Dongzhimen is split into Dongzhimen Wai (“Outer”) and Dongzhimen Nei (“Inner”) by the Second Ring Road, with the outer portion running north of Sanlitun all the way to Third Ring Road. Dongzhimen Nei is a gateway to the more historical neighborhoods of Beijing, such as Gulou, Andingmen, and Yonghegong.
Good for: Embassy workers and families looking for a quiet alternative to Sanlitun.
Public transportation: Dongzhimen (东直门) subway station on the intersection of Lines 2 and 13 is a major transportation hub, with a major bus station located at the northeastern exit. It’s also the starting point of the Airport Express, the cheapest and most convenient way of getting to Beijing Capital International Airport.
Schools: On Dongzhimen Waidajie, there’s Ivy Academy and the British School of Beijing’s downtown campus. There’s also MOMA Kids International Kindergarten within a housing compound in northern Dongzhimen called MOMA.
Shopping: Along with Solana and U-Town Shopping Center, Raffles City in Dongzhimen Nei is probably one of the better malls in the city. There’s a large BHG Marketplace in the basement for imported food; Zara, H&M, Mango, and Bershka for clothes; HOLA for affordable kitchenware and household goods; and a decent selection of restaurants on the top floor. Right across Second Ring Road, there’s a decent gym and a Uniqlo at Ginza Mall.
Dining: The embassy area has several restaurants, including the long-standing Serve the People (Thai), In and Out (Yunnan), and Alameen. Around Dongzhimen Wai, Starfish is known for seafood, Paddy O’Shea’s for pub grub, Ganges for Indian curries, and Lau Pa Sak for Singaporean food. Dongzhimen Nei is home to Gui Jie (“Ghost Street”), a boisterous, lantern-lined stretch of Chinese hotpot and chuanr joints.
Just for kids: There isn’t much to do in Dongzhimen besides shopping and eating, so many families head south to Sanlitun for fun. As a major transportion hub, Dongzhimen station also makes a great jumping-off point for day trips outside of Beijing, including the wild and untouched Huanghuacheng section of the Great Wall.
Popular residential compounds:
East Lake Villas 东湖别墅
- Rent prices (per month): RMB 12,000-14,000 (81sqm, 1 bedroom), RMB 19,000-26,000 (123-149sqm, 2 bedrooms), RMB 24,000-29,000 (150sqm, 3 bedrooms)
- Facilities and amenities: East Lake Villas has western-style apartments as well as villas, with landscaped gardens throughout the compound. The clubhouse has a Comptoirs de France, a Jenny Lou’s, and exercise facilities.
- Rent prices (per month): RMB 12,000-14,000 (100sqm, 1 bedroom), RMB 17,000-23,000 (145-187sqm, 2 bedrooms), RMB 21,000-35,000 (177-237sqm, 3 bedrooms)
- Facilities and amenities: Not to be confused with the old MOMA compound (known in Chinese as 万国城MOMA), MOMA is a modern residential complex located just outside North Second Ring Road. It has a clubhouse, a swimming pool, a post office, a man-made pond, Broadway Cinematheque (which regularly screens art house films), and Kubrick Cafe.
Min’an Community 民安小区
- Rent prices (per month): RMB 5,500-7,500 (65-90sqm, 2 bedrooms), RMB 8,000-13,000 (80-135sqm, 3 bedrooms), RMB 12,000-15,000 (130-200sqm, 4-bedroom duplex)
- Facilities and amenities: This no-frills compound in Donzhimen Nei is showing its age, but remains popular with locals and younger expats. No fancy amenities here, but the price is right.
Lido and Dashanzi 丽都和大山子
Located in northeast Beijing, Lido lies halfway between the suburbs of Shunyi and downtown Beijing. The area is increasingly popular with families, who like its relative tranquility, access to high-quality healthcare providers like Amcare and Beijing United Family Hospital, and proximity to the airport, parks, and international schools in Shunyi. A bit further east is Dashanzi, which contains 798 Art District and the relatively new Indigo Mall.
Good for: Frequent travelers, families who want access to Shunyi schools without living in Shunyi, and employees of German and Korean companies (which are mostly located in Lido, Sanyuanqiao, and Wangjing).
Public transportation: The subway doesn’t go to Lido for now; the nearest stops are Sanyuanquiao (三元桥) and Liangmaqiao (亮马桥) on Line 10. In the future, Lido will be connected to the subway network through Jiangtailu station on Line 14. There are no subway stops in Dashanzi.
Schools: In Lido, you’ll find 3e International School, Young Starters Academy, Beijing International Bilingual Academy, Etonkids, and Beijing Collegiate Academy. There are many more options in Shunyi, which is just a short commute away.
