Why you should go to Beijing!

Beijing, a massive city with six UNESCO World Heritage sites and jaw-dropping modern architecture by internationally renown architects, has long been the center of China's politics, economics, culture, education, international trade and communication. Though less visited by international tourists than Shanghai or Hong Kong, it beguiles with intriguing sites like the Forbidden City, world-class museums, great food, art galleries, music venues, shopping in alleys or malls. It is also the most convenient place for visiting the Great Wall, tops on recent lists of the seven wonders of the world.

Life in Beijing, however, is more reserved than in cities like Singapore and Hong Kong. And that goes for LGBTQ life as well. The growing gay scene is discreet with no Pride parades or rainbow flags, but lively bars and dance clubs like Destination can be found in the Chaoyang district on the east side of town around Sanlitun Bar Street.

The Great Wall

The Great Wall

Things to do

Like a giant dragon, the Great Wall stretches some 13,000 miles (20,000 km) across China. The longest wall on earth and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is visited by...
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The Forbidden City

The Forbidden City

Things to do

Closed to the outside world for 500 years when it was seat of the Ming and Qing dynasties, the Forbidden City is the largest collection of ancient wooden structures in...
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Nanluoguxiang Hutong

Nanluoguxiang Hutong

Things to do

Nanluoguxiang is a well-preserved and bustling hutong (alley) in the heart of the ancient city. The 800-meter (half mile) stretch is full of shops, restaurants and...
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Summer Palace

Summer Palace

Things to do

The Summer Palace, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1998, is a square mile (2.9 sq km) of lakes, gardens and palaces, most of it water. It's a lovely escape from...
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798 Art Zone (Dashanzi Art District)

798 Art Zone (Dashanzi Art District)

Things to do

798 Art Zone is a Soho-like neighborhood of galleries, art centers, artists' studios, boutiques, design companies, loft apartments, restaurants and bars created in...
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Da Dong Roast Duck Restaurant

Da Dong Roast Duck Restaurant

Restaurant

Famous for its Peking Duck, the Da Dong Roast Duck Restaurant made the bucket list in "1,000 Places to See Before You Die" and Mimi Sheraton's 10 Most Memorable Meals....
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Sanlitun Village

Sanlitun Village

Things to do

Sanlitun Village North and South is yuppie mecca of shops (including an Apple store), designer (local and international) boutiques, restaurants, a multi-screen cinema,...
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Dongdan Park

Things to do

One mile east of Tiananmen Square, Dongdan Park has an open plaza, but a hillside area with stone paths is the attraction for gay men seeking friendship, permanent relationships or a quick interlude. Cruising has decreased with the growing popularity of online dating apps.
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Qianmen Street

Qianmen Street

Things to do

The pedestrians-only Quiamen Street, running south from Tiananmen Square, has been rebuilt to match photos from the 1920s and 1930s. It has international brands like...
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Shichahai Lakes

Shichahai Lakes

Things to do

The neighborhood around the three Shichahai lakes has natural beauty, ancient royal mansions, 10 famous Taoist and Buddhist temples, rickshaw rides through historic...
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Silk Street Market

Silk Street Market

Things to do

The Silk Street Market - with a reputation for counterfeit luxury goods - is a shopping center that replaced the alleys of the old Xiushui Market in 2005. It has over...
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The Place

The Place

Things to do

Open in time for the 2008 Olympics, The Place is an upscale mall with an immense LED Sky Screen canopy over its outdoor plaza that's a destination in itself. Shops on...
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Wangfujing Shopping Street

Wangfujing Shopping Street

Things to do

Wangfujing Shopping Street is pedestrian-only with almost 300 shops, many major brand. The hutongs (alleys) just west of the street are full of street food stalls and...
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Houhai Bar Street

Houhai Bar Street

Nightlife

Houhai Bar Street, close to Shichahai Lake and Beijing hutongs, is home to more than 120 bars, more upscale than those found along Sanlitun Bar Street. Check out...
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Great Leap Brewery

