Dongcheng District (东城区 Dōngchéng Qū) is in Beijing. It means "east city" and appropriately enough covers the eastern half of the old, imperial city. Most visitors to the city will come here to visit both Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City, the former imperial palace. It also has other features of old and new China that are major tourist draws, such as the city's ancient hutong and temples to modern shopping areas like Wangfujing Street.
This article covers central Dongcheng, including Tiananmen Square and Wangfujing Street among other sites.
Dongcheng is, for practical purposes, the center of Beijing. It is, as its name suggests, largely coterminous with the northeastern quadrant of the area inside the Second Ring Road, although some of its modern boundaries spill past that, reaching past even the Third Ring Road at the district's northern extreme. It includes all of Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City, amid a mix of neighborhoods historic and modern.
Neighboring Xicheng may have most of China's major government offices, Haidian the universities, and Chaoyang its corporate headquarters and commercial property. But Dongcheng is undeniably the city's cultural center, with attractions including more than a quarter of the city's national-level Major Cultural and Historical Sites, particularly some of its best-known temples. They are well-complemented by museums, galleries, theaters, shopping and nightlife. If you aren't staying there, your visit to Beijing will definitely be taking you to Dongcheng, probably more than once.
The biggest draw in Dongcheng is Tiananmen Square, the center of modern China's public life, and the Forbidden City to its north. The latter, the ancient imperial palace, dates to 1420. But even before then, settlement had begun in what is today's Dongcheng.
During the Liao dynasty, in the 10th century, the first small hamlets were established on the northeast of the wall protecting what was at that time the city, not just the imperial residence. Two centuries later, the Jin dynasty built the outer wall (along what is now the Second Ring Road) and incorporated the settlements into the city proper. By the time the Ming dynasty's emperor Zhongle built today's Forbidden City, Dongcheng had 15 lanes, the beginnings of today's hutongs.
As the Ming dynasty gave way to the Qing, China's last, in the 17th century, Dongcheng continued to thrive. Imperial officials who were not of high enough station to live in the Forbidden City, and merchants who sold to the court, built elaborate siheyuan, or courtyard houses, for themselves. Closer to the walls were the palace's food stores, which lent their names to many of the streets in that area. Eventually four divisions of the imperial army were stationed there as well.
By the end of the 19th century Dongcheng itself would become a combat zone, when anti-Western nationalists besieged foreign diplomats and Chinese Christians in the Legation Quarter for two months during the Boxer Rebellion. After an 8-nation allied force sent from Tianjin relieved the legations, the foreign forces engaged in widespread looting of cultural treasures from neighborhoods already severely damaged by the Boxers. This humiliating experience led to the fall of the Qing dynasty 11 years later, and the establishment of the Republic of China.
What is today Dongcheng was opened to the public for the first time with the passing of imperial rule. It became an even more desirable place to live, with more of the affluent settling there. On May 4th 1919 a large protest march took place in Dongcheng, against Japan's "Twenty-One Demands" on China growing out of the Treaty of Versailles and the Chinese government's weak response. The "May 4 Movement" not only lent its name to Wusi (literally "5/4") Street, where the former university building stands, it also exerted a strong influence on all leftists and nationalists in China, including the Communist Party of China (CPC) which was founded a few years later. Mao Zedong led that party to victory in civil war 30 years later, establishing the People's Republic of China (PRC).
In power, Mao reshaped the district. He finally knocked down the city walls, save for fragments such as the Ancient Observatory. He had the plaza just south of the Forbidden City expanded into today's Tiananmen Square, the better to review large assemblies of troops and political rallies. In 1958 two previous districts were merged and formally renamed Dongcheng, the first time the name was used. The next year two of the Ten Great Buildings celebrating the 10th anniversary of the PRC, the National Museum of China and the city's main train station, were built in the district.
Dongcheng, also home to the country's premier acting school and its most prestigious theater companies, would continue to be one of the main stages on which China's national drama played out. Mao addressed huge rallies of the Red Guards in Tiananmen Square during the Cultural Revolution, and likewise the 1975 protests there following the death of Zhou Enlai heralded the end of that difficult period. Fourteen years later, the massive pro-democracy protests and their brutal suppression, symbolized by the iconic photograph of an unidentified protestor facing down a column of tanks in front of the Beijing Grand Hotel, inaugurated the country's current epoch of "socialism with Chinese characteristics." In the years since, the economic growth unleashed by those reforms has led to protracted struggles by historic preservationists trying to save Dongcheng's remaining hutongs from demolition for urban renewal projects generally benefiting wealthy developers and their patrons in government.
