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Beijing (北京 Běijīng) is the capital of the most populous country in the world, the People's Republic of China. It was also the seat of the Ming and Qing dynasty emperors until the formation of a republic in 1911. As such it is rich in historical sites and important government institutions.
The city is well known for its flatness and regular construction. There is only one hill to be found in the city limits (in Jingshan Park to the north of the famous Forbidden City). Like the configuration of the Forbidden City, Beijing has concentric "ring roads", which are actually rectangular, that go around the metropolis.
Beijing has a total of 16 districts and 2 counties.
8 districts are close to the city centre:
The other 8 districts are further afield:
Except for Mentougou, all of these eight districts switched from being counties to districts from 1988 to 2001.
These two counties lie very far from central Beijing:
Beijing literally means "Northern Capital", a role it has played many times in China's long history. While various small towns and warlord capitals have been traced back as far as the 1st millennium BCE, Beijing first served as the capital of a (more or less) united China in 1264 when Kublai Khan's victorious Mongol forces set up what they named the Great Capital to rule their new empire, from a northern location closer to the Mongol homelands.
After the fall of the Mongol Yuan dynasty in 1368, the capital was moved back to Nanjing ("Southern Capital"), but in 1403, the 3rd Ming emperor Zhu Di moved it to Beijing again and also gave the city its present name. This was Beijing's golden era: the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven and many other Beijing landmarks were built at this time. Beijing remained the capital into the Qing era and into the revolutionary ferment of the early 1900s, but in the chaos following the abdication of the last Emperor, Beijing was beset by fighting warlords. The Kuomintang thus moved the capital to Nanjing again in 1928, renaming Beijing as Beiping ("Northern Peace") to emphasize that it was no longer a capital. However, the Kuomintang was eventually defeated by the Communists, who in 1949 proclaimed the People's Republic of China with its capital at Beijing.
The language of Beijing is Mandarin Chinese. Mandarin itself was the administrative language of the Ming and Qing dynasties and was based mainly on the Beijing dialect. For language students this makes studying in Beijing an excellent chance to learn the language in a relatively pure form. That being said, Beijing dialect contains nasal "er" sounds at the end of many words. Hence the ubiquitous lamb kabobs (羊肉串 yáng ròu chuàn) become "yáng ròu chuànr." Beijing taxi drivers are famously chatty and will gladly engage students of the language offering excellent chances to practice the language and get a feel for the changes in the city and country from an "Old Beijinger".
 Get in
 By plane
Beijing Capital International Airport (北京首都国际机场 Běijīng Shǒudū Guójì Jīcháng, Template:IATA)  is located to the northeast of the central districts, 26km from the city centre. The airport is being expanded at a furious pace to be ready in time for the 2008 Olympics, and now has three terminals, broadly speaking divided as follows:
Terminal 3 officially opened on March 26th 2008, but migration will be gradual. Some airlines, such as Air China/Shanghai Airlines, moved immediately and other carriers are following later. Double-check your departure terminal before arrival. Travel between Terminals 1 and 2 is via a long corridor with travelators. A fit person can make the route in about 10 minutes. A free shuttle bus runs between Terminal 2 and the new terminal 3. It departs every ten minutes or so and the journey time is about 10 minutes. Terminal 3 is huge: it alone is bigger than all five of Heathrow (London)'s terminals. Additional time should be allocated when flying from here. T3 check-in closes 45 minutes before flights depart.
Facilities on arrival include ATMs and money changers. Be aware that upon departure, porters may want ¥10 to wheel your bags 50m to check-in and that most eating options are rather outrageously priced. Before you cross through security, if you want a bite to eat in the Terminal 1, there is a KFC which has lowered its prices a little, and in Terminal 2, there are 2 KFCs, and the restaurants in the basement have relatively low prices compared to what's above. A meal at any of these places should be around ¥20.
Many people use taxicabs to reach town from the airport. Try to get the Chinese name in characters of your hotel so that you can let your taxi driver read where you want to go. It is important to do this as most drivers cannot read English and many are recent arrivals from the countryside who might not know the city well. A taxi from the airport should cost ¥70-120. You will have to pay the fee shown on the meter (make sure the driver uses it) plus ¥10 toll for the airport expressway. Traffic jams are common.
