A local’s guide to Beijing
- By Yifan Zhang
- Photos by Yan Cong
Beijing is an unruly beast with ancient pride, memorable wounds and plenty of business plans to get on with. In the past four decades, millions of people poured in from every provincial town and village of China, injecting the once-uniform capital with their local spices, accents and attitudes. As an immigrant megacity, Beijing is now a hot pot of diverse Chinese regional cultures. It has replaced long-treasured Peking Opera tunes with start-up meetups and art gallery openings. It has also upgraded electronic surveillance and infamously invented social-credit scoring.
This city is a sampler of the breadth of Chinese civilization, as well as a taster of the techno-authoritarian-luxury way of life we Beijingers seem to have drifted toward in recent years. Visiting is not going to be relaxing. But if you keep an open mind, it will be eye-opening.
Explore more of Beijing
- Make sure you have a good roaming Internet package when you visit. International SIM cards are not locked by “The Great Firewall,” but local ones are.
- China is almost cashless, but that does not include Visa cards. Download the Alipay app; you can prepay your e-wallet from your debit or credit cards.
- Beijing is one of the earliest grid cities in the world. People think and speak in cardinal directions, not with lefts and rights.