Shopping: The indispensable Ikea is located in Lido. Indigo Mall near 798 Art District offers good shopping, with a movie cinema, popular labels like Gap and H&M, restaurants, a BHG Marketplace, and frequent children’s events. The adjacent EAST Beijing hotel offers weekend brunch.
Dining: In Lido, the Korean-owned CJ Foodworld next to Si’de Park houses a Tous les Jours bakery, Bibigo bibimbap restaurant, and Twosome Coffee. There’s also Element Fresh, Gung-Ho Pizza, Annie’s, Taj Pavilion, and more. Dashanzi isn’t exactly a dining hotspot, but Indigo Mall has many restaurants, including Blue Frog, Muse, and Flamme.
Just for kids: Si’de Park is a gem with a children’s amusement park, tennis courts, artificial ponds with resident black swans, well-manicured lawns and gardens, and paved paths for runners. Nearby Lido Park is smaller and less interesting, but very quiet. Within Lido Hotel, there’s a popular bowling alley called Cosmic Bowling. Not far away in Sanyuanqiao, families with older kids can also play laser tag or have fun go-karting.
Popular residential compounds:
Hairun International Apartments 海润国际公寓
- Rent prices (per month): RMB 8,000-9,000 (71-78sqm, 1 bedroom), RMB 11,000-13,000 (127-147sqm, 2 bedrooms), RMB 14,000-16,000 (155-180sqm, 3 bedrooms)
- Facilities and amenities: Includes an indoor swimming pool, a gym, a children’s playground, and a shopping strip.
Upper East Side 阳光上东
- Rent prices (per month): RMB 9,000-11,000 (80-90sqm, 1 bedroom), RMB 12,000-16,000 (130-160sqm, 2 bedrooms), RMB 17,000-33,000 (150-260sqm, 3 bedrooms)
- Facilities and amenities: Gym, sauna, and swimming pool within the compound, with proximity to supermarkets, banks, cafes, restaurants, bakeries, and more.
Chateau Regency 和乔丽晶
- Rent prices (per month): RMB 9,000-10,0000 (84sqm, 1 bedroom), RMB 30,000-35,000 (270sqm, 2 bedrooms), RMB 18,000-40,000 (170-336sqm, 3 bedrooms)
- Facilities and amenities: Clubhouse with a swimming pool, a fitness center, a convenience store, and a playground. Mookey Swim, which offers baby swimming classes, is also based here.
Good for: Koreans, Germans, employees of companies based in the area (e.g. Ericsson, Samsung, Microsoft), and families who want cheaper rent while retaining access to Shunyi international schools
Public transportation: Wangjing is in a bit of a dead zone for public transit. Though served by Wangjing subway station on Line 15, distances are far to walk and taxis can be hard to find.
Schools: Though many Wangjing residents send their kids to school in Shunyi, there are several education options in the area. Both Muffy’s International Kindergarten and Venus Bilingual Kindergarten cater to ages 2-6, while Beijing World Youth Academy offers Grades 1-12.
Shopping: The area has several shopping centers of various sizes, one of the biggest being CapitaMall Wangjing. The latter has a BHG Marketplace, Zara, Uniqlo, Watsons, BreadTalk, and Costa Coffee. The “Wangjing Integrated Market” (望京街道综合菜市场) at the intersection of Hongchang Lu and Hongtai Xijie provides a more colorful shopping experience, featuring stalls of vendors selling homemade kimchi, Korean products like gochujang (hot pepper paste), and fresh produce.
Dining: Besides the student neighborhood of Wudaokou, Wangjing has some of the most authentic Korean food in Beijing. One of the best-known restaurants is Zixiamen, which has excellent service and great kalbi (barbecued marinated short ribs); customers get an RMB 5 discount voucher if there’s a queue.
Just for kids: The New City Center is a three-in-one cafe, community center, and events venue founded by expats. There’s a children’s playground and a variety of after-school clubs and classes, including Mommy and Me and Hooked on Phonics. There’s also Family Box Educational and Recreational Center, a three-floor play and learning center with its own pools for baby swimming lessons. However, their programs are pretty pricey. If there’s a budding artist in your family, head to Beijing International Art Material Center near the Central Academy of Fine Arts. The shops stock paintbrushes, watercolor and oil paints, sketching paper, kneadable erasers, and more by brands like Faber-Castell, Marie, Winsor and Newton, and Sakura.
Popular residential compounds:
Nanhu Xiyuan 南湖西园
- Rent prices (per month): Varies widely depending on how the apartment is renovated, area size, and number of rooms. Among the listings we saw for Nanhu Xiyuan (Zone 1) were 2-bedroom apartments (100-105sqm) for RMB 5,000-5,500 and 3-bedroom apartments (120-140sqm) for RMB 7,000-7,500.