A new subway line extending to the airport opened in July 2008. It stops at Terminals 3 then 2 and then Sanyuanqiao and Dongzhimen. One-way fare is ¥25.
A slightly cheaper way to get to the city centre is to take the <listing name="airport shuttle" alt="机场巴士 Jīchǎng Bāshì" url="http://en.bcia.com.cn/traffic-manual/airport-bus.shtml" phone="+86 10 64594375/64594376" price="¥16 for a one-way trip" hours="Buses for each route leave every 10-30 minutes">There are several lines running to different locations throughout Beijing.</listing>
The shuttle bus website also has a map available.
The cheapest way would be to take public bus #359, which runs from the airport to Dongzhimen, where you can catch subway 2 or 13, but this is not very fast or convenient.
A number of youth hostels and luxury hotels run their own complimentary shuttle buses services - ask the place where you are staying if they have one.
Nanyuan Airport (南苑机场 Nányuàn Jīchǎng, IATA: NAY) is a former military airfield 17km to the south of Beijing, currently used only by army-linked low-cost operator China United (中国联合 Zhōngguó Liánhé) . China United currently fields daily flights to Harbin, Dalian, Sanya, Chongqing, Chengdu, and Wuxi. Free shuttle buses run from China United's ticket office to and from the Xidan Aviation Building (西单民航大厦 Xīdān Mínháng Dàshà). Times depend on flight schedules.
 By train
Beijing has many railway stations. Most trains arrive at the central or West stations.
 By car
By the time of the Olympics in 2008, foreigners will be allowed to rent vehicles while in China.
Beijing is the hub of several expressways heading in all directions and the following is a list of the expressways and their destinations:
11 China National Highways (国道 Guódào) also link into Beijing:
 By bus
Long-distance buses from areas as far as Shanghai and the Mongolian border connect to Beijing. You can reach areas as far as Harbin or Xi'an on a single bus ride. Beijing has over 20 long distance bus stations, but what you need to do is go to the bus station located on the edge of the city in the direction you want to travel.
Most of the buses from the Long Distance Bus Stations will be regular or express buses, which take the expressways, cost from ¥200-600 per trip, have comfy seats, and most rides don't take more than 6-12 hours, but sleeper buses are also available. A sleeper bus, with bunk beds in rows, average about ¥100 per trip, but many go really slowly up hills, avoid expressways, stop at every city or town, provide "meals" which you have to pay extra for, take the potholed National Highways to save money, and a bus ride can take up to 24 hours. The average speed is only 40 km/hr on the moderately fast sleeper buses, and the range could be from 25 to 60 km/hr. It may be a good authentic taste of how less wealthy Chinese people travel.
 Get around
Though many residents of Beijing know conversational English, one should not count on finding a taxi driver who knows English well. Neither should a foreigner with minimal experience with the Chinese language put undue faith in his or her ability to pronounce Chinese place names so that a local can understand clearly. Before embarking on a trip around the city, print out the names of places you want to visit in Chinese characters. Show the text to the taxi driver, or just ask for help on the street. You have more chance to get help in English if you address younger people, as many schools in China have expanded their English education in the last few years.
Crossing the road in China is an art and may be difficult for pedestrians unused to the particular driving styles of Beijiingers. Before crossing, assume that none of the road users will give way to you, even if a policeman is present. Zebra crossings are redundant. Chinese drivers always keep one hand on the horn and will play games of chicken with pedestrians. Should you hear a loud horn when crossing the road, always look around as there is probably a car right behind you or heading straight for you. Should you find several cars and bicycles meandering towards you from different directions, do not try to run to safety, but instead stand still. For drivers a stationary obstacle is easier to avoid. Also note that traffic light crossings have zebra stripes painted on the road, but you should only cross when the walk light is green.
 By train / subway
The subway is a good way to quickly get around the city and is well-signed in English for travelers. However, be warned that during rush hour trains can be extremely crowded. The subway system shuts down around midnight, and opens again around 5 AM. Lines are currently as follows:
The subway station entrances are identified by a large blue stylized letter G wrapped around a smaller letter B.
The subway ticket costs ¥2. Note: a ticket can only be used in the same station in which you purchased it, and only on that same day. There is also a pre-paid card available (一卡通 Yīkātōng). There is a ¥20 refundable deposit for the card. It can also be used for reduced-price bus rides.
