There have been commercial premises on Wangfujing Street since the middle of the Ming Dynasty hundreds of years ago, and a wander down this pedestrianised boulevard today will take you past most of Beijing's best-known and most-loved outlets.
It is a mecca for shoppers in the city, both locals and tourists and, as well as the huge array of retail businesses, this bustling thoroughfare also offers a great range of restaurants, cafés and bars. The buildings on Wangfujing Street are as varied as the goods on offer within, ranging from historic premises with antique façades to ultra-modern shopping centres.
The products you’ll find for sale range from silk embroidery to chopsticks and Chinese exercise balls. The area is particularly well known for its clothes shops and many of Beijing’s most iconic brands have a presence here, such as Sheng Xifu, which has been selling high-quality hats for over a century.
Another long-running enterprise is the Wu Yu Tai Tea House which is nearly always packed full of visitors who come to experience the unique Chinese tea culture. In the evening, the street is also a popular place to come to eat as there is a multitude of restaurants to choose from, from traditional eateries serving Peking duck to fast-food joints with Western fare.
At the north end of the street there are rows of roadside vendors selling food from stalls in an area known as Wangfujing Snack Street. You’ll find many exotic delicacies on offer for those with hardy stomachs, from skewered scorpion and bug kebabs to starfish and even snake! Gentler on the palate, perhaps, are the popular (and scrumptious) noodles and ice cream. And, as you browse through the shops and stalls, remember that haggling is all part of the Chinese shopping experience, so don’t just accept the first price the salesperson suggests.
The evening is the best time to visit nearby St. Joseph’s Cathedral, which is lit up beautifully and the space outside is often full of dancing locals, which makes for a very festive atmosphere. The best way to reach Wangfujing Street is by taxi or by subway to Wangfujing Station.
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