CBD (Central Business District)

CBD is located between the east second and fourth ring roads in Beijing. As the original business district, CBD continues to grow and thrive. Luxury housing has been added all along and around the CBD to accommodate expat families who want the convenience of “city life”, living close to public transportation, work, and play. Although Beijing is a sprawling city, living in CBD provides the closest experience of living in the middle of a large city, with tall buildings, busy streets, and an abundance of commercial retail surrounding you. Housing options are abundant and pricey in this area due to its convenience to public transportation, the business district, and all the new shopping complexes available in this area. Most housing complexes here have their own green areas, with gardens and greenery making up part of the gated complex itself. Beijing itself also loves parks. There are plenty of parks in Beijing and many of these are accessible by subway. The benefit of living in CBD is that you are more likely to encounter English-speaking help in places like banks and shops due to its being an international business center. CBD, being quite central, lends itself to easy access to almost all other areas of the city.

International Schools:

  • Beijing City International School
  • The Children’s House Montessori
  • EtonKids Bilingual Kindergarten
  • EtonKids International Kindergarten
  • The Family Learning House
  • Oxford Baby Bilingual Kindergarten
  • Harvest Kindergarten

Supermarkets:

  • Carrefour
  • Jenny Lou’s at Jianwai SOHO
  • BHG Supermarket at Shin Kong Place
  • Walmart
  • Ole by Vanguard Supermarket at LG Towers and China World Trade Center

Restaurants:

There are over 300 restaurants and cafes in the CBD area. You can find plenty of Starbucks outlets as well as high-end original fare in the CBD. Check http://www.cityweekend.com.cn/beijing/listings/restaurants/ for a full listing of restaurants in the CBD area. Here are a few popular options:

  • The American Café
  • Annie’s (Italian and pizza)
  • Bellagio (Taiwanese)
  • Café Europa
  • Crystal Jade Palace Restaurant Cantonese
  • Din Tai Fung
  • El Fogoncito Mexican
  • Ganges Indian Restaurant
  • Grandma’s Kitchen (American)
  • Hatsune (Japanese—west coast American style)
  • My Humble House (Chinese)
  • South Beauty (southern Chinese)
  • Traders Café
  • Xiao Wang Fu
  • Italian Piazza

Cinemas:

  • Wanda Cinema

Sport Facilities:

  • Alexander Health Club
  • Alona Pilates & Yoga Studio
  • Beijing Black Tiger Academy
  • Beijing Yoga
  • California Fitness Center
  • China World Fitness Center
  • CSI Bally Total Fitness
  • Evolution Fitness
  • Ozone Fitness
  • Kerry Sports
  • Le Cool
  • The Spa Fitness Center at Gemdale

Chaoyang Park- Lido Area

The Chaoyang Park-Lido area is extremely popular with expat families who do not want to live in a suburban villa area but instead want to be closer to the city, yet are looking for more space for their dollar and more open green areas. Not convenient to public transportation, the Chaoyang Park and Lido area are still considered to be “in the city” and not out in the suburbs. It provides easy taxi access to all city attractions and entertainment although it does not provide much that is walking distance from the international standard apartment complexes dotting this area. The Lido is one of the original expat hangouts due to the opening of the Holiday Inn Lido Hotel in 1984. The area grew around the hotel and now boasts international restaurants, housing complexes and several international schools. Many of the city’s international hospitals are located in the Lido area as well. Chaoyang Park is not far from Lido and provides a respite from the concrete jungle. Popular with locals and expats, the park is Beijng’s largest and encompasses a small amusement park, open areas for picnics, flower gardens, landscaped areas, paved trails for walking and biking, and small lakes where you can rent boats. There is a small fee charged for entrance (5RMB), making the park a little more “exclusive” than all the other smaller free parks in the city. There are lots of popular expat housing options surrounding the east, south, and west gates of the park.

