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More Knowledge & Experience

All you need to know about beijing and its culture

Shijia Hutong

Hutongs are old traditional narrow alleys and single story courtyard houses. Hutongs once dominated the city of Beijing, but since the mid-20th century have been demolished in the name of modernization. Many still survive today, preserving this aspect of Chinese cultural history and traditional life. You can find small restaurants and stores, tea houses, and also witness mahjong games on the streets, watch rickshaws drive by and simply see how people in Beijing lived in the past.


The Red Wall Garden Hotel is located inside one of these historical Hutongs – the Shijia Hutong. Although the Shijia Hutong is very centrally located in the Dongcheng District, just minutes walk to the famous shopping streets of Wangfujing & Jinbao and to the Forbidden City, it feels like entering a different world far away from the bustling city of Beijing. Stroll along the tree-lined, low-rise lane with unique Chinese architecture to discover this fascinating Hutong. You will find an abundance of eating options, most offering local fare such as the famous Donkey meat baked wheat cake.

In 2013 thanks to the Prince’s Charities Foundation, the first Hutong museum in Beijing was opened to tell the stories and tales of this unique landmark.


The Shijia Hutong is associated with many historic events and has its own anecdotes. According to rumors, the Shijia Primary School was originally an ancient temple to famous general and hero Shi Kefa, who led his troops to defend against the Qing army as the last stronghold for the crumbling Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). Also many famous artists lived in this hutong such as Jin Yaqin and her husband Niu Xingli. The century-old courtyard, in No. 51 in Shijia Hutong, is known as the former residence of Zhang Shizhao, a prominent scholar and politician in modern Chinese history. After his death in 1973, his daughter Zhang Hanzhi, who once served as Chairman Mao’s English teacher, and her husband Qiao Guanhua, a former foreign minister, lived in the courtyard home. The Hutong also claims its historical connection as the old residence of the eunuch Li Lianying in the late Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) who has been one of the main people suspected by historians of murdering the Guangxu Emperor.

TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN BEIJING

Please bring your passport with you when visiting tourist attractions as it is now required to show your passport when buying entrance tickets.


1. The Great Wall

The Great Wall is a must see on a trip to China. Along the total length of the Great Wall around Beijing, there are eight major sections including Badaling, Juyongguan, Huanghuacheng, Jiankou, Mutianyu, Gubeikou, Jinshanling, and Simatai. Most of the sections of Great Wall in Beijing are well-preserved and mainly the remains from the Ming Dynasty, an era of huge construction.

The Great Wall

Our Front Desk can give information and book 1-day bus tours to the Great Wall. Contact us at least 1 day in advance.


We can also arrange private Great Wall Tours for your convenience (this will avoid shopping stops with bus tours).


Ba da ling Great Wall - CNY1200 *

Mutianyu Great wall - CNY1200 *

* Price for the car and driver only. Tour guide and entrance to the Wall not included in price.

Combinations with other sightseeing destinations possible upon request.


We are happy to arrange for packed lunch.
Badaling Great Wall:
Entrance Fees: RMB40 (Nov. 01 to Mar. 31); RMB 45 (Apr. 01 to Oct. 31)
Opening Hours: 06:40 to 18:30

Mutianyu Great Wall:
Entrance Fee: RMB35
Opening Hours: 07:30 to 17:30


2. Forbidden City

The Forbidden City was the Chinese imperial palace from the Ming Dynasty to the end of the Qing Dynasty. It is located in the centre of Beijing and within walking distance from the Red Wall Garden Hotel.
Opening Hour: 8:30-17:00, Closed on Mondays.
Entrance Fee: RMB 60 (summer season), RMB 40 (winter season)

Forbidden City

3. Tiananmen Square

Tiananmen Square is a large city square in the center of Beijing, China, named after the Tiananmen Gate (Gate of Heavenly Peace) located to its North, separating it from the Forbidden City. Tiananmen Square is the third largest city square in the world and also just a short stroll from our hotel.

Tiananmen Square

At sunrise and sunset the raising and lowering ceremony of the Chinese National Flag is well worth watching. The precision of the young troops is impressive. Go there about 30 minutes early to have a good seat

Tiananmen Square: Free
Tiananmen (Gate of Heavenly Peace): RMB 15
The Great Hall of the People: RMB 15
Chairman Mao's Mausoleum: Free
The National Museum of China: RMB 15
Open Time (Tiananmen Square): Whole Day


4. Temple of Heaven

The Temple of Heaven, situated in southeastern Beijing (5km from the Red Wall Garden Hotel), is the largest extant sacrificial temple in China. During the Ming and Qing dynasties, it was the site of imperial sacrifices to Heaven. Great place to visit and relax or walk around ancient pavilions, mansions, temples, bridges and a huge lake.

