Knowing Beijing city's areas before you choose where to stay in Beijing can make a huge difference to your travel experiences. Beijing is one of the 10 largest cities in the world (with a population of 21 Million). It is as big as New York and bigger than any other city outside Asia. Its many different areas have different characteristics and different benefits for travelers. Find out the best areas for tourism, shopping, nightlife, air quality, business, cost, green spaces, transport, families, and stopovers.
Where to stay in Beijing - Answers organized by Traveler Type
First-Timers and Sightseeing Travelers
1. Qianmen Street: a central location, south of the Forbidden City, the most convenient area for sightseeing, the majority of first-timers’ choice
2. Wangfujing Street: a paradise for shopaholics, east of the Forbidden City
Families with Children
3. The hutongs: a quaint old residential neighborhood dating back to ancient Beijing, stylish courtyard hotels and bars, lakeside relaxation opportunities, lower costs
4. Chaoyang Park: the largest park in Beijing, miles of green space, child-friendly, suitable if traveling on a budget
5. Zhongguancun: university neighborhoods, near both summer palaces and Beijing Zoo, more green space, better air quality, lower costs
6. Beijing Olympic Park: north of downtown Beijing, large green space, the best air quality
Business Travelers and Layovers
7. Beijing Central Business District: includes the China World Trade Center (Guomao) and the CMG Headquarters; the choice of business travelers; the new Beijing area
8. Beijing Capital International Airport: the simplest solution for layover and transit visitors, 1½-hour subway journey to the city center via the Airport Express line
(Beijing Olympic Park is also good as the Beijing International Convention Center and a handful of luxury hotel chains are there.)
Young People and Night Owls
9. Sanlitun and the Workers’ Stadium: night owls’ favorite clubbing area, an expat hub, trendy with Western-style cafés, close to embassies
(Houhai Bar Street in the hutongs is also a good choice for youths.)
Travelers on a Tight Budget
10. Beijing Railway Station or Beijing South/West Railway Station: cheap costs, the available choices for travelers arriving from Tianjin or leaving for Xi’an/Shanghai for further trips
(Chaoyang Park is also a good choice if you’re traveling on a budget.)
Experienced Travelers, Off the Beaten Path Choices
11.Outside of or near to the Great Wall sections: good choices for discerning travelers preferring to travel off the beaten path
1. Qianmen Street: best area for sightseeing - No. 1 first-timers’ choice
Qianmen Dashilar Street
- Centrally located and south of Tian’anmen Square, it’s a 10-minute walk to the Forbidden City. Qianmen Street is the top tourist area, especially for short stays.
- The area around Qianmen Street is the essence of old Beijing and is home to two classic ancient commercial streets.
- Good for eating out, there is a mix of traditional Beijing restaurants, such as Quanjude Roast Duck Restaurant, international restaurants, and fast-food chains.
- It has a huge variety of hotels, including some of the best in Beijing.
- Qianmen Street is not the best value for money: it’s the location that you are paying for.
- The daily hustle and bustle is not easy to get away from.
Subway: Take Line 2 to Qianmen Station (前门). It’s about 1 hour from the airport via the Airport Express line.
Prices and recommendations: budget guesthouse: 20–40 USD; mid-range, 3–4 stars, 50–100 USD, Dong Fang Hotel Beijing; luxury 5-star rating, 100–200 USD, New World Beijing Hotel
2. Wangfujing Street: best area for shopaholics, just east of the Forbidden City
- Centrally located east of the Forbidden City, it’s 30 minutes’ walk to Tian’anmen Square.
- Wangfujing Street is the most prosperous and busiest of the business centers in Beijing, it has been a commercial center since the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644).
- It is a paradise for shopaholics, housing a wide range of international brands and about 280 reputable traditional Beijing brands.
- Packed with restaurants and snack vendors, you’re spoiled for choice of accommodation in this area.
- It mostly focuses on shopping and can be touristy for travelers seeking more in-depth or cultural experiences.
- There are high hotel costs in the commercial area.
Subway: Take Line 1 and get off at Wangfujing Station (王府井).
Prices and recommendations: budget guesthouse ≤2 stars: 30–50 USD; mid-range, 3–4 stars, 60–100 USD, Holiday Inn Express and Novotel Beijing Peace; luxury 5-star rating, 130–210 USD, The Peninsula Beijing and Hilton Beijing Wangfujing
3. The Hutongs: best choice for culture lovers, history-filled residential neighborhoods
What is a hutong ? Hutongs are quaint alleyways connecting historic residences known as courtyards or siheyuan.
- Lots of tourists enjoy staying in this ancient part of Beijing, observing the historical homes and buildings, and discovering vintage shops, antique wares, and traditional restaurants tucked away down the quaint alleyways.
- Enjoy boutique courtyard hotels and lower costs.
- Encompassing plenty of classic Beijing attractions: the hutongs span a large area of residences to the north of the Forbidden City and include numerous attractions, such as the Drum Tower, Nanluoguxiang, Yandaixiejie Street, Prince Gong’s Mansion, and Shichahai, which is a relaxing scenic lake area to the west of the Forbidden City that includes Houhai Bar Street.