International Schools:

  • 3e International
  • Beanstalk International Bilingual School
  • Beanstalk International Kindergarten
  • Beijing World Youth Academy
  • Canadian International School of Beijing
  • The Children’s House Montessori Kindergarten
  • Deutsche Botschaftsschule Peking
  • Etonkids Bilingual Kindergarten
  • Etonkids International Kindergarten
  • International Academy of Beijing
  • Ivy Bilingual School
  • Ritan School

Supermarkets:

  • April Gourmet
  • Jenny Lou’s at Chaoyang Park West Gate and Lido
  • Kempi Deli
  • Lion Mart
  • Lohao City (Organic)
  • Schindler’s German Food Center

Restaurants:

There are over 100 restaurants and cafes in the Chaoyang Park and Lido area. Check http://www.cityweekend.com.cn/beijing/listings/restaurants/ for a full listing of restaurants in the both of these areas. Here are a few popular eateries in these areas frequented by expats:

  • All Star Sports Bar & Grill
  • Annie’s Italian
  • Brasserie Flo
  • Chef Too (New York Grill)
  • Eudora Station
  • Ganges Indian Restaurant
  • Haiku by Hatsune
  • SALT
  • Matsuko
  • Morel’s
  • Muse
  • Nyonya Kitchen
  • Peter’s Tex Mex
  • Pure Lotus
  • Wish Lounge and Restaurant

Cinemas:

  • Saga Cinema at Solana Lifestyle Park/Mall

Sport facilities:

  • All-Star Ice Rink
  • Alona Pilates & Yoga Studio
  • Avid Gold Indoor Simulator
  • Chaoyang Tennis Club
  • Lido Hotel Pool and Bowling Center
  • Ozone Fitness Center
  • Richmond Park Leisure Center
  • Sino-Japanese Youth Center
  • Verve Wellness Center

Haidian (West side/University area)

Haidian District is the hub of most university life in Beijing, with the specific area of Wudaokou being the most popular. Many of the full-time and more intense language programs are also located here, making it a center of international student life as well local student life. The opening of the light rail Line 13 and subway line 10 to this area has made a big difference for those who used to live in this “far flung” western part of the city. Those here to take on professorships may choose to live in this area to be near the universities, but it does not provide a lot of home comforts in terms of western entertainment and western-type housing. Buildings and neighborhoods are older in this area and housing options for expats looking for home comforts are limited. However, mid-tier housing can be found near the universities for a fraction of the cost of housing in the cosmopolitan Chaoyang District.

International Schools:

  • Beijing Xiyi Elementary School: One of the first local elementary schools to admit international students. The school’s language of instruction is Chinese.
  • Renda Middle School and High School: Middle and high school accepting foreign students. The school’s language of instruction is Chinese but students will take assessment test to determine whether they will be placed in an intensive Chinese program or regular Chinese classes.

No international schools.

Supermarkets:

  • Carrefour
  • Shuang An Supermarket

Restaurants:

There are lots of pizza shops and general “student fare” in this neighborhood, but the area suffers from a lack of higher end, western restaurant options. Check http://www.cityweekend.com.cn/beijing/listings/restaurants/ for more options in the Haidian or Wudaokou area.

  • Banana Leaf
  • Charcoal Bar
  • Ganges Indian Restaurant
  • Golden Peacock
  • Papa John’s
  • Kro’s Nest
  • South Beauty
  • Still Thoughts Vegetarian Restaurant
  • TGI Friday’s

Cinemas:

  • UME International Cineplex
  • Wudaokou Worker’s Club Cinema

Sport facilities:

  • China University of Geosciences Rock Climbing Wall
  • Fusion Fitness Center
  • Hong Kong Boss Fitness Center
  • Huaqing Jiayuan Pool
  • IntelliFitness
  • Jade Palace Hotel Bowling Center
  • Tsinghua University Outdoor Swimming Pool

Sanlitun

The Sanlitun area located in Chaoyang District was where the Chinese government decided to move the foreign embassies in the 1950’s, after the founding of the People’s Republic of China. Before the move, diplomatic activities were centered in Beijing’s Legation Quarter, right in the center of the old city. Much of the current diplomatic housing and foreign embassies are now located in this tree-lined area. Restaurants, bars, and shops have since cropped up over the last few decades here, with changes continuing to transform Sanlitun. The bar area in Sanlitun was known as the heart of Beijing nightlife for some time, but gentrification in the last couple of years has brought in shiny high-end retail complexes, family friendly establishments, popular restaurants, and up-market bars and lounges. The official “embassy area” has since fractured into a few locations in the city, but Sanlitun is still known to house most of Beijing’s foreign consular population. Sanlitun is a popular destination for young expats to gather socially, especially after the construction of a large retail complex named Sanlitun Village that houses a Cineplex, high-end restaurants, and retail outlets. There are also many new luxury housing complexes in the Sanlitun area as well as an abundant selection of mid-upper tier local housing popular with young expats.