 By bicycle
Once known as a nation of bicycles, China today has an evergrowing number of private car owners. So, nowadays you are guaranteed to see more bikes in any city in the Netherlands than in Bejing. Exploring Beijing on a bike is excellent since the city is flat as a pancake, and all major streets have bike lanes. Bicycling is often faster than car, taxi or bus because of the traffic congestion in the motorized traffic lanes.
Four-wheeled motorized traffic in Beijing usually observes traffic signals with the exception of making turns on red lights which is often done without slowing or deferring to pedestrians or bicyclists. Pedestrians, bicycles and all other vehicles (for example, motorized bicycles, mopeds and tricycles) generally do not observe traffic signals. Also, cars, trucks and buses do not defer to cyclists on the road so it is common for a vehicle to make a right turn from an inside lane across a bike lane with no concern for cyclists traveling in the bike lane. Sometimes a right-turning vehicle crossing a bike lane will sound its horn as a warning, but not always. Cyclists also need to be on the lookout for wrong-way traffic in the bike lanes, usually bicycles and tricycles but sometimes motor vehicles, too. Wrong-way traffic usually stays close to the curb so you move to the left to get by them, but not always. Helmets are not worn by bicycling Beijingers. Nor are lights used at night with few bikes even having rear reflectors. The moderate pace and sheer numbers of bicyclists in Beijing appears to make bike travel safer than it would be otherwise.
While you will see cyclists use many creative paths across wide, busy intersections in Beijing, the safest way for cyclists is to observe the traffic signals (there are often special signals for bicyclists) and to make left turns in two steps as a pedestrian would. But if you spend any significant amount of time cycling in Beijing, you will probably start adopting more creative approaches. These can be learned by finding a local cyclist going your way and following him or her across the intersection.
Several professional bike rental companies, as well as major hotels and some hostels, rent bikes on an hourly basis. For those who need the security of a guide, a bike touring company like Bicycle Kingdom Rentals & Tours  would be a great way to go.
If you are staying more than a few days a reasonable bike can be bought for ¥300. Ensure that you have a good lock included in the price. The cheapest bikes are not worth the additional savings as you will get what you pay for. The cheapest bikes will start to deteriorate as soon as you begin to ride, so spend a little more and get a bike in the 300-400 range. Bike rentals may have good bikes, but you pay a high price and run the risk of the bike being stolen.
 By bus
Beijing's bus system is cheap, convenient and covers the entire city—perfect for locals but, alas, difficult to use if you don't understand Chinese. The bus staff speak little English, and only a few bus lines in the city center broadcast stop names in English. Bus stop signs are also entirely in Chinese. But should you speak Chinese or have a healthy sense of adventure, a bus can get you almost anywhere, and often somewhere that you never intended to go: it's a great way to see parts of the city that tourists normally don't visit.
Most bus fares are relatively cheap, but if you get a public transportation card from a metro station (a card that acts as a debit card for the metro and buses) you can get a 60% discount on all fares.
A flurry of shiny new buses have arrived on the streets in preparation for the Olympics. Many buses now feature air-conditioning (heating in winter), TVs, a scrolling screen that displays stops in Chinese, and a broadcast system that announces stops. If you are having problems navigating the bus system, call the English-speaking operators at the Beijing Public Transportation Customer Helpline (96166).
Warning: Beijing buses can get very crowded so be prepared and keep an eye on your valuables. Many pickpockets frequent buses and subways, so carry backpacks in the front, and try to put your valuables somewhere hard to access. Be aware of a scam offering bus rides to the Great Wall masquerading as the real bus service. Instead of directly driving to the Great Wall, you will instead be led to a series of tours to dilapidated theme parks, tourist shops, museums, etc before finally reaching the Great Wall near the end of the day.
 Bus routes
Bus lines are numbered from 1-999. Buses under 300 serve the city center. Buses 300 and up run between the city center and more distant areas (such as beyond the Third Ring Road). Buses in the 900s connect Beijing with its "rural" districts (i.e., Changping, Yanqing, Shunyi, etc) that are not considered part of Beijing proper.
Full maps of the system are available only in Chinese. The Beijing Public Transport Co.  website has limited information in English, but the Chinese version has a very helpful routing service with an interactive map. You can input your starting point and your ending point and see all the bus routes that will get you from A to B, look up a bus route by number, or input a place name and see all the routes that go stop there.