- Interesting in-depth cultural activities, such as visiting a traditional Beijing family’s home or hearing hutong anecdotes from a local guide, are essential to include in your must-do list.
- Houhai Bar Street is one of the hubs for Beijing’s youth culture and vibrant nightlife. The stylish bars and cafés are reasonably priced for locals and tourists on a budget.
- Shichahai is good for biking, relaxing with kids, interacting with locals, and getting away from the hustle and bustle of the downtown area.
- A lack of luxury hotels
- The subway trains are popular and crowded during rush hours.
- Compared to the proper nightclubs in Sanlitun, the bars are more like somewhere to start your evening or are youth hubs.
Subway: Lines 6 and Line 8 meet at Nanluoguxiang Station (南锣鼓巷). Both lines are connected to Line 2 heading to Tian’anmen Square.
Prices and recommendations: budget guesthouse ≤2 stars: 30–40 USD; mid-range, 3–4 stars, 50–80 USD, Jingshan Garden Hotel (a courtyard hotel) and Beijing 161 Lama Temple Courtyard Hotel; luxury 5-star rating, 100–170 USD, Beijing Ruyuan Courtyard
4. Chaoyang Park: best area for children and budget travelers
- It’s the largest park in Beijing - there are plenty of green spaces sprawling into fields, with many beautiful lakes and flower gardens in them.
- There is a fairground with a roller coaster for kids. Bicycles and boats can be hired at various locations. This area is child-friendly and hotels cost less.
- It’s near to Beijing Yansha Embassy Row, which is full of shops that cater to Westerners.
- It’s near to the 798 Art District where you’ll find the best art galleries and exhibitions in Beijing as well as stylish cafés and shops to wander around.
- It’s 10 kilometers northeast of the city center, to the west of the 4th Ring Road. More of your time is consumed in subway journeys.
- It’s isolated from historical sights.
Subway: It takes 1 hour to reach the downtown area on Line 14 with a transfer to Line 1. It takes 40 minutes by taxi to reach Beijing Capital International Airport, which is 22 kilometers away to the northeast.
Prices and recommendations: budget guesthouse ≤2 stars: 40–60 USD, Lab Hostel; mid-range quality chains, 3–4 stars, 60–90 USD, Home Inn; luxury 5-star rating, 100–200 USD, Four Seasons Hotel Beijing
5. The University Neighborhood - near the summer palaces, green spaces
- Northwest of the city center
- A longer amount of time is consumed in subway/taxi journeys, which can be crowded/ jammed during rush hours.
Subway: Line 2 and Line 4 are useful and it only takes 45 minutes to reach Tian’anmen Square.
Prices and recommendations: budget guesthouse ≤2 stars: 30 USD; mid-range 3–4 stars, 50–70 USD, Holiday Inn Beijing; luxury 5-star rating, 80–130 USD, Tylfull Hotel
6. Beijing Olympic Park - large green spaces; best air quality in town
Beijing National Stadium
- Beijing Olympic Park was the main venue area of the 2008 Summer Olympics and will be again for Beijing 2022.
- Modern Chinese architecture: The National Stadium, known as the Bird’s Nest, and the Beijing National Aquatics Center, known as the Water Cube, still stand there and light up in the evenings, offering you a pleasant sight to behold at night.
- Several other parks nearby have made this area a large green space to relax in.
- A handful of luxury hotels are there, aiming to serve business guests participating in events at the Beijing International Convention Center.
- Due to the venue program for Beijing 2022, there will be a few construction sites around the area. Therefore, please pick your hotel carefully and make sure it is a long way from any building sites.
- It’s north of the city center and a longer time is spent waiting in traffic.
Subway: Take Line 8 and transfer to Line 2 to reach the downtown area in 1 hour, or take a taxi to get there in 35 minutes.
Prices and recommendations: budget guesthouse ≤2 stars: 50 USD; mid-range 3–4 stars, 70–90 USD, Holiday Inn Beijing; luxury 5-star rating, 90–300 USD, Crowne Plaza Beijing Sun Palace
7. Beijing Central Business District: best choice for business travelers
- Convenient transportation: Located about 5.5 kilometers east of Beijing’s city center, east of the 3rd Ring Road, it takes approximately 20 minutes to reach Tian’anmen Square and 40 minutes to reach Beijing Capital International Airport (25 kilometers to the northeast) by taxi.
- It’s the most prosperous area, consisting of several huge shopping malls, such as Guomao and Wanda Plaza, and the new tower housing the CMG Headquarters.
- There are lots of new high-end hotels.
- Premium costs, a busy commercial area, less traditional attractions
Subway: Line 1 and Line 10 meet at Guomao. It takes 20 minutes to get to Tian’anmen Square via Line 1, and 1 hour 10 minutes to reach Beijing Capital International Airport via the Airport Express line.