International Schools:

  • Beijing No. 55 Middle School and High School –accepts foreigners
  • The British School of Beijing
  • Ivy Academy
  • Ivy Bilingual Preschool
  • Lycee Francais International de Pekin (French School)
  • Pakistan Embassy College
  • Ritan School- bilingual elementary school, Chinese only in middle and high school

Supermarkets:

  • April Gourmet
  • Boucherie Michel and Lohao City
  • Friendship Supermarket
  • Jenny Lou’s
  • Qi Yuan Indian Grocery

Restaurants:

There are over 100 restaurants and cafes in Sanlitun. As one of the original playgrounds for expats, the restaurant options continue to grow in this area. Check http://www.cityweekend.com.cn/beijing/listings/restaurants/ for a full listing of restaurants in the Sanlitun area. Here are a few popular options:

  • 1001 Nights
  • Alameda
  • Assaggi
  • Blue Frog
  • Duck de Chine
  • Element Fresh Kro’s Nest
  • Olas Tapas
  • Morel’s
  • Mosto’s
  • Noodle Bar
  • Ras Ethiopian Cuisine
  • The Saddle Cantina
  • The Tree
  • Union Bar & Grill

Cinemas:

  • Megabox Cinema

Sport facilities:

  • Gongti 100 Bowling
  • Nirvana Fitness Center
  • Pacific Century Club
  • Worker’s Stadium Swimming Pool

Shunyi District (suburb villa-style living)

Known for its villa-style living, families with school-aged children flock to the many housing compounds that have sprung up in this once desolate farm area outside the north east 5th ring road of Beijing, stretching to the airport. Single style family homes and smaller villas provide lots of room for growing families. The compounds often encompass club houses with workout facilities and sidewalks where children can roam within gated communities. You will likely find yourself living as neighbors with international families from all over the world. Outside of the gated community, however, desolate stretches of road and outposts for Chinese building and construction businesses line the roads into the city proper. The commute into downtown can be a real chore, even with the new Jingshun Expressway. Many families find the proximity to several large international schools a bonus and will endure a longer work commute for this reason. Families who live out in Shunyi must have a car, drive, or have a hired driver and car. Some complexes may provide shuttle service to a specific destination downtown at scheduled times. There is shopping in the area that will likely cover all your essentials, but you will still need to drive in order to reach these stores. Shunyi houses several small shopping malls nearby including Europlaza and Pinnacle Plaza which will provide patrons with restaurants, grocery shopping, and other shops.

International Schools:

  • British School of Beijing
  • The Children’s House Montessori Kindergarten
  • Children’s Learning Center of Beijing
  • Daystar Academy
  • Der Kindergarten
  • Dulwich College
  • Etonkids International Kindergarten
  • Etonkids International School
  • Harrow International School
  • International Montessori School of Beijing
  • The International School of Beijing
  • Ivy Bilingual School
  • KinStar International Bilingual School
  • Mammolina Children’s Home
  • Swedish School Beijing
  • Western Academy of Beijing

Supermarkets:

  • Apri Gourmet
  • Jenny Lou’s
  • Lion Mart
  • Lohao City
  • Schindler’s Food Center

Restaurants:

Living in the suburbs does not provide as wide a variety or choice of restaurants as living in the city, but there are still many decent international options in Shunyi. For a complete listing, see http://www.cityweekend.com.cn/beijing/listings/restaurants/ for a full directory of restaurants in Shunyi.

  • American Steak & Eggs
  • Annie’s Italian
  • Elaine’s Restaurant
  • Little Italy
  • Meches
  • The Mexican Kitchen
  • Mrs. Shannen’s Bagels
  • The Orchard
  • Piazza Café
  • Schindler’s Restaurant
  • Smallville
  • Victoria’s Place
  • The Yard
  • Za’atar

Cinemas:

None

Sport facilities:

  • Asgard Horsemanship Club
  • Beijing Green Equestrian Club
  • Beijing Orient Tianxing Huapu Country Club
  • Beijing Rivers and Resort Golf
  • DanZ Centre
  • Equuleus Riding Club
  • Ice Zone
  • Splash Recreation Club
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