In Beijing for work, limited 2-3 hour time blocks - help me see stuff!
March 7, 2016 6:44 PM   Subscribe

I am doing some work in Beijing, and I will be stuck in and around the Grand Millennium Hotel (GuoMao, Chaoyang, if that helps). I'll basically just have long lunches from 12-2 free, as well as nights after 4 or 5. I want to see... something. I have not been to mainland China before (though have visited Hong Kong), and don't speak the language. Any ideas for places to walk to, things to see, or even places to eat? It feels like a shame to fly for 20 hours each way and not see anything of the city.
posted by blahblahblah to Travel & Transportation around Beijing, China (7 answers total)
Best answer: From GuoMao you can take Line 1 of the Subway westwards to get to Tiananmen Square (station: Tiananmen Dong - 天安门东). It'll take you about 15 minutes one way. It's a nice walk - you can walk down to the Qianmen gate, and walk around the Dashilar area (very artsy, very pretty). However, the big annual meetings of the Communist Party leadership are currently underway in Beijing, so security might be heavy.

Evenings - I would recommend going to see a local gig to see a very different side of Beijing. There's a very vibrant music underground, and this week is particularly good. You can find listings in English here.

( I'd be happy to show you around or take you to places to eat where English will not work. Send me a Memail!)

posted by beijingbrown at 7:07 PM on March 7, 2016 [7 favorites]

Best answer: A few more recommendations after asking around (I'm unfamiliar with the Guomao/CBD area):
  • It's a beautiful clear day today, so you can hang out at the 80th floor of the China World Summit Wing for the views.
  • Parkview Green is a bit of a walk (20-25 mins) from where you are but it's a nice place with nice coffee shops. The building itself is quite an architectural wonder. The Guomao area is mostly malls and hotels, but nice ones.
  • Rosewood Hotel has some stellar restaurants but is a bit expensive.
  • You can head to Central Park and sip some wine at Pudao, which is quite a nice little corner of the CBD area.

posted by beijingbrown at 7:23 PM on March 7, 2016

I have no idea how you can manage it, but you absolutely need to find a way to go to the Great Wall. Change your flight and stay an extra day or something. "Great" hardly begins to describe it. If you go to Mutianyui, you can toboggan down from the mountain. Seriously. (If you don't want to toboggan, there's a ski lift like thing, which is how you get up). Change your flight and say an extra day if you have to.

And on those lunch breaks, head to the pearl market. Buy some jewelry and purses. Don't buy watches.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 8:07 PM on March 7, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: One of my favorite things to do in Beijing is just walk around some of the gigantic public parks. The city's concrete-y vibe gets to me sometimes, but the parks are a wonderful escape! It's so nice to grab a drink from a convenience store or a bubble tea place, chill amongst the trees, see people playing hackey sack (seriously some old ladies are insanely good at hackey sack) or doing some tai chi... Excellent times!

Anyway, here's a list of some of Beijing's parks. There's one in Chaoyang for your convenience, and I also really like Jingshan.
posted by thebots at 8:31 PM on March 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

Also came her to recommend my favorite thing in Beijing, being in the park, specifically Beihai.
posted by Rash at 10:56 PM on March 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I was mainly Shanghai based, but I worked in GuoMao for a few years for a client. I remember many wonderful mid-day meals with the project team within easy walking distance of the complex. Mostly generic looking places that had local reputations. It was uniformly really good. Hopefully your work colleagues are local, or speak mandarin. A small piece of advice, do not suggest a food, do not let your hosts tone down any food experiences. Eat what's brought. It's rewarding. If it's fermented, just hold your nose, eat it, experience it. Try out some new textures and flavours. That said, there's an amazing noodle place behind my old office In "Century Plaza", hope my memory isn't failing me. Ten minutes in a taxi away.

This area, as I remember it (2007-2011) didn't have much of a community element, but there were a lot of bright shiny new Beijing places to explore. Some very nice and representative of a modern China. I stayed mainly on the west side close to the 2nd ring road. I had my haunts there. The green spaces are a good suggestion, especially on the weekends. There's a band that goes from the the Forbidden City northwest to the Summer Palace, Beihai is a part of that string. Several good restaurants there. There was also an Arts District, 798. Somewhat sanctioned, but still edgy.
posted by michswiss at 5:06 AM on March 8, 2016

Best answer: Since you're only a few blocks away take a stroll up the third ring road to see the CCTV building. It's two towers that bend horizontally at the top and then meet at a 90 degree angle. Very cool looking.

On the subject of parks, the Temple of Heaven (天坛) is beautiful. I also really like the Yonghegong Lama Temple (永和宫). Either of these could be done during a 2 hour lunch.
posted by duoshao at 12:27 PM on March 8, 2016

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