 Fares and operating hours
Most buses with a line number under 200 run daily from 5:00 to 23:00. Buses with a line number greater than 300 run from 6AM till 10PM. All buses with a line number in the 200s are night buses. Many routes get very crowded during rush hours (6:30AM-9AM and 5PM-9PM). On all major holidays, there will be more frequent service on most city routes.
For passengers paying by cash: Lines 1-199 operate on a flat rate of ¥1 per journey. Lines 300-899 charge ¥1 for the first 12km of each journey and ¥0.5 for each additional 5km. Buses with air-condition (800-899) start at ¥2. The night buses (200-299) charge ¥2 per journey.
For passengers paying by the new pre-paid Smart Card: Lines 1-499 operate on a flat rate of ¥0.40 per journey. Lines 500-899 get 60% off the cash price. There are also 3-day, 7-day and 15-day passes available for travelers. There is no return ticket or day ticket.
 By minibus
Minibuses are very common in the countryside outside the urban areas. Privately operated, most trips cost less than ¥10 per short journey and only a little more for longer journeys.
 By taxi
Taxis are the preferred choice for getting around, as they are convenient and are fairly inexpensive for travelers from Western countries. The only downside is that Beijing's congested traffic often results in long jams. Vehicles used as taxis include the Hyundai Sonata and Elantra, Volkswagen Santana and Jetta (the old model, designed in the 1980s), and China-made Citroens. These taxis are dark red, or yellow top with dark blue bottom, or painted with new colors (see picture). Luxurious black executive cars (usually Audis) can also be found, usually waiting outside hotels.
 Fares and meters
Beginning from June 2006, all taxis charge a starting fee of ¥10, and an additional ¥2 per kilometer after the first 3km. Taxi meters keep running when the speed is slower than 12km per hr. or when waiting for green lights; five minutes of waiting time equals 1 km running. Outside of rush hour, an average trip through the city costs around ¥20-25, and a cross-town journey about ¥50 (for example, from the city center to the northern side of the Fourth Ring Road).
If the taxi driver "forgets" to switch the taxi meter on, remind him or her by politely saying qǐng dǎ biǎo (请打表) This means "Run the meter, please". Get a receipt (in case you want to make a complaint later or for business reimbursement purposes) by saying fā piào (发票) or gesturing at the meter and making a writing motion.
If you want a tour around Beijing and its vicinities, you can ask your hotel to hire a cab for one day or several days. It usually costs ¥400-600 per day, depending on where you go. If you have Chinese-speaking assistance, then bargain down the cost. No matter the cost, the taxi is yours for the day and will wait for you at various destinations.
Communicating with the drivers can be a problem, as most do not speak English. You can ask that your hotel write your destination on a card to give to the driver. Make sure also to take the hotel's card (and a map) that lists the hotel's address in Chinese. This can be a 'get out of jail free' card if you get lost and need to get back via taxi. A regular city map with streets and sights in Chinese will help also.
 Avoiding scams and fakes
All official taxis have license plates beginning with the letter "B", as in "京B". "Black cabs" may look like taxis but their license plates will start with letters other than B. It's nearly impossible to hail a black cab on the streets; they generally hang out around tourist sights like the Great Wall and the Summer Palace or around subway stops. Black cabs will charge you a higher fee for the journey, unless you are a good bargainer, know where you are going, and know what the right fare should be. Sometimes they drop foreign tourists in wrong places. In some extreme cases, the driver may even take them to the countryside and rob them. If you find you hired a fake taxi and are overcharged, don't argue if you are alone, pay the driver and remember the car's license plate number, then call police later.
To avoid being taken advantage of, it is a good idea to know the rough direction, cost, and distance of your destination. You can easily find this out from asking locals before calling a cab. Verify these values with the taxicab driver to show them that you are in the know, and are probably too much trouble to cheat. Keep track of the direction of travel with a compass and/or the sun. If the cab goes in the wrong direction for a long distance, verify the location with the taxi driver. For scamming drivers, that is usually enough for them to go back on the right track (without ever acknowledging that they were trying to cheat you). Honest drivers will explain why they are going that way.
Keep in mind that central Beijing can be off limits at certain times, forcing cabs to reroute. And some roads forbid left turns (with big road signs) either at certain hours or all the time, so the driver might make a detour.
