Wangfujing Walking Street in Beijing

The Wangfujing area is in the heart of Beijing, next to the Forbidden City, and Tiananmen Square. Sitting on the north side of Chang'an (eternal peace) Boulevard, Wangfujing area is home to the Ministry of Foreign trade and economic Co-operation, the Beijing Municipal Government and many other government offices, making it the city's most strategic location. The commercial history of the wangfujing area goes back over 700 years. The street came into being in the Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368) and received its current name in the Ming Dynasty more than 500 years ago when one of the emperors told all his ten brothers to build their mansions in the place now known as Wangfujing so as to make it easy for him to keep a wary eye on them for fear that they might post a direct threat to him. Therefore, the street was then named Shiwangfu, meaning mansions for 10 imperial brothers.

After a construction face-lift, the 700-year-old Wangfujing (the well of the prince's mansion), one of China's oldest and most famous commercial areas, lives up to its glorous past but with a new look. The new infrastructure can sustain the commercial area of 300 square meters to run smoothly for hundreds of years since Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties. After the People's Republic of China was founded in 1949, the Wangfujing area gradually became the city's landmark commercial center. It was well known all over China for its comprehensiveness, fashion, high quality and sophisticated cultural activities. The area's developmententered a new stage in the 1980s when star-rated hotels were built in the area.

What to Eat?

Whatever you want. Suggestions: Wanfujing Quanjude Roast Duck restaurant at 3 Shuaifuyuan Hutong; Dong Lai Shun Restaurant at 198 Wangfujing; Banpo Beer Hut at 26 Wangfujing Dajie and Shuaifuyuan Restaurant at 20 Shuaifuyuan Hutong.

What to See & Do?

Shop till you drop. And then shop some more at Jin Jie (Gold Street). Oriental Plaza is the pride of official and unofficial Beijing. You should also see the two musical performing fountains. There's a curious statue outside Number One Department Store to Zhang Binghui, a shop assistant who could assess the weight of candy with just his hands. Long-stay expats like going to northwest Wangfujing's foreign languages bookstore. The Capital Theater stages top drama.

Wangfujing is now considered the central heart of the city. Certainly from Wangfujing all areas of Beijing are easily accessible. Wangfujing is a fairly long street. A walk from end to end would take you about 30 minutes, and that's without looking at any shops. The street has two major shopping malls, one of which, Oriental Plaza, sprawls a further 2 blocks to the east (and another 15 minute walk). Wangfujing street is also home to a number of large department stores, souvenir stores, and whole side streets full of food stalls, Chinese painting stores and other goodies. It is also home to one of the biggest book stores in Beijing, (Wangfujing Bookstore) and probably the largest outdoor TV screen in Beijing. At night, when Wangfujing street turns on its ever increasing number of neon advertising signs, even more crowds flock to soak up the atmosphere. The neons can now be compared to those of any major city in the world and are very popular with the tourists, especially those coming from less developed parts of China. Most shops stay open till around 9pm and sometimes an impromptu night market.