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Written by Chris QuanUpdated Feb. 2, 2023

Sanlitun got its name for being three li away from downtown Beijing (that’s 1.5 km, or about a mile, away).

It is one of the most famous entertainment areas in Beijing. The main areas in Sanlitun include Taikoo Li, Bar Street, Worker's Stadium, and the embassy district.

You could spend your day exploring the shopping malls and spend your night in its many bars.

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Sanlitun Facts

Sanlitun map,beijingSanlitun Location Map
  • Chinese: 三里屯 Sānlǐtún /san-lee-twnn/ ’three li village’ (a li is 500m)
  • Location: Sanlitun, Chaoyang District
  • Highlights: nightlife in the bar street, shopping, beautiful night views
  • Suited to: people who enjoy nightlife/shopping
  • Average visit time: 2 hours
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Why Is Sanlitun Famous?


There are few other places in Beijing like Sanlitun that speak to the city's most bare-faced desire and “madness”.

Sanlitun is known for its colorful nightlife and being a bellwether of fashion trends. It houses many kinds of bars and clubs, large shopping malls like Taikoo Li and SOHO, and other entertainments.

Sanlitun shows the dynamic and modern side of Beijing. Together with the Forbidden City and the Great Wall, it has become a name card of Beijing. It is the best place in Beijing for shopping, dining, and entertainment.

Fashion Trend Landmark

Sanlitun is very popular among young people. It is full of well-dressed young men and women.

You will see many people snapping young, trendy, and beautiful locals through their long-lens cameras. Maybe one of these outfits will go viral online and become a trend of the season. 

You can find many world-famous brands, ranging from luxury shops to forefront designer brands to street fashion brands.

Glitzy Nightlife

Sanlitun night viewSanlitun at night

There is a local saying: “Sanlitun has the longest nights in Beijing.” Sanlitun is at its busiest at night.

You can find all kinds of bars there. They will set tables on the sidewalk where guests can drink, watch football games on TV, and chat. Some bars will have live bands, magic shows, cocktail shows, dance shows, and themed events. These bars are open from the afternoon to the early morning of the next day.

In addition to bars, there are many other recreational activities you can do in the evening — fitness, spas, watching movies, hunting for snacks… >>Things to Do in Beijing at Night

The Legation Quarter — Gathering Area for Foreigners

Beijing now has three legation quarters, one of which is in Sanlitun.

There are embassies from Australia, Canada, Germany, the European Union, Italy, Indonesia, and other countries and regions in Sanlitun.  

Thus, Sanlitun has an important community of foreign people living in Beijing. Restaurants, bars, and shopping malls have sprung up. Several international schools are located nearby.

Shop at Taikoo Li Sanlitun

Sanlitun Taikoo LiTaikoo Li

Sanlitun Taikoo Li was awarded national recognition as a “Five-Star Shopping Center”. Taikoo Li is an open shopping area, composed of 19 modern buildings. It combines fashion, shopping, music, business, and art from around the world.  

Taikoo Li is divided into two regions: north and south.

Taikoo Li South contains 260+ stores and restaurants for fashion and sports brands like COS, Adidas, and Apple. There is also a huge outdoor LED screen and plaza, where various stores’ events and street performances are often held. 

Taikoo Li North contains more luxury fashion brands such as Balmain, Givenchy, and Off-White. There is also a great hotel called the Opposite House — famous Japanese architect Kengo Kuma’s first hotel work. 

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Having Fun in Sanlitun Bar Street

Bar Street is located on the east side of Sanlitun North Road, around the Workers’ Stadium, with a total length of 260 meters. It is one of the busiest streets in Beijing at night. People flock there seeking relaxation. It especially attracts local young people, celebrities, and foreigners.

There are more than 80 bars in Bar Street. Statistically, 60% of the bars in Beijing are gathered there! Sanlitun was the earliest bar community in Beijing and is the origin of Beijing bar culture. The first bar appeared there in 1989.

Some popular bars include Long Jing (a modern tea house and cocktail lounge), Red Dog (its artistic design blends with disco music), and KOKOMO (known for its rooftop).

Dive into Sanlitun SOHO

Sanlitun SOHOSanlitun SOHO

Compared with Taikoo Li which is more suitable for shopping, the stores in SOHO are mainly beauty salons, with some buyer's shops and restaurants. Sanlitun SOHO has five malls: Malls 1, 2, 3, 5, and 6.

If you want to buy some fashion or vintage clothes, you could go to malls 1 and 2. If you want to find some nice beauty salons, you could go to malls 3, 5, and 6.

Other shopping malls in Sanlitun include 3.3 Mansion, Topwin Center, and Shimao Plaza.

Explore Yashow Market

In Sanlitun, there are not only high-end shopping malls, but also a local market. Yashow Market is a popular destination for tourists wishing to buy fake name-brand clothes. You can discover what a market of fake products looks like by visiting there.

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Enjoy Food at Nali Patio

Nali Patio, a four-story building painted in white, is loaded with Beijing’s hottest restaurants and bars. It is rated among Beijing’s top 10 gourmet landmarks.

From a Lanzhou ramen restaurant to Japanese izakaya, from Spanish dishes to Italian cuisine to Mexican food, you can eat cuisines from all over the world in one place.

Enjoy Peaceful Moments in Sanlitun West Street

Sanlitun West Street is a lane connecting the north and south of Taikoo Li. It used to be called ‘dirty street’ because of its dirty and messy environment. Now it is a tidy and artistic block.

The City Bookstore and famous Sanlian Taofen Bookstore there, both open 24 hours, are great places to enjoy some quiet time. Read a book while having coffee.

Watch a Football Game at Workers’ Stadium

Workers’ StadiumWorkers’ Stadium

The Workers’ Stadium is a preferred venue for many concerts and football matches. Now, it is under renovation to be finished at the end of 2022. It will then serve as the venue for the opening and closing ceremonies and final of the 2023 Asian Cup.  

Sanlitun History and Development

In the early 1950s, large-scale urban construction began in Beijing. Many relocated households moved to Sanlitun. Bungalows and temporary sheds were its original appearance.

In the early 1960s, a new legation quarter was established in Sanlitun. From then on, it became a gathering place for foreigners. With the construction of the legation quarter, Sanlitun became increasingly prosperous.

In the early 1980s, China's first joint-venture hotel, BEI Zhaolong Hotel, opened there. Later in the 80s, Beijing's first bar also opened in Sanlitun, which became an after-work hangout for embassy staff.

Seeing the bar’s booming success, more and more people opened bars in Sanlitun. Then, it became the representation of Beijing's night economy. Sanlitun’s vitality attracted more and more businessmen to invest in developments there.

Now, Sanlitun is an important fashion and business hub in Beijing. 

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How to Get to Sanlitun?

Sanlitun is 5 to 8 km (3 to 5 miles) east of the Forbidden City, which takes 45+ minutes by subway and walking or about 25 minutes driving.

Three subway lines lead to the Sanlitun area:

  • Line 10 to Tuanjiehu Station
  • Line 6 to Dongdaqiao Station
  • Line 2 to Dongsishitiao Station

If you want to take a taxi, you can show this to the driver: 请带我去三里屯 (Please take me to Sanlitun.)

Touring Sanlitun with Us

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