7 Must-Stay Locations in Beijing: Culture Meets Comfort! [2024]

best-location-to-stay-in-beijing

Things You Should Know Before Visiting the Great Wall of China

Explore Beijing: 7 Prime Locations for Your Stay!

Planning a trip to Beijing but unsure of where to stay?

With so many neighborhoods to choose from, it can be overwhelming.

I’ve been exploring Beijing since 1997 and lived here for 23 years.

I’ve seen lots of changes and I’m excited to share my top tips to help you find the best neighborhood that matches your interests.

Here are a few factors to consider when deciding on the best area to stay in Beijing:

  • Travel companions: traveling alone is different from traveling with family. Finding a balance between everyone’s preferences is essential.
  • Budget: decide whether you want to stay in a budget-friendly hotel/hostel in Hutong or opt for a luxury hotel in central Beijing.
  • Modern vs. traditional hotels: do you prefer traditional Hutong Courtyard hotels or contemporary Western chains?
  • Activities: do you love crowds and nightlife in Sanlitun or the peace and quiet of old Hutong?
  • Transportation: consider how you will get around. Choose an area with convenient access to your planned activities.

In my post about the 7 best areas to stay in Beijing, I’ll give you a feel for each area and suggest great hotels for any budget.

Whether you’re into shopping, nightlife, or history, there’s a place for you.

Check out our quick summary below and read on for more detailed descriptions of each neighborhood.

Quick Summary–7 Best Areas to Stay in Beijing

For those in a rush, here’s a quick summary. For detailed descriptions, keep reading:

Area Best For
Wangfujing First-timers/Families
Qianmen Budget
Xidan Shopping
Houhai Romantics
Nanluoguxiang Food and Restaurants
Gulou (Drum Tower) Local Vibe
Sanlitun Nightlife
beijing best areas
 

 

1: Wangfujing – Ideal for First-Time Visitors

Wangfujing is the go-to spot for first-timers in Beijing!

It’s a sweet deal because:

  • Close to Major Attractions: Just steps away from must-see spots like Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City.
  • Hotels for Every Budget: Options range from economical to luxurious, catering to all preferences.
  • Wangfujing Street Experience: Enjoy a 1.5 km stretch of shopping, dining, and entertainment.
  • Activities for All Ages: Wangfujing offers diverse attractions that the whole family can enjoy.

One little tip: Taxis can be hard to hail on weekdays, so plan ahead for that.

Dive into the heart of Beijing with ease and have a blast exploring Wangfujing!

wangfujing street
wangfujing street

Recommended Hotels to Stay in Wangfujing

Fancy Option: The Peninsula Beijing – Want to feel fancy in Beijing? The Peninsula has it all: super comfy rooms, yummy food, and even a spa to relax in! It’s like a fancy vacation spot right in the city. ($250-500/night)

Middle Option: Sunworld Dynasty Hotel – Right in the busy Wangfujing area, this hotel is the perfect mix of fun and rest. You get cool room views, tasty local food, and people ready to help anytime. Plus, the views are awesome! ($100-250/night)

Budget PickHutong Courtyard Beijing  – Stay in a cool old part of Beijing without spending a lot! This hotel feels like the old times but is still comfy. The best part? It’s super close to the famous Forbidden City and costs only $30-70 a night!

best area to stay in Beijing Qianmen street

Things You Should Know Before Visiting the Great Wall of China

2: Qianmen – Perfect for Budget-Conscious Travelers

Qianmen is a treasure for budget-friendly explorers in Beijing!

Here’s the scoop:

  • Affordable Accommodations: Find a comfortable and convenient spot to stay without stretching your budget.
  • From Qing to Cool: Delve into an area rich in history that has transformed from its red-light district origins to a neighborhood with a modern vibe.
  • Eat and Shop: Treat yourself to traditional snacks, hit up global brand stores, and discover hidden bookstores.
  • Dynamic Atmosphere: Enjoy the energetic yet peaceful ambiance of this unique area.
  • Qianmen Avenue: Take a historical walk along a street that’s seen centuries of change.

