China // Beijing and around //

East of the centre

As you head east from Tian’anmen Square, you enter the upmarket, commercial eastern side of the city. Here you’ll find Wangfujing, the oldest shopping street in the city, and still one of the best, though these days the international zone of Jianguomen, further east, is rather more glamorous. It’s not all mindless materialism; the China Art Gallery, at the north end of Wangfujing, and the Ancient Observatory on Jianguomen are welcoming oases of culture. Further north, Sanlitun remains a raucous nightlife zone, though it has some civilized parts. It’s a long way northeast from here towards the airport, but the 798 Art District, an abandoned factory complex now full of art galleries, is an intriguing new must-see.