 By car
Renting a car normally is not recommended for the ordinary visitor. Besides being extremely expensive, driving in Beijing can be quite complicated, language difficulties included. Many hotels, however, rent cars that come with drivers, for those who can afford it, up to ¥1000 per day.
See also Driving in China.
Many tourist areas in Beijing are under renovation for the 2008 Olympics. Renovations on the Temple of Heaven are completed, but be aware that prior to the Olympics there may be continued renovations.
Nearly all of the universities in Beijing accept foreign students. Most foreign students are on Chinese language programs which can last from a few weeks to a couple of years. If you have a sufficient HSK level  you can enroll in programs to study other subjects.
 Private Schools
Most of the international business offices are in Guomao, Dawang, around the Eastern 3rd Ring Road, Chaoyangmen. The Central Business District (CBD) is centered around Guomao. Many technology companies have offices in Haidian.
Like all of China, finding a job teaching English in Beijing is relatively easy for native speakers. In fact, if you are of European descent some employers may assume that you are already qualified enough to teach English to Chinese students. However, more prestigious employers (especially universities and language schools) will generally require an English teaching qualification or a Bachelor's degree (normally in any discipline, although sometimes specifically in English/linguistics).
Caution: there has been something of an "explosion" in English teaching in recent years, but this has brought some attendant problems with unregulated schools who fail to deliver on their contracts with teaching staff. Most teachers have been getting by with business visas and working as outside contractors for the schools, but there seems to be an ongoing government crackdown on this practice in the run-up to the Olympics. You are also strongly advised to check with existing teachers before signing a teaching contract with an unknown school.
See also: Teaching English.
Throughout nearly all markets in Beijing, haggling is essential. Especially when browsing through large, "touristy" shopping areas for common items, do not put it beneath your dignity to start bargaining at 15% of the vendor's initial asking price. After spending some time haggling, never hesitate to threaten walking away, as this is often the quickest way to see a vendor lower his or her prices to a reasonable level. Buying in bulk or in groups may also lower the price. Beware that if you start your bargaining at too low of a price, such as 5% of the asking price, the vendor may just immediately give up on trying to sell the item to you. How high or low the vendor sets the asking price depends on the customer, the vendor, the product's popularity, and even the time of day. Vendors also tend to target visible minorities more, such as Caucasians or people of African descent.
 Antiques and Specialty Items
The best way to eat well and cheaply in Beijing is to enter one of the ubiquitous restaurants where the locals are eating and pick a few different dishes from the menu. Truth be told, anyone familiar with Western currency and prices will find Beijing a very inexpensive city for food, especially considering that tipping is not practiced in China.
Some of the cheapest and delicious meals can be had on the streets. Savory pancakes (煎饼果子 Jiānbĭng guŏzi) are one of the most popular street snacks, eaten from morning till night. This delicious pancake is cooked with an egg on a griddle, a fried dough crisp is added, and the whole thing is drizzled in scallions and a savory sauce. Hot sauce is optional. Diehard fans often go on a quest for the best cart in the city. This treat should only costs ¥2, with an extra egg ¥2.50.
Lamb kebabs (羊肉串儿 yángròu chuànr) and other kebabs are grilled on makeshift stands all around Beijing, from the late afternoon to late at night. Wangfujing has a "snack street" selling such mundane fare like lamb, chicken, and beef as well as multiple styles of noodle dishes, such as Sichuan style rice noodles, but the brave can also sample silkworm, scorpion, and various organs all skewered on a stick and grilled to order.
A winter specialty, candied haw berries (冰糖葫芦 bīngtáng húlu) are dipped in sugar and sold on a stick. You can also find variations with oranges, grapes, strawberries, and bananas, or dipped in crumbled peanuts as well as sugar. This sweet snack can also sometimes be found in the spring and the summer, but the haw berries are often from last season's crop.
The most famous street for food in Beijing is probably Guijie (簋街/鬼街 Guǐjiē), which runs east-west along Dongzhimen Nei Dajie from Jiaodaokou Dong Dajie to to Dongzhimen Lijiaomen Bridge on the Second Ring Road, Dongcheng District. Red lanterns, traditional courtyards, hundreds of restaurants along the street. Eating on Ghost Street is about more than food and drink, it's a way of life for many Beijingers.
