A First-hand Experience into moving & living in Major Urban Districts: Haidian and Chaoyang in Beijing, China
Beijing is spread across 16,801 km² with a population over 20.18 million (20122 census). The vast size and the constant economic growth of this city are a vital part to what foreigners are attracted to and the possible reason they promptly leave the life they were living in their own country and move here in the City of the East.
Beijing Municipality currently comprises 16 administrative county-level subdivisions. But in this post, I am only going to be focusing on the districts located at the center of the city and moving from one end to another. In the heart of hearts, lies Xicheng and Dongcheng. Moving further away, between the 2nd and 5th ring road, lie the major Urban Districts: Chaoyang, Haidian, Fengtai and Shijingshan.
The central part of Haidian’s economy is the Zhongguancun electronics district, which hosts the Beijing offices of many software and computer technology companies. Whereas, Chaoyang is home to the majority of Beijing’s many foreign embassies, the well-known Sanlitun bar street, as well as Beijing’s growing CBD.
Having lived a major part of my time in Haidian, an educational district, with the majority of universities located here, it is definitely going to be a change to be moving to the Chaoyang district, to be more precise- Chaoyangmen. The Chaoyang Gate (the Gate Facing the Sun) was the main gate of the East City. The gate was demolished, along with the walls and moat of the East City in the 1950s and replaced with the 2nd Ring Road where the moat and walls had been.
One observation that cannot be ignored is that Haidian is more relaxed than the ever-busy Chaoyang. I am most certainly 2 minutes walking distance from Starbucks which, just by the way, I regard as a complete hype for absolutely no reason at all. I’ve tasted better coffee, better food in the most local of the local places. That is my one line review of the God-knows-why-famous Starbucks. In Chaoyangmen I live right across what seems to be the Russian District. There are numerous cafes, shopping malls all Russian. There are plenty of foreigners on this side of the city. H&M, Suning, U-town, Walmart, Costa coffee, Mc Donalds and even Burger King join the list of places within 5 minutes from where I live on Chao wai nan lu.
A walk on the Chaowainanlu, and the Russian malls are all around this place, also a very interesting find is the lack of Chinese restaurants and a bunch of stores selling fox skin. It was shocking to see the amount of skin people had outside their stores, very casually just counting the number of dead animal fur.
Although this Business District is suppose to impress, it fails to do so as compared to the Haidian soul. Good inexpensive chinese food is hard to find, and this is a vital point to focus on as is good housing, places promoting themselves for students. A good location is mostly all that matters, not only does the apartment count, but don’t forget to also look carefully around the locality you choose to live in Beijing.