Open Time: 6:00-21:00
Entrance Fee: RMB 35

Temple of Heaven

5. Beijing Roast Duck

Beijing duck is the local flavor of Beijing. The traditional method of preparing Beijing Duck has a history of over a hundred years and boasts a great reputation to this day. There are several places to enjoy the Beijing Roast Duck. One restaurant we recommend is is Quanjude Restaurant. Their roast duck enjoys a high local reputation for the peculiar roast technique and outstanding quality.

Beijing Roast Duck

6. Nanluoguxiang Hutong

Nanluoguxiang was built in the Yuan Dynasty and received its current name during the Qing Dynasty, around 1750. In recent years, the hutong has become a popular tourist destination with many bars, stores and galleries. Great place to enjoy a beer and to stroll around. Located less than 5 kilometers from the hotel.

Nanluoguxiang Hutong

7. Beijing Opera

Beijing Opera typically consists of a number of stylized actions, including singing, dancing, dialogue and acrobatic fighting to tell a story or present different characters and their feelings of happiness, anger, sorrow, surprise, fear and sadness. In Peking opera there are four main types of roles: sheng (male) dan (young female), jing( painted face,male), and chou (clown, male or female). The characters may be loyal or treacherous, beautiful or ugly, good or bad, their images being vividly presented.

Beijing Opera

Huguang Huiguan Ancient Opera Building
Time: 9:00-19: 00 closed on Monday
Ticket: RMB 150
Liyuan Theatre
Ticket: RMB 20-150
Chang'an Grand Theatre
Time: afternoon and evening show
Ticket: RMB 20-180


8. Summer palace

The Summer Palace is a former imperial palace and now a park and UNESCO World Heritage Site. As the largest royal garden in China, Beijing's Summer Palace is actually a park-like imperial retreat spread out over 10 square miles. The Summer Palace in northwest suburban Beijing is the largest and most complete imperial garden that exists in China.

Summer palace

Open Time: 6:30-20:30
Entrance Fee: RMB 40 (low season) / RMB 50 (peak season)


9. Olympic Sites

The Olympic Green, National Stadium and National Aquatics Center are three structures constructed for the 2008 Summer Olympic. The National Stadium is the centerpiece of this project. In the evenings the water cube has enchanting water & light show played to a live orchestra.

Ticket Price:RMB50 for the National Stadium; RMB30 for the National Aquatics
Opening Time: 09:00-18:00 (Mar.-Oct.); 09:00-17:30 (Nov.-Feb.)

Summer palace

10. Sanlitun Nightlife Bar Street

Sanlitun is an area of the Chaoyang District, in Beijing that contains many popular bar streets and international stores. The area has been under almost constant regeneration since the late 20th century as part of a city-wide project of economic regrowth. It currently houses many bars and clubs popular with both expatriates and locals as well as international brand-name stores and the Sanlitun Village shopping mall. The Ya Show market is also in the area, and is a popular destination for tourists wishing to buy counterfeit clothes.

Sanlitun Nightlife

RESTAURANT RECOMMENDATIONS

Sijiminfu Restaurant – Peking Duck: Traditional Chinese style restaurant. Serves an excellent roast duck. Very authentic restaurant and inexpensive.


Temple Restaurant: Classical European cuisine within the walls of a 600-year-old temple complex


Lost Heaven Restaurant: Tribal-style dishes from Yunnan Province. Exotic and beautiful restaurant decoration.


Da Dong – Peking Duck Restaurant: Highly recommended by many of our guests. Close to hotel and Wangfujing shopping street.


Dali Courtyard Restaurant: “No choice restaurant” - The chef prepares what is available. Not really suitable for kids or picky eaters, but a favorite within locals and adventurous visitors.


The Brick Yard: Organic restaurant close to the entry point to the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall. Casual place great for a bite, massage and a drink after exploring the Wall.



Chinese Cuisine

All Chinese cuisine areas have influenced our Executive Chef to create a menu that will make you experience the best China has to offer. The main eight Chinese cuisines are:


Shandong – Local flavors from Jinan city and Jiaodong peninsula which is part of East China (NE China) and therefore seafood is dominant. Known for Corn, peanuts and it use of grains andfamous for its production of vinegar. Steamed breads are used more than rice, as its staple diet.