Just like Xidan, Qianmen offers its own flavor of excitement and convenience for a memorable Beijing experience!

Dive into history with nearby must-sees:

Places to stay? From laid-back hostels to chic hotels, they’ve got it all.

Qianmen’s the place to be for an unforgettable, wallet-friendly Beijing adventure.

Get ready to make some memories!

qianmen street

Recommended Hotels to Stay in Qianmen

Fancy OptionBeijing Qianmen Jianguo Hotel – Want to stay near the famous Qianmen street? This hotel is perfect! It feels both old and new, and everything is just so fancy. Get ready to feel like a star! ($200-450/night)

Middle OptionJi Hotel (Beijing Qianmen Courtyard) – Imagine living in an old Beijing home but with cool, new stuff. That’s this hotel! Plus, it’s super close to Qianmen Street, so there’s lots to see and do. Perfect for exploring and having fun! ($100-200/night)

Budget PickHyde Courtyard Hotel – On a budget? No problem! This hotel feels like old-timey Beijing but is still super cozy. You can relax, eat yummy food, and it doesn’t cost much. What a deal at $30-60 a night!

qianmen street

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3: Xidan – Shopper’s Paradise

Xidan is your hotspot in Beijing for all things shopping and more:

  • Endless Shopping: Hit the extensive streets lined with shopping malls, boutiques, and stores ranging from fast fashion to classic international brands like Zara, H&M, and DKNY.
  • Local Treasures: Snag locally made garments and accessories at sweet prices.
  • Food and Culture Fix: Beyond shopping, savor the tastes in trendy cafes or traditional restaurants, and soak in culture at Xidan Cultural Square.
  • Stay Your Way: From cozy hotels to budget hostels, find the perfect place to crash. Plus, you’re just 2 km from major attractions like Tiananmen Square!

With its blend of modern retail, dining delights, and cultural gems, Xidan promises a lively and convenient stay in China’s capital!

xidan street
qianmen street

Recommended Hotels to Stay in Xidan

Fancy OptionThe Ritz-Carlton Beijing Financial Street – Feel like a king or queen in this plush hotel! It’s more than a bed; it’s a royal experience. Be in the center of Beijing’s busy scene and enjoy awesome services. ($300-550/night)

Middle OptionPan Pacific Beijing – A comfy stay and fun adventures? This hotel has both! Be super close to Xidan’s shopping fun. And the food? It’s top-notch! ($150-300/night)

Budget PickBeijing Fuyou Street Hotel (Xidan Branch) – Want Xidan fun without spending a lot? This place is perfect! Feel at home, make new friends, and be close to cool spots. Perfect for shoppers and explorers. ($40-90/night)

xidan street

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4: Houhai – A Romantic Escape

Houhai, Beijing’s romantic retreat, beckons couples with its enchanting lake setting.

Here’s why it’s perfect for romance:

  • Idyllic Serenity: Escape to a peaceful haven, ideal for couples to unwind and connect.
  • Lakeside Charm: Enjoy tranquil walks by the scenic lake, flanked by graceful willows.
  • Cozy Nooks: Discover unique shops and relax in traditional tea houses and trendy lounges.
  • Exclusive Activities: Engage in romantic activities like paddle boating or ice skating on the lake.

Houhai offers an intimate slice of paradise for a memorable couple’s getaway in the bustling capital.

Things You Should Know Before Visiting the Great Wall of China

Recommended Hotels to Stay in Houhai & Gulou & Nanluoguxiang

Fancy OptionAncient City Old Courtyard Boutique Hotel – Ever dreamt of a royal sleepover in old Beijing? This hotel’s for you! It’s like a trip back in time, but with all the plush beds and fun gadgets we love today. Explore cool streets during the day and snooze like royalty at night! ($250-500/night)

Middle OptionCitiGO Hotel Nanluoguxiang Beijing – Picture this: A hotel that feels like old Beijing on the outside and super modern on the inside. You’re just a hop, skip, and jump away from cool old streets known as hutongs. Oh, and did I mention? The food here is mouth-wateringly local! ($100-250/night)

Budget PickPeking Youth Hostel – Looking for a pocket-friendly stay? Here you go! Dive into Beijing’s past without spending a lot. Everything you need, from comfy beds to fun nearby spots, is right here. And all for $30-80 a night!

houhai lake area
qianmen street

5: Nanluoguxiang – Food Paradise

Nanluoguxiang buzzes as a food lover’s dream and a night owl’s playground.

