Taikoo Li Sanlitun Tours – China, Beijing
Taikoo Li Sanlitun
About this place
Taikoo Li Sanlitun is a budding Omotesando cum Roppongi — a fashion and entertainment centre reminiscent of Tokyo. It boasts cool cafes, bars and clubs, as well as a host of shops with all those brand names we clamor for. Uniqlo, Apple, Nike, Lacoste, Benetton — they're all here. Taikoo Li Sanlitun is constantly being expanded and improved upon. In fact, Taikoo Li Sanlitun, is even home to the largest Adidas store in the world.
After the foundation of the People's Republic of China, the government wanted to move the diplomatic district outside the inner city. This area was picked as the spot and named Sanlitun, which translates as 1.5 kilometers away from Dongzhimen Gate. The area began to blossom once the economic reforms of the late 1970s and early 1980s kicked in. Expat bars opened, and later on the Chinese would also venture into them to hobnob with foreigners. As the years passed more and more bars, restaurants and hotels sprang up on both sides of Gongti Bei Lu, and well-known lanes such as Nan Jie were demolished to make way for new buildings.
Features: Taikoo Li Sanlitun (formerly Sanlitun Village) opened in the summer of 2008, just in time for the Beijing Olympic Games. Today, the shopping mall is a magnet for kids and teens as well as adults. There are numerous boutiques and restaurants to explore, as well as a multiplex cinema where you can enjoy the latest movies.
In the basement, there is a supermarket in which you will more than likely find that breakfast cereal or jar of Vegemite you are missing from home, while on the upper levels of the mall you can find a wide selection of restaurants. If you fancy a Japanese feast, then opt for Haru Teppanyaki and Sushi Bar. It's a great place for lunch or dinner. Hatsune is another Japanese restaurant worth checking out while those more interested in a fusion of eastern and western cuisines might like to venture into Element Fresh. This restaurant offers great salads, fresh juices and various reasonable meal deals. Union Bar & Grille is a popular steakhouse, and those yearning for Chinese food are spoilt for choice. Chaodian comes highly recommended for its dim sum and Hong Kong delicacies, while Karaiya Spice House serves up Hunan cuisine in an intimate environment. Meanwhile, if it's McDonald's you're craving, you'll find a branch here. Those with a sweet tooth have not been overlooked either – you guys might want to check out the great crepes and lunch sets at Jaya Cafe or indulge in some fruity puddings at the Asian dessert shop Mango. Beyond this, you can find Italian, Spanish, French and other delicious cuisines in restaurants that suit all budgets.
Sanlitun has various sides to its personality, but predominantly it boasts two faces – one for daytime and another for night owls. During the day, this is the place to come to and spend, spend and spend, or at the very least do some big-time window shopping. There are some really cool shops here. One of my favorites is Crossover Center, where you can buy the wildest furniture and art for your home. Even if you don't have your own house or flat, or the disposable income to shell out thousands of yuan on a giant-size statue of a pig to hang from your ceiling, it is at least worth browsing around this shop to view the curios on display. I just adore the fiberglass pig that stands on the staircase. It bites into a pearl necklace while injecting a hypodermic needle into a rather huge breast, and is a piece of art I would love to have in my living room.
At the back of Taikoo Li Sanlitun, heading West towards the Poly Theatre, you can find more interesting stores and places to eat. Do check out April Gourmet, situated in the Just Make Building, Xingfuzhongjie. This is a supermarket geared towards expats where you can find all sorts of treats. There is a deli selling everything from Camembert and Feta cheese to salami, hummus and fresh salads. You will find a range of breads and shelf after shelf of all sorts of condiments and specialties that you probably miss from home. April Gourmet is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to midnight. If you are looking for Garam Masala, papadums or some turmeric, then do check out the small grocery store Qi Yuan Mart on Sanlitun 41. It specializes in Indian ingredients.
Also, behind Taikoo Li Sanlitun you will find Comme des Garcon, Giorgio Armani and other boutiques in the throes of being completed. Taikoo Li Sanlitun is an ongoing project. But 3.3 Shopping Mall has been open for business for a while now. Here in the basement you can find a videogame arcade as well as a great massage center where you can enjoy foot massages, full body massages and a range of other relaxation treatments. On other floors there are numerous boutiques selling trendy clothing for both men and women, and on the topmost floor you can even find a couple of tailors who will measure you up and make a suit or dress to suit your own personal taste. Nearby 3.3 Shopping Mall you can find nook-and-cranny shops and roadside stalls that cut keys and do shoe repairs, as well as sell English-language books and DVDs of both Chinese and foreign films. Those who are in the market for "olde worlde" Chinese furniture and ornaments should pop into Flame Tree at 7 Gongti Bei Lu. Here, you will find some gorgeous reproductions of screens, wooden chests and traditional-looking Chinese cabinets as well as a case full of jewelry. If you turn down the side street at Flame Tree, you will see the Xinjiang Muslim Restaurant, a place that has also been highly recommended to me. With its mosque-like dome and front yard, the restaurant looks like a fun place to dine, and the aromas that drift from here in the evening are truly mouthwatering.
Take Bus No. 113, 118, 701 to Sanlitun Station.
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