Prices and recommendations: budget guesthouse ≤2 stars: 50–70 USD; mid-range quality chains, 3–4 stars, 70–100 USD; luxury 5-star rating, 130–250 USD, Kerry Hotel, Beijing and Jianguo Hotel Beijing. Learn more about the Best Business Hotels in Beijing CBD Area.
8. Beijing Capital International Airport: best area for layovers
Beijing Capital Airport
Location: Beijing Capital International Airport is located 32 kilometers (20 miles) northeast of the city center. It takes 50 minutes by taxi or 1½ hours by the Airport Express line to get to the downtown area.
Advantages: It is easy for transiting and a good hotel for us to recommend is CITIC Hotel Beijing Airport (4-star). It is a family-friendly hotel and is reasonably priced, according to feedback from our customers.
Check 10 things you must know about Beijing layover.
- It’s expensive to pay for a decent hotel and the rest of the reasonably priced hostels are just basic.
- A major problem is sightseeing during layovers. Many potential problems can lead to you missing your next flight. The common ones are:
- Time spent wasted in traffic jams
- You can lose your way once in town and it can be difficult to get help due to the language barrier.
- You may experience problems finding a ticket office and have to waste time queuing for tickets.
Please note: Basically, if you have a layover in Beijing Capital International Airport for more than 8 hours and don’t want to miss the chance to see this fascinating city, the Great Wall, or the Forbidden City, just inquire about 1 Day Beijing Great Wall Layover tour, which is timed wisely to suit your flight schedule and is worry-free.
9. Sanlitun: night owls’ best area; trendy and artsy
- One of Beijing's most famous nightclub areas: a mixture of hip, urban, and international vibes
- Concerts and sporting events held from time to time in the Workers’ Stadium
- One of the trendiest neighborhoods in the downtown area: Western-style restaurants, coffeehouses, and shops
- An expat hub that’s not just for tourists: close to embassies, with plenty of hotels and hostels to choose from
- It’s 8 kilometers northeast of the city center, to the west of the 4th Ring Road.
- It’s isolated from other historical sights.
Subway: Take Line 8 and transfer to Line 2 to reach the downtown area in 1 hour or take a taxi to get there in 35 minutes.
Recommendations and prices: budget guesthouse ≤2 stars: 50–70 USD; mid-range quality chains, 3–4 stars, 70–100 USD; luxury 5-star rating, 130–250 USD, InterContinental Beijing Sanlitun and The Opposite House
10. The Railway Stations - cheaper hotel costs; convenient for train travel
All the railway stations listed below are well-connected by metro lines and are very convenient for travelers to come and go. The accommodation fees around these areas are cheaper although the drawbacks of these neighborhoods are that they can be crowded and are not among the most desirable areas.
- Beijing Railway Station is an ideal place for budget travelers as it is the nearest railway station to the city center compared to the rest. Line 2 can take you from Beijing Railway Station (北京站) to Qianmen Station (前门站) to sightsee in Tian’anmen Square within 15 minutes. The station is now mainly a terminus for international trains to Moscow, Ulaanbaatar, and Hanoi.
- Beijing South Railway Station: For travelers heading to Tianjin or southern destinations, such as Shanghai, Hangzhou, Nanjing, and Qingdao, the trains almost always depart from Beijing South Railway Station. Line 4 and Line 14 stop and end at Beijing South Railway Station (北京南站) respectively.
- Beijing West Railway Station: For travelers heading west to reach Xi'an, Chengdu, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen, your trains almost always depart from Beijing West Railway Station. Line 9 and Line 7 stop and end at Beijing West Railway Station (北京西站) respectively.
Prices and recommendations (Beijing Railway Station): budget guesthouse ≤2 stars: 30–50 USD, Peking Station Hostel; mid-range, 3–4 stars, 60–80 USD, Howard Johnson Paragon Hotel Beijing; luxury 5-star rating, 90–150 USD, New World Beijing Hotel
11. Near the Great Wall: the best off-the-beaten-path choice for discerning travelers
Simatai Great Wall
- Staying near the Great Wall means avoiding the crowds and the hassle of getting there.
- Appreciate the stunning night view of the Great Wall at Simatai, imagining the winding ancient wall along the mountain ridges lighting up at night - the sight is breathtaking!
- Skiing is one of Beijing's most popular winter activities. Spend time doing this with your kids for an unforgettable trip.
- Relax and enjoy Chinese therapy at hot spring resorts outside of town.
- Get away from the city’s hustle and bustle and get lost in the villages north of the Great Wall where the clock seems to be frozen in the past.
1. Best Hotels Near the Great Wall
2. Ski Resorts and Hot Spring Resorts Between the City and the Great Wall：Beijing has 10 ski resorts and 5 hot spring resorts to meet all types of travelers’ needs and standards.
3. Ancient Villages Further North of the Great Wall：There are 6 beautiful ancient villages around Beijing and most of them are further north than the Great Wall. They are good getaway places for natural charm and folk culture.
Optimizing Your Beijing Experience
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