That brings us to today. Your sojourn in Dongcheng will likely give you a look at both the old and new Chinas. By day you may well walk Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City and other examples of classical Chinese architecture, or take in the National Museum's impressive exhibit on the country's ancient history, while evening may find you shopping and dining at either the modern Wangfuxing pedestrian mall or the funky alleyways and bars of Nanluogoxiang or Guijie. Take your pick—it's a giant oyster with some of China's brightest pearls.
Dongcheng District is considered as a large region in Beijing. The main precincts you are likely to visit are:
Wangfujing is a prestigious place in Beijing and features many famous shopping complexes and department stores that dominate the cityscape. It's considered the modern heart of the capital, having been developed on grand scale to be more inviting and attractive.
Tiananmen is considered the centre of major events of Chinese modern history. This place is famous for Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, National Centre of Performing Arts, the iconic portrait of Chairman Mao, China National Museum and many other famous magnificent buildings and monuments. The gate was originally the main gate into the Imperial City, and is the only one of the four gates that survives to this day.
- For general useful information about public transportation in Beijing, see here
Central Dongcheng is very well served by subway. Line 2, the loop line, runs along its north and east edges. Line 1 bisects the district from east to west, serving Tiananmen Square and other stops along Chang'an Avenue. Line 6, running east-west, forms the northern boundary of the area. Line 5 is the only north-south line crossing the district at the moment, in its eastern section. All of central Dongcheng is within walking distance of one or more of these lines.
Most of the city's bus routes with numbers under 300 pass through Dongcheng at some point along their routes. Many other higher-numbered routes may start or end in the district as well. Beijing's taxi drivers know the district and its destinations well; however consider the advice here first.
If coming by private vehicle, several of the Beijing-area expressways terminate near Dongcheng. The S12 Airport Expressway connects to the Second Ring Road as the G101 at the district's northeast corner; it is a toll road from the Third Ring Road out to the airport. The S11 portion of the G45 expressway spills onto the Third Ring Road a short distance to the north. And from the end of the G6 expressway at the Third Ring Road, the G110 can be followed to the Second Ring Road at Deshengmen, then down Gulou Road West to the Drum and Bell Towers.
If you're up for the exercise, the air quality is good or moderate, and you're really willing to see Beijing at street level, consider walking around between subway stops and Dongcheng's many attractions. The terrain is mostly level, and the district has many different pedestrian experiences—from the wide sidewalks and overpasses of major arteries like Dongsi, to the more intimate narrow hutongs and foot-only spaces like Wangfujing and Tiananmen Square. The things you see along the district's streets might well turn out to be the sights that make your visit truly memorable.
For wheeled open-air short-distance options, there are bicycles and rickshaw-style cabs on motorbikes. See here for general information about getting around by the former method—due to China's rapid economic growth, the city is not as bike-friendly as it once was. In Dongcheng you can make your bicycling easier and safer by utilizing the hutongs and bike lanes on major roads to get between points. In the latter, remember to keep an eye out for minibikes coming up from behind, and sudden pedestrian jaywalks.
As for the rickshaws, who aggressively solicit the business of any foreigner they see walking anywhere beyond the main tourist areas, remember that you must negotiate the fare beforehand if you are to have any chance to avoid a scam. It helps considerably as well if you know some Mandarin and are familiar with the area your route will be taking you through.
Tiananmen Square (天安门广场; Tiānānménguǎngchǎng) is the largest square in the world. Built by Mao to impress, the square is surrounded by Soviet-style monuments and government buildings. It remains an astounding place and a spot to linger and see visitors from all over China, many visiting their capital for the first time. There is a flag raising and lowering ceremony at dawn and dusk at the north end of the square. There are four marble lions in front of the Tiananmen gate, the northwest one has a bullet hole on its stomach from the 1989 Tianamen Square massacre (the lions are enclosed by fences, so this is impossible to see up close).
The square is best reached by subway. Tiananmen East and Tiananmen West, both on line 1, are at the northern end of the square. Qianmen station on line 2 is at the southern end (use exit A).
Due to traffic restrictions, taxis cannot stop on the square, so if you come by taxi, the driver will have to let you out on a nearby side street. It is also necessary to pass through a security check before you go on the square itself or into the Forbidden City.
- 1 Chairman Mao Memorial Hall (At the south end, opposite the entrance to the Forbidden City). Open Tu-Su, 8AM to noon (but note it is sometimes closed without notice). The body of the founder of the People's Republic of China, Mao Zedong, has been preserved (against his own wishes) and is on display in here. Expect huge, but moving, queues. No bags, cameras or water bottles are allowed inside and must be dropped off (for a fee) at the bag-check building across the road to the east (mobile phones are permitted). Flowers can be purchased to lay at the feet of Mao's statue inside (although they are collected and resold at the end of the day) as well as leaflets for ¥1. There is disagreement among the locals as to whether the body is real or fake waxwork so make up your own mind. Mao souvenirs can be purchased at the exit. Free.