Guangdong - better known in general as Cantonese food from southern China using fine, rare and fresh ingredients. It is cooked with great skill with a distinguished difference in style between summer and autumn and winter and spring. The cuisine is best known in the Western World and also uses preserved foods with intense flavors. Also famous for Dim Sum .


Sichuan – combines cuisines from Chengdu and Chongqing from South Western China. It has recorded a total of 38 cooking methods and the food is generally known to be spicy using chili oils and often contains food preserves through pickling, salting and drying. Main techniques used are stir-fry, steam and braising.


Hunan – also known as Xiang cuisine, from Xiang river region, Dongting Lake and western Hunan Province in Southern China. Food is generally a hot spicy food known for its liberal use of, shallots and garlic and distinctive mala seasonings, tends to be hotter than Sichuan cooking but uses lots of fresh ingredients and tends to be oilier. Summer dishes are cold using cold meats and platters and in winter the hotpot is popular.


Jiangsu – from Yangzhou, Suzhou and Nanjing, braising and stewing techniques mainly used. Food from the Eastern coastal provinces and includes dishes from Shanghai. The food is characterized that the texture is soft but not mushy. An emphasis on using soup is used to improve flavor. Huaiyang style with the Jiansu cuisine is famous and part of the culinary heritage in China alongside Cantonese, Shandong and Sichuan cuisine. Braised spare ribs (i.e. Wuxi)


Zhejiang – Hangzhou/Ningbo’s Shaoxing, Eastern coastal areas, dishes named after place names, frying, quick fry, braising and steaming as main techniques.


Fujian – is known for its abundance of fish on the Southeast Coast of China and has 4 main features: fine cutting techniques, unique seasonings featuring sweet and sour, soups and exquisite cooking techniques. Food is not greasy, is fresh and soft in flavor with mellow fragrance.


Anhui – flavors of Huizhou and areas all along the Yangtze and Huai River where braising food is dominant. The area has plenty of uncultivated fields and forests. As a result, wild herbs are readily used in the cuisine.


Beijing Street Food – As Beijing is the capital for centuries its cuisine is influenced by culinary traditions all over China but is mostly influenced by Shandong cuisine. A selection of Beijing favorite street food, enjoyed by the locals, is available at the courtyard and should be tried by the curious foreigner.

Chinese Etiquette

Banquets
You don't have to eat everything (you can't possibly anyway, there will be too much food). But try a little of every dish by putting some on your plate or rice bowl. You don't have to eat it, but as a foreign guest, you're supposed to be served first. If you don't try something, your host will be embarrassed—and most likely, will put it on your plate for you.


Bargaining
Open air markets, and privately run stores are best for bargaining. (Large department stores have set prices.) Remember to establish a friendly rapport first. You are creating a relationship with the merchant, not a price war. Think of it this way: Bargaining is to the Chinese what seduction is to the French. Shouting, arguing, and pointing are not very seductive. Smiling, being friendly, offering to buy more for a better price are. And don't be afraid to ask, "Can you offer me a better price?"


Cars
Never, ever assume pedestrians have the right of way. Cars will not necessarily stop for you. Cross with a group if possible at a designated crosswalk. A car won't stop for a single person necessarily but will stop for a group because the driver doesn't want the car to be dented. Chinese drivers really love their cars.


Chopsticks
Don't point with them at people's faces. Don't stab your food with them like toothpicks. Don't lick them. And by all means don't stick them upright in your rice bowl—that's how the Chinese honor the dead at graves.


Face
Never shout even when someone has done something wrong. Losing your temper will only make the other person feel that he or she has lost face (i.e. dignity) and will often cause that person to refuse to take responsibility for a problem . Best to smile, keep friendly, and persistently ask the person to *help you* solve whatever problem has arisen.


Male-female relationships
Alas, the image of the loose American woman perpetuated by Hollywood movies is alive and well in China. If a man makes unwanted advances to you, say loudly the Chinese word for "No," (bu) which is pronounced like the English word "Boo!" If you say it forcefully, it will be in the correct tone. If you are a man, don't be touchy-feely with Chinese women lest they think you are propositioning them.


Public displays of affection
While younger Chinese can be as openly demonstrative as Westerners, if not more so, older Chinese are not used to PDAs. Be aware of your surroundings. Around older Chinese anything more than holding hands with your partner or a quick peck on the cheeck might embarrass people.


Respect for elders
It's fine to open doors and give up a seat to an older person of either gender. And don't be offended if younger Chinese—male or female—offer you an arm going up stairs or other assistance if you are older. They don't think you're infirm. They're just trying to be polite.


