When you read a travel guide about Beijing, you obviously hear about the main attractions, like the Forbidden City and the Great Wall of China. This is a shame since those who fly into Beijing looking for a truly unique experience after their Cathay Pacific flight do not necessarily want to do the same thing others do.
The truth is there are countless options available when you want to experience something in Beijing. We are talking about a city of 20 million people that grows every single day. Tourists always enjoy themselves and are welcomed but what if you want to do something different? The capital of China gives you the opportunity of enjoying several activities you would not expect, like the following.
The Baijiu Bar – Capital Spirits
Capital Spirits stands out as the only and the first specialty Baijiu bar in the city. It is now located inside the Longfusi compound, close to the Dongsi Subway Station.
If you are not aware, Baijiu is a very strong traditional alcohol in China. It translates as White Spirit in the English language.
What is interesting is that you can enjoy several different types of Baijiu coming from several parts of the country. Also, there are numerous cocktails made out of them so that they are easier to drink for those who cannot handle the strong alcohol. For instance, you can enjoy the Mala’rita, which is a Margarita with a twist as it includes Sichuan peppercorns and Baijiu.
Visit Capital Spirits to enjoy a part of the day with locals, mostly students who love the bar. The closest subway station to the Baijiu Bar is Dongsi Station on Line 5.
Central Perk Café
Most international tourists are surprised to see that Beijing has its own Central Perk café, a replication of the café people saw in the TV series Friends. It can be found in Chaowai Soho, is very cozy and you can see all the regular seats of the characters, together with all the pastries and cakes they enjoy.
As expected, you can enjoy re-runs of the TV series as there is a TV screen in front of a replica of the famous sofa in the movie. There is even a backroom where you will see a perfect replica of the room in which Joey and Chandler lived. You can sit in their reclining chairs, watch an episode of Friends, and even have a game of foosball.
The Central Perk replica café is accessible through the Dongdaqiao subway station on Line 6.
Beijing Museum Of Tap Water
Did you know there is a museum in Beijing dedicated to tap water? This is definitely one of the unique attractions the city has to offer. The museum is all about the history of supplying running, safe water to the inhabitants of the capital of China.
The Beijing Museum Of Tap Water is housed in the first water plant of the city, which was built in the year 1908. When you enter, you can enjoy exhibits talking about the water systems of the past and can find explanations about the water treatment process used in modern times.
Visit the exhibitions and then go to the courtyard. You can then see pipes and water pumps that were once used and that have no place in a modern system. Overall, the museum is a great way to spend your afternoons. It is a great way to avoid big crowds in busy parts of Beijing.
The Beijing Museum Of Tap Water is close to the Line 2 Dongzhimen subway exit.
Camera Stylo is very close to the Dongshisitiao main road but you can easily overlook it if you do not know it is there. This is a quiet bar and café decorated with memorabilia and film posters. It includes private screening rooms on the first floor and the café is downstairs. The rooftop level has a combination of the two.
The screening works come from both China and other countries. Basically, this is where there is a connection between Beijing and independent cinema. You can participate in interactive cinema events, standup comedy nights, film nights, and more. If you are looking for a quiet place to enjoy a drink or want to have your thoughts provoked by something special, take the Line 5 subway and exit at Zhangzizhonglu.
Liulichang Ancient Culture Street
Liulichang Street is a very busy shopping street that is bustling and you want to visit because there is a huge collection of incredible small antique shops you will enjoy. Some are specialized while others are general. And the street was restored based on traditional Chinese architecture.
This is a street in Beijing where you can find basically anything you could imagine associated with China, including jade jewelry, traditional paintings, Mahjong sets, and calligraphy brushes. If you want to buy some souvenirs and genuine antiques, this is the place to be.
To reach the Liulichang Ancient Culture Street, get off at Hepingmen subway station from Line 2.
Houhai Ice Skating
If you visit during the winter, you can definitely embrace the temperatures through a great experience perfect for locals and for tourists alike. Houhai is a picturesque frozen lake where you can go ice skating with your friends and enjoy yourself for a pretty long time. Also, you can enjoy other activities, like bumper cars and ice sleds.
Enjoy Mending Rou Bing
Mending Rou Bing means Doornail Meat Bun. It is a meaty, oily beef parcel that was wrapped inside thick pastry and a specialty dish from the Muslim community of Beijing. The Doornail Meat Bun has its origins in the kitchens of the Empress Dowager Cixi from the Qing Dynasty. You can definitely combine the dish with some Beibingyang, a specialty soft drink from Beijing and the best cold side to experience with Mending Rou Bing is Liangcai. You can enjoy the dish at some of the best restaurants, like:
- Longsheng Peace Mending Meat Pie Shop – Xicheng
- Baoruimending Meat Pie Shop – Dongcheng
Obviously, the dish is also available in other places, but the ones above are recognized as among the very best.