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Where Rebecca Travels: Beijing Part IV

Travel Beijing Where Rebecca Travels solo female travel guide

For my fourth and final instalment of Where Rebecca Travels: Beijing I travel Beijing soaking in the local culture.

Having visited Beihai Park, the Great Wall of China, Tianenmen Square, Forbidden City and all the temples in my previous Where Rebecca Travels Beijing travel guides, my final instalment is all about taking my time to travel Beijing and enjoy the local culture ranging from the traditional hutongs to the new age cat cafes in the upscale Sanlitang district.

Traditional Beijing: Hutongs

To experience Beijing you absolutely must experience the hutongs.

Rated as a top 10 in my Lonely Planet Beijing Travel Guide Book as something to see (remember this is alongside the Great Wall and Forbidden City) you can’t appreciate all sides of Beijing without visiting hutongs

Travel Beijing

Hutongs are a type of narrow street or alley made up of traditional courtyard residences. They remind of me visiting a caravan park, annex next to annex with communal areas to form a community.

Travel Beijing

In central Beijing there are two main hutong areas of which I visited the South Gong and Drum Lane area near the Drum and Bell Towers.

Travel Beijing

Wandering through the area is incredible.

Travel Beijing

You get such a mix of the very traditional—this residential area watching people go about their daily life including using communal public bathrooms—with the more modern—a Starbucks and gelato cafe.

Travel Beijing

Travel Beijing

Travel Beijing

Travel Beijing

The delicacies of the hutongs’ food market

Travel Beijing

Travel Beijing

It’s a really buzzy vibe and a whole other side of Beijing I hadn’t seen before.

New age Beijing: Sanlitang

Before travelling to a new country we all have a stereotype in our mind or a way in which we envision our new destination.

Before visiting Paris I expected to walk into a Parisian dream of fluffy dogs, Carrie Bradshaw-esq outfits and music playing all around me.

Before visiting London I expected to hear ‘Governor’ a lot, see nothing but black cabs on the road and be surrounded by the poshest of posh people.

Before visiting New York I expected to see nothing but suited and booted men and women screaming into cell phones and hailing cabs to their very important meetings.

And before visiting Beijing I expected to see traditional ways of life, almost rural.

Travel Beijing Where Rebecca Travels solo female travel guide

A traditionalist, practicing his Chinese ground calligraphy

I know that seems silly as Beijing is a major city, but in my head I expected to almost hit the sticks with chickens and dirt roads. While this isn’t that far from the hutongs (no lose chickens though), for Sanlitang it could not be further apart.

Travel Beijing Where Rebecca Travels solo female travel guide

Those night time views

Sanlitang is the cool aunt that’s about 15 years younger than your parents. She brings with her trinkets from foreign places that suddenly gleam in your jewellery box. She smokes and drinks espresso and eat affogatos and knows of the coolest bars. She listens to jazz and hangs out in cat cafes. She shops in the latest trendiest places and is always on point.

This is Sanlitang.

Travel Beijing Where Rebecca Travels

Because no trip to Beijing is complete without a night out in the Worker’s Stadium in Sanlitang

With a brand new multi story mall full of Pandora, Adidas, Apple, Gap etc. this area is all about the new age Beijinger.

Travel Beijing

Within the mall is an abundance of coffee shops—with very tasty coffee, London could learn a thing or too!—with or without cats or owls or other small animals for you to pet and play with over a coffee and cake.

Travel Beijing Where Rebecca Travels solo female travel guide
Travel Beijing

Travel Beijing Where Rebecca Travels

If beer and archery are more your thing, there is an archery shopfront with a bar where you can go and try your arm at a few rounds. Oh and because archery isn’t archery without a tiny animal, there’s also a miniature pet pig that you can pat.

Just outside the mall are bars upon bars. There are those on the strip with stripper poles in the window.

To those that had I not been with an actual Beijinger I never would have known that these dilapidated buildings that seem to be in the midst of a construction project with wires coming down from the roof and metal grids coming up from the concrete floors are actually trendy bars with delicious cocktails made even more delicious of the 60RMB price tag.

South American themed bar only a Beijinger would know

Tequila and ginger cocktails

And then there’s those on the ground floor of the resident complexes that look like someone thought that could turn a few quid by putting some mode lighting into their front room and offering up some themed cocktails.

Travel Beijing Where Rebecca Travels

This is a Beijing bar / front room of Nanna’s

Moving slightly away from the mall is the new Interconntiential that projects a light show every night. It’s under and around this new hotel where you’re find bars and restaurants of exceptional quality, all with exceptional price tags.

With decadent cocktails bars and Duck de Chine the French Chinese fusion restaurant with the most amazing delicious peking duck this area is anything but rural with lose chickens running around.

Chinese / French fusion restaurant in Beijing_Peking Duck__What Rebecca Eats Beijing Food Guide

Why can’t I always have a man carving my meals?

Of course if you’re short on time in Beijing, there are the must sees: Great Wall of China, Forbidden City, Lama Temple. But if you can stay a little longer and are looking for authentic Beijing, the hutongs and Sanlitang are where it’s at in equal parts authentic and equal parts opposite.

If you’re planning a trip to Beijing view my full Where Rebecca Travels: Beijing series for inspiration and tips.

If you’re feeling social, you can add me on FacebookInstagramTwitterPinterest and on now Snapchat @wrlblog. R x

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All about Rebecca

Hi there

I'm Rebecca, an Aussie girl, born and bred in Canberra.

In 2015 I packed my life into one 19kg suitcase and moved to London.

When I'm not exploring London and providing expat tips, I'm travelling. I'm just back from China and am now planning my 2017 travels.

I'm also a massive foodie who loves eating out and trying new things in the kitchen.

This is my little place to connect with people across the world to share my learnings and experiences in the hope that it inspires or helps you.

Thanks for reading and I hope you find something you love on What Rebecca Loves.

R x

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