Drinking in Beijing

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For Adriaa, a South African tourist, a few sips of tea in a bar featuring Chinese horticulture and framed windows means more than just an evening's pastime; instead it gives him a real feeling of being in the right place to taste the country's culture.

"In Beijing, the Forbidden City and Summer Palace are not the only attractions for foreigners to get to know China. I like it here where I can see Chinese people really close," he says, while leaning on the bar's wooden window adorned with classic Chinese designs.

The Nanluoguxiang bar, teahouse and caf area, an old Beijing hutong (an alleyway or lane typical of the ancient city) community with a history of over 800 years, is renowned for its vibrant bars and cafes. The area has evolved into a favorite destination for local hipsters, musicians and freelancers, among others.

This destination, where local residents with cattail-leaf fans meet young people with trendy clothes, has also turned into a paradise for backpackers and foreigners who prefer Chinese folk culture.

'There's no skyscrapers and modern buildings, all the structures fit so well with the alley,' Adriaa says. 'This is the place where I like to hang out with my friends, to see how Beijing locals spend their leisure.'

Adriaa's colleague Leslie, lounging on a couch featuring a red cover with big flower petals, a design popular in the country's northwest Shaanxi Province, says 'I like to see how normal life goes on here, and it's so cozy to have a lot of Chinese furniture around.'

'Compared with Sanlitun and Houhai (Rear Lake), two other famous bar districts in Beijing, I like Nanluoguxiang most. It has a peaceful environment and makes people feel relaxed.'

The area's restaurants offer different prices, but on average they are acceptable, ranging from approximately 200 yuan to less than 50 yuan per meal.

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