- 2 Monument to the People's Heroes (In the center of the square). A cenotaph with round-the-clock honor guard commemorating the PRC's veterans and war dead. Illuminated at night. Usually blocked off unless there is an important ceremony or visitors, but even then only those participating can go to the base of the cenotaph. However, you can usually get close enough to take pictures.
- 3 Tian'anmen Gate (天安门; Gate of Heavenly Peace) (Opposite N end of square). Tian'anmen Gate, and its large portrait of Chairman Mao, dominates the northern end of the square. This was originally the main gate into the Imperial City, and is the only one of the four gates that still survives. Pass beneath the gate to head north toward the Forbidden City. It costs nothing to pass through, but on the far side there is a ticket booth where you can pay admission to visit the gate. Although visiting the gate allows a good view over Tian'anmen Square, do not be fooled into thinking you are buying tickets to the Forbidden City; they are separate attractions. ¥15.
- 4 Zhongshan Park (中山公园; Zhōngshāngōngyuán), West side of Tian'anmen (天安门西侧; Tiānānménxīcè), ☎ . Summer 6AM-9PM, winter 6:30AM-8PM. Beautifully landscaped park with lots of trees and bamboo. The Forbidden City, covered in a separate article, is entered through this park. Paddle boats for rent on the moat of the Forbidden City. Also an indoor playground for children, and bumper cars. Adults ¥3, children free.
- 5 Zhengyangmen (Qianmen; 前门; Qiánmén) (South end of Tian'anmen Square), ☎ . 9AM-4PM. Built in 1419 as the front gate of the inner city wall. Was originally only used by the emperor on his way to Tiantan. Now it houses exhibits with photos and models of the old city. ¥10.
- 6 Zhihua Temple (智化寺; Zhìhuàsì; also known as Temple of Wisdom Attained), 5 Lumicang Hutong (禄米仓胡同5号; Lùmǐcānghútòng) (Bus 24 from Dongzhimen or Beijing Railway Station, get off at Lumicang), ☎ . 6AM-6PM. Buddhist temple built in 1443. One of the largest, oldest and best preserved wooden structures in Beijing. Houses the Ancient Music Center, which now and then gives concerts played by monks according to ancient traditions. Also houses the Beijing Cultural Exchange Museum. Recently renovated. ¥20.
- 7 Imperial Ancestral Temple (太庙; Tàimiào) (After passing through Tiananmen, turn right before reaching the Forbidden City.). 7AM-5.30PM (winter); 6AM-7.30PM (summer). This was originally the temple where the emperors and other members of the royal family would pay respect to their ancestors. The buildings are original, though much of the interior, including the ancestral tablets, were destroyed during the Cultural Revolution. It has since been repurposed as a museum dedicated to the working class Chinese. ¥2, does not include entry into buildings.
- 8 Beijing Police Museum (北京警察博物馆; Běijīng Jǐngchá Bówùguǎn), 36 Dongjiaomin Lane (东交民巷36号; Dōngjiāomín Xiàng) (1.5km east of the southern parts of Tian'anmen), ☎ . 9AM-4PM. Large museum on police history. ¥5.
- 9 Imperial City Art Museum (皇城艺术馆; Huángchéngyìshùguǎn), 9 Changpuheyan (菖蒲河沿9号; Chāngpúhéyàn) (north side of Changpu River Park, near corner of Nanchizi Jie), ☎ . 10AM-5:30PM. The Imperial City was the Manchu city that surrounded the Forbidden City during the Qing dynasty. The museum's centrepiece is a scale model of the Forbidden & Imperial Cities. There are also displays on lifestyle, costumes, arts & crafts of the Qing imperial city. Occasionally hosts special exhibits that cost extra. ¥20.
- 10 National Museum of China (中国国家博物馆 Zhōngguó Guójiā Bówùguǎn), 16 East Chang'an St, (东长安街16马 Dōngcháng'ānjiē) (E side of Tienanmen Square), ☎ . 09:00-17:00, closed on Mondays. A huge museum containing the ancient and recent history of the Chinese nation. Modern history exhibit focuses on the successes of the Communist party (and obviously not the negatives). Most exhibits have short English explanations. Free; foreign visitors must show their passport.
- 11 CourtYard Gallery (四合苑画廊; Sìhéyuànhuàláng), 53 Donganmen Dajie (东安门大街53号; Dōngānméndàjiē), ☎ , fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Mo-Sa: 11AM-7PM; Su: Noon - 7PM. Founded in 1996. Exhibits emerging and mid-career artists working in a wide range of media. Free.
