Learn Mandarin in China – Beijing’s Wudaokou & Haidian

Published: 15th November 2011
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Wudaokou, is the centre of higher education within Beijing and if you want to learn Mandarin in China, it’s a good place to start. Most universities within the city are located in this area which has a characteristic of its own. When you learn mandarin in China, and plan on studying in Beijing, you will more than likely end up in Wudaokou within Haidian district. The area is quite far from the centre of the city taking as along as 35minutes or more during rush hour. However this has allowed it to develop its own uniqueness.

Restaurants and bars tend to be cheaper as they cater largely to college students, and there are several good markets for clothes and electrical goods. The area is also credited with being the birthplace of Beijing’s fledgling music scene and is a great place to catch China’s indie kids, metal heads, goths and punks. Not far from wudaokou subway station you can come across punk rock alley, although less of an alley and more of simply 3-4 bars which cater to rock, nonetheless it is a sight unimaginable just a decade ago.

A large portion of the property market within the area is directly linked to university students and university residences. It is true rent prices within the city have skyrocketed; however it is still possible to find dorms which run for 1000RMB per month or $150USD per month. There is plenty of opportunity for house shares; adverts for roommates can be found in cafes and online.
A standard, fully furnished two-bedroom flat in a development near Beijing Language & Culture University costs around ¥4000RMB. This area is not fancy but the neighbourhood is safe and has 24 hour security. Prices go up from there to around ¥5000or ¥6000 for large three and four-bedroom apartments and duplexes.

The areas clothing market is plentiful and cheap. Wudaokou is a great place to kit yourself out cheaply. There is a Wal-Mart on Zichun Lu and a Carrefour on Zhonggauancun to cover household needs. On the same road is one of Beijing’s largest electronics markets, and Zhonghai computer market is nearby. Together they provide everything from hard drives to digital cameras.
The Zhonggauancun shopping mall contains a wide range of brand name goods and luxury brands including names such as Nike, Lacoste and Sephora.
Beijing an area full of university students, you can expect a vibrant nightlife. Wudaokou has an abundance of noisy, smoky and cheap bars and clubs. If you want to learn mandarin in China, it is important to balance hard study with good times. Some more famous places include Propaganda nightclub, Helen’s Café, and Lush. And again, if you plan on learning mandarin in China, these places will become known to you relatively quickly.

Like all college areas around the world, Wudaokou can be characterised by cheap eats so there are plenty of local restaurants and fast food joints to satisfy those on a budget. Western food is making it way very well here. Pizza, burgers, Italian, Japanese, Korean, salads, Macdonalds, KFC, Subway and more can all be found.

Beijing Xiyi Elementary School on Beisanhuan Xilu was one of the first local schools to admit international children. Around the area there are several local nurseries that take expat kids, however the primary language is Chinese, so most foreign children commute to schools in Shunyi and Chaoyang, which are areas around the embassies. For young adults who what to learn mandarin in China it is nice to know Wudaokou does play host to some of the nation’s most recognized and famous institutes. Peking University , Tsinghua University , Beijing Language & Culture University and Renmin University all are within a 15 minute taxi ride of each other. Furthermore, the area is literally covered with private schools and centres offering classes and tutoring.

Transportation within the area is also convenient. Bus, metro and taxis are all found here. As a matter of fact, Wudaokou surpasses most North American cities in terms of effective public transportation. Depending on traffic, Wudaokou is 35 minutes away from downtown via taxi. Expect to pay ¥40 or ¥50 for a single journey. Or you can take theThe Wudaokou subway and jump on Line 13, which connects to Line 2 and takes you off to downtown. The metro system has been hugely revamped for the 2008 Olympics and is therefore very effective when you need to get to places around the city. The bus routes are also an option. Bus number 375 heads to the downtown area. Be prepared however that taking the bus or metro during rush hour can become a chore. The city has over 20million people, and at times it seems like everyone wants to take the same bus or line.

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