Great Leap Brewery

Nightlife

Great Leap Brewery, the first micro-brewery in Beijing, has three gastropubs around town and is a venue for the Gaymazing Poker Race, which raises funds for the Beijing...
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A Hotel

A Hotel

Hotel

At the east gate of the Workers' Stadium, the 115-room A Hotel is about a 15-minute walk from the Dongdaqiao subway and less than a kilometer from Sanlitun nightlife and...
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Adam's

Nightlife

Flying the rainbow flag among the tourist traps of the Santlitun bar street, Adam's has a rooftop patio and a happy hour. Beijing's first openly gay bar, the creation of a bigger-than-life gay party planner, is better for beer than cocktails.

Alfa

Nightlife

On the north side of the Workers' Stadium, Alfa draws a mixed and international crowd with its friendly atmosphere, dance floor and casual outdoor lounge. It hosts a gay party on Fridays and serves Asia-French cuisine late for the après partying crowd. A big LGBTQ supporter, it's a good place to check in on what's going...
Aman at Summer Palace

Aman at Summer Palace

Hotel

The 51-room Aman at Summer Palace is a series of courtyards, pools and pavilions where guests once waited to see the empress. Pampering begins at the airport where Aman...

Beijing Traditional Opera Museum

Things to do

The Beijing Traditional Opera Museum in the Huguang Guild Hall Chamber is a good introduction to the art form. The jewel in the collection is an early 19th century Peking Opera theater ornately decorated with phoenix, dragon and peony patterns and seating more than 1,000. Opera highlights are performed nightly at 6:30...
Beijing Zoo

Beijing Zoo

Things to do

Giant pandas are the big draw at the 200-acre (81 ha) Beijing Zoo where the Panda House (extra fee) is shaped like a Tai Chi diagram and landscaped like a traditional...

Big Smoke Bistro

Restaurant

A favorite with ex-pats, Big Smoke Bistro serves southern comfort food (US style). big burgers, specialties like seven-hour braised lamb shank. The craft beer Jing-A set up its microbrewery on the premises.
Brasserie FLO

Brasserie FLO

Restaurant

Brasserie Flo, in its second location since the Parisian original opened its Beijng output in 1999, is so very, very French and so near the French embassy. It is popular...
China National Museum

China National Museum

Things to do

On the eastern side of Tiananmen Square, the China National Museum was created in 2003 when the Museum of the Revolution and the Museum of Chinese History merged,...

China World Shopping Arcade (Guomao)

Things to do

Part of the China World Trade Center, the China Mall Shopping Arcade is a ritzy mall with flagship stores of international brands but no bargains. It spreads its 60,000 square meters (about 1. 5 acres) over four floors and includes an ice skating ring, an international food court, a spa, a pharmacy and a supermarket.
Dada

Dada

Nightlife

After three years in Shanghai, Dada opened in Beijing in 2012, hosting DJ parties, art and cultural events, movie nights and eclectic live music by international...

Dali Courtyard

Restaurant

Dali Courtyard, tucked away down a hutong (alley) near at the Drum Tower, is named after a town in the southwestern providence of Yunnan known for its great ethnic variety and spicy foods. You don't need to worry about reading menus here. The fixed price (around $15 - $20) brings you an amazing variety of dishes the chef...

Destination

Nightlife

Destination is the granddaddy of gay dance clubs with the biggest dance floor in town and American DJs. Its themed nights include a Bear Hunt the third Friday of every month. Happy hour is 9 pm - 10 pm. Crowd includes hip locals, tourists, ex-pats and some women. It's across the street from Funky.
Dragon Day Spa

Dragon Day Spa

Things to do

For men only, Dragon Day Spa offers a variety of massages, facials, body scrubbing, waxing, spa packages and other personal care services. In the central business...
Element Fresh

Element Fresh

Restaurant

Element Fresh is a Shanghai-based chain specializing in American-style healthy meals - salads, wraps, sandwiches, smoothies - with several locations around town...
Emperor Hotel

