In many ways, Chaoyang Park is the idyllic Beijing expat neighbourhood. The gigantic Chaoyang Park itself offers vast green space and various family activities; it’s near the international schools in Sanlitun and Shunyi; there’s a dizzying array of restaurants and bars; many nearby corporate offices and embassies are within a short commute, and the neighbourhood has an urban vibe yet maintains a sense of community. In the eastern part of Chaoyang District, Chaoyang Park extends from Nongzhanguan Nan Lu north to the Airport Expressway and Lido between the Third and Fourth Ring Road. This is a bustling, modern area with many conveniences and a huge expat community, although this is also a neighbourhood where local Beijing culture thrives, providing a great combination of local flavour and expat conveniences. Chaoyang Park’s location is another advantage. Most foreign embassies are located in this district, the CBD is a short taxi or subway ride to the south, and Capital International Airport is a relatively short trip to the north.
Until the Olympic Green was built for the 2008 Olympics, Chaoyang Park was Beijing’s largest park. It provides vast green spaces, gardens, sports areas for pick-up games and a thriving restaurant and bar scene along its West Gate. There’s plenty of shopping nearby, relatively convenient subway access and varied housing options. On the downside, the area’s a bit too noisy and polluted for some families, and beggars and hawkers that infiltrate the touristy areas can be a nuisance for longer-term residents.
Chaoyang Park is a relatively dense, urban neighborhood, so don’t expect to find the large villa housing plentiful in Shunyi. Property in northeast Chaoyang is dominated by high-rise flats and apartment blocks. The residential area clustered around Chaoyang Park is the quietest and most appealing to expat families, with the most valuable properties facing the park. A two-bedroom in a full-service modern high-rise with its luxurious amenities will start at RMB14,000. The residential area on the far side of the Third Ring Road is quieter, and the prices reflect its appealing location, starting at about RMB15,000 for a two-bedroom in a serviced building. Rents just north of Chaoyang Park are a bit lower, since developments are older and provide fewer modern services.
Health and Wellness
Chaoyang Park is near many international health facilities, and the area provides a wide range of fitness and healthy leisure options. One of the best and most convenient medical facilities is Beijing International Medical Centre in the Lufthansa Centre on Liangmaqiao Lu, a 24-hour private hospital with English-speaking doctors. It offers all major services, including emergency treatment, major and minor surgery, family health care, sexual health, dentistry and counseling. Beijing United Family Hospital & Clinics, in Lido, is a popular choice among expats. It provides English-speaking staff, has an intensive care unit and a large on-site pharmacy, and even offers first-aid training and antenatal services. The Beijing International SOS clinic, in nearby Sanlitun, offers comprehensive services for expats, including optometry, counseling, orthopedics, dentistry and travel vaccinations. To stay healthy, you can frequent the gyms and spas provided by many of the housing complexes, as well as several public fitness centers in the neighborhood. To get involved in the area’s yoga community, join Yogi Yoga, which offers classes throughout the day in English and Mandarin, as well as training courses and events. Chaoyang Park is a great place to exercise, play sports with friends and family or join a league. There are public football fields where ClubFootball hosts its five-a-side league. The park also has basketball courts, ping pong tables, tennis and beach volleyball.
Several large, acclaimed international schools have campuses in the Sanlitun and Chaoyang Park areas. The Beijing World Youth Academy caters to both Chinese and foreign students in grades six to 12, offering the International Baccalaureate curriculum. Facilities include multimedia labs, a pool, a recording studio and a plethora of after-school activities. The Canadian International School of Beijing is a Montessori model that operates under the direct guidance of the Ministry of Education of Canada with teachers certified by Canadian standards. It advertises a 10:1 student to teacher ratio and state-of-the-art facilities. The Ivy Bilingual Academy, which follows a combination of Chinese national and American curriculum, has several Chaoyang locations. The British International School of Beijing and Dulwich College both have campuses in Chaoyang, though they only offer programs through grade six. Both schools offer shuttle services to their Shunyi campuses, where pre-kindergarten children through grade 12 can enroll. The area is home to numerous nurseries and playgroups. The Children’s House Montessori Kindergarten is a nursery, pre-school and kindergarten following the Montessori curriculum, and the nearby Lufthansa campus has access to tennis courts and a large playground. Children’s House Montessori Kindergarten is a popular bilingual Montessori school that caters to children aged two to seven with options for full-day or half-day enrolment.
One of the many benefits of living near Chaoyang Park is its proximity to popular areas and good public transportation options. The three main expressways are the Third Ring Road, the Fourth Ring Road and the Airport Expressway. Therefore, you can theoretically zip down to the CBD or downtown on the Third Ring Road, or connect to the Airport Expressway up to Capital International Airport. Of course, commute times depend on the omnipresent traffic jam variable. However, travel times to the nightlife area Sanlitun, the CBD, downtown and the airport are all generally reasonable. Many expat families in Chaoyang Park buy a car and get a local driving license or hire a driver, although, unlike in Lido or Shunyi, there are plenty of public transportation options.
Taxis are plentiful in Chaoyang Park. Eastern Chaoyang Park is served by subway Line 10, which opened just prior to the 2008 Olympics. It runs along or parallel to the Third Ring Road, making it convenient for those who reside along the western side of Chaoyang Park. It has stops along the Third Ring Road at Liangmaqiao, at the Agricultural Exhibition Centre and, continuing south, at Tunjiehu. Subway Line 14, under construction at the time of writing, will vastly improve subway access for Chaoyang Park residents. It will cross under part of Chaoyang Park, along the Fourth Ring Road, and then continue to the Capital Airport Expressway. Walking and cycling are convenient options for those who reside near the park, as most housing is near shopping and entertainment areas.
Shopping and Amenities
The area around Chaoyang Park is very convenient for shopping, with restaurants offering plenty of hotspots concentrated along a few streets. People from all over Beijing flock to Chaoyang Park for exercise, entertainment and fresh air. The Lufthansa Center has several major clothing outlets, including You Yi Shopping City, that carry popular Western Brands. The multi-story department store also carries cosmetics, clothes and other accessories. Solana Lifestyle Shopping on the northern end of the Park is quintessential modern China, with retail shops offering what seems like a thousand clothing brands. Laitai Flora Market, north of Chaoyang Park, is a massive plant and porcelain market. For antiques, Liangma Antique Market, also on the north end of Chaoyang Park, is a great place to shop for authentic Chinese decorations and furniture. And east of Chaoyang Park is Jia Na Ma Ni Tibetan Carpets, reputed to be the best place to buy hand-woven carpets in all of Beijing. For food shopping, there’s a Jenny Lou’s at the West Gate of Chaoyang Park and several Carrefours in Chaoyang District. For nightlife, expats tend to congregate along the West Gate of Chaoyang Park, where there are several good bars and clubs. The World of Suzie Wong and Goose & Duck Pub are popular places for beer, bar food and watching sports, and nearby Annie’s is an Italian chain popular with locals and expats. The Lufthansa Centre has a couple of great German restaurants. For a late, rowdy night out, head across the district to Sanlitun.