Welcome to China Report's Digital Introduction to the (Former) East Gate's Night Market in Beijing.
The Night Market is the most obvious place in Beijing to go for a "typically Chinese" exotic meal or
DongHua Men Night Market
East Flowery Gate Nightly Snacks & Hutong Shopping
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During the daytime, there isn't much going on at DongHuaMen Market. Only open in the late afternoon and evenings, only cleaners remain.
One of the many stalls at the Night Market, a popular destination for tourist. This stall offers "fresh" squid-, silk-worms, bean curd, sweet maize and other foodstuffs on a stick.
A typical autumn evening at DonghuaMen=(East Flowery Gate) Market. A smaller than usual crowd busy inspecting the offered foods and enjoying the athmosphere.
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Beijing's some what Notorious Night Market is easily located within the Downtown Area of Beijing Center. Either head to Wanfujing Street and walk through until reaching about halfway and turn towards the
Map of DongCheng District with Location of the Night Market. Click Map to go to Full Version.
DongCheng District Map
Short Introduction to DongHua Men and the Night Market
Market and try out your first steps on the road of adventure that are Chinese Foods. Mind you: you might find out you went in at the Deep End !
snack. For years a renowned "shocker" on the local tourist itineraries, DongHua Men Night Market today is mainly a collection of well run modern stalls on a side-road just off the North End of WanFujing Street, today's Main Luxury Shopping Street in the Central City. From this convenient spot within easy walking distance for the crowds at Wanfujing, the Night Market offers exotic take-away snacks for the masses, mainly masses of Tourists. The Foods involved are mainly the creepy and crawly kind, hence the shock value and reputation of this so far unique Market in Beijing City.
Over the recent years the Night Market has been cleaned up to meet sanitary standards, an especially important item in relation to the Olympic Games held in Beijing in August of 2008. In the same period many more even more distasteful or exotic choices of snack have been introduced. Especially if and when one is new to Beijing or perhaps even China entire, head down to DongHua Men Night
Beijing Night Market - Directions / How to Get There
Most Tourist visiting Beijing today go have a look at the Night Market as it lies nearby Wanfujing Shopping Valhalla, the Romantic Wanfujing Cathedral and the historic and colorful Eastern Gate of the Palace of the Emperors. In short, its an excellent place for selling food lying within a stones throw from some of the best stores and most scenic landmarks within the City. Hardly anyone asks after the history of this place. They do even about Wanfujing - one of Beijing's Ancient Streets and for centuries the Number 1 location reserved for the most exclusive shops catering to the wealthy in the Inner-City and palaces. However, most people come down to the Night Market to break away from historic Monuments, dramatic exhibitions and architecture. What they seek is what they get: some entertainment,
Traffic buzzing buy in front of Sun Dong An plaza at the intersection Wanfujing with Dong'An Road and Yinjy Alley. The Ricksaw on the Photos is heading towards the Night Market Area which lies just a 100 meters more to the West.
History and Significance of the Night Market in Beijing
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recognition, this is where the Main Section of Wanfujing Street starts. Turn Westward into Dong'An Dajie' and you have reached The Night Market. As described, the Night Market is named after the DongHua Men but used to be held on Dong'An Jie' the Road in front of the currently visible Gate, the Eastern Gate of
In short, for anyone not especially used to alternative dishes, especially western city dwellers the sights
the Imperial Palace, which is Donghuamen Dajie'. Make your way from stall to stall and start your discoveries !
Foods and Fun at Beijing DonghuaMen Night Market
and foods can be quite sensational. For those who have never seen or experienced a Chinese Food Market the smells can be equally overwhelming. It is all a lot of Fun, especially for tour-groups who can watch eachother choke on nasty tidbits, or just simply laugh and gawk at the newfound treasures of Gore.
In essence, some of the dishes and snacks served might be familiar to those who have traveled southern parts of China and
You Tube Video : Trying the Beijing Night Market for Real and Enjoying it to the Fullest.
