Whenever travelling in a new city, one thing a tourist might never want to miss is to take the opportunity walking some city streets. This is undoubtedly a good way to feel the local culture as well as understand local people’s daily life. As such, in this newsletter, we will present you with several must-go streets in Beijing, which vividly reflect the culture and characteristics of the old city.
Liuli Chang Antique Street
Liuli Chang Street acquired its name almost seven hundred years ago, since in the Yuan (1279-1368) and Ming dynasties (1368-1644), a renowned colored glaze factory (Liuli Chang in Chinese) was in production in the street, which made glazed tiles for the palaces, temples and residences of the officials. In the early Qing Dynasty, antique dealers started business here, and untill Qianlong’s reign it had developed into a busy distribution center for ancient paintings, rubbings, and the four treasures, etc. After the liberation, Liuli Chang was positioned as a culture street being full of rich characteristics. Rong Bao Zhai and other famous brands of bookstores and antique shops extended their branches in the street. A large scale renovation was then performed in 1982, which transformed this place into an antique market that resembles a Chinese village. Grey styled pavements and tiles were widely adopted on both sides, decorated by various antique paintings and engraved bricks, which emit a quaint, primitive atmosphere.
Alongside the street now there are nearly 100 stores – representative ones include Rong Bao Zhai and Bao Gu Zhai, mainly engaged in ancient and modern calligraphy and paintings; Yun Gu Zhai and Cui Zhen Zhai, mainly engaged in gold, silver, stone, and ceramics utensils; Lai Xun Ge and Yi De Zhai, mainly engaged in the Four Treasures; and Zhen huan Ge and Zhen Yun Ge, mainly engaged in jewelry miscellaneous. Besides above, there are also Wen Sheng Zhai’s lanterns, and Jin Chang Shop’s carpets, tapestries and so on.
It is a popular destination for tourists who wish to experience the commercial aspect of popular Chinese folk artwork in Beijing without the bustling traffic.
Routes: Bus No. 7, 70, 14, 15 to Liuli Chang Station.
Shichahai Bar Street
Shichahai is indeed a Beijing’s "characteristic". With marketplace festivity and the fragrance of the wine. Most guests in Shichahai’s pubs might surprisingly find some quietness among uproar. For locals, coming here to drink and changing the mood is really the target – this makes many bars pay particular attention to décor in order to strengthen their unusual cultural taste. Here, you will find “General’s home” resembling the house of an ancient general, or "Buddha House" having a religious flavor in its inch of land.
The most fashionable place for leisure one can enjoy in Shichahai is standing on the "Yin Ding Bridge” - listening to the Erhu playing from the boats in the lake center, viewing the fascinating wax lights glimmering and drifting with the tide.
Notfar from Shichahai is a famous Pipe Byway. In this only 200m long "pocket" street, all unsightly edges are subtly faded: utility poles, overhead lines has been buried underground; broken street lights turned into elaborate lanterns in front of the shops; even the voltmeter boxes are hidden in a gray brick "cassette" in the wall. Routes: Bus No. 210, 5to Zhu Zhong Chang Station; No. 55 to De Sheng Men Nei Station; No. 635 to De Nei Gan Shui Qiao Station.
Nanluoguxiang is an ancient street in the Dongcheng District of Beijing City. The street, 800 meter long from north to south, still remains the original scheme since its build in Yuan Dynasty. In topology, as eight Hutongs lying in the east and west sides of the street, respectively, which resembles a centipede shape, it is named “Centipede Street” too.
Pushing the wooden doors with a thick layer of black lacquer, a transparent and spacious old Beijing courtyard surprisingly comes into view; talks, laughter, murmurs, and birdsongs faintly float over the mat shelter covered by grape vines... this 800 meter narrow alley scatters with all kinds of small bars with low narrow doors and unique characteristics, giving you a quiet and restrained feeling, just as the street itself.
Nostalgic and intimate commercial symbols are everywhere: grocery stores since the eighties of the last century, small shops selling traditional yogurt in porcelain bottles, clean and fair-priced youth hostels ... regardless of the travelers who want to stop for a rest, or the guests who are eager to spend the entire afternoon, in arelaxed and easy atmosphere cannot get better any more.
Routes: Bus No. 823, 850, 13, 118 to Nanluoguxiang Station.
Maliandao Tea Street
Not far in the south of Beijing's West Railway Station, is located “the First Tea Street of Capital” – Maliandao Street. The famous Tea Street is 1500 m long, home to more than 100 tea shops and 5 of the Tea Cities, gathering almost all the famous high quality tea products from the nation's major tea growing areas in Zhejiang, Fujian, Anhui, Yunnan, and Guizhou provinces. The annual sale exceeds one billion RMB, accounting for one tenth of the total tea sales of China.
In the past, Maliandao was only a tea processing factory. In recent years, the people in the areas of the tea production in Fujian, Zhejiang, Yunnan and Anhui spotted an opportunity to open tea shops in the Maliandiao, so a Maliandao Tea Street mostly for tea wholesale came into being. The history of the Malian tea Street is just getting started, but its scale expends rapidly: it is not only the largest tea market in Beijing, but also the largest tea distribution center in North China.
Routes: Bus No.46, 414, 609 or other public transport to Maliandao West Station.
Wangfujing Pedestrian Street
Wangfujing Street, located to the east of Tiananmen Square, has a length of 1600 meter from north to south. Wangfujing today has become a material abundance bustling commercial pedestrian street.
After its transformation in 1999, Wangfujing Street formed a framework of "Golden Cross". In particular, starting from the crossroads to the west of Jinyu Hutong (Goldfish mouth alley), the east side is a hotel and restaurant street, the west side is a snacks leisure street, the south side is a prosperous commercial pedestrian street, and the north side is an entertainment and cultural street. Thereafter the whole area has become a hub for recreation, catering, entertainment, leisure, consumption, etc.
It’s never exaggerated to say that Wangfujin Street is Beijing's most famous commercial street. The historical Beijing Department Store, China’s first Department Store, is right there. Aside from many shopping malls such as Xin Dong An Plaza, Wangfujing Shopping Center, Sports Goods center, Medical Equipment Store, the Muslim Trade Buildings and so on, in this road are also the nation's largest arts and crafts shops, the country's largest Xinhua Bookstore and Foreign Language Bookstore, the country's largest Photo Gallery, etc. In addition, there is a place of assembly of many traditional and characterized Chinese stores, such as Sheng Xi Fu hat shops, Tong Bi He shoe store, a New World silk shop, Hundreds of Herbs pharmacy, Bi Chun tea shops and so on.
Routes: Bus No. 210,103,104,211 or other public transport to Wangfujin Station; Subway Line 1 to Wangfujing Station.