Singer and actress Josie Ho shares her insider guide to Beijing, taking readers on a tour of this buzzing, cosmopolitan cityscape – with much affection paid to its ancient corners too.
Essential items to pack?
A super-rich face cream/hand cream/body lotion is a must for dry weather of Beijing.
The best time to visit Beijing is…
There are lots of great music festivals held in May in Beijing – particularly Strawberry Music Festival and Midi Music Festival.
Our first pitstop should be…
Nanluoguxiang, one of the oldest Hutongs in Beijing. There are so many interesting shops around – my favourite being the traditional Chinese clothing stores which sell Xiaofengxian and chi-pao, all in vibrant colours.
Your favourite hotel to check-in at is…
My most frequent stay in Beijing is at The Opposite House in the Sanlitun area. They have excellent services and the design is modern yet avant-garde – designed by architect Kengo Kuma. The hotel hosts a rotation of art exhibitions in the lobby, which makes me feel like I’m visiting a gallery every time I’m there. The hotel is surrounded by incredible shops, bars and restaurants, making it the perfect base during your stay.
For an early morning workout head to…
Opposite House has an incredibly designed gym, with the option for poolside yoga in the morning.
Where should we go for breakfast?
A traditional Beijing-style breakfast of Sony milk, dumplings, and scallion pancakes – there are lots of spots around the Sanlitun area.
How about for a long, lazy lunch?
I like to take a walk and pick a street-side café, you can enjoy the scenery and incredible people watching!
And for dinner with friends?
Family Li Imperial Cuisine is an incredible Michelin-star restaurant; their foods, interiors, and rich historical background make for a perfect evening. The family’s ancestors were at one point the rulers of the Qing dynasty’s kitchen, and the restaurant is now run by its fourth generation.
Where should we head post-dinner?
The local street bars are incredible, and often host live music which is great to check out.
The drink to order at the bar…
A classic Beijing style cocktail which is mixed with Moutai.
The culture spot to rave about…
The Imperial Tombs of the Ming and Qing dynasties.
The best place to treat yourself is…
The Mandarin Oriental overlooking the Forbidden City.
For great shopping head to…
Dover Street Market in Santitun, as well as of course Nanluoguxiang for a blend of traditional and contemporary stores.
Your favourite neighbourhood(s)…
Chaoyang District and Beijing Workers’ Stadium because of the energetic vibes.
For the best views, head to…
The Great Wall of course!
How should we spend the final day of our trip?
Browsing the Sanlitun bookshops – Sanlian Taofen Bookstore was the first 24-hour bookshop in China, and is a true cultural landmark.
What’s your Beijing secret?
The Summer Palace is the perfect spot to enjoy traditional Chinese tea
In a word, Beijing is…