Monday, January 13, 2014

Interesting walk at Qianmen Street and 798 Art District of Beijing

I had no itinerary when I went to Beijing, I had no time to plan and so I had some last-minute Google search for activities on what to do on my first day in the city. I ended up doing the thing I hate the most during summer when it is hot, sticky, and humid – long walks. China has tons of those long shopping and restaurant-filled streets that would not bore any traveler but I chose to spend my first day in this city at 798 Art District and Qianmen Street.

street art
cool graffiti at 798 Art District
798 Art District

I am not a big art follower but I do appreciate traditional and cultural art pieces and plan to collect some of my own in the future, but I guess I never had time to appreciate modern art. I decided to give it a try by going at 798 Art District which has been recommended by fellow backpackers and Filipino travelers.  Located at north of Beijing, The Dashanzi Art District or more commonly known now as 798 Art District was a previous location for factories that  produced electronic built by Germans that operated from 1950s to the early 1990s, but was eventually emptied and left deserted for years. It was then converted by cultural organizations and artists into an ‘art community’ almost ten years ago.  This place reminded me of my visit to Georgetown, Malaysia with its witty and funny sculptures that depict the local culture of Penangites. The art display in the area was more modern and also political in nature. Aside from art galleries, there are also fashion clothing stores, café-bars, bookshops and art gift shops.  It was indeed a breath of fresh air to explore the world of contemporary art combined with the local and hip culture of younger Chinese generation.

china art
dinosaurs for the travelers!
china street art

798 Art District

798 Art District beijing
might be troublesome to wear this shoe!

798 Art District china

heaps of funny sculptures like this
798 Art District

Qianmen Street

On a quick afternoon sidetrip, my feet took me to one of famous streets in Beijing called Qianmen Street (前门大街). It is one of the famous streets in Beijing which is based just south of Tiananmen Square and holds over 500 years of history. Qianmen was previously called Zhengyangmen Street during Ming and Qing Dynasties. The buildings looked very modern though, and I later on learned that the old hutongs have been demolished already to pave way for this development. It still features that certain traditional touch especially with the modified tram that make hourly rounds along this pedestrian street plaque to Zhusikou street (costs 10 CNY one way). I usually just enjoy seeing architecture, window shopping and people watching while walking along these streets, but for you that have extra money to splurge, you could find fashion brands here as well such as Zara, H&M, Uniqlo and other local brands. There are numerous café and coffee shops so don’t fret when you are dire to have that coffee cure. Those in need to buy souvenirs will also not be disappointed as there are some stores that also caters to travelers looking to buy gifts and memorabilia of China. Also in Qianmen, one of the restaurants that is widely known for their Peking Roast Duck can be found. The restaurant is called QuanJuDe (全聚德) and the queue when I went there was very long so be sure to be early. The price ranges from 100 to even as high as 2,000 CNY so I didn’t dare to buy.  Better to be here when you’re with a group.

shopping street
Qianmen Street

modern architecture combined with traditional Chinese designs

Qianmen Street

The famous Quanjude Restaurant

Qianmen Street
it's also fun to people watch during peak hours
Qianmen Street

zara china
big clothing brands also have the same building designs same as other Chinese businesses

Qianmen Street china
tramway that goes around Qianmen Street

How to go to 798 Art District:
From Sanyuanqiao Station, take exit C and look for the bus stop. Get on Bus 401 and get off at Dashanzi Lukou Nan.

How to go to Qianmen Street:
Alight at Qianmen Station. From Forbidden City, you can also take No.2 Bus

Day 1: Datong
City Tour

Day 2: Datong
Yungang Grottoes

Hanging Monastery

Day 3: Pingyao
City Tour

Day 4: Pingyao
City Tour and Attractions

Day 5: Pingyao

Day 6: Xi'An
City Tour

Day 7: Xi'An
Yangling Mausoleum

Day 8: Xi'An
Terracotta Army

Day 9: Beijing
Qianmen Street/798 Art District

Day 10: Beijing

Forbidden City

Day 11: Beijing
Summer Palace

Day 12: Beijing
Great Wall

Railway Train Experience
Standing, Hard Seats, Sleepers

12 Day Trip
Itinerary & Budget

More of China here


  1. I've never visited 798 Art District when I visited Beijing though some itineraries recommends to see it. It's nice to an art district for tourist in Beijing. I wish Manila has this too. Filipinos are also known for its arts.

    1. Hey Ian, I hope so too! Marikina looks promising, I am seeing lots of "artistic" vandals in the city pero it's still not that popular. Might be a good idea to drive tourism to other cities in Manila na not so touristy.


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