This time before you start shopping I will count that you are hungry so lets speak about eating first 🙂
In Beijing there is extremely large choice of food. You can find anything that you have in your country such as McDonalds, Pizza Hut and KFC. Also you can try similar to KFC Chinese chain of fast food known as Dicos. But lets speak about Chinese food. This stuff you can find almost everywhere in Beijing.
Chinese culture is very diversified across all country so food is. I am not expert in Chinese cuisine but as I know from Chinese friends there are 8 great traditions of Chinese cuisine and each has long history and is specialized in particular dishes and preparatory techniques. I am most familiar with Sichuan cuisine which is my favorite and it comes from southwestern Chinese province, offers pork, chicken, beef, duck or tofu with large amounts of chilly peppers and garlic. Mushrooms, cabbage and peanuts can be added in some dishes too, for example in Gong Bao (chicken meat with spicy peppers and mentioned ingredients). That makes Sichuan province famous for extremely spicy food. I am able to enjoy every day in these throat burning dishes. But if you cannot stand spicy food better don’t risk trying it. With other great traditions of Chinese cuisine I am less familiar and I just know that there are Fujian, Zhejiang, Jiangsu, Cantonese, Shandong, Hunan and Anhui cuisine traditions and that some are specialized in vegetables, bamboo, noodles, dim sum, fresh water fishes , sea food, ,beef ,lamb, spicy food or duck. But I am not sure in which dishes is each of these cuisines specialized.
First area where you have biggest choice of Chinese food is Gui Jie street also known as Ghost Street. In past it was street that was open since dawn till late night where merchants were selling various goods. It got nickname “Ghost Street”. There are two versions why it got such name. One is that there were shops where were manufactured coffins for burials. Another is that merchants worked under lanterns in night and view seemed a bit ghostly. Today it is a street where you can find biggest choice of restaurants which are open until late night and some of them even 24h. I think that this street offers you largest choice of wonderful Chinese dishes on one place in Beijing as you can find here almost everything from various Chinese cuisine traditions: Sichuan spicy pork, Gong Bao chicken, various types of noodles, jiao zi or bao zi with large choice of ingredients, seafood, various soups, grilled or cooked vegetables, chuanr( lamb skewers), hotpot and of course main Beijing specialty- Beijing duck. I was in one of restaurants there but believe me whichever restaurant you choose you wont make a mistake. I can remember that once with Chinese friends we had Sichuan style pork, 1 seafood dish from squids and vegetables, skewers (with grilled vegetables, grilled beacon and meatballs), soup from chicken bones with mushrooms and other vegetables, onion and potato sour salad, jiaozi and of course Beijing duck. It isn’t complicated to reach this 1km long street you can take Subway Line 5 and get out at Beixinqiao station or Line 2 or Line 13 and get out at Dongzhimen station.
Xiao Wang( Little Wang) – I am warmly recommending this restaurant. It is located in Ritan Park. It is former Temple of Sun. Now it is nice public park and garden. You can arrive there by Subway Line 2 or Line 1 and get out at Jianguomen station exit B. Move to the south from there check the map of exact location. Food is excellent I would definitely recommend beef or pork with pepper and garlic. Another Xiao Wang restaurant can be found near Shichihai Lake.
Around Qianmen street there are many restaurants serving various other dishes including duck too. I ate in one of them too but I cant remember exact name. If you go through Qiamen street from direction of Qianmen Gate restaurant is somewhere in some streets when you turn to the left. These streets are full of restaurants and street food. That restaurant was very cheap. Me and my friend had more than 8 dishes for 250RMB.
