Beijing Facts and District Guides
Beijing, located in the northwestern end of the North China Plains, is the capital of the People's Republic of China. A municipal city directly under the jurisdiction of the Central Government, Beijing is the national political, cultural and foreign exchange center. Area: 16,800 square kilometers. Population: 13.82 million.
Because of its role in the life and growth of China, there is an unequalled wealth available for travelers to discover as you explore Beijing's ancient past and enjoy its exciting 21st Century world. In 2008 when Beijing hosts the Olympic Games, Beijing will show the world something so special that everyone will be awestruck by Beijing's latest accomplishments combined with its ancient history.
|County Level Divisions
||100000 - 102600
||Han - 96%
Manchu - 2%
Hui - 2%
Mongolian - 0.3%
||16,808 km2 (6,489.6 square miles)
||43.5 meters (142.7 feet)
||888/km2 (2,299.9/square miles)
||Approx. 7.5 million
||Chinese arborvitae, Pagoda tree
||Chrysanthemum, Chinese rose
||220 ¨C 240 watt
There are 10 districts and eight counties in the Beijing municipality proper. Within each district are distinctive "areas". Most areas of interest are the downtown area located in eastern Chaoyang and central Dongcheng district. Districts/areas highlights include:
Probably the most commercial and residential area in Beijing, Chaoyang offers a lot to see for the visitor. Chaoyang Park, Sanlitun, and the Jianguomen/Ritan area (business/embassy district) are found within this district.
This is a beautiful park, neighbored by many popular bars, pubs, restaurants, shops and high-rises. And if you are looking to buy western food ingredients, Jenny Lous is the place to go.
Located south of the city, this is an established area with boutiques, and shops selling everything from eyeglasses to sporting goods. Though not as flashy as the other areas, Chongwen is still worth a visit since, attractions like the Temple of Heaven are located there. There are many traditional Chinese handicrafts and other unique knick-knacks in this area and bargaining is accepted.
This district is tourist central, boasting Tiananmen Square, The Forbidden City, and Mao's Mausoleum. Major hotels, such as the Beijing Hotel and the Grand Hyatt, surround this area. Serious shopping can be done in the neighboring Wangfujing area.
Located southwest of Beijing, this is mainly an industrial area with several cultural and historical sites worth visiting such as, the China Space Museum, Fengtai Park, and Marco Polo Bridge.
Known also as the school district, this northwestern part of the city hosts Beijing and Tsinghua University, China's equivalent to Harvard and MIT. Because of the young student population, this area has a reputation for being hip, artsy and on the cutting edge. Also designated as a high-tech zone, this is where the aspiring computer and Internet start-ups are found. There are plenty of cheap, but good, restaurants and casual bars catered to the student crowd.
A wide mix of international faces can be seen here: tourists, businesspeople and local Chinese. The main street, Jianguomenwai, is a mad hustle of people, cars, and rickshaws, as well as vendors selling everything from CDs to high-end clothing. Major hotels and office buildings are found here, including the massive China World Hotel. Tourists can try their hand at bargaining at the Silk Market. Just a few blocks away, one can find peace and quiet in Ritan Park, the graceful tree-lined streets of the embassy area.
Sanlitun is a loosely designated area of bars and pubs with Sanlitun Bar Street at its heart. Sanlitun Bar Street is Beijing's premier people-watching spot. On a warm sunny day, people sit at the sidewalk patios and chill out over drinks. There are also numerous funky shops selling everything from clothing and framed prints to Tibetan handcrafts. At night, the decadent side of Sanlitun is revealed and the clubs truly come to life.
Located in the Dongcheng district, this is Beijing's main shopping street and a showcase of Beijing's economic progress to modernity. It is always crowded with shoppers and tourists alike. Partially closed to cars, pedestrians have free reign over the wide sprawling streets. Stop off at the Beijing Foreign Language Bookstore or go shopping at Beijing's mammouth-like shopping mall in Sun Dong An Plaza. Give your taste buds a surprise by dining on deep fried scorpion or any of the other culinary delights at the Wangfujing Night Market. If the idea of chomping on insects is not terribly attractive, upscale dining is available at the several four and five star hotels in the area.
Like Wangfujing, this area is also known for shopping. But unlike Wangfujing, Xidan is a place where many local Chinese shops are located. So generally speaking, shoppers will find better prices here. Browse in the small shops and stalls for bargains on clothing, shoes and CDs. Several shopping centers such as Parksons and Xidan Department Store can be found here.
Given its size, Beijing is one of the safest cities in the world. There are relatively low reports of crime and theft. Still, that doesn't mean you should take the usual precautions. It is suggested that you keep valuables in a safe place, put your large sums of money in banks, keep your doors locked at night and do not walk alone at night.
With the entry of China into WTO and the upcoming Olympics in 2008, Beijing is quickly becoming a world-class city. Sanitation in Beijing is not what it used to mean to the foreigner, that of stinky toilets and litter all over the place. Still, there are squatting toilets, a novelty to the uninitiated Westerner.