 Beijing Roast Duck
This famous Beijing specialty is served at many restaurants, but there are quite a few restaurants dedicated to the art of roasting the perfect duck. Expect to pay around ¥40 per whole duck at budget-range establishments, and ¥160-¥190 at high-end restaurants. Beijing duck (北京烤鸭 Bĕijīng Kăoyā) is served with thin pancakes, plum sauce (甜面酱 tiánmiàn jiàng)，and slivers of scallions and cucumbers. You dip the duck in the sauce and roll it up in the pancake with a few slivers of scallions and/or cucumbers. The end result is a mouthwatering combination of the cool crunchiness of the cucumber, the sharpness of the scallions, and the rich flavors of the duck.
 Hot Pot
Beijing is also known for its lamb hotpot (涮羊肉 shuàn yáng ròu), which originally came from the Manchu people and emphasizes lamb over other meats. Like variations of hotpot (general name 火锅 huŏ guō) from elsewhere in China and Japan, lamb hotpot is a cook-it-yourself affair in a steaming pot in the center of the table. Unlike Sichuan hotpot, lamb hotpot features a savory, non-spicy broth. If that's not exciting enough for you, you can also request a spicy broth (be aware that this is flaming red, filled with peppers, and not for the weak!). To play it safe and satisfy everyone, you can request a ying-yang (阴阳 yīnyáng) pot divided down the middle, with spicy broth on one side and regular broth on the other.
Raw ingredients are purchased by the plate. In addition to lamb, beef, and seafood, this also includes a wide variety of vegetables, mushrooms, noodles, and tofu, so it's also perfectly possible to have vegetarian hotpot. A dipping sauce, usually sesame, is served as well; you can add chilis, garlic, cilantro, etc, to customize your own sauce. While "raw" sounds dangerous, boiling the meat yourself is the best way to ensure that more risky meats like pork are fully cooked and free of germs. In the city center, hotpot can run as much as ¥40-¥50 per person, but on the outskirts it can be found for as little as ¥10-¥25.
 Other Chinese cuisines
For vegetarians, Beijing's first pure vegetarian buffet restaurant is located on the Confucius Temple on Guo zi jian street, west of the famous Lama Temple. No English menu so far, but one can just ask for the buffet, which contains a large variety of delicious vegetarian dishes, as well as a vegetarian hotpot, and a large selection of dessert.
 Further afield
 International cuisines
McDonald's has over 100 restaurants in Beijing, followed closely by KFC. As a rule of thumb, whenever there is a McDonalds, a KFC is no further than 100m away. There are also a fair number of Pizza Huts. However, visitors to Pizza Hut should be prepared to take a number and wait in line if they dine around 12PM-1:30PM and again from 6:30-7:30PM (peak hours), as the restaurant is very popular with young Chinese. You will pay on average ¥60-¥120. Origus has numerous locations throughout Beijing, and offers an all-you-can-eat pizza/pasta buffet for ¥39, including soft drinks and dessert bar.
If you're in the mood for Texan fare, head for the Tim's Texas BBQ near the Jianguomen subway station. They'll happily provide you with your favourite American food and drink. Tony Roma's has a location in Wangfujing (in the Oriental Plaza).
Korean restaurants are also very common in Beijing. A frequent meal is the grill-it-yourself barbeque, including beef, chicken, and seafood items as well as some vegetables including greens and potatoes.
All luxury hotels have at least one restaurant, which can be of any cuisine they believe their guests will enjoy. You will find French, Italian, American, and Chinese restaurants in most hotels. Restaurants that serve abalone/sharkfin are considered the most expensive restaurants in the city. Expect to pay upwards of ¥800 for a "cheap" meal at one of these restaurants, much more if splurging.
Tea, tea, and more tea! Some are in malls, but first ask the price before ordering or else brace yourself for the most expensive egg-sized cup of tea in the world. You can experience different ceremonies of tea at tea houses especially in the Qianman area south of Tiananmen. These can range in price, and some tea houses are really tourist traps whose main goal is to milk you of your money, so be careful. You can get a free tea demonstration at most Tenrenfu tea houses which are located throughout the city and at some malls.
Warning: be aware of the Beijing teahouse scam, in which young Chinese people posing as students of English will try to lure foreigners into a tea-house for a demonstration of tea ceremony, leaving the foreigner with a bill running to hundreds of US dollars. Be sure to ask for prices for the tea and facilities up front before agreeing to any kind of tea ceremony.