Smiling
Chinese smile for more reasons than Americans. A smile can mean the person is embarrassed, trying to be helpful, curious, happy or friendly. In the middle of an argument, smiling means that the speaker doesn't want this to become personal. When all else fails, smile in China. It shows you have no ill intentions and can work wonders in getting better service. DO use laughter to defuse a situation—whether bargaining, arguing, or refusing a request. It's something the Chinese do frequently when they're uncomfortable. "It should not be read as meaning you've done something embarrassing or humiliating," says Seligman. He once fell down the stairs in a Chinese department store. "Nobody helped me up, but several people laughed at me. It was a nervous response to a dicey situation." It didn't really help in the moment, but it's worth remembering that you shouldn't take offense.


Tipping
If you plan to return to a restaurant, then tip. Guidebooks say not to, but in fact most Chinese know enough about the Western world to know that tipping is practiced regularly in other countries. Tips are rarely (in our experience, never) refused and create goodwill.



How to Make Guanxi


Guanxi can be translated variously as relationships or connections, and it's a little of both, but—and this is an important distinction—it doesn't necessarily mean friendships. It's simply a way of getting things accomplished in an until-recently very poor country laden with bureaucratic hurdles, where well-placed calls to government officials are not just the work of lobbyists (or "consultants," as they're known in China) but often the only way to get even the most mundane transactions off the ground. You'll be cultivating these relationships in China whether you like it or not.


For extra credit, associates might take you out to karaoke, a major pastime in China. A few things to bear in mind:


There will be hostesses. You're unlikely to be taken to shady spots where actual hanky-panky occurs—though they are a part of the business culture—but even the most aboveboard establishments will provide women to serve up drinks and conversation in between songs. It's not necessarily anything seedy, just part of the evening.


Take it seriously. There'll be lots of laughs, but karaoke is not the irony-laden campfest it is here. "When the Chinese person comes up to sing karaoke, he's not doing it to be funny," says Troost. "He's doing it to demonstrate his prowess as a singer. They have a preference for love ballads. You should praise them."


Don't drink (at least not heavily) and make deal. Most business travelers agree that drinking can be a way to throw you off balance during negotiations. Keeping your control will not only preserve face, it will ensure that you don't sign anything without due consideration. And if you don't feel you can do that, put the signing off for another day.


Body Gestures

- DON'T whistle or snap your fingers

- DON'T point with your index finger. Instead, use an open hand.


Greetings

- DO shake hands upon greeting someone. When shaking hands with a Chinese woman, only give a light handshake. Aside from that, people in China tend to prefer not to be touched, especially older people.


- DON'T greet by embracing or kissing, either on the cheeks or on the hands. This is seen as unacceptable to the Chinese, unless you know the person very well.


- DO carry around a business card of the hotel you are staying in. This way, if you are taking a taxi back to the hotel or if you happen to get lost, you can easily give them the address of the hotel even if they do not speak English.


- Don’t forget the small talk!

Avoid the temptation to disclose your strategy at first. Start out with general observations or questions. Chinese like to take their time getting to know you, getting a feel of who you really are.


Wining and dining often comes first. This is all part of the guan xi building process or making ‘connections’, crucial before getting down to the nitty-gritty. Deals are rarely closed on first meetings.


- Speaking:

Speak slowly and use short sentences.

Do not become agitated if there are pauses in speech on the part of the Chinese. This is an accepted custom and the pauses are a sign of measured and considered thought in Chinese culture.


Do not expect an immediate reaction from your Chinese colleagues. The Chinese like to consolidate their position in a measured and considered fashion.


Also, avoid slang and colloquialisms; it is unlikely you will be understood.


- Do not interrupt:

Remember who holds the floor and do not interrupt the speaker.


- Never put anyone on the spot:

Always offer a way out so your counterpart can preserve face.


- Colours:

Avoid White; it is the colour or mourning. Red, suggests power, prosperity and authority, and is the preferred colour in China.


- Numbers:

4 and 14 are very bad and mean death. 3 means longevity and 8 means wealth/prosperity


- Let them smoke:

There are 350 million people who smoke in China. They consume 1.8 trillion cigarettes each year, or one-third of cigarettes smoked worldwide. Many Chinese consider smoking, usually among men, the right thing to do in a business environment. Let them do it!


- Talk metric:

Supply technical and pricing information in metric units. Your customers and suppliers will appreciate and understand you better this way.

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