Wangfujing has served as Beijing’s traditional commercial center since the Qing Dynasty. The Wangfujing contains the best pedestrian-friendly mix of historic sites, museums, Chinese shops, everything from Nike to Tiffany.
Construction workers struck animal skeletons and tools dating back 24,000 years when they were building the Oriental Plaza shopping mall. The coolest thing is the floor, which shows pieces of embedded stones, bone tools, and animal fossils.
From the Wangfujing Museum, an escalator leads to the basement of one of Beijing’s busiest malls. I tend to skip the familiar American and European brand name stores, and visit the more Chinese shops. The mall also has a good basement-level cinema and food court. Shanghaixu, has a large selection of Cheongsam, high-collared Chinese dresses. If they don’t have anything you like, you can get one made to order.
At this large jade shop, you’re guaranteed to get the real thing, rather than the colored glass you might find elsewhere.
Wuyutai Tea Shop
The second floor of this quality tea shop has an interesting exhibition of tea culture, including a collection of teapots, and a lively teahouse.
Wangfujing Xiaochi Jie (Snack Street)
These are my favorite place in Beijing for street food. Try the mutton skewers or the squid on the stick – they are scrumptious!
Foreign Language Bookstore
This aptly named shop is one of Beijing’s best foreign language bookstores. On the ground level, you’ll find a decent collection of fiction and nonfiction, Chinese cookbooks, maps, and China travel guides.
Zhongguo Meishuguan (National Art Museum of China)
This museum has a good permanent collection of Chinese oil paintings and hosts international exhibitions created by the likes of New York’s Guggenheim Museum.
Longfu Si Jie
In this small alley you’ll find bargain clothes, music, and street food that make an interesting contrast to the commercial flair of Wangfujing.
Dong Si Qingzhen Si (Dong Si Mosque)
One of Beijing’s oldest mosques, Dong Si Qingzhen Si has been around since the 14th century. The second courtyard is especially serene – a nice place to rest your feet.