Asia. Scorpions, snakes and even endangered sea horses, they are no surpise in -for instance- Hong Kong, a city renowned for its unlimited variety of tastes. However, in Beijing today, the Night Market is the only place that openly serves anything you wouldn't likely find anywhere else in this Big City of the North. The Night market cooks, bakes or roast basically anything that moves. Snakes, scorpions, silk worms, cockroaches, grasshoppers, and more. The crazier, the creepier, the better. Lately, one could even say: the
"Stick 'Em Up, Dumbo!" Its eating with sticks again at Beijing's renowned Night Market. A Fun place to be.
more horrifying, taboo or disgusting, the better. What is on the Menu then??
Actually apart from the above there are many mainstay snacks, to be considered common in China. Among these are the baked squid, slices of black bean curd, freshly cooked corn, noodle soup and various forms of Kebab -chicken, and mutton mainly-, dumplings and the candied fruits -Tang Hu Lu- that are among Beijing's traditional refreshing candies. All
presented on a stick ofcourse.
Naturally, One might think this is not likely what the Beijing Night Market is notorious for, and in that you are completely right. For those who seek adventure, or -who often use the phrase "I like to try anything, at least once". Here is a good chance to catch up on anything you might have missed out on in the food department. To be specific, apart from the wide variety of rubbery snake bodies one may consume, there are far less easy things to describe. How about some roasted Scorpions ?
A Sea Urchin perhaps?
Not Good enough for you? Seen it on TV ? Well, in the section of hard to identify food stuffs there is the fried Goat's Brain, something that might be regarded as delicious by some, and just a little too intimate for others.
Still not impressed and your mouth is
One of the many stalls with more traditional mainstream wares, kebabs , bean curd, various dumplings and the occasional silk worms on a stick.
watering for more ?
Hah, we have an
experienced volunteer ! A food lover or Dare-Devil, perhaps.
Well then - for the "connoisseur" we have the snails and frogs legs known from French Cuisine. In China, especially in the south any of the worlds' species are potentially on the Menu, so here in Beijing they are part of the offered choice as well.
Not shocked, not even a bit stunned ?
Well, the above was to be complete in our small review, however there is so much more there.
Beijing Night Market is exotic "Chinese Take-away". For a full meal other options could be better.
visit and immersing ones' self into the crowds, taking in the smells and by trying the various food items on sale. The sights are quite unique, and the smells and flavors are to say the least surprising.
Mind you, most find it is a trial and error process to find the things that turn out to be surprisingly tasty. Other snacks are disappointing to most and for those who do not like adventure in their kitchen, the Night Market is a one time occasion usually. Those who have never seen any Chinese Food other than dim sum and noodles from your local Chinese, you must go ! Either way, the Night Market is a great place to have a bite and a laugh, after sightseeing or shopping in the vicinity. There is a McDonalds open late at Wanfujing Street, however, the Night Market is a place which is far more memorable. Guaranteed !
In the Distance, at quite some distance walking one cam make out the features of the classical design of the Eastern Gate of the Palace Museum.
a grizzly snack and a story to take home to their Families and Friends.The lucky ones even get a full stomach to have a pleasant sleep on later.
The Beijing Night Market, historically known as Doghouse Market, does however have its very own remarkable and interesting history.
To begin with, this is not just an ordinary market, it lies just outside of what was formerly the Outer Gate of the Imperial City known as Dong 'An Gate. Although it was destroyed not too long after the year 1900 AD, the site of the Gate is important historically. For tourists it may be interesting to know that this Gate played a minor role in the events leading up to the Siege of the Legations and the Boxer War of 1900 AD.
Find the destroyed ancient Dong'An Gate ruins just down the street, due south of the corner (In case of any public threat, this is also the location of a modern air raid shelter for the Beijing Public).
Daylights views westward from the Night Market along Dong'An Road and DonghuaMen Blvd. The East Gate towers above trees and any surrounding buildings.
Daytime View along Night market Street Eastward. The crossing point with Wanfujing Street lies at the end of this road (Dong'An Jie').
Crowds a plenty at the Night Market in "BJ".
