You can find every type of cuisine in Beijing, including all types of regional Chinese cuisines and plenty of Western options to boot. The Beijinger is a great resource with a directory of restaurant listings. Many restaurants (including McDonald’s) will deliver throughout the city for a small fee. Sherpa’s, one of many home delivery food options, is an online site that delivers food from a large number of different restaurants throughout Beijing with menus online.
Eastern Food in Beijing
Din Tai Fung: This Dim Sum restaurant chain is highly regarded by expats and locals alike. Their soup dumplings are incredible—go with a big group and order to share. Make a reservation if possible, but walk-ins usually wait no more than 15 minutes if you keep pressing the hostess to seat you.
QuanJuDe/DaDong: Beijing is famous for a delicious dish known popularly as “Peking Duck,” a roast duck with a crispy skin served with thin pancakes, sliced vegetables, and various sauces. These two restaurants are widely regarded as the best Peking Duck Houses in Beijing. Try them both out and see for yourself.
Hatsune: located in Sanlitun, Hatsune is a Japanese restaurant with modern décor. It serves up delicious and creative rolls as well as your standard Japanese fare for Western (i.e. higher) prices. Make a reservation.
Western Food in Beijing
Element Fresh: A lovely healthy option located on the third floor of Sanlitun Village offering salads, soups, and sandwiches for Western prices.
Union Bar & Grill: Also located in Sanlitun village, this restaurant offers juicy steaks and burgers for Western prices.
Vasco’s: located in the Hilton hotel at Wangfujing, Vasco’s is a buffet style restaurant offering Western and Eastern options. They have a wonderful breakfast buffet for around $30.00 USD per person.
The Best Coffee Shops in Beijing
Bread Talk/Paris Baguette: Both of these chains are Korean-owned and offer similar products: huge arrays of baked goods, breakfast pastries, and different bread options, as well as basic coffee drinks.
Weidome: This affordable Chinese bakery chain offers typical baked goods and specialty pastries such as “sweetheart cake,” a puff pastry filled with red-bean paste, made fresh daily. Basic coffee offerings and assorted specialty drinks are available too.
Starbucks: With over 70 locations throughout the city Starbucks Beijing offers almost all of the same drinks as branches in the United States, at the same Western prices. Locations are usually very clean and comfortable and all provide free high-speed Wi-Fi.
Tea Houses in Beijing
Drinking tea in Beijing can be a wonderful cultural experience. Chinese tea ceremonies are incredibly complex rituals, complete with recitations of Confucian poetry. Don’t miss out!
Confucian Teahouse: Right across from the Confucius Temple in Dongcheng, this teahouse is lovely, albeit sometimes crowded and a bit touristy. The staff speaks English.
Street Food in Beijing
Jian Bing: a savory Chinese crêpe that is eaten for breakfast and can be found at little stalls on most major street corners every morning. They are cooked to order, folded up, and eaten out of a plastic bag for convenience on the go.
Food Safety in Beijing
Do not drink water or anything with ice unless you are sure that it has come from a filtered water source. When buying meats, eggs, and dairy products from your local grocery store always search for the freshest dates. Wash all fruits and vegetables with soap and warm water before eating or cooking. When eating street food take extra precautions and beware of meat that has been lying out. As always, don’t eat at restaurants or stalls that nobody else is eating at.
Things To Do
Beijing is filled with hidden treasures to explore. Take some time prior to arrival to research the main attractions and jot down a bucket list—otherwise it is easy to get overwhelmed. Then take some time to wander around different neighborhoods, even getting a little lost. Duck into the tiny shops and bakeries lining the alleyways for some exposure to authentic Beijing life.
Cinemas: Movie theatres throughout the city will usually have at least one Western movie playing in English with Chinese subtitles. You can always count on blockbuster releases, although their release may be a little delayed.
Beijing Opera: Watch the colorful performances of Beijing’s unique performance art, which is unlike any opera you will ever see elsewhere!
Top Sights in Beijing
Tiananmen Square: Tiananmen refers to the gate and square just outside the Forbidden City, but becamse famous for two historically significant moments: the founding of the PRC in 1949 and the 1989 pro-democracy demonstrations. Mao’s large portrait dominates the entrance of the square and the public plaza sees crowds of tourists from all over the world on a daily basis.
The Forbidden City: This large palace complex was given its name because at one time only members of the imperial court were allowed inside its walls. The palace was completed in 1410 and was home to the imperial family until the last emperor, Puyi, abdicated in the early 1900s.
The Summer Palace: A beautiful scenic park on the edge of the city, the Summer Palace was the favorite vacation spot of one of Chinese history’s most powerful women, Empress Cixi.
The Great Wall: China’s grandest monument, stretching for thousands of miles across China, begins about 40 miles outside of Beijing. Four main locations on the wall are accessible from Beijing: Badaling, Mutianyu, Huanghua Cheng, and Simatai.
The Silk Market: With the fastest-growing luxury market in the world comes one of the largest markets for counterfeit goods. Spend an afternoon haggling for the latest designer knock-offs at the Silk Market, right above the YongAnLi subway stop on the 1 line.
798 Art District: After an abandoned factory was converted into a contemporary artist’s workshop, numerous studios and galleries popped up in what is now a world-famous center for contemporary Chinese art.