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Hidden Charms of Beijing

Updated: 2012-05-08 18:07

Caochangdi Art District has attracted more than 300 art bodies.

The charm of a great capital, such as Paris, Rome or London, reveals itself the moment you arrive. It is in your face, obvious for all to see. But to appreciate the essential character of Beijing, you may need to spend some more time. But in the long term, the effort is likely to prove more rewarding than the instant delights of Paris or Prague, and the unique experience is one you will want to revisit, physically or in memory. Call it the hidden magic of Beijing.

Last month, in "Beijing Blitz", we introduced a few less well-known places worth visiting in the historic city, such as the 798 Art Zone, Wudaoying hutong and Huguang Guild Hall.

Here are a few more hidden gems where you can soak up the charm of the ancient capital.

1. Caochangdi Art District

If the 798 Art Zone is to Beijing what Chelsea is to New York, then Caochangdi is like the Williamsburg neighborhood in Brooklyn.

Caochangdi, which means grasslands, is as its name suggests, a quieter, more idyllic pasture for Chinese modern artists, compared with the more commercialized 798 Art Zone.

A vendor selling antiques in Panjiayuan Market waits for his customers.

This haven is located next to the Fifth Ring Road in the northeast of the city, and surrounded by a boisterous street life.

Caochangdi has attracted more than 300 other art bodies, including galleries, photographic studios and documentary filmmakers, with its cheaper rents and "purer" artistic atmosphere.

These art spaces are scattered among residents' houses, but stand out either through their avant-garde architecture or the various art forms of their creative interiors.

How to get there: Take a 418, 688 or 402 bus to Caochangdi station.

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