Good coffee is hard to find in most parts of China, although addicts have a place to retreat now that Starbucks has made huge inroads with the emerging middle class. They have at least 50 Starbucks in the capital, most situated around shopping malls and in commercial districts of the city.
Chinese beer can be quite good. The most preferred beer in China is Tsingtao (青岛 Qīngdǎo) which can cost ¥10-20 in a restaurant, or ¥2-3 if you buy it from a street vendor. Also try for the same price Yanjing beer (燕京 Yànjīng), which is Beijing's main local beer (Yanjing is an antiquated name for Beijing). Beer mostly comes in large bottles and has 4% alcohol content. Both Yanjing and Qingdao now come in standard (普通 pǔtōng) and pure (纯生 chúnshēng) varieties, the difference mainly seeming to be price. Beijing Beer (北京啤酒 Běijīng Píjiǔ） is the probably the third most popular brand.
Great Wall is the most popular local brand of wine. Wine made in China does not have a great reputation, though this is changing. Giving wine as a gift is not a common custom in most places in China and most people will not be accustomed to wine etiquette or appreciation. Imported red wines are usually of a better quality, such as those from the US, Germany, Italy, Australia, and Chile, and you will find them at most upscale restaurants.
The most common hard liquor is baijiu (白酒 báijiǔ), made from distilled rice wine. It comes in a variety of brand and generally for very cheap prices (¥8 for a small bottle) and should be avoided if you want to have a clear mind for your travels on the next day. The most famous local brand is called Erguotou (二锅头 Èrguōtóu), which has 54% alcohol content. Mao Tai (茅台 Máotái) is one of the more expensive brands, and costs about as much as an imported bottle of whiskey. A large selection of imported liquor can be found at most bars.
 Places to drink
Sanlitun (三里屯)— The center of nightlife in Beijing, located beside the embassy area in Chaoyang district, it comprises a main "bar street" divided into north and south sections, a side street with more casual (and cheaper) bars, and several large clubs/discotheque at the north gate of the worker's stadium near by. Sanlitun has near legendary status amongst travelers, but you are just as likely to be irritated by pushy bar-owners or DVD sellers as you are to be charmed by its bars.
Hou Hai (后海), is a man-made lake surrounded with trendy restaurants and bars in the central part of Beijing. A great place for a beer, and also to watch local Beijingers (of all ages) enjoying themselves.
Wudaokou (五道口), where most of the foreign and local university students hang out. There are a number of bars and restaurants which serve a great variety of wine, beer and liquor for cheap. This area is also well known for its huge Korean population and a good place to find Korean food.
Nurenjie (女人街), literally "lady's street", and the streets around. This area is situated off Liang Ma Qiao Lu (亮马桥路), a short distance north of the Kempinski Hotel and embassies of Israel, Japan, ROK and USA. By day it has some fashion shops, as its name suggests, but it is also home to some interesting new bars, restaurants and clubs.
Dashanzi, (大山子), Beijing's new trendy art zone, out North of the Lido hotel, this old warehouse and factory district has been taken over by art galleries, art shops and bars. Well worth the trip to experience the cutting edge of the Beijing art scene. Also known as Factory 798.
Other bars and cafes of interest:
Foreign visitors often are "restricted" to staying in high-priced official hotels, that restriction being less and less obvious as a great majority of accommodation now takes place in the form of low-cost hotels and hostels. Zhaodaisuos (招待所) are more difficult, and may be fully inaccessible altogether to the foreign community.
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 northern side of the street, 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 with a food court hidden in the lowest floor.
Some 'expensive' hotels are in the city centre and on the eastern 3rd Ring Road, however by Western standards these hotels are relatively cheap. These include:
 Rented Apartments
 Stay safe
Beijing is a very safe city. However, tourists are often preyed upon by cheats and touts. Be especially cautious in the inner city, around Tiananmen Square, and on the tourist-crowded routes to the Great Wall.
That all being said, fears of scams have led many foreigners to be overly dismissive of Chinese people who approach them. Many Chinese are genuinely curious about foreigners and may just want to practice their English and get a picture with you. Be friendly but don't feel pressured to go somewhere you hadn't planned on going in the first place.
