This hip neighbourhood situated around the Drum and Bell towers has kept a lot of its original Beijing charm. The streets here are mainly hutongs, with many transformed into shops and watering holes. For a scenic walk, head to Houhai Lake. Beautiful by day or night, there’s an array of bars, restaurants and live music venues to choose from. Wudaoying and Fangjia are the well-known bar and restaurant hutongs but by wondering around the old narrow alleyways, you’ll stumble across many more.
Wudaokou houses most of the city’s universities, so the area is predominantly home to local and foreign students. Only a few subway stops away are the Summer Palace and Yuanming Yuan (Old Summer Palace) which are both perfect gardens to stroll in on a hot summers day. The nightlife of Wudaokou is student-led and seedy but it does have its charm. There are plenty places to grab a bite, whatever the hour. The Bridge Café provides 24 hour service and study atmosphere. Bars such as Steps and La Bamba boast weeklong drink deals while clubs and karaoke bars offer entertainment till dawn.
A little bit of suburbia in a bustling city, Shunyi is the townhouse village of Beijing, surrounded by international schools and the homes of the families that send their kids there. That considered, Shunyi should not be dismissed as it is full of charisma, with a real sense of community. For those in search of brands at discounted prices, the Beijing Scitech Outlet village attracts dedicated shoppers.
The Central Business District is the definition of ‘urban jungle’ but also the best location to admire modern architecture, such as the CCTV headquarters, lovingly nicknamed ‘big boxer shorts’ for its unusual shape. The surrounding shopping centres are worth a visit for the food alone. Head to The Place for a snack at Moka Bros, a leader in the Beijing health food scene. When you’re there, check out the largest LSD screen in Asia. Stop for dinner at Bistro B in Rosewood hotel, then head upstairs for drinks on the roof at Mei Bar.
Sanlitun is one of the central districts in Beijing and the epicentre of upscale nightlife and shopping. This fashionable neighbourhood has an abundance of eateries from trendy cafés to fine dining restaurants. The Nali Patio is a popular conglomeration of bars and restaurants, among which are La Social; a bar with a Latin twist and Migas; a rooftop bar with a great view.