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Wudaokou

Nestled at the fifth crossing of the Jingbao Railway, Wudaokou is a foreigner's haven that caters to the sizable international student population from Tsinghua University and Beijing Language and Culture University.

Known for its eclectic mix of international flavor, Wudaokou offers everything from authentic Korean restaurants to Mexican burritos and American pizza. Yet, the neighbourhood is not without its traditional Chinese influence. Walking along Chengfu Lu, the main road that bisects Wudaokou, one can pass local Chinese vendors selling their various wares, as well as traditional Chinese street food stands. Depending on the season and time of day, vendors stock anything from New York bestsellers and sunglasses to facemasks, DVDs and pajamas. Chinese street food is always a treat, and walking along the road brings sweet aromas as well as unique smells to the nose. Roasted chestnuts, candied fruit, and the ever-ubiquitous chuanr (grilled meats on a skewer) abound.

Over recent years, Wudaokou has seen rapid development, replacing the more traditional hutong homes with large shopping malls, a cinema and foreign restaurants. The changes, while unwelcome by some, are by and large an improvement as they nicely complement the rising middle class residential apartments.

The neighbourhood also has a strong Korean presence, serving as home to many Chinese Koreans. The influence of Korean culture can be seen in the numerous Korean restaurants around the subway station including pastry chains Paris Baguette and Tous Le Jours, as well as upscale BBQ restaurants and soju bars. Convenience stores sell Korean food essentials, particularly kimchi, soju, banana milk and fish-shaped red bean ice cream. A Korean club has also made a significant impact on the nightlife scene, and late at night dolled-up Korean girls can be seen gathering outside to pose for pictures.

The Haidian District neighbourhood offers a slower paced alternative to busy Chaoyang District, and provides an opportunity for those still adjusting to expat life in Beijing an easy transition.

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