Be wary of fake money. You may observe Chinese people inspecting their money carefully, and with a reason: there are a lot of counterfeit bills in circulation. The most common are 100's and 50's. A few tips for identifying counterfeit bills:
Driving is crazy in Beijing, and reckless driving is the norm. Be prepared for drivers to violate traffic laws even to the extent of going in reverse on highways to back up to a missed exit. Also expect occasional road debris (a piece of wood or torn out tire) to be laying in the roadway. Pedestrians should be very careful crossing the street — drivers will not stop for you and will anticipate the traffic light before it turns green. Be very careful when crossing any street. Take an overpass or underpass if possible. Otherwise, keep an eye on the locals and cross with them — there is strength in numbers. Cars will also often drive on sidewalks.
Free emergency telephone numbers:
Remember these three telephone numbers, and they are valid in almost entire mainland China.
Air pollution is a big problem in Beijing. Car exhaust, coal burning, and dust storms from the Gobi desert combine to make some of the worst city air on the planet. You may want to bring extra Vitamin C and other antioxidants (grape seed extract, etc). A white surgical face mask may help with the occasional dust storms...the dust is very fine. Don't be surprised if your throat and nose ache soon after arriving.
Drinking lots of the local green tea (hot) will help you resist sickness from the bad air. Green tea has antioxidants, some vitamin C, and the hot water helps to moisturize your throat. Winter is the worst time as the cold air creates an inversion layer and traps the pollution in the city.
Diet tips. Bring fiber supplements (such as Metamucil). Beijing food can be constipating due to high meat/low vegetable content. Chinese don't usually eat salads, but boil their vegetables for sanitary and cultural reasons. Also, an Acidophilus (yogurt bacteria) supplemental capsule taken daily can prevent G.I. distress from the local bacteria. Bring the type that don't have to be refrigerated, or drink the local yogurt beverages (which must be drunk on the spot as you have to return the glass jars immediately afterwards). The local bacteria can cause vomiting or diarrhea (or both) if you don't take precautions beforehand. Remember the 3 P's for food: Peeled, par-boiled, or piping-hot. The good news is that the Chinese preference for fresh food, cooked in a wok at searing hot temperatures means that stomach problems are rare. If you are eating "local", the odds are in your favor if you stick to traditional, local food, since the chances are that the chef will know what he/she is doing with this type of food, which is not necessarily the case with (eg) a Western-style salad. The water in Beijing is not safe to drink, and is generally not even consumed by the locals unless boiled. This is true even at hotels unless stated otherwise. Bottled water can be bought for ¥1-2 per bottle.
Bring a pack of your own tissues (or toilet paper) and small bar soap. Many public bathrooms do not have wiping paper, especially if you venture out to the countryside. Alternately, you may wish to purchase an alcohol-based hand sanitizer for quick clean-ups. Also, pre-packaged wet hand wipes are indispensable.
Try to use the bathroom before you leave for your destinations. Some establishments (even large grocery/department stores) will not have Western style toilets, and many a lady has been shocked and dismayed to find she doesn't know how to use non-elevated (sunken) toilets.
In dryer months (especially winter), be sure to bring or purchase a heavy moisturizer. Although most hotels will offer some generic brand, the quality varies greatly and you would do well to supply your own. It is advisable to purchase and drink several bottles of purified water a day.
 Get out
Great Wall (长城 Chángchéng) about a 1.5 hour bus ride from the city, recommended but be aware of bus scams! Two or more sections nearer the city have been restored and are available for tourists to walk upon. One section even has a ski lift up and a toboggan (or ski lift) down. You may want to bring a jacket against the wind or cold in the chillier season - in the summer you will need lots of water, and it will be cheaper if you bring your own rather than rely on the vendors on the Wall. The Badaling section is the most famous, but also the most over-restored and crowded. Jinshanling, Huangshan and Simatai are more distant (several hours drive) but offer a better view of the wall in a less restored state with fewer crowds. Mutianyu has been restored, but far less crowded than Badaling. Crowds are a definite issue with the Great Wall: at popular sections at popular times, it becomes not the Great Wall of China, but rather the Great Wall of Tourists. It is possible to rent a taxi for a day to take you to these sites. Renting a taxi should cost ¥400-800. For this price the driver should take you wherever you want, and will wait for your return.