Finals are officially over! For the past week, I had been memorizing poems and self-quizzing on about 400 Chinese characters to prepare for my exams. Though I can complete this mundane task in my dorm room, my bed sits invitingly only five feet away from my desk, which doesn’t help much with productivity. While we do have a library and a few cafes on campus, I personally prefer to go off campus for studying. Thus, I resort to biking to 五道口 (Wudaokou) or trekking over to 三里屯 (Sanlitun) with a few friends or to enjoy a nice drink on my own. It’s much more relaxing to be around cute decorations and friendly service with no sign of smoking outside my window anyway.
Here are my top 8 places to go in Wudaokou (Note: all photos are property of Jia Zheng. Please credit properly!):
1. The Bean Tree
All I can say to this cafe is cute! It’s right next to a bakery and the bus station towards 清华园. The cafe is owned by a Korean who speaks basic Chinese but provides great service and cute decorations all over their walls. I usually get their tea which comes in pots for 25-28RMB with free refills, favorites being their black and mint tea. They have several sections within depending on if you’d like some background noise or prefer to study in silence, and a smoking section sits near the front of the cafe. Free wi-fi but it can be spotty at times. Comfy chairs and plenty of light!
Address: Wudaokou Huaqingjiayuan Bld. 6 North Gate 2nd floor, Haidian District
2. Maan Coffee, Waffles and Toast (漫咖啡)
Heavily Korean influenced as demonstrated by its decorations and loyal customers, this cafe is chic, quiet, and spacious. One time, the waitress kept a lookout on a bigger open table for the three of us while we waited near a small booth overlooking the window. Coffee, tea, and fruit drinks are about 25-35RMB while their scrumptious looking toast and waffles range from 15-55RMB. A teddy bear keeps you company as you wait for your order. Pointers for having an attractive and fashionable crowd. Free wi-fi, and complimentary cookies with every drink purchase!
Maan Cafe is on the west side of Wangzhuang Lu, north of Chengfu Lu. From Wudaokou subway station, walk east and take the first left.
3. Cafe Heaven
Yet another Korean cafe, this is easily one of my favorite spots to study thanks to its location, peacefulness, and fruit smoothies. I usually bike there through our scenic campus roads without worrying about Beijing traffic. You take the “Stairway to Heaven” up the second floor for this spacious cafe with an ample amount of sunlight and individual desk lamps. Customers can spend an afternoon working on a project, or you can reserve a study room near the back with your friends. Here, various animal banks join you as your order is being prepared. Coffee and tea are around 25RMB, and their even more delicious fruit smoothies are priced at 28RMB (I highly recommend their peach smoothie!). Free wi-fi, although there are multiple servers and they can be spotty at times. The walls are lined with bookshelves, so you’ll never be bored!
This cafe is located outside of the South Gate of Tsinghua University to the right, a block down from ICBC.
4. The Bridge Cafe
One of the most popular spots for foreigners, this French inspired cafe is located near the 7-Eleven before you come across the clubs and bars in Wudaokou. It welcomes you on the second floor with French music and a bakery with cakes and pastries for 20-30RMB and plenty of small tables to study or arrange meetings. Drinks are about 25-30RMB and their western menu for pasta, pizza and soup ranges from 16-50RMB. The second floor is where all the food and drinks are made to order, while the third floor is reserved for the smoking section. It can get pretty crowded as it’s a highly convenient location, but it’s great to get an hour or two of studying done in the morning or early afternoon. Students can be rather chatty after 10PM. Service is usually on point. I recommend their cream of mushroom soup! Free Wi-fi.
Address: Rm 8, Bldg 12, Huaqing Jiayuan, Chengfu Lu (west of Wudaokou subway station), Haidian District
5. Fet Cafe
This little shop can sit about 10 people at a time, so it’s perfect for those days where I want to get away from the hustle and bustle of Beijing and enjoy a quiet afternoon on my own. It was opened up by a group of Tsinghua graduates, and now it is run by a nice manager who blends each customer’s smoothie with special attention and slices each strawberry to a perfect bite size for your fruit salad. You can spend an afternoon here for some quiet studying or relax with a few friends to play Jenga. They even have a guitar for those who want to play a few tunes while waiting for their order. Drinks range from 12-18RMB.