- Facilities and amenities: Nanhu Xiyuan is a large compound with landscaped gardens and an artificial pond. There are restaurants, hospitals, banks, and a Jingkelong supermarket nearby.
Wangjing Huayuan 望京花园
- Rent prices (per month): A 2-bedroom apartment (100sqm) averaged around RMB 5,800 while a 3-bedroom apartment (130sqm) cost around RMB 7,300.
- Facilities and amenities: Close to local kindergartens, Wal-Mart, Jingkelong, banks, hospitals, a post office, beauty salons, and more.
Huacai International Apartments 华彩国际公寓
- Rent prices (per month): RMB 5,000-8,000 (53-100sqm, 1 bedroom), RMB 7,000-9,500 (100-105sqm, 2 bedrooms), RMB 10,000-17,000 (125-171sqm, 3 bedrooms)
- Facilities and amenities: Close to local primary schools and kindergartens, Wal-Mart, Carrefour, a post office, and banks.
Shunyi is filled with villa compounds that resemble North American suburbs, complete with street names, garages, and driveways. The “Central Villas District” is the area’s core, with many surrounding villages and townships. Hegezhuang Village, for instance, is home to The Orchard, a popular brunch spot, and an art zone similar to 798 Art District.
Good for: Executives, frequent travelers, and families who want a safe and spacious environment for their kids to play in.
Public transportation: Subway stations serving Shunyi include Maquanying (马泉营) and China International Exhibition Center (中国国际展览中心) on Line 15. Most expat families rely on a driver or black cabs to get around, as getting a taxi can be very difficult.
Schools: Some of Beijing’s oldest international schools are in Shunyi. Right next to each other on Anhua Lu are the International School of Beijing and the British School of Beijing Shunyi. Another British school, Dulwich College Beijing, is about ten minutes south. Closer to Chaoyang, there’s the Western Academy of Beijing. Other schools in the area include Harrow International School Beijing, the International Montessori School of Beijing, Beijing International Bilingual Academy, Daystar Academy, and Eduwings Kindergarten.
Shopping: Europlaza spans four floors, with a BHG Marketplace, restaurants, cafes, a dental clinic, and Star Kids Children’s Bookstore. Roma Lake has a small selection of boutiques and restaurants, including the newly-reopened Radiance (furniture and cafe). Near WAB, there’s also a small shopping area attached to Cathay View. Popular with locals and largely ignored by expats, the Sci-Tech Outlets offer discounts on luxury brands. Besides fresh flowers, potted plants, and gardening supplies, Beidong Flower Market also has household decorations and some furniture for sale.
Dining: Western restaurants tend to be scattered throughout Shunyi; for instance, Pinnacle Plaza has a Burger King, Hungry Horse, Mexican Kitchen, and a new Loft Eatalicious. Hegezhuang Village is home to The Orchard and Green T. House Living, both unique event venues with high-quality restaurants. Mrs. Shanen’s is a local fixture with homemade bagels and dishes made with organic produce from the restaurant’s farm, Green Cow.
Just for kids: Schools like Dulwich often organize sports and recreation programs for the entire community, including soccer, ice skating, drama, dance, and more. The Asgard Horsemanship Club and Equuleus offers equestrian lessons in English, and kids can learn to sail at the Olympic Water Park. One of the advantages of living in the suburbs is easy access to the countryside. Miyun and Huairou are ideal for weekend excursions.
Popular residential compounds:
Capital Paradise 名都园
- Rent prices (per month): RMB 12,000-25,000 (159-196sqm, 3 bedrooms), RMB 20,000-30,000 (229sqm, 4 bedrooms)
- Facilities and amenities: Outdoor and indoor swimming pools, a gym, squash, bowling, mini-golf, tennis courts, a sauna, outdoor and indoor children’s playgrounds, bars, cafes, and restaurants.
- Rent prices (per month): Huge range, varying from around RMB 38,000-120,000 per month. Some houses exceed 800sqm and have as many as seven bedrooms.
- Facilities and amenities: A clubhouse, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, hot springs, a sauna, a gym, a restaurant, a cafe, and a children’s activity center.
Beijing Riviera 香江花园
- Rent prices (per month): Varies from RMB 30,000-90,000 with three-, four-, and five-bedroom houses.
- Facilities and amenities: Bicycle track, large green spaces, an artificial lake, a clubhouse, a cafe, a swimming pool, a gym, tennis and squash courts, a massage room, a bar, a supermarket, and an onsite kindergarten.