This international community in the northeast corner of Chaoyang is considered Beijing’s original expat enclave, existing prior to the giant villas of Shunyi or boom time in the CBD. It’s still hugely popular, and expat families who reside in Lido commend its convenience and the sense of community. Many of the expat residents in Lido have been in China for years and take pride in their community, creating a sense of neighbourhood that can be hard to come by in Beijing. The benefits to living in Lido are, indeed, numerous. The airport expressway makes it easy for families to send their children to the magnificent international schools in Shunyi and Chaoyang, and the proximity to the airport makes it convenient for those who travel frequently. Lido also has its own international schools, access to world-class health care facilities throughout Chaoyang, international supermarkets and the famous 798, a massive collection of independent art galleries. On the negative side, the subway doesn’t pass through the area and, for some, Lido feels too international, lacking an active nightlife and Chinese culture. Overall, Lido has a pleasant and livable feel and is ideal for expat families. Singles, however, may feel a bit isolated and prefer living deeper into Chaoyang.
Lido is far from the old Beijing districts and the reference points are modern commercial buildings rather than historical landmarks. The center of the neighborhood is the Holiday Inn Lido and the shops and services in the surrounding complex. Lido is bisected by the airport expressway, which heads north towards the airport and south into Chaoyang. Towards the north, Lido is bordered by the Fourth Ring Road and further on is the popular expat neighborhood of Shunyi.
Generally, accommodation in Lido is modern, comfortable and affordable. The abundance of housing and the distance from the city centre serve to keep prices down. The options range from tower apartments to housing developments. Most of the new housing comes with excellent facilities, including gyms, saunas and swimming pools, although rent in these complexes can reach RMB14,000 per month. A smaller two- or three-bedroom apartment with 24-hour security can cost as little as RMB4,000 per month. One block east of the Holiday Inn are the Hairun International Condominiums, home to hundreds of expats – a popular central option with enough local services to make them virtually self-sustaining.
Health and Wellness
Lido is part of Chaoyang, meaning that there are plenty of health care options. Beijing United Family, located right in the neighbourhood, is one of Beijing’s largest international hospitals and the first choice for most expats in Lido. It has an on-site laboratory and pharmacy, and internationally trained English-speaking staff. Additionally, the hospital offers a first-aid and antenatal course. The Amcare Women & Children’s Hospital in Chaoyang specializes in maternity care, pediatrics and women’s health. It also has a recreation centre and gym. The China-Japan Friendship Hospital, just south of Lido in Chaoyang, is a highly regarded public hospital and was used by athletes during the 2008 Olympics. The International Medical Center offers family medicine, dermatology, pediatrics and counseling at this facility located just south and east of Lido. To stay fit, join one of Lido’s many modern fitness clubs or, better yet, get involved in one of the sports clubs that are organized in Side Park. The Beijing International Badminton Club meets here regularly as does a five-a-side football league. Side Park is also ideal for running or cycling.
Lido is ideally located between Chaoyang and Shunyi, providing expats with a number of education options. Eton International School and the Eton International Bilingual Academy both have campuses in Lido. The Eton International Academy accepts Chinese and expat pupils from 18 months to nine year olds and follows the Montessori curriculum. Instruction is in English, the student-teacher ratio is very low and the facilities are outstanding. 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 Beijing World Youth Academy caters to both Chinese and foreign students for grades six to 12, offering the International Baccalaureate curriculum or Chinese national curriculum as well as a plethora of interactive after school activities. Many of the Shunyi international schools shuttle students from Lido to their suburban campuses. The International School of Beijing is one of Beijing’s largest, catering to children from pre-kindergarten to grade 12 using the International Baccalaureate program. The British International School has a gigantic campus in Shunyi, as well as a smaller campus in Chaoyang, both of which are accessible to students from Lido.
Most expats in Lido rely on cars to get around the city, either by getting an international driver’s license or buying a car and hiring a driver. The main road through the area is the airport expressway, which connects Lido to the Third and Fourth Ring Roads. The airport is a 20- to 30-minute drive away, depending on traffic. Taking the airport expressway north past the Fourth Ring Road leads into Shunyi, where many Lido families send their children to school. Lido is far from downtown, and it’s a long haul through dense traffic to get to the city centre, which will undoubtedly limit your visits there. On the other hand, it’s not too much hassle to drive or take a taxi into popular areas of Chaoyang, including Sanlitun. Taxis are plentiful in Lido and are a good option to reach the entertainment and nightlife areas in Chaoyang. Lido itself is relatively compact and it’s quite reasonable to walk around the neighbourhood for daily shopping, to the local pubs or to the area’s parks. The nearest subway stop, which is still about 4.5 km away from the centre of Lido, is Sanyuanqiao on Line 13, which is also the transfer point for the airport line. This is not a convenient option unless you’re planning a trip into the centre and want to avoid congestion. There are frequent buses that will take you into Dongzhimen Station, but they’re cramped and slow.
Shopping and Services
Lido is a relatively small enclave, devoid of megamalls and supercentres. However, it does offer a good mix of shops, cafés and restaurants that suit Western tastes, including Starbucks and Jenny Lou’s. The Holiday Inn Lido complex houses many popular restaurants to keep you in the neighbourhood, such as Pure Lotus and The Taj. Down the street along Lido Garden, Fangyuan Xi Lu has some fun houseware shops and a couple of trendy furniture shops such as Katrell and Kang Deco, which recreates Ming Dynasty pieces. If you’re thinking of going more conventional, there’s an IKEA on the Fourth Ring Road – the largest outside Sweden. Marko, a cash and carry store, is on Jiuxiangqiao Lu, near Wanhong Lu. The top floor has everything you need to set up a new apartment, including kitchenware and electronic goods. The lower floor is a huge supermarket. Lido is not terribly exciting at night apart from a line of sports bars and pubs along the northeast side of Side Park. For more interesting nightlife, you’re better off taking a taxi to Chaoyang Park or, better yet, down to Sanlitun on the other side of Chaoyang. The cultural highlight of Lido, and one of the highlights of all of Beijing, is the 798 Art District, an area that once housed a bunch of top-secret weapons factories. Once the land was auctioned off, artists recently evicted from the Old Summer Palace area began moving into large, well-illuminated spaces. The result: a collection of galleries so large that you could browse for days. If you’re inside 798, definitely lunch at At Café, a reconverted old factory.