- 12 Wan Fung Art Gallery, 136 Nanchizi Jie (150m N of E Chang'an Ave. Take Exit B from Tian'anmen East station), ☎ . Worth a peek if you're in the area. Housed in a side building in the courtyard of the Imperial Archives, which you can't go in, but is quite impressive. The courtyard itself is a quiet corner in an otherwise crowded area of the city. Free.
- 13 Legation Quarter (E of Tiananmen Square). The legation quarter was once, as its name suggests, home to Beijing's many foreign diplomatic missions. During the 1900 Boxer Rebellion, the diplomats and Chinese Christians who sought their protection held out here until a 55-day siege was broken by foreign forces coming over the city walls. The embassies have since moved to larger quarters elsewhere, but the buildings remain. Now occupied by various Chinese government agencies and the military, they are a well-preserved collection of vintage buildings in European architectural styles popular in the late 19th century.
- 14 Ancient Observatory (古欢象台; Gǔhuānxiàngtái), 2 Dongbiaobei Hutong (东裱褙胡同2号; Dōngbiǎobèihútòng) (SW corner of Jianguomen Bridge, close to Beijing Railway Station. Subway line 1 or 2 to Jianguomen station), ☎ . 9AM-5PM (tickets must be bought by 4:30). The observatory, built in 1442, has been open to the public since 1983. Ancient star maps and instruments to watch stars can be seen here. Displays on the history of Chinese astronomy, and several large astronomical instruments set on top of an old watchtower of the city walls. ¥10.
- 15 Chaonei No. 81 (No. 81), 81 Chaoyangmen Inner St, 朝阳门街道内81号 (50m W of Douban Hutong on N side of street; bear left after crossing overpass from Chaoyangmen subway station Exit H). all day or night. This abandoned, overgrown Baroque Revival complex, dating to the early 20th century, has acquired an international reputation as the best-known allegedly haunted house in China. According to residents of the nearby hutongs, even the Red Guards moved out after a few days, supposedly scared off by the ghost of a Kuomintang officer's mistress who hanged herself when he fled to Taiwan without her. It inspired the 2014 film The House That Never Dies, the highest-grossing Chinese horror film. Although it has long remained unoccupied, it is currently being restored. You may still look at it and take pictures. Free.
- 16 Changpu River Park (菖蒲河公园; Chāngpúhé Gōngyuán) (East of Tian'anmen, parallel to Chang'an Jie). Narrow strip of landscaped park along a small stream. Begins in the east near the Beijing hotel and runs almost to Tian'anmen Gate. Free.
- 1 Capital Theater (首都剧场; Shǒudūjùchǎng), 22 Wangfujing Street (王府井大街22号; Wángfǔjǐngdàjiē) (Three blocks south of Dongsi W and Wusi streets intersection; across from Wangfujing Grand Hotel), ☎ , fax: . Tu-Sa: 6PM. This theater is used by a number of different theater groups, including Beijing People's Art Theater. Performances include both contemporary and classical Chinese plays. Price range between ¥40-500 and ¥120-680.
- 2 Chang'an Grand Theater (长安大戏院; Chángāndàxìyuàn), 7 Jianguomennei Street (建国门内大街7号; Jiànguóménnèidàjiē) (At Gongyuan West St., one block W of Jianguomen subway station exit A), ☎ , fax: . 9AM-7:30PM. Traditional Chinese performances with focus on Beijing Opera. Also has a shop with paintings and folk handicrafts.
- 3 China Children's Art Theater (中国儿童剧场; Zhōngguóértóngjùchǎng), 64 Donganmen Street (东安门大街64号; Dōngānméndàjiē) (SW corner of Wangfujing W St. intersection), ☎ , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com. Established in 1956. Stages children's plays.
- 4 Dongyuan Theater (东苑戏楼; Dōngyuànxìlóu), Inside the Garden of Changpu River (菖蒲河公园内; Chāngpúhégōngyuánnèi) (End of Nanwanzi Hutong, off S Chizi St.).
- 5 Goldsail Concert Hall (金帆音乐厅; Jīnfānyīnyuètīng), 24 Wangfujing Street (24 Wangfujing Street (王府井大街24号; Wángfǔjǐngdàjiē) (Next to Capital Theatre, across from Wangfujing Grand Hotel, three blocks south of Wusi and Dongsi W streets intersection), ☎ . Small concert hall without speakers. Suitable for chamber music also.
- 6 Hutong Cuisine Cooking School, 35 Dengcao Hutong (灯草胡同35号) (At SE corner of Dongsi S St intersection 200m S of Dongsi subway stop Exit C), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 10:30AM, every day. A few places around Nanluoguxiang now offer Chinese cooking classes. One such place, Hutong Cuisine, is run by an English-speaking chef in a small hutong home. Classes are small. Reservations are necessary. Optional market tours are also conducted before cooking classes commence. ¥300 per person.
