A glimpse of modern Beijing

In general, I am not a big fan of modern buildings. Don’t get me wrong, some of them are absolutely fascinating and the architecture is mind-boggling. But I am far more intrigued by old buildings and the stories around them.

However, as most people know, in Beijing – as in most other Chinese cities – there are lots and lots of modern buildings. Actually, many expats I have met in Beijing are architects. I was being told that in the Western world there are not many exciting opportunities for most architects these days, thus many come to Asia to pursue their dreams.

Below some impressions of what Beijing looks like in 2015 – I am sure it looked quite different 10 years ago and it might not look the same in 10 years time…


This area is called Sanlitun – these days an amusement and shopping paradise for both expats and young Chinese. It is close to the current diplomatic district, which was moved here after 1949, when the government decided to move it outside the inner city. International hotels introduced the first bars, but only in the 1990s the fist standalone establishments appeared. Nowadays more than 60 percent of Beijing’s bars are located here. Sanlitun saw significant new construction as part of preparations for the 2008 Summer Olympics and even now there is still a lot of construction going on – since my departure in summer 2012 quite a few new buildings appeared.

Another very popular place in Beijing is called “The Place”, yes super creative. The Place is not only another shopping mall (surprise, surprise) but has also the biggest LED screen in Asia (as far as I am aware of).


Then there is CBD and Beijing’s impressive skyline. The tallest building is Beijing stands 330m tall and as of 2015 is the 33rd-tallest building in the world. 


I had to steal this one from the internet:


Another famous place is Wangfujing street. It is one of the most famous shopping streets in Beijing (yes, some more shopping). Right next to it is Wangfujing snack street – where you can try deep friend scorpion skewers or some yummy maggots…


scorpion skewer

Below an impression of what Beijing traffic is usually like – especially during peak hour, but I was once even stuck in a traffic jam at 2am:


And here is what Beijing can look like on a polluted day:


And finally I take you with me on a cycle tour along Chang’an Avenue – which is one of the most significant roads in Beijing. Because of its sensitive location, special regulations apply to Chang’an Avenue. For example, trucks and freight vehicles are banned day and night – still there is usually lots of traffic. 

One thought on “A glimpse of modern Beijing

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  1. a hundred euros for a hairdo!!!! madness.
    I enjoyed the bike ride, the pics of modern Beijing.
    couldn’t imagine a pollution day in that city. how does one breath?
    thanks for that, verena. and for the hutong pics last week.
    yes, a roving reporter you are turning into! keep it up.


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