Large choice of restaurants you have in Sanlitun area. Except Chinese food here are offered other cuisines too. Get out at Dongsishitiao Station Line two and go towards Sanlitun Bar street. You will see various restaurants of Chinese cuisine on left side on the street. There are also two Uighur restaurants that offer amazing lamb skewers. Here are few restaurants offering various meals, dumplings, soups and noodles. If you get out at Tuanjiehu station Line 10 go towards Sanlitun Bar street as well. Here nearby Sanlitun Diplomatic Compound you can find Rumi- very good Persian restaurant. Next to this there is one Turkish restaurant. Nearby Sanlitun Bar street there are few fast food restaurants specialized in dumplings( jiao zi, bao zi). In the bar street itself there are several Western Restaurants- offering pizza, pasta, steaks, baguettes. In this business and shopping area you can find Mexican food too. There is good Japanese restaurant nearby between Capital Mansion and Kunlun Hotel when you already cross canal. Near Workers Stadium there is famous Thai Restaurant. Between Schichihai Lake and CBD there is large choice of Restaurants of various cuisines. Except Chinese there is Vietnamese Restaurant nearby Shichihai. Also there are few Korean restaurants. One Indian restaurant that I know. In CBD you can find a lot of Western restaurants except Chinese..
Street food- Thing that you cannot skip is street food. But be careful in choosing as choices are very large and it means that there exists chance to eat on a wrong place and your stomach can have troubles later. My best advice is eat on places which are most crowded with people or simply where you see people buying food buy there and you are 100% safe. A must try thing from street food is bao zi- dumplings made in wooden pots. There is one restaurant near Dongsishitiao station that opens every morning breakfast stand and sells bao zi there. One piece is only 1RMB so take 10 of them and for 10RMB you will be full almost until 5pm.
Biggest Choice of street food is nearby Wangfujing street. There are two streets on side from Wangfujing street which are specialized for street food. What you don’t find there you wont find anywhere. There is great choice of lamb, chicken, beef and pork skewers with different spices- sour, sweet, chili, sour and sweet, sour and chili, sweet and chili.. I saw big choice of wheat and rice noodles with meat, vegetables, sea food… In these streets was great choice of bao zi ( with meat, cabbage, garlic, pumpkin, spinach) which were in big wooden pots waiting for customers.. I saw big choice of sea food too. There were roasted and fried fishes, squids, octopods.. Tentacles of these sea creatures were shrink around sticks. It looked like skewers with tentacles of squids and octopods. . Here were also sticks with strawberries sweetened with sugar, which I used to eat sometimes. There was large number of baked buns which you could eat with many types of dressings. Except food on which I got used and which I saw and tried many times I saw something else. I saw big choice of things which are not eaten in Europe. It was big number of grilled insects such as scorpions and spiders. Scorpions were stacked on sticks and some of them were still floundering with their legs trying to get away before they are grilled. They were lined next to grill waiting for their turn. At that time many of scorpion skewers were in process of grilling under quiet fire and scorpions were getting attractive dark yellow color. Big black juicy grilled scorpions were lined on stand and were waiting to be bought. I saw large choice of grilled spiders – smaller , middle and those black and large with fleshy hairy legs. They were also stack on sticks like ordinary skewers and lined on stand waiting for a customer. Except spiders and scorpions I saw 5-6 other types of insects. There were offered various other things such as fried starfishes, roasted squirrels, fried frog legs, roasted chicken wings and whole roasted small birds ( I wasn’t sure which specie). In these two streets I saw biggest choice of street food in my all life. I didn’t knew what to try first.
Also on right side of Qianmen street there is large choice of street food.
Shopping: I am not big expert in shopping but I can recommend you few places where you can buy clothes, technology, cosmetics and souvenirs and other stuff.
Sanlitun- I already explained how to get there. It is very big area in Chaoyang Distict. it is one of most developed urban areas in Beijing.There are many middle class settlements, embassies and diplomatic compounds. Also there are many bussiness buildings with offices of various companies. Also area is full of shopping malls and offers you large choice of clothes and cosmetics. There are many but really many shops, squares for entertainment, bars and fountains. There is big Uni Qlo shop. Also you can find there largest Addidas shop in the world. There is large Armani shop as well.
Wangfujing Street- Get out at Dongdan station Line 1 or Wangfujing station line 1. It is large shopping pedestrian street There is big Samsung shop. Also there is largest Apple shop in world. Many other clothes shops are there. Between. On corner of Dongdan Street and Changan Avenue there is large Oriental Plaza center which has very big shopping center. Get out at Dongdan Station Line1.
The Place- Large shopping area with largest LCD screen in world. It is situated between Ritan park and CBD. Maybe it is best to get out at station Jianguomen Line 1 and Line 2 or at Guomao station Line1.