- 7 New China Children's Store (新中国儿童用品商店; Xīnzhōngguóértóngyòngpǐnshāngdiàn), 168 Wangfujing Street (王府井大街168号; Wángfǔjǐngdàjiē) (In pedestrian area on E side, across from Beijing Dept. Store, two blocks S of Dong'anmen St. and Jinyu Hutong intersection), ☎ . 9AM-10PM. Play center for children where the kids can catch goldfish, play in the gigantic sandpit or other. They also sell all kind of gear for children. ¥10-20 each ride.
- 1 Wangfujing (王府井大街 Wángfǔjǐng Dàjiē) (Subway line 1, Wangfujing station). Beijing's most famous shopping street, nowadays with mostly the same international brands and modern malls you will find anywhere else in the world. The street is pedestrianised for several blocks, making it pleasant to walk around. Several large malls in the area such as Oriental Plaza (see below) and Sun Dong An plaza. One useful shop is the Foreign Language Bookstore, at the northern end of the pedestrian area, which has a good selection of guidebooks and maps (although expensive). Wangfujing snack street (see also "Eat") in the alleys just to the east has vendors selling souvenirs and crafts. Bargain hard.
- 2 The Malls at Oriental Plaza (东方新天地 Dōngfāng Xīn Tiāndì), East of Tian'anmen Square, on Wangfujing (Wangfujing station on line 1 has an exit that leads directly in to the mall at its west end. Dongdan station on lines 1 & 5 is at the east end). At one time this was the largest mall in Asia. Modern shopping mall is expensive but provides you with a lot of buying opportunities from diamonds, to real (affordable) DVD's, (international) music CD's and food. You can find lots of brands in Oriental Plaza, from high-end to low. Besides shopping, you also can eat here, from Western cuisine to traditional Chinese food.
- 1 Poetry Cafe (诗意栖居旅行咖啡馆), NO 15 Nanchizi street Dongcheng District Beijing (南池子大街15号故宫东华门旁 (Exit B of TianAnMen East Station, North of NanChiZi Street.), ☎ . 10:00-22:00. A beautiful cafe with soul as its name "Poetry", is operated by a lovely young lady, who enjoy travel and photography, that she successfully gather a group of 'specialists' in those fields; thus, customers can get tonnes of information about travel and photography. Customers can enjoy a view of the Forbidden City over a perfectly brewed coffee.
- 2 Wangfujing Snack Street (王府井小吃街; Wángfǔjǐngxiǎochījiē) (In the alley to the west of the pedestrian zone on Wangfujing Dajie). Many stalls selling Beijing-style snacks, both sweet and savoury.
- 3 Donghuamen Night Market (东华门夜市; Dōnghuāmén Yèshì) (Along Dong'anmen Dajie, at the north end of the Wangfujing pedestrian area). Late afternoon and evening only. The place to come for exotic snacks such as scorpions, starfish, and silkworm grubs. You can also buy more typical snacks like fried noodles, dumplings, and kebabs. More expensive than a "real" neighbourhood market, but still reasonably priced. ¥5-20 per item.
- 4 Oriental Dumpling King (东方饺子王; Dōngfāngjiǎoziwáng), 14 Chaoyangmen Nanxiaojie (朝阳门南小街14号楼; Cháoyángménnánxiǎojiē) (On east side of street near Lumicang. Bus 24 from Dongzhimen or Beijing Railway Station. No English sign.), ☎ . 10AM-10PM. Cheap and delicious Dongbei (northeast) style dumplings. This is a chain, one of several around town. Their location in Harbin is recommended in several guidebooks, but if you're not going there you can get the same dumplings in Beijing. A few dozen different kinds, and can be boiled or fried. As with many dumpling places, order by weight: An order is usually two liang (èr liǎng) which is 100g, about 10-12 dumplings.
- Donglaishun (东来顺; Dōngláishùn). Daily 11AM-2PM and 5PM-9PM. This king of Beijing hotpot has been around since the 19th century. Founded by the Hui (ethnic Muslims), Donglaishun serves halal cuts of top-quality lamb and beef. Also serves cooked-by-chef dishes, including traditional Beijing sweets.
- 5 Wangfujing branch, 198 Wangfujing Dajie (东城区王府井大街198号) (Opposite Wangfujing Snack Street), ☎ . Subway: Line 1 to Wangfujing
- Yuxin Sichuan Restaurant (渝信川菜; Yúxìn Chuāncài). M-F 10AM-10PM, Sa-Su 11AM-10PM. One of the contenders in the ongoing competition for Beijing's best Sichuanese, Yuxin delivers on authenticity, flavor, and service. It's always busy, and always good. ¥30-50 per person.
