Traveling to Beijing? We’ve rounded up the best places for you to shop, dine, and sight see while you’re there.
In the Forbidden City, home to a long line of Chinese emperors, and the country’s former political and ceremonial center, you might think you’ve traveled back to the fifteenth century as you tour the beautifully preserved buildings. For a spectacular view of the palace grounds, make your way up the hill at Jingshan Park, where photo ops abound.
Jewelry, antiques, and other baubles can be found at Panjiayuan antiques market, located just east of Longtan Park. Be prepared to bargain with the more than 10,000 vendors who set up shop there every weekend. Or, if you’d rather not barter, check out the Wangfujing Street shopping district, where there are more traditional department stores.
Need a quick bite to eat? Stop into Han Cang, a cozy, casual restaurant that serves delicious Hakka cuisine and has a great view of Houhai Lake from its second-floor seating area.
Beijing is filled with sightseeing opportunities, which range from the Great Wall of China (easily accessible from Beijing) to Tiananmen Square. Fawn over the giant pandas at the Beijing Zoo, or get a quick history lesson at the National Museum of Chinese History.
Make dinner reservations at Huang Ting, an upscale restaurant in the Peninsula Hotel that serves arguably the best Cantonese food in Beijing. For a more authentic Chinese experience, dare to dine at Li Qun Roast Duck Restaurant, located in a dilapidated neighborhood on the outskirts of the city. Don’t mind the eatery’s shabby appearance; if you can find this diamond in the rough (locals will happily point you in the right direction), you’ll be treated to some of the finest Chinese food you’ll ever savor.
Come nightfall, catch a daring acrobatics show at the Chaoyang Theater before having a nightcap at No Name Bar, the first bar ever to open in the popular lakeside neighborhood of Houhai. Many locals refer to it as Bai Feng, the name of its owner. If you prefer more glitz and don’t mind paying for it, hit up Centro, the chic bar and lounge inside Shangri-La’s Kerry Centre Hotel.
Lords of the Rings
Summer Olympians have been known to parlay their hard-earned medals into gainful careers in other pursuits (read: acting). Here are five gold medalists who kept cashing in. -- E.B.
Olympic glory: He won five gold medals in swimming in the 1924 and 1928 games.
Post-Olympic gold: He became the big screen’s definitive Tarzan, making 12 films in 16 years, beginning with 1932’s Tarzan the Ape Man. He also starred as Jungle Jim in the mid- 1950s TV series of the same name. And he’s one of the entertainment icons pictured on the cover of the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
Clarence “Buster” Crabbe
Olympic glory: He won the gold medal in the 400-meter freestyle and was the only first-place finisher on the 1932 U.S. swim team.
Post-Olympic gold: While best known for his starring role as Flash Gordon in the eponymous movie serial, he got one shot at playing Tarzan in 1933’s Tarzan the Fearless and also appeared in numerous B Westerns, often playing Billy Carson. The Captain Gallant of the Foreign Legion TV series brought him further fame in the mid-1950s.
Olympic glory: He was the 1960 decathlon gold medalist.
Post-Olympic gold: He guest-starred in dozens of TV series, including Dragnet, The Six Million Dollar Man, Mission: Impossible, Police Story, Lassie, and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. He also had a small role in 1979’s Roots: The Next Generations.
Olympic glory: He won the Olympic decathlon in 1976 after finishing 10th four years earlier.
Post-Olympic gold: He briefly played Officer Steve McLeish on CHiPs, and he starred in the cult classic film Can’t Stop the Music. Recently, he’s appeared in the reality-TV series Skating with Celebrities and Keeping Up with the Kardashians. Jenner now owns a corporate aircraft company and is a motivational speaker and frequent game-show participant.
Olympic glory: She won two gold medals as well as a silver and a bronze as a swimmer in the 1992 games.
Post-Olympic gold: She’s hosted several TV shows, including the reality competitions Beg, Borrow & Deal and Skating with Celebrities as well as the popular sports series NBA Inside Stuff. Sanders also had a small part as herself in the hit film Jerry Maguire.