As best explained, in the Feudal Days when the Qing Dynasty (1644 AD - 1911 AD) Governed the Nation from their Imperial Capital at Beijing, there were two Palace Cities lying within the City Walls of Beijing itself. The Inner part of the Imperial City as it is known, consisted of the Palace Museum (Forbidden City) that is world famous today. However, during most of the Qing Dynasty the grounds reserved for the Imperial Family, their many courtiers and servants as well as the odd aristocrat, was much larger. Here in the East the "Imperial City" had another Gate one block west from DonghuaMen, this was the Dong'An Men, a smaller and less Grandiose Gate.
Outside of the Dong'An Gate lay the Dongcheng District, which was reserved for anyone Elite who did not have the rank to enter the Imperial City itself.
Satellite Image overview of Beijing Center, revealing the Old Imperial City layout and Borders as they were (generally) untill 1949.
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From the fact that the historic Donghuamen
market was located immediately outside of the Eastern Palace City gate and lay inside the most Elite District of the City, except for the Palace City, one can conclude that it was a market reserved for the well to do. And that was most certainly the case: the Donghuamen Market served none other than the Royal Cuisines themselves. Albeit, that most food bought at the market went to the many 1000's of staffers inside the Imperial City, which was in fact the Center of Government and home of all Ministries as well as the Home and Office of the Emperor and all Ministers.
The image becomes even clearer considered how just a few hundred meters further down the street there was Wanfujing Street, with the most exclusive shops in Town. Imagine the eunuchs or servants of Generals and Ministers leaving the Gate to go for fresh eggs, some vegetables and perhaps dumplings. In other cases they would pass the market in order to reach Wanfujing Street and order a new costume for their master, who was expecting to have an important diner or ceremony soon.
Meanwhile, servants from other aristocratic households and the homes of the well to do would go about their own business in similar fashion.
Carts and rickshaws would pass by transporting goods and people throughout the district and City. It was noisy, smelly and vibrant place.
Another Market was located further East on the location of what is now Sun Dong An Plaza (see Photo Above), a Giant mall built in 2001 and several Times revised since.
The second market lasted until the year 1902 AD, when it was cleared to make way for the Dong'An Market building, part of a more modern facade that was given to the City at that Time. The current Night Market was opened in 1984 AD and now sells over a 100 different exotic foods.
Today's Dong'An Road and the Night Market are mainly alive in the evenings until closing Time. After 9 PM the lights turn out and the street and distant Gate return to a surprising quiet.
The next morning cleaning crews will arrive early to remove any leftover waste and dirt. Then, the famous morning bicycles of Beijing will take the road, followed by a steadily swelling stream of cars, and Beijing will have a new day.
When visiting in day-time, there is enough to see nearby.
Except for the obvious and the described Dong'An Gate, one could head from the
If this isn't enough for your itinerary, North from Dong'An road lie a variety of restored and new but beautiful Hutong. Browse around here to appreciate the new homes of the Beijing well-to-do, today's Palaces if you will, and end up at Pu Du Temple and
Source Book "Old Beijing - In the Shadow of (the) Imperial Throne"
( no longer available )
Temple Square. The Pu Du Temple is not an elaborate Temple Complex but only one structure, however it sits in perfect surroundings for a snack and some downtime from all the crowds.
For instant sensation one can always move on to the heavy duty department full of roasted Sheeps' and Bull's "Nuts".
Talk about intimate Dining ! Who would fry a poor Bull's proudest parts -his testicles-, and eat them ! Let alone put them on a stick and eat them. Talk about getting intimate ! Ouch ....
The mere thought of it hurts. It really does sound like some kind of unusually cruel ancient Chinese Punishment...
For anyone left with an appetite, move on to other horrors, such as the laughable sheeps penis or the delicious caterpillar and make sure you finish with crispy duck neck, which is in fact very tasty.
Whatever, you may have seen or read about the Night Market in Beijing, naturally, one can only know what its about by paying a
View of the East Flowery Gate of the Palace Museum from the intersection of Donghuamen DaJie' and Nanchizi Dajie'.
A last option, especially for fans of Literature and Philosophy, the former Residence of Lao She is hidden away somewhere inside the Hutong due North of the East Gate. It should be somewhere between the Ministry of Civil Affairs (of Beijing City, not China) and the Gyneacological Hospital, however it is truly hard to find. Meet the Challenge and send us a Photo ?