- 6 7 Jiangguomen Nei Dajie (In Bright China Chang'an Bldg at Gongyuan W St, near Chang'an Theater). (长安大剧院，建国门内大街7号 Chángān Dàjùyuàn, Jiànguómén Nèidàjiē Qī hào). (Take the subway Lines 1 or 2 to Jianguomen, take Exit A, and walk west). Try their location in the Chang'an Grand Theatre for a calmer setting decorated in a traditional style, with alcoves divided by bamboo screens.
- Dadong Duck Restaurant (大董烤鸭店 Dàdŏng Kăoyā Diàn), Three locations in Dongcheng district. Daily 11AM-10PM. Considered by some to be the best Peking duck in the city, this upscale restaurant also delivers on a nice atmosphere. Reservations suggested. full/half Peking duck is ¥240/120 with extra ¥8 for condiments. Meal is served with free hot water, small soup, light fruits and black sesame for dessert. sea cucumber ¥200-600, lobster ¥200+, +10% service charge.
- 7 Brian McKenna @ The Courtyard, 95 Donghuamen Dajie (东华门大街95号) (On Forbidden City moat W of S Chizi St.), ☎ . 5PM-11PM. The Courtyard overlooks the moat surrounding the south-east corner of the wall of the Forbidden City. At night, the wall and tower are illuminated which gives a sense of being in old Peking. The cuisine is modern international fusion food. After the original Courtyard closed in 2012, McKenna and the original owner reopened it the following year with a similar fusion cuisine ¥588/person for six-course tasting menu; wine extra.
- 1 Earl Bar (伯爵酒吧; Bójuéjiǔbā), 1 Dongdan North Street (东单北大街1号; Dōngdānběidàjiē) (At back of building, SW corner of Jinyu Hutong intersection; 1 block S of Dengshikou station, next to Peninsula Hotel), ☎ . 7PM-2AM. Very basic bar with local DJs. Cheap.
- 1 Beijing City Central Youth Hostel, 1-5 Beijing Station West St. (北京站西街1-5号; Běijīngzhàn xījiē (at the corner of Beijingzhanjie and Beijingzhan Xijie), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. The largest hostel in Beijing, with central air conditioning and individual controls in each of the 200 rooms. It offers a computer/internet room, billiards, bar, and karaoke. On the 1st and 2nd levels are a 24-hour supermarket, breakfast bar, coffee lounge, ATM, phones for international dialing, express film processing, a mobile phone shop, and post office. The rooms on the 3rd to 6th floors include ensuites, doubles, singles, and four- and eight-bunk dormitories. Dorms ¥60 (4-8 beds), doubles with shared bathrooms ¥160.
- 2 Beijing Saga International Youth Hostel (北京实佳国际青年旅舍; Běijīng Shíjiā Guójìqīngniánlǚshè), 9 Shijia Hutong, Nanxiao Street (南小街史家胡同9号; Nánxiǎojiē Shǐjiāhútòng) (From the station, follow the road north past the Beijing International Hotel, after about a ten minute walk look for the hostel sign with an arrow pointing down one of the hutongs on the left side), ☎ , , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Very popular with backpackers. There's a restaurant on the top floor. The staff speak some English. Dorms ¥40-50, doubles ¥160, triples ¥180.
- 3 Eastern Morning Youth Hostel, Dongdan Santiao, behind the Oriental Plaza (in the basement of the Oriental Plaza complex next to Wangfujing Pedestrian Street), ☎ . A great budget option if price is your primary concern. The staff do not speak much English but are friendly. Internet access is available at ¥10 per hour. It is a five-minute walk to the Dongdan or Wangfujing subway stations and about a 15-minute walk to the International Hotel airport shuttle stop. Private rooms cost about ¥90 per night—book in advance.
- Purple Courtyard, no.24 Shajing Hutong, NanLuoGuXiang, Dongcheng, ☎ . Check-out: before 12:00. Wonderful location in a hutong, surrounded by a mass of eateries and a couple of mini-markets. Five-minute walk to buses and Shichahai metro, 10-minute walk to Nanluoguxiang metro. Bustling area but a five-minute walk from a complex of lakes. Friendly English-speaking staff who are always available to help. TV in Chinese, free Wi-Fi, private facilities, A/C and use of fridge freezer, which is important in the Beijing heat & humidity. Price example, ¥408 for a triple room.