Here is the why:

  • Gourmet Haven: Relish 700 years of flavor in a district famed for its top-notch dining.
  • Evening Delicacies: Nearby Ghost Street beckons with its after-dark feast, a haven for night-time munchies.
  • Seamless Transit: With Subway line 6 and Beixinqiao station close by, getting around is a breeze.
  • Authentic Vibes: Stroll down a 1.5 km stretch where red lanterns and historic courtyards frame a culinary adventure.

Indulge in the best of Beijing’s vibrant food scene and soak up the nocturnal energy at Nanluoguxiang.

best location to stay in Beijing Drum tower area

Things You Should Know Before Visiting the Great Wall of China

6: Gulou (Drum Tower) – Authentic Local Experience

Welcome to the charming Gulou district – the heart of old Beijing!

Gulou, meaning “drum tower,” is the perfect neighborhood for visitors looking for an authentic Beijing experience.

  • Historic Heartbeat: Step into the past with Gulou’s historic alleys and traditional courtyards that pulse with Beijing’s authentic lifestyle.
  • Shop and Savour: Explore a treasure trove of independent shops, vibrant neighborhood markets, and eateries loved by locals and visitors alike.
  • Time-Traveler’s Delight: Lose yourself in the nostalgic streets of Gulou and experience the allure of ancient Beijing on a modern-day adventure.
  • Lakeside Leisure: Join the community by the lake on sunny days for a glimpse into the daily joys of local life.
  • Trendy yet Traditional: Even as Gulou grows more fashionable, it holds tight to its genuine, original charm.

Immerse yourself in the true essence of Beijing with a visit to Gulou – where every corner tells a story!

Things You Should Know Before Visiting the Great Wall of China

7: Sanlitun – Ultimate Nightlife and Fashion Hub

Discover the electric buzz of Sanlitun – Beijing’s hotspot for night owls and trendsetters!

  • Nightlife Nirvana: Dive into the heart of Sanlitun where the nightlife is legendary, offering an exhilarating experience for party enthusiasts.
  • Fashion & Flavors: From luxury shopping to quirky coffee haunts, indulge in Sanlitun’s dynamic fusion of upscale boutiques and bohemian brew spots.
  • Cultural Beats: Get your cultural fix with venues showcasing toe-tapping live music and intriguing indie film screenings.
  • Culinary Crossroads: Traverse the taste spectrum in Sanlitun’s diverse culinary scene, a melting pot of flavors from around the world.
  • Trendy Travels: Embrace the chic and international vibes of Beijing’s coolest quarter – perfect for the cosmopolitan traveler.

Plan your journey to Sanlitun, where every moment pulses with energy and global flair!

sanlitun area
qianmen street

Recommended Hotels to Stay in Sanlitun

Fancy OptionThe Opposite House – Step into luxury here! This hotel is all about awesome design and cozy feels. After exploring, coming back to this place is like a dream come true! ($280-550/night)

Middle OptionBEI Zhaolong Hotel, JdV by Hyatt – The best of both worlds: cool modern touches with a hint of old Beijing. Stay in the middle of all the fun. And their food? A must-try — so yummy! ($150-320/night)

Budget PickBeijing’S First Platinum County Self-Service Apartment – Get the most bang for your buck right in the city center! It’s like your own home, packed with everything you need. Close to all the cool Sanlitun places, it’s a top pick for longer visits and exploring. ($40-95/night)

qianmen street

Stay Near a Subway or Train Station in Beijing

Although exploring Beijing on foot is enjoyable, the city’s vastness makes it almost impossible.

