Beijing exudes a confident coolness that?s undeniably intoxicating. Fast-paced, modern-chic collides with ancient Asian culture in this vast metropolis. Insider and part-time Beijinger Susie Lee shared some of her favorite locales in China?s vibrant capital city.
Head to picturesque Houhai (just north of Tiananmen Square) for a dose of Beijing?s more serene side. Boutiques, cafes, and jazz clubs encircle a lakeside park where early birds come to play. Try local treat tang hulu?skewers of exotic fruits like Hawthorne berries and dragonfruit dipped in melted sugar and hardened?from one of many street vendors. At night, Houhai?s lights romantically reflect on the water and a hip, young crowd packs bars like Left Bank (11 Qianhai Beiyan) and incognito No Name Bar (Tel: +86 10 6402 1663).
Wudaokou, the neighborhood nearest to Beijing?s universities, bursts with energy and color. Stylish Korean boutique Lara (2 Dongzhongjie Dongcheng) is a must for luxe t-shirts and blazers. Visit T6 Hot Pot (Huaqing Jiayuan Bldg. 12, Chengfu Lu) for a Mongolian hotpot, a truly custom-made meal: choose meat and veggies to cook in warm broth, then dip into a selection of savory sauces. Dance until the wee hours with ?the Wu?s? party set at Propaganda (Huaqing Jiayuan).
Nanluoguxiang (Nanluo) offers a rare, romantic glimpse of old-time Beijing. The hutongs?mazelike alleyways?are perfect for exploring. Nanluo?s the place for vintage shopping: Mega Mega Vintage (241 Gulou Dongdajie) counts designer Vera Wang among its loyal patrons.
Stop for up-market dining in expat-centric Sanlitun?sushi spot Hatsune (19 Sanlitun Lu) and cozy Mediterranean-inspired Mosto (Nali Huayuan, 81 Sanlitun Lu) are excellent options. Stylish, thriving Beijing will have you coming back for seconds.