Looking for something active, artistic and different in Beijing? Look no further!
Beijing is famous for its rich cultural history and landmarks – however, I had done the famous Beijing sights like the Great Wall and Forbidden City back in University with my mom and brother. This time was going to be much different! For starters, I stayed in the expat neighbourhood of Sanlitun and wandered around checking out some crazy modern, controversial art! Topless women? Headless Chairman Mao? American star reimagined as a ninja star? Check and check. Saw some very cool sights during my two hour exploration through a converted industrial neighbourhood in the city. I definitely recommend this excursion for those looking for an off-the-beaten path kind of day – full of colourful walls and plenty of photo-ops.
My mom had her friend come meet me (she was worried about me in the big city, haha! I guess mother’s can be right – I appreciated having someone who knows Mandarin navigate the taxi system).
(Taken from travelchinaguide.com) : Named after the 798 factory which was built in 1950s, the 798 Art Zone is located in the northeast corner of Beijing. It is also called the Dashanzi Art District (DAD) as it sits in Dashanzi zone. 798 Art District covers an area of 148 acres (60 hectares), with Jiuxianqiao Road to its west, Beijing-Baotou railway to its east, Jiangtai Road to its south and Jiuxianqiao Road North to its north. Characterized by modern art, it has become the exhibition center of Chinese culture and art, and also the world-famous cultural and creative industries centralized area.
The area occupied by the art zone was once the place for North China Wireless Joint Equipment Factory. Afterwards, the corporation moved out of the Dashanzi District and leased those plants (798 factory being one of them). The architectural style, featuring simple design and varied composition, follows the Bauhaus way. Attracted by ordered design, convenient traffic, unique style of Bauhaus architecture, many art organizations and artists came to rent the vacant plants and transformed them. Gradually there formed a district gathering galleries, art studios, cultural companies, fashion shops etc. As the area where the early art organizations and artists moved in was located in the original area of the 798 plant, this place was named 798 Art Zone.
Here are just a few of my favourite shots!
It IS hard to get here via public transit from what I understand – so get the address written in Chinese and hail China’s version of Uber. More on this at the very end.
How to get there
As I mentioned earlier, it will probably be more comfortable to simply hail a taxi or a “Didi” (China’s Uber).
If you can’t make it here though, never fear – there’s a modern, high-end mall that also features lots of local artists and more provocative art.