Qianmen- Get out at station that has same name as street Line2. In this street you can find many modern shops such as Zara, H&M. On the right corner there is older area of street where many souvenirs are sold and also clothes. You can bargain there. But paradise for bargaining is Pearl Market.
Silk Market- choice of clothes, get at Jianguomen station and you will reach this area while going by walk towards CBD.
Pearl Market- it is my favorite location for shopping and bargaining. It is located right in front of Temple of Heaven and you can come there by Line 5 and get out at Tiantandongmen station.
You can find there anything from clothes, technology and souvenirs: Here is my guide about baraining: When you ask seller how much something cost he will try to put price up as much as possible ,much more than real price of an issue, because his interest is to earn more same like your interest is to buy something for as cheap price as possible. If you lived in Beijing for 5 years and if you know trick, you will get commodity for lower price. In China bargaining is style of finding compromise between seller and customer. It is kind of negotiating and it was very interesting for me. You should know at least few Chinese words to bargain and know numbers well- not to make mistakes between “arsh(20)” or “shar(12)”, or any other.. If you fail in saying number correctly than you can even make price which will benefit them and then you lose even more.. I came in one shop. I took one white t-shirt with picture of Tintin, character of one of my favorite comics which I read when I was teenager. I asked seller “Duo Shao Qian”(How much it cost?). Seller was younger man and told me that it is 200RMB. I thought in myself: “No Way” and I told him that I am giving 50RMB. I thought it wont be possible, despite that such price really suits that t-shirt. He told than 150.. When they see that you don’t want to accept first price than they still try to gain you but with quite lower price. I said again 50.. He said than 90.. I told him “Bye”. He started shouting “Ok Ok, 50’” That’s trick when they see that you are not giving up and that they can potentially lose customer they will try to earn at least price which suits wanted commodity. I got t-shirt, He was so friendly and we even shook hands. He surprised me when he told in English with smiling face,” Come again”.. Like that we are business partners. With such way in another shop I bought white Chinese traditional cotton shirt by lowering price from 400RMB to 150. Actually I wanted to get it for 90 or 100 but me and seller agreed that compromise is 150. Three small Xian soldier figures I lowered from 30 to 10. Price of jade bracelet I lowered from 60 to 20. Mao Zedongs Red Book- famous small book with quotes of great communist leader, I got for 7 instead of 20. I must say amazing way of shopping. Of course not all of sellers are so friendly and warm like first one who I mentioned. Sometimes they are unpleasant and disappointed while they are selling you commodity for price which you wanted. I noticed that sometimes they sadly say “Ok”. Well it’s like that sometimes you win sometimes you lose. But you also must be careful in putting down price. This also has borders. As much as you want to put down price you must be careful to respect seller, to be friendly towards him and not to go too far and underestimate his commodity. If you suggest lower price and if you are too rude and unfriendly they will be offended that you underestimate their commodity and them and they will definitely reject your proposal. In one shop I saw that one foreign girl wanted to put down price of qipao from 500RMB to 80 and seller, one older man just raised hand and said “Bye Bye”. It was polite gesture of “ go away and find someone else who will give you qipao for that low price”. If she offered 150 or 170 he would accept it probably.
Liu Li Chang street- Get out at Hepingmen station Line 2 and you will find yourself in a very nice street which architecture reminds on Beijing XIX century. Mostly souvenirs paintings and figures you can buy here. Buildings here were built in classical Beijing city architecture. Buildings there are combinations of grey, red, green and blue. In this street there is large choice of arts and antiquities. On both sides of street is large number of shops and art workhouses. Inside this small half-light-half dark shops is very amusing. When I got in few of them I saw how many commodities they possess and richness of Chinese arts. Each figure had place in Chinese symbolist culture and had specific meanings. There you can find figures of Buddha, Guanyin, turtles, monkeys… There were all those jade, bronze, porcelain or wood figures. There were sold porcelain tea cups and teapots, bowls, plates. Also various paintings on panel were sold there. All of them described some motive of ancient lifestyle or some scenery in nature. You can find anything there.