When moving to a new country, it’s inevitable that you’ll come across a few surprises. Sometimes these surprises are pleasant, while othertimes they can be frustrating. No matter how much Beijing research you do prior to making the move, there will always be those little things you inadvertently overlook. Below you’ll find a list of tips that will make all the difference during your first months here.
beijing is a great place to have spa treatments
Spa treatments are just part and parcel of life in Beijing. Embrace it and leave any guilt at the airport terminal. Moms and dads will be hooked on manicures, pedicures, facials and massages before you know it. Try Oriental Taipan, Lily Nails or Le Spa.
the internet can be frustratingly slow and you have limited access to social networks
You can’t do much about the speed, but you can purchase a virtual private network (VPN) that will let you bypass the Great Firewall of China. Viscosity (www.thesparklabs.com/viscosity) and Tunnelblick (www.strongvpn.com) are two reliable VPNs you can purchase.
chinese copied video games won’t work on official game systems
To get your gaming systems converted for Chinese copied games, go to Zhongguancun or Bainaohui. Because international region Xbox and Nintendo Wiis have not officially entered the Chinese market, you will need to spend around RMB 40 to convert your current machine. If you want to buy a Chinese region Xbox or Nintendo Wii in Beijing, go to Zhongguancun electronics mall or Bainaohui computer mall. However, you’ll find the prices higher than in the US or Europe.
tipping is definitely not a city in china
Don’t tip your taxi driver, manicurist or waitress. If you do try to give service staff a few extra kuai, it can result in some awkward smiling and confusion. However, upscale restaurants and hotels routinely charge a 15 percent service fee.
you can buy almost anything here
There’s no sense buying that real Valentino purse before you move to Beijing (everyone will think it’s a fake anyway). To get almost anything your heart desires, head to Silk Market, Hongqiao, or Yashow Market. For clothes and shoes, try the Zoo Market near the Beijing Zoo for great bargains. If you want set prices and name brands, go to Sanlitun Village or The Place for stores such as Mango, Adidas, Esprit, Zara and Steve Madden.
most people in beijing do not speak english
While you can get by using only English in the high-density expat areas (namely Sanlitun and Shunyi), those will be the only places you’ll see during your time here if you don’t pick up any Chinese. There are many great language schools to choose from, including university programs and private courses. What you choose depends on how much you want to spend and how intensive you want your Chinese language program to be. The CET Academic Program offers two programs in Beijing: a full-time language pledge or local immersion. For more Chinese language programs and schools, see Putonghua Perfection (p42).
DVDs are dirt cheap
Foreign-language films, including English, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Russian and more, are available in almost any DVD store around town. Expect to pay between RMB 5 and 15, depending on the quality. Alternatively, satellite TV will give you access to HBO and Cinemax. Installation and the first year’s fee cost around RMB 4,000; it’s around RMB 2,000 for each subsequent year. For more information, visit www.dstvchina.com or www.cstv.cc. If you want the movie theater experience (in English), go to Mega Box in Sanlitun Village or Saga in Solana. At Mega Box, purchase a membership card for RMB 20 and get 50 percent off on tickets from Monday to Thursday, and 30 percent off from Friday to Sunday.
foreign-language books are hard to find
While you can get a basic selection of books, don’t expect a range anywhere near as broad as in your home country. Before you come to Beijing, or on subsequent trips back home, invest in an e-book and load it up with all of the family’s favorites. To quell your book cravings, a nice selection of English-language books can be found at Page One and The Bookworm.
beijing is an international city with a plentiful array of restaurants
You can find almost any type of cuisine from around the world. If it’s Indian you’re craving, venture to Ganges Indian Restaurant, or try Rumi for tasty Persian dishes. For Spanish tapas and live music, go to Carmen in Sanlitun. A Shunyi favorite is the Japanese restaurant Haru.
china is a cash society
While many stores take Chinese debit cards and foreign credit cards, be prepared to carry large amounts of cash. To apply for a Chinese debit card, take your passport and residency card to the bank. You may need to bring along someone who reads Chinese to help you fill out the forms. ATMs have English-language options and are easy to locate throughout the city.
Oriental Taipan Massage and Spa 东方大班保健休闲会所
Daily noon-midnight. 1 Xindong Lu, Chaoyang District (8532 2177)
朝阳区新东路1号 See Directory for more listings.
Lily Nails Lily 美甲
Daily 11am-10.20pm. Rm2049, 2/F, 3.3 Fashion Plaza, Sanlitun, Chaoyang District (5136 5829) 朝阳区三里屯3.3 大厦2层2049 See Directory for more listings.
Le Spa at River Garden 水漾会馆
Mon-Thu 10am-10.30pm, Fri-Sun 10.30am-11pm. River Garden Villas Clubhouse, 7 Yuyang Lu, Xi Baixinzhuang, Houshayu, Shunyi District (8046 6558) 顺义区后沙峪西白辛庄榆阳路7号裕京花园俱乐部
Zhongguancun Electronics Market 中关村
Daily 9am-5pm. Near Zhongguancun Subway Station, Zhongguancun Dajie, Haidian District 海淀区中关村大街中关村地铁站旁
Bainaohui Electronics Market 百脑汇
Daily 9am-8pm. 10 Chaoyangmenwai Dajie, Chaoyang District (6599 5912) 朝阳区朝阳门外大街10号
Silk Street 秀水街
Daily 9am-9pm. 8 Xiushui Dongjie, Jianguomenwai Dajie, Chaoyang District (5169 8800) 朝阳区建国门外大街秀水东街8号
Hongqiao Market 红桥市场
Daily 9.30am-7pm. 46 Hongqiao Lu, Chongwen District (6713 3354)
Yashow Market 雅秀服装商城
Daily 9.30am-9pm. 58 Gongti Beilu, Chaoyang District (6415 1726)
Daily 10am-10pm. 19 Sanlitun Lu, Chaoyang District (6417 6110)
CET Academic Programs
Chinese Language program, Beijing Institute of Education, 2 Wenxing Jie, Xizhimenwai, Xicheng District (6834 2428) 西城区西城区西直门外文兴街2号北京教育学院西楼309室
Mega Box 美嘉欢乐影城
Daily 10am-10pm. B1/F, Sanlitun Village South, 19 Sanlitun Lu, Chaoyang District (6417 6118) 朝阳区三里屯路19号三里屯Village南区地下1层 See Directory for more listings.
Saga Cinema 传奇时代影城
Daily 10am-10pm. SA-42, Solana, 6 Chaoyang Gongyuan Lu, Chaoyang District (5905 6868) 朝阳区朝阳公园路6号蓝色港湾商业区SA-42
The Bookworm 书虫书吧
Daily 9am-2am. Courtyard 4, Gongti Beilu, Chaoyang District (6586 9507) 朝阳区工体北路4号院 See Directory for more listings.
Daily 10am-9.30pm. B2/F, China World Summit Wing, 1 Jianguomenwai Dajie, Chaoyang District (8535 1055)
Daily 11.30am-midnight. 1A Gongti Beilu (opposite Zhaolong Hotel), Chaoyang District (8454 3838) 朝阳区工体北路甲1号兆龙饭店对面
Ganges Indian Restaurant
Daily 10am-11pm. 138A, B1/F, The Place, 9 Guanghua Lu, Chaoyang District (6587 2999) 朝阳区光华路9号世贸天阶地下一层138A See Directory for more listings.
Daily 11am-2am. Nali Patio (opposite north entrance of Let’s Burger), 81 Sanlitun Beijie, Chaoyang District (6417 8038) 朝阳区三里屯北街81号(哪里花园边）
Haru Teppanyaki and Sushi Bar 尚水长廊铁板烧餐厅
Daily 10.30m-10pm. 902 Pinnacle Plaza, Jingshun Lu, Shunyi District (8046 5112) 顺义区京顺路荣祥广场902