Best drinks in Beijing
These can range in price, and some tea houses are really tourist traps whose main goal is to milk you of your money, so be careful. You can get a free tea demonstration at most Tenrenfu tea houses which are located throughout the city and at some malls. In Beijing, that is now leading the country’s cultural revival, also remember that a tea can be sipped while watching martial arts and acrobatics. What the hell is this? Some teahouses have recently reappeared showing a variety of Beijing Opera and traditional shows and there you will be served delicious selections of tea and cakes too. Although Western influences have been embraced to transform traditional Chinese art forms into contemporary pieces, it’s still possible to get a taste of some traditional theatre, such as story-telling to musical accompaniment, magic shows and acrobatics daily at the Lao She Chaguan, Da Wancha Building and at the Tianqiao Happy Teahouse.
Good coffee is hard to find in most parts of China, although addicts have a place to retreat now that Starbucks has at least 50 spots in the capital, most situated around shopping malls and in commercial districts of the city.
The most popular Chinese beer, which is also quite good, is Qingdao. You can get it for 10-20 yuan or just 2-3 from a street vendor whilst the main beer brand of Beijing is Yanjing (10-15 yuan at restaurants, 2 yuan on the street).
Wine made in China are considered not drinkable by most foreigners, but it is also true that it’s not their traditional drink. Just give them 10 years and they will come up with it too! If you really want to have some good wine, you can try Great Wall that is the most popular local brand, or get foreign products, such as those from the US, France, Italy, Australia, and Chile, but you will find them in more upper scale restaurants.
Looking for hard liquors? Try Bai jiu (white liquor) that comes in a large variety everywhere for very cheap prices and should be avoided if you want to have a clear mind for your visit on the next day. Mao Tai is one of the more famous brands but it is quite expensive.
If you wish to have a hint on what to eat and drink together, don’t forget Beijing is famous for its Roast Duck. It is well served at many restaurants with thin pancakes, plum sauce and slivers of scallions and cucumbers. You dip the duck in the sauce and roll it up in the pancake with a few slivers of scallions and/or cucumbers. The end result is a mouth-watering combination of the cool crunchiness of the cucumber, the sharpness of the scallions, and the rich flavours of the duck. Well served with a cool Qingdao Beer! Beijing is also known for its lamb hotpot (shuàn yáng ròu), which is a funny cook-it-yourself affair in a steaming pot in the centre of the table featuring a savoury, non-spicy broth. To play it safe and satisfy everyone, you can request yunyáng for a pot divided down the middle, with spicy broth on one side and regular broth on the other.
On a last but useful note, keep in mind that during Olympic games everything is going to be much expensive from food to accommodation and comparable to western rates. Do not fear to haggle: is essential especially in touristy markets, shopping areas, etc. Example youth hostels that used to sell a bed night for 3 euros, now they sell it for 20-30 euros. So, what about International hotel chains?? Worse than worse.
But if you are looking for a typical still clean and affordable accommodation while in China’s capital you can try to look for the following budget hotels, guest houses ( B&B or Bed and breakfast) and international youth hostels that kept decent prices.