Emperor Hotel

Hotel

The 55-room Emperor Hotel on the eastern side of the Forbidden City is set among traditional Chinese temples and houses. Forbes rated it one of the world's best business...
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Funky

Funky

Nightlife

Southwest of Workers Stadium across from Destination, Funky is an upscale venue, opened in 2013 and redecorated in spring 2015. With a state-of-the-art sound system,...
Green T House Living

Green T House Living

Restaurant

Presentation is everything at the suburban Green T House Living, an art-infused restaurant in a spa retreat and event space near the Capital International Airport...
Haidilao Hot Pot

Haidilao Hot Pot

Restaurant

Haidilao, the popular Sichuan-based hot pot chain, has nearly 40 locations around Beijing. While waiting for a table, you'll be offered free snacks, card games, shoe...
Hotel Côté Cour

Hotel Côté Cour

Hotel

Hidden away in a neighborhood of hutongs (alleyways), the luxurious Hotel Côté Cour teams modern design with the the traditional courtyard house or siheyuan. Behind its...
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Jing-A Taproom

Jing-A Taproom

Restaurant

Part of the local craft beer revolution, Jing-A Taproom is a brew pub in a courtyard in 1949: The Hidden City next door to Traitor Zhou's deli. It's the flagship of A...
Kempinski Hotel Beijing Lufthansa Center

Kempinski Hotel Beijing Lufthansa Center

Hotel

The 526-room Kempinski Hotel Beijing Lufthansa Center, 20 minutes from the Capital Airport and close to exhibition centers, is popular with Europeans because its seven...
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Marriott Hotel City Wall

Marriott Hotel City Wall

Hotel

The landmark Marriott Hotel City is next to the last remnant of Ming Dynasty City Wall and a five-minute drive to the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square. The 357...
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Más

Más

Nightlife

You'll know you've reached Más, a rum cocktail bar and event space with Cuban fare when you spot a mint green and black facade. A couple of friendly Miami ex-pats run...
Mesh

Mesh

Nightlife

Mesh is a sleek, dress-up bar inside the Opposite House boutique hotel. It's popular with the LGBTQ community even though it no longer has an official gay night. It has...
Mr. Shi's Dumplings

Mr. Shi's Dumplings

Restaurant

Mr. Shi's Dumplngs has two locations: the original hole-in-the-wall in the alleys near the Bell Tower and a newer one in Sanlitun, northwest of the Beijing Workers'...

Night Kung Fu Show

Things to do

The Legend of Kung Fu at Red Theater is the tale of a boy struggling to become a Kung Fu master. The story is told in English with Chinese subtitles on a screen. Show starts at 7:30 pm. Tours include hotel pickup and return.
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Novotel Beijing Xin Quiao

Novotel Beijing Xin Quiao

Hotel

The 700-room Novotel Beijing Xinqiao is in the heart of Beijing with the train station and the New World Shopping Mall only minutes away by foot. Tiananmen Square...
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Opposite House Hotel

Opposite House Hotel

Hotel

Designed by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, the Opposite House is part of the Sanlitun Village complex of shops, restaurants and entertainment. Its sleekly modern 99...
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Panjiayuan Market

Panjiayuan Market

Things to do

A bustling antique market with a horde of vendors, Panjiayuan Market is open during the week but best on weekends, particularly before sunrise. Good for Mao memorabilia,...

