 p.m.
Sangyu Village, Tanzhe Temple Town, Mentougou District, Beijing, 8am – 9pm, +8610 61869088
Work at the Garage Café
The Garage Café used to be a popular place among start-up maniacs in Beijing when people’s enthusiasm toward breaking new ground was at its peak a few years ago. With the enthusiasm cooling down, the café is not as crowded as before, but you may still see here people talking about start-up businesses and people who simply work hard until late night on their own.
2/F Xinding Hotel, 48 Xidajie, Haidian District, Beijing, 24/7, +8610 82627127
Page One (Qianmen)
There are a few bookstores in Beijing that welcome readers 24/7, but for English readers and art lovers it is always Page One that is most recommended. The bookstore has one of the biggest collections of design and art books in Beijing, and it’s newly opened Qianmen branch also provides 24-hour opening time for book lovers and those who simply don’t feel like going home.
1-3/F, Building No.1, 13 Langfang Toutiao, Xicheng District, Beijing, 24/7, +8610 63183761
Enjoy Your Midnight Snacks at the Ghost Street
Where is the best place for midnight snacks in Beijing? Ask around your local friends, and Ghost Street would be their answer. Thirty-some years after Xiaolin Hotpot became the first 24-hour restaurant both on the street and in Beijing, the Ghost Street has now become a nationally famous night restaurant street. You can find spicy crayfish restaurants, a Beijing snack bar, spicy Sichuan food restaurants, and even restaurants that specialize in grilled pig trotter.
Or, Enjoy Your Meal at 24-Hour Convenient Store
Many convenient stores in Beijing, like 7-Eleven, Lawson or Our Hours, are open 24 hours. They usually sell cooked food along with the ordinary convenient store goods while providing dining areas for customers who want to sit in. Whether you find yourself hungry in front of an empty fridge late at night or feel like a treat after a busy work day, such convenient stores around the corner will always give you the warmest welcome.
Sing at a KTV
Many KTVs, or karaoke boxes, are 24 hours in China. Singing karaoke is popular entertainment among Chinese people. Many think of the karaoke boxes as an ideal place to let off pressure or make friends through songs. It can be a nice place to have fun even if you can’t drink.
Watch a Movie at the China Film Archive
China Film Archive is the pioneer of the Chinese Nationwide Alliance of Arthouse Cinemas. It rarely screens current blockbusters but instead focuses on the old or independent Chinese films and international films with a positive reputation. The main cinema of the archive at Xiaoxitian has screenings every evening, plus every afternoon during the weekends. The tickets can be bought both online and on the website. You can find its monthly movie list on its website too (in Chinese though).
Climb the Simatai Great Wall in the Evening
The Simatai Great Wall is a section that Great Wall fans shouldn’t miss, as it is the only section that opens during the evenings. Here you can see the walls lit up by streaks of lights that look like dragons, and standing on the Great Wall you can also see the Gubei Water Town, the former military fortress and now a tourist town.
Simatai Great Wall, Miyun County, Beijing, +8610 81009999