Fet Cafe is at the south entrance of 王庄路 (Wangzhuang Lu) on the right, down the street from Maan Cafe
6. 99% Liberty Cafe
This Japanese-themed little room is nested right above Fet Cafe. It’s unfortunate I’m allergic to cats because they have two adorable ones named Natto (fermented soybean) and Qiezi (Eggplant) who wander about throughout the day. This was a perfect place to sip on a latte and relax with a friend on a rainy afternoon. Drinks are about 20-30RMB. On some nights they play Japanese movies to match their J-pop decorations and photos.
Above Fet Cafe, stairs to 99% Liberty Cafe are behind the main building
7. Space for Imagination
A cozy cafe with a more local crowd, this has become one of my favorite places to get work done. It’s typically quieter than all others on this list, and it has a great menu, from coffee to milk tea to pizza, all reasonably priced from 16RMB to 48RMB. It literally is a space for expanding your imagination, with piles of guest books to write or doodle in and even more art books and magazines to browse from. I like their choice of music, such as Corinne Bailey Rae, Sade, Cara Dillon, and Malene Mortensen. The owner has a huge and cuddly white husky that pays a visit every so often, to check on the business of course. Free wi-fi, attentive service, smoking and non-smoking sections available.
Address: 5 Xiwangzhuang Xiaoqu, Shuangqing Lu
8. Cafe Bros
A corner shop with dollhouse-like stairs, this bakery is definitely about quality of food over image. After dinner, my friends and I will stop by for a slice of their crepe or chocolate chestnut cake. The owner used to be a baker at a five-star restaurant in Korea, and he decided to open up his own business a few years ago here in Wudaokou. How fortunate we are to have him here! Stairs to the second floor can barely fit one person at a time, but this nook is perfect for having one of their fresh fruit juices while getting some work done in the early afternoon.
This humble abode is just a little walk from The Bridge Cafe, the last shop on the block near Subway and SPR Coffee
Other spots to try out in the area:
Ten Years After Cafe
Just a walk from Space for Imagination, this cafe is well worth the endless flight of stairs. Spacious and quiet with good service, though I personally think the food and drinks are overpriced. Tables near the window are great for studying in the day, and ones closer to the inside have individual desk lamps for more lighting. It reminds me more of a house than a cafe with its curtains and pretty tablecloths. Free wi-fi.
Address: Room 302, Hua Yuan Shi Ji Business Bldg, 88 Shuang Qing Road (above KFC off the main gate of Tsinghua University)
Tous Les Jours
A French inspired cafe but with 2009 Kpop music on repeat on the TV’s, this stop is conveniently placed just outside of the Wudaokou subway station. It is proud to provide freshly baked pastries, cookies, and breads every morning and if you catch them before you close, you might get a free treat to eliminate leftovers for the night (but to be honest, I wouldn’t go there for the food). In terms of drinks, they offer, coffee, tea, hot chocolate, and fresh juices for 20-30RMB, and cakes ready to buy between 118-200RMB. The study space is quite small for its location and foot traffic, but it’s a nice place if you want to make a pit stop and check your email or meet up with a friend. Free wi-fi.
Address: 35 Chengfu Lu, Haidian District
Charlie Brown Cafe
A charming cafe with Charlie Brown coffee illustrations and murals, but I found it the most typical compared to the previous ones mentioned. They do have nice tables and plenty of sunlight during the day. Conveniently placed in the Hualian Shopping Center, this cafe is popular for your daily morning coffee run before heading to work or for a quick stop to meet a friend. Drinks are around 25RMB. Free wi-fi and open 24 hours.
Address: 1F, Wudaokou Shopping Center, No.28 Chengfu Road, Haidian District
Lady Book Salon
Located in the same building as Cafe Heaven, this bookstore has a quiet study-room-like space to relax and catch up on a few pages.
1st floor of the building before walking up to Cafe Heaven
Half a block down from Cafe Heaven and Lady Book Salon, this Chinese cafe is beautifully designed with white tablecloths, flowers, and has private rooms for booking available upstairs.
Address: 1st floor, Lanqiying Little District, Chengfu Road, Haidian District
Recently opened this spring, Ricci provides a sophisticated feel with its sleek design and small lounge area. Great for a casual lunch.
1st floor of TusPark, next to the hot-pot restaurant