- 4 Wangfujing Dawan Hotel (北京王府井大万酒店; Běijīngwángfǔjǐngdàwànjiǔdiàn), 2 Ganyu Hutong, Dongdan Bei Street (东单北大街甘雨胡同甲2号; Dōngdānběidàjiēgānyǔhútòng) (50m west of Denshikou Metro Station (line 5)), ☎ , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com. Rooms with free Internet, television, a/c and fridge. Business center and bath center including sauna available. Chinese restaurant. The rooms are alright, the bathrooms not too bright or clean, and the service level fluctuates, but the low price and great location make up for it. Listed rates for doubles from ¥238, discounted from ¥137; breakfast ¥15.
A number of mid-range hotels are located east of the Dongzhimen subway station. From the subway stop, walk around 800m east to the next big intersection. On the southeast corner is another Home Inn location (see listing above). On the northern side of the street (not on the main road itself, but in the residential compound behind), half a dozen large hotels can be found. A double costs ¥150-250 a night depending on the season. It's worth haggling and comparing with the other hotels around before you book. Although the hotels are conveniently near a ring road, the subway also provides a convenient and quick access to the city center. Right next to the subway station there is a McDonalds, and—more interestingly—a large shopping center (Ginza Mall) with a food court hidden in the lowest floor.
- 5 Beijing Fuhao Hotel (北京富豪酒店; Běijīngfùháojiǔdiàn), 45 Wangfujing Avenue (王府井大街45号; Wáng fǔ jǐngdà jiē) (2 blocks S of Wusi and Dongsi W Streets intersection), ☎ . The hotel offers 104 air-conditioned rooms with mini-bar, cable TV, free internet and fridge. Among its facilities are Lao Chongqing Hot-pot City Restaurant, Wangfujing Roast Duck Restaurant, a sauna club, and a night club/KTV. Rates for doubles on official website from ¥364.47.
- 6 Beijing Golden Palace Silver Street (北京金府银街大酒店; Běijīngjīnfǔyínjiēdàjiǔdiàn), 31 Ganyu Hutong, Wangfujing Street (王府井大街甘雨胡同31号; Wángfǔjǐngdàjiē Gānyǔhútòng (200m west of Dengshikou Metro Station (line 5)), ☎ , fax: . Rooms with internet access against surcharge as well as aircon, mini bar and safe. Cheapest rooms and bathrooms are quite small and not too clean. Business center, karaoke, beauty salon, gym and rooftop garden available. Chinese and Western restaurant as well as a coffee shop. Listed rates for doubles without window from ¥588, discounted from ¥172, rooms with window somewhat more expensive; western breakfast ¥20.
- 7 Beijing Harmony Hotel (华美伦酒店; Huáměilún Jiǔdiàn), 59 Suzhou Hutong, Youtong Street (1 block N of the Beijing Railway Station), ☎ . International 3 star hotel with only 3-minutes walk to the Beijing Railway Station and Dongdan Shopping street. Convenient location for tourists. ¥488.
- 8 Dongjiao Minxiang Hotel (北京东郊民巷饭店), 23A Dongjiao Minxiang, 北京东城区东交民巷甲23号 (NE corner of Zhengyi Rd intersection, 1 block N of Qianmen E St.), ☎ . Offers rooms with private toilet and bath with tub, slippers, bathrobe, and hair dryer. Rates start at ¥458.
- 9 The Emperor Beijing Forbidden City Hotel (北京故宫皇家驿栈酒店, Beijing gùgōnghuángjiā yìzhàn jiǔdiàn), 33 Qihelou St. 东城区骑河楼大街33号 (At NE corner of N Chizi St intersection), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Boutique hotel in residential neighborhood near Forbidden City. Interestingly designed rooms are named after emperors rather than numbered. Free breakfast from rooftop restaurant with sweeping views over the Forbidden City. Long walk to subway stations. From ¥400.
- 10 Wancheng Hua Fu International Hotel (北京万程华府国际酒店), 53 Donganmen Street, 北京东城区东安门大街53号 (W end of Dinghuamen Night Market), ☎ . Rather basic rooms, but clean with nice bathroom and TV (Chinese channels). Some staff had trouble speaking English but all were friendly. Excellent location close to Wangfujing shopping area, 10 min walk to Forbidden City. ¥338 for a single room. Breakfast buffet avaible for ¥20.
- 11 Jingyuan Courtyard Hotel - Beijing (北京婧园雅筑宾馆), 35 Xitangzi Hutong, Wangfujing Street (Off Chenguang St 1 block S of Dong'anmen and Donghuamen Sts intersection), ☎ . Rooms are air-conditioned and fitted with a full bath, mini-bar, cable TV, and Internet access. Rates start at ¥619.