Raffles Beijing

Hotel

The 171-room Raffles Beijing is a historic hotel only a five-minute walk from Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. Begun in the early 1900s as the Grand Hôtel de Pékin and later the Beijing Hotel, it has housed the A-list of international dignitaries and was the International Olympic Committee headquarters in 2009....
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Rickshaw Tour of the Old Hutongs

Rickshaw Tour of the Old Hutongs

Things to do

The rickshaw tour of the city's hutongs (alleys) explores the ancient streets of the city with stops in a Chinese home and a teahouse and a visit to Prince Gong's...
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Spring Time Hostel

Spring Time Hostel

Hotel

The Spring Time Hostel is a 20-minute walk from the Forbidden City and a few steps from Dongsi station, exit D. The 30 basic rooms have king or twin beds. Free WiFi is...
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Tea Street

Tea Street

Things to do

"Tea Street" is an almost mile-long stretch of Maliandao Street south of the Beijing West Railway Station that's devoted to all things tea - tea shops, tea markets, tea...
Temple Restaurant, (TRB)

Temple Restaurant, (TRB)

Restaurant

The Temple Restaurant is down the crowded Shatan Beijie hutong (alley) in the 600-year-old Songzhu Temple complex. The main dining room in a more recent building that...

The Bookworm

Things to do

The Bookworm is a hive of literary activity - selling, lending and publishing books and hosting literary events including an annual book festival. Its restaurant has Chinese and western dishes and its bar craft beers and fine whiskies.

Two Cities Café and Lounge

Nightlife

Two Cities Café and Lounge, established by two Taiwanese architects and LGBTQ activists, is a "platform for communication" where gay, straight or undecided can come together. It started off with some gay blind dating events.
Yin On 12

Yin On 12

Nightlife

Just north of the East Gate of the Forbidden City, Yin is a glamorous bar with great views particularly at sunset. Atop the Emperor Hotel, it has in-house DJs and...

11 community reviews / Beijing

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LGBT-friendly
Average
Hernando Carvalho has been to and reviewed Beijing

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Only found one small gay bar.

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Getting around

Beijing is the transportation hub of northern China with international and domestic flights, good roads and rail connections including high-speed trains to Shanghai, Xian, Wuhan, Guangzhou and Harbin. Passenger trains leave from four stations: Beijing Railway Station (the oldest, with international routes); West Railway Stations (high-speed trains to Guangzhou and Xi'an), South Railway Station (the largest train station in Asia with high speed trains to Shanghai and Harbin and service to Suzhou), and North Railway Station (trains to the Great Wall).

Service from Capital Airport to the city (about 25 kilometers or 1.5.5 mile) is by an airport express line on the subway or by shuttle bus.

Although international car rental agencies are represented at the airport, you would not be able to drive in China unless you have a Chinese driver's license as international driving permits are not recognized. The options is to rent a car with driver or hire a taxi for a trip.

Beijing has a public-bike system with rental sites downtown and in the suburbs, but registration is required. You'll need to present your passport, a copy of the passport, a Transportation Smart Card loaded with at least CNY30 (US$5) and a deposit of CNY400 (about US$60) at various locations, including the East Gate of the Temple of Heaven (Tiantan Dongmen Station, exit A2) and Dongzhimen Station (exit A). You can also rent from a bike shop or sign up for a bike tour.

The subway is the fastest way to get around the traffic-clogged city. Now with 17 lines, named by number or terminal station, the system has more than 200 stations with service roughly between 5 am and 11 pm. Expect crowds and extended rush hours. Lines 1 and 2 are particularly useful for tourists. Look into buying a Beijing Transportation Smart Card, which can be used on the subway, the Airport Express Train, city buses and some taxis. They are sold at subway stations, some bus stations, supermarkets and post offices.

Buses downtown are in service generally between 5:30 am and 11 pm with night lines operating from 11 pm. Fares are charged by distance, but use a Beijing Transportation Smart Card for a 50 per cent discount. Get on the bus in the middle door and exit through the front or back. There are also two sightseeing trolleys with bilingual guides looping around major attractions . Operating 8 am to 5 pm, both have stops around Tiananmen Square.

Taxis, which can be hailed on the street, engaged at a stand or booked by phone, are metered according to distance traveled and wait time. An airport run would cost between $15-$30 depending on distance. Negotiate before going on longer trips to tourist sites like the Great Wall (generally costs around $80RT). Fares can be paid with the Transportation Smart Card. Official cabs have signs on top and driver registration cards and give receipts on request.

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