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Culture Calling… Hidden Beijing

September 05, 2016
The Path Less Travelled

Think the Chinese capital is all forbidding skyscrapers and grinding traffic? Not so, Nelly. LUXE is here to show you how (and where) to glimpse the very heart and soul of this glorious, multi-faceted, history-steeped city...

First, book a spot on one of China Culture Center’s many guided and themed walks, where insider experts take you through hutongs, farmers’ markets, and backstreets, with themed forays taking in colonial buildings, shrines and pagodas.

Eating hand-pulled noodles at local haunt Haidilao is a quintessential Beijing foodie experience, with the noodle-puller dancing while prepping the dish. So popular it has spawned citywide branches, this diner is also famous for its authentic Sichuan hot pot and freebie extras.

Shop till you drop at Mainland label stable Brand New China in Sanlitun Village, showcasing over a 100 Chinese independent designers, spanning fashion, furniture and accessories. Giving Western logos a run for their money, it supports emerging local talents.

For a cultural high, take in a Kunqu Opera at the ancient Imperial Granary. This elegant opera form (also known as Kunju or Kun) was founded before the Ming Dynasty in Kunshan, and is the sister of Beijing Opera. The Peony Pavilion is one of China’s best-loved plays-turned-classical operas,

It wouldn’t be Beijing without a hearty duck dinner at the alliterative Da Dong. Set in the old Imperial Granary northeast of the Forbidden City, its Peking ducks are considered the best in town. Crispy and not too fatty. Quacking stuff!

Finally, enjoy drinks at C.15th temple courtyard Contempio, now the setting for a chic modern bar. Sip on a G&T under the shade of the bamboo or mingle on an antique love seat with a mischievous mojito. Ssh, we won’t tell anyone if you don’t...

China Culture Center / D4 / The Victoria Gardens / Gong Yuan Xi Lu / Chaoyang / +86 10 6432 9341 / 9am-6pm Mon-Fri /

Haidilao / Jia 2 / 2 Baijiazhuang Lu / Chaoyang / +86 10 6595 2982 / + branch / open 24 hrs 

Brand New China / NLG-09a / 11 Sanlitun Lu / Chaoyang / +86 40 0008 1651 / 10am-10pm daily

The Peony Pavilion / Imperial Granary / Dongsi Shitiao / Dongcheng / +86 10 6409 6499 / 7.30pm Fri & Sat /

Da Dong / Nanxincang Guoji Dasha / 1-2 Dong Si Tenth Alley / Dongcheng / +86 10 5169 0329 / 11am-10pm daily

Contempio / Doufuchi Hutong / Dongcheng / +86 10 6407 6778 / 9am-1am daily

Photos © Stripped Pixel, Tepikina Nastya, Bankoo / Shutterstock