Luckily, Beijing has an efficient and extensive subway system.

It is the fastest, most efficient, and cheapest way to travel around the city.

Staying in hotels within walking distance of major subway/train stations is highly recommended to save time, money, and energy.

The subway system is easy to navigate, allowing you to explore Beijing’s top seven neighborhoods by subway, no matter where you make your base.

  • Line 1 is one of the most convenient lines in Beijing for tourists as it crosses Tiananmen Square, Xidan, Wangfujing, and the military museum. You can quickly get to National Grand Theater, Forbidden City, Qianmen, and Wangfujing Street from Tiananmen Square. It is a heavily used line because it crosses Beijing from west to east.
  • Line 2 serves important stations, particularly for tourists, such as Yonghe Lamasery Temple, Drum & Bell Towers, Qianmen Street, Houhai, and Ghost Street. It’s a good idea to pick a hotel within 5 minutes’ walking distance of a subway or train station in the central area of Beijing, which is bounded by the circular Loop Line 2.
  • Line 4 will take you to key spots like the Summer Palace, Yuanmingyuan Park, Beijing Zoo (Panda House), Xidan, and Peking University. Line 4 runs across Beijing from northwest to southeast.
  • Line 5 serves these three famous stations the Temple of Heaven, Nanluogu Xiang, and the National Art Museum of China. It crosses​​ Beijing from north to south.
  • Line 8 passes by Olympic National Stadium (Bird’s Nest), Gulou, Shichahai, Nanluoguxiang, and National Art Museum. It was created exclusively for the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008.
  • Line 10 mainly serves Sanlitun Bar Street (Tuanjiehu station), Agriculture Exhibition Center, and Guomao (Beijing Central business district). It’s the longest subway loop line in Beijing.

Best location to stay in Beijing Nanluoguxiang area

 

Best Things to Do in Beijing

Beijing is one of my absolute favorite cities in the world. Below are my favorite sights in the absolute city center.

  1. Tiananmen or Tiananmen Square –  This is clearly one of the most visited sights in Beijing.  Having your picture taken in front of Tiananmen Square is as much a must for Chinese families. In 1949, the late Chairman Mao Zedong proclaimed the Chinese People’s Republic on the Square.
  2. Mao Zedong Mausoleum – built in 1977 to honor the great leader of the Communist Party, you can see the preserved body of Chairman Mao Zedong. Visiting Mao Zedong Mausoleum is an unforgettable experience of a lifetime!
  3. Great Hall of the People – The Great Hall of the People was built in 1959. State guests are received and state celebrations are held in this sacred hall.
  4. Chinese National Museum – to learn more about China’s history, a visit to this museum is worthwhile.
  5. National Theater – Just a few meters west of Tiananmen is the National Theater. It was completed in 2007 and is famous for its futuristic architecture.
  6. Zhengyangmen or Qianmen Gate – The Zhengyangmen Gate is a magnificent city gate. This was the main gate of the Inner City in both the Ming and Qing Dynasties (1368 to 1911 A.D). Only the Emperor was allowed to pass through this passageway on his way to the Temple of Heaven.best-location-to-stay-in-beijing Wangfujing
  7. The Forbidden Citythe largest palace complex in the world. The imperial family resided here and the common people were forbidden to enter, so it’s called Forbidden City. From 1406 to 1420 a million workers and 100,000 artisans were employed to build this huge palace complex. For a long time, no building in Beijing was allowed to be higher than the Forbidden City. You should spend several hours exploring this sight.
  8. Temple of Heavena temple complex built in 1420. The emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties prayed for a good harvest once a year. It is a masterpiece of Chinese architecture and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The entire complex is larger than the Forbidden City.
  9. Summer Palace – one of the largest and most beautiful Chinese landscape parks in Beijing. This was completed in 1750. Emperors could relax on summer days to escape the hot summer in Beijing.
  10. The Great Wall of China – one of the most famous sights in all of China. You can reach the most popular part of the Great Wall – Mutianyu – from Beijing in about 90 minutes. A little less well-known, but still on the tourist radar, is the Jinshanling and Jiankou section of the Wall. For those who are interested in night tours of Beijing, visiting Badaling Great Wall at night brings you a unique experience. Both private tours and group tours are available to see Badaling Great Wall at night.
  11. Drum Tower and Bell Tower – built in 1272 and served, among other things, to tell the time. The morning was announced from the Bell Tower with a chime, while the evening was signaled from the Drum Tower with a drumbeat. You should visit the two adjacent lakes of Qianhai and Houhai nearby if time permits.
  12. Beijing opera – Peking opera has existed for about 200 years. It mixes many artistic elements such as singing, dancing, acrobatics, performing arts, and martial arts. Watching Beijing opera is a great way to learn about local culture.

