The charm of a great capital, such as Paris, Rome or London, reveals itself the moment you arrive. It is in your face, obvious for all to see. But to appreciate the essential character of Beijing, you may need to spend some more time. But in the long term, the effort is likely to prove more rewarding than the instant delights of Paris or Prague, and the unique experience is one you will want to revisit, physically or in memory. Call it the hidden magic of Beijing.
Last month, in "Beijing Blitz", we introduced a few less well-known places worth visiting in the historic city, such as the 798 Art Zone, Wudaoying hutong and Huguang Guild Hall. Here are a few more hidden gems where you can soak up the charm of the ancient capital. Caochangdi Art District has attracted more than 300 art bodies. Beijing is undoubtedly a must-have along a China travel package, then a visit to these places would be a great idea for you.
Caochangdi Art District
If the 798 Art Zone is to Beijing what Chelsea is to New York, then Caochangdi is like the Williamsburg neighborhood in Brooklyn. Caochangdi, which means grasslands, is as its name suggests, a quieter, more idyllic pasture for Chinese modern artists, compared with the more commercialized 798 Art Zone. This haven is located next to the Fifth Ring Road in the northeast of the city, and surrounded by a boisterous street life. Caochangdi has attracted more than 300 other art bodies, including galleries, photographic studios and documentary filmmakers, with its cheaper rents and "purer" artistic atmosphere. These art spaces are scattered among residents' houses, but stand out either through their avant-garde architecture or the various art forms of their creative interiors. How to get there: Take a 418, 688 or 402 bus to Caochangdi station. Many China tour deals of Chinese art discovery theme cover this site. It seems make sense now.
For those looking for an authentic shopping experience in China, Panjiayuan Market in the south of the capital would be a wise, discerning choice. The covered outdoor market offers any type of Chinese craftwork and antique imaginable. Exploring the rows of stalls and specialized sections, you stumble across antique paintings and calligraphy, jade jewelry, wooden and lacquered boxes, carved bone opium pipes, and many other relics from a bygone era, such as the Ming or Qing dynasties. Of course, some are fake - like those you think you got for a bargain. But whether you are a browser or buyer, you will probably find a treasure or two to take home. Hillary Clinton did. She bought two art pieces here. The best part is that the sellers never yell at passers-by, so customers can enjoy leisurely browsing without the hassle and pressure of confrontational salesmanship. The flea market is at its best on weekends, when thousands of sellers from all parts of China arrive with their local crafts and specialties. These less-known places are good idea for your Beijing tour package.
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