Beijing’s Central Business District may be a finance hub, but this fascinating neighbourhood offers much more than just skyscrapers. From tai chi in Ritan Park to sampling authentic Peking duck, here’s a guide to making the most of a day in Beijing’s Central Business District.
Located in the southeastern part of the Chaoyang District, the Central Business District is at the heart of downtown Beijing, with convenient access afforded by the Guomao and Yonganli metro stations. Whether you’re looking for markets and shopping malls, themed restaurants or some of Beijing’s unique modern architecture, you can find it all in the Central Business District.
Start your morning off at Ritan Park, a beautiful scenic area in the middle of the neighbourhood. The park contains the Temple of the Sun – a sacrificial altar built in 1530 during the late Ming Dynasty – and a pavilion with a great view of the surrounding area. Ritan Park is a popular place for local Beijingers to gather for tai chi and dancing in the mornings, while there are many restaurants and shops where you can try some popular Chinese breakfast foods such as baozi (steamed buns) or jianbing (fried pancake) after your exercise.
From Ritan Park, walk 15 minutes southeast to Beijing’s famous Silk Street Market – undoubtedly one of the top attractions in the Central Business District. This six-storey building sells everything from electronics and silk products to knock-off designer purses and high-quality shoes at discount prices. For a real local experience, be prepared to haggle. The market opens at 9.30am and also contains a variety of snack stalls, restaurants, nail salons, spas and coffee shops. After exploring the market, visit the Quanjude Roast Duck Restaurant on the top floor to try Beijing’s signature Peking duck.
From the Silk Street Market, walk north to enjoy some of the architecture of downtown Beijing. You’ll get a view of the famous CCTV Headquarters , lovingly nicknamed Da Kucha (‘big pants’) by virtue of its unusual shape, along with the China World Trade Centre. The complex’s most notable building is undoubtedly the China World Trade Centre Tower III, the tallest building in Beijing.
For an afternoon pick-me-up head to Central Perk, a replica of the famous coffee shop from the hit TV show Friends. Located on the sixth floor of the Chaowai SOHO mall, Central Perk offers coffee at affordable prices and cakes named after the show’s characters. You can relax on the iconic couch and watch your favourite episodes while enjoying a ‘Rachel’ red velvet cake or a ‘Monica’ cheesecake.
An afternoon in Beijing’s Central Business District wouldn’t be complete without a spot of retail therapy. To finish off the afternoon, head to one of the city’s largest shopping malls: The Place. This landmark shopping centre is home to an array of mid-level brands, from Spanish fashion chain Zara to makeup giants MAC, and boasts Asia’s largest LCD projection screen.
To sample a much-loved dinner spot, head to Bistrot B. Set inside the famous Rosewood Hotel, this elegant yet relaxed venue offers French-inspired comfort food. After enjoying house specialities such as chargrilled steaks, oysters and sumptuous burgers, head upstairs to Mei Bar for after-dinner drinks. Mei Bar showcases a large selection of whiskey, wine and cocktails, and also offers a stunning view of the Beijing CCTV Tower.