Home : China Guide : Beijing : Wangfujing Street
Wangfujing is a 700-year-old commercial street. It has maintained its position as the number one choice for shoppers since the mid-1980s. The Wangfujing Department Store has long been acknowledged as the largest, most fashionable, and best known shopping center in Beijing.
On conclusion of the era of a planned economy, the shortage of commodities became a thing of the past. Increased purchasing power has propelled the construction of shopping centers that are more attractive by far than the previously narrow, drab, and crowded Wangfujing Street. The refurbishment of this ancient shopping street has long been an issue of top priority with the municipal government, and now that the renovation of the main street is complete, the results are admirable,
The new Wangfujing shopping district aims to achieve equal ranking with New York's Fifth Avenue, the Champs-Elysees of Paris and the Ginza in Tokyo. It consists of two stories, housing a wide variety of shops and boutiques. The street is embellished with squares, lawns, flower beds, fountains, ornamental columns, sculptures and benches. This pleasant environment has made shopping an exercise in fashionable leisure. Numerous sightseers are to be seen snapping scenes of the street, the most popular sites for souvenir photos being the street-side sculptures reflecting life in old Beijing, and the newly refurbished Catholic church, built in 1905. The thrilling "rocket bungee" experience in front of the Lisheng Sports Goods Shop has attracted many young adventurers and interested on-lookers.
The recently finished Oriental Plaza at the southern end of the street has added still greater charm to Wangfujing. This massive complex totals 800,000 square meters, and is built in a style reminiscent of Hong Kong. It encompasses business, shopping, recreation and accommodation. The recreation and shopping area is divided into five theme sections, where people shop for the latest in commodities, world-famous brands and culinary delicacies from different countries, and also enjoy themselves at the cine-center, cultural center, gym and skating rink. An ancient cultural relic site, discovered during the construction of the plaza, and now under state protection, is on display in a 300-square-meter underground hall. The plaza's underground parking lot has the capacity for 2,000 cars and 12,000 bicycles. Experts predict that the Oriental Plaza will become a leader in Beijing's retail sales.
Meanwhile, the street preserves a tinge of nostalgia. The age-old shops synonymous with Wangfujing still exist on either side of the street.