- 12 Tangyue Hotel (北京唐悦酒店; Běijīngtángyuèjiǔdiàn), 54 Donghuamen Road (东华门大街54号; Dōnghuàméndàjiē) (Just east of the Forbidden City, 800m north of Tian'anmen East Station (line 1)), ☎ , fax: . Spacious rooms with free internet, fridge, safe and coffee facilities. Specially designed hotel with business center, beauty salon, ticket office available. Coffee shop with first-class coffee, bar and tea house but no restaurant. Listed rates for doubles from ¥580, discounted from ¥207; western breakfast ¥25.
- 13 Beijing Hotel (北京饭店; Běijīng fàndiàn), 33 East Chang'an Ave. (东长安街33号, Dōngcháng'ānjiē (Two blocks E of Tiananmen Square), ☎ . State-owned (and thus presumably less expensive). Located near the Forbidden City, there is a spectacular view of Tiananmen Square from the hotel. From ¥950.
- 14 Grand Hotel Beijing (北京贵宾楼饭店; Běijīng Guìbīnlóu Fàndiàn), 35 East Chang'an Street (东长安街35号; Dōngchángānjiē) (Two blocks E of Tiananmen Square), ☎ , fax: . Five-star hotel located in a traditional building in a small street overlooking the Forbidden City. Rooms with free internet except for the cheapest ones. The rooms are 32-66m2 except for the very most expensive, which is more than 100sqm. Business center, gift shop, ticket office, fitness, pool and sauna available. Chinese and Western restaurants as well as coffee shop, bar and room service. Listed rates for doubles ¥3,450-14,950, discounted rates ¥765-10,500, breakfast ¥184.
- 15 Grand Hyatt Beijing (北京东方君悦大酒店; Běijīng dōngfāng jūnyuè dàiǔdiàn), 1 East Chang'an Avenue (东长安街1号, Dōngcháng'ānjiē (In the Malls at Oriental Plaza complex; see above), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Privately-owned, exquisite, and expensive five-star hotel. There is an enormous swimming pool in the basement that is decorated in very tropical manner, but the deepest part is only 1.5m (5ft). The jacuzzi and wet sauna are excellent. Great hotel and great location, if you can afford it. ¥1,200 / night and up.
- 16 Legendale Hotel Beijing (北京励骏酒店; Běijīng Lìjùn Jiǔdiàn), 90-92 Jinbao Street (金宝街90-92号; Jīnbǎojiē) (SE corner of Dongdan N St intersection; one block S of Dengshikou Subway station (line 5)), ☎ , fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Five-star hotel located close to Wangfujing. Rooms of 38-71sqm with free Internet. Business center, beauty salon, karaoke, fitness, swimming pool, massage and sauna available. Chinese and Western restaurants as well as coffee shop and bar. Listed rates for doubles ¥4,140-7,820, discounted rates ¥1,478-5,797.
- 17 The Peninsula Beijing (北京王府半岛酒店; Běijīng Wángfǔbàndǎo Jiǔdiàn), 8 Jinyu Hutong, Wangfujing (王府井金鱼胡同8号; Wángfǔjǐng Jīnyúhútòng) (Half a block W of Dongdan E St.), ☎ , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com. Five star hotel with rooms with free internet. The smallest rooms are 31m2. Swimming pool, spa, massage and lots of shops available. Chinese and Western restaurants as well as a bar. Listed rates for doubles from ¥3,400, discounted from ¥1,500, breakfast ¥299.
- 18 Xinhai Jin Jiang Hotel (鑫海锦江大酒店; Xīnhǎi jǐnjiāng dàjiǔdiàn), 61 Jinbao Street (金宝街61号, Jīnbǎojiē) (NE corner of Chaoyangmen S Alley intersection), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Conveniently located in the bustling commercial district of Wangfujing, this hotel has 231 elegantly furnished roomst. It has excellent business and leisure facilities which include the sprawling International Conference Center. ¥758 and up.
It's quite likely that your travels into Dongcheng will take you into the neighboring Xicheng, or "west city", district. There you'll find amidst all the government buildings, ancient treasures like the very popular Beihai Park and modern delights like the egg-shaped National Performing Arts Center. Venturing further out into the city is likely to take you into the sprawling Chaoyang district to the north and east, a more modern home to many corporate headquarters, foreign embassies and the facilities used for the 2008 Summer Olympics, some of which have been successfully adapted for post-Games use (and others, not).
Two of Beijing's other World Heritage Sites, the Summer Palace and Temple of Heaven, are the major draws for the Haidian and Chongwen districts respectively, on the northwest and south. Southwest of Dongcheng is the last of the four central districts, Xuanwu, with temples, mosques and hutong that draw far less tourists than better-known counterparts elsewhere in the city but are equally rewarding. On the south outside the city center is Fengtai, home to both Beijing West Railway Station and the Marco Polo Bridge, where World War II, which the accompanying museum of the Sino-Japanese War can tell you about, really began.