Map of 7 Best Neighborhoods to Stay in Beijing

Beijing Safety: A Safe City for Tourists

In short, Beijing is a safe destination for visitors. The city boasts a low crime rate, and tourists can rely on the friendly and vigilant police force to keep them protected.

However, it is still advisable for visitors to exercise caution and take safety precautions to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip.

With that said, let’s take a closer look at why Beijing is considered one of the safest big cities globally and what measures tourists can take to stay safe

Visit Duration: 3-5 Days Ideal for First-Timers

3-5 days in Beijing is the perfect amount if it’s your first visit. It is also the best compromise when considering time, budget, and the number of attractions.

You can spend two days in Beijing, but it’s cutting it close–and you’ll need to come back again.

It’s also a great idea to do a one-week Beijing itinerary for all willing to spend up to 7 days in the capital city.

best location to stay in beijing

 

Getting Around in Beijing: From Subways to Bikes

  • Subways. The easiest and quickest way to travel around Beijing is by subway. Riding the subway is also a fantastic way to feel like a local during your stay in Beijing. Sometimes subway routes change, or trains temporarily stop running—especially on weekends and late nights during weekdays—so be sure to check for up-to-date subway service information by subway.
  • Buses. Public buses are a scenic way to see the city and reach destinations not convenient to a subway stop. And a large number of Beijing buses are hybrid-electric and electric models. Buses run about every 15 to 30 minutes, or at longer intervals, depending on the time of day.
  • Taxis. Grabbing a cab can be ideal when tired feet, heavy luggage, or shopping bags weigh you down. Taxis are available 24 hours a day, but you might not even see a cab nearby, depending on the area and time of day, especially during rush hour.
  • Car. There are numerous local car services and popular app-based options like Didi to get you from place to place. They don’t have the same pricing system as cabs, and they’re usually cheaper than taxis.
  • Bike. Biking in the city is the most fun and quick way. It’s good for the environment and your body and can often be faster and cheaper than fuel-powered transportation. Cycling hot spots like Houhai and Nanluogxiang are great options for hitting the city on two wheels.
  • Walking. Walking is a healthy, accessible, and environmentally-friendly way to get around Beijing. Walking means you can beat the traffic while soaking up the view. Many landmarks like Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square are closer than you might think, so walking can often save time. Remember that cars drive on the right in China, so be careful to look in the correct direction for oncoming traffic when crossing the road.
  • Boat: Travelling by river is a great way to get around Beijing. You’ll beat the traffic and enjoy fantastic views of willows and peach trees along the way. Change river cruise starts at the Beijing Exhibition Center harbor and ends at the Summer Palace. You will see Beijing’s famous landmarks from the water.
best location to stay in beijing

 

Conclusion

Since you would wish to visit as many tourist attractions, markets, shows, and restaurants, make sure that you take your time to identify the best location to stay.

Determining beforehand what you want for your Beijing vacation is an excellent starting point.

Interested in discovering the best accommodation options in Xi’an? Check out our comprehensive guide: “Where to Stay in Xi’an: 5 Ideal Areas for a Perfect Stay!”

Planning a trip to the vibrant city of Beijing? You’ll find these articles about exciting activities and local hotspots in Beijing particularly helpful: