In Wangfujing, you can purchase anything from writhing, skewered scorpions to glowing ivory tusks carved into fine, silky ribbons of light. Here, Buddhist monks walk in clusters past poetic logos in French and Italian. Among shops like Gucci and Cartier, sink your teeth into candied hawthorn. Though shopping is clearly the main attraction here, Wangfujing is also rich in history, culture, and fun things to do.
Wangfujing has its own subway stop at the southern end of Wangfujing Dajie by the Malls at the Oriental Plaza. From the subway stop, head north along Wangfujing Dajie until you reach St. Joseph’s Cathedral (1) between Baishu and Ganyu Hutong. This beautiful church has been torn down and rebuilt countless times, and it is one of the few rare historic churches that remain in Beijing. Its small outdoor square is often an unofficial stage for aspiring hip-hop dancers and skateboarders; kids are certainly free to join in the fun. At night, visitors can also admire the floodlights that bathe the church in a soft glow.
Further south on Wangfujing Dajie is the Foreign Bookstore (2), not to be confused with the Wangfujing Bookstore, located on the southern end of the Wangfujing Dajie. Both have an extensive collection of books in English. You can spend hours meandering through the pages of fine literature, children’s classics, picture books, and even music.
At the corner of Wangfujing Dajie and Jinyu Hutong is the Beijing APM mall, which houses clothing stores like Gap, Zara, and Forever 21. If you are interested in browsing the latest computers, tablets, or other glorious technological tools, it is also definitely worth a visit to the Apple Store. At 4,000sqm, this Apple Store is not only the largest in Beijing; it’s supposedly the biggest in all of Asia. Apple fans and techies of all ages will love testing out the latest versions of Apple computers, iPods, iPads, and iPhones.
Continue heading south on Wangfujing Dajie. You will eventually reach the New China Children’s Store (3), which can be easily recognized by its colorful storefront. Anything you could possibly need for your little ones lies within these three floors. You can shop around or just have fun walking through aisles of yipping robotic dogs, Lego sets, puzzles, blocks, and dolls.
If you’re belly is starting to moan for an afternoon snack, you don’t have much longer to walk. For a cool treat, head south to the Wuyutai Tea Shop for some green tea or jasmine ice cream. For even more exotic treats, head to Wangfujing Snack Street (4) to see and taste some truly extraordinary street food. On this crowded, noisy side street, try the candied fruit kebabs and date-stuffed hawthorns – taking your senses on an adventure that you will not soon forget. There are also a few alleyways with souvenir shops that stem off snack street. Every night between 6 to 9pm, there is Donghuamen Night Market (just north of Wangfujing Dajie). It is aimed at tourists, which is apparent from the slightly hiked prices, but it is worth it to pose with a scorpion or beetle on a stick.
Walk off the meal by heading 50m south. Standing at the corner of Wangfujing and Dongdan Santiao is your next destination: the Wangfujing Arts and Crafts Building (5). This place is worth breezing through, even if you aren’t looking to buy any artwork. The building is a virtual museum of Chinese crafts and folk art; you’ll find everything from fine jade and amber to ceramic vessels of gargantuan proportions. For quality crafts, prices are reasonable but by no means cheap.
At the very south end of Wangfujing are the Malls at Oriental Plaza, where you can shop to your heart’s content at Lacoste, Adidas, Sony Style – among other stores. Most of restaurants and food stalls are on the lower level, including authentic Cantonese restaurant Crystal Jade (6). Be sure to try the barbecued pork and seafood noodles for a delicious and satisfying meal.
End your night with a popular blockbuster movie in English at Star City Cinema (7) on the lower level of the mall. If you are up to it, try to explore some of the mall afterward and maybe do a bit of shopping. If you’re not, the Wangfujing subway stop is below the mall. This is your best bet to get home, since the Wangfujing area is notorious for being a difficult location to get cabs.
St. Joseph’s Cathedral
74 Wangfujing Dajie, Dongcheng District (6524 0634) 东城区王府井大街74号
Daily 9.30am-9.30pm. 235 Wangfujing Dajie, Dongcheng District (6512 6903) 东城区王府井大街235号
Daily 10am-9pm. 218 Wangfujing Dajie, Dongcheng District (6513 2842, 6525 2592) 东城区王府井大街218号
Daily 10am-10pm. 1/F, APM, 138 Wangfujing Dajie, Dongcheng District东城区王府井大街138号北京APM
New China Children’s Store
168 Wangfujing Street, Dongcheng District (6528 1774) 东城区王府井大街168号
Wuyutai Tea Shop 北京吴裕泰茶业
Daily 8.30am-9pm. 186 Wangfujing Dajie, Dongcheng District (6525 4961) 东城区王府井大街186号
Wangfujing Snack Street 王府井小吃街
Next to Haoyou Emporium, Wangfujing Dajie, Dongcheng District 东城区王府井大街
Wangfujing Arts and Crafts Building
Daily 9.30am-9.30pm. 200 Wangfujing Dajie, Dongcheng District (6528 8866) 东城区王府井步行街200号
Daily 11am-4pm, 5-10pm. Store BB82, The Malls at Oriental Plaza, 1 Dongchang’an Jie, Dongcheng District (8515 0238) 东城区东长安街1号东方广场地铁层BB82店铺
Star City Cinema
Daily 9am-10pm. B1/F, The Malls at Oriental Plaza, 1 Dongchang’an Jie, Dongcheng District (8518 6778) 东城区东方广场地下1层