Looking for a cool place to spend your hot summer afternoon in Beijing? If art and design appeals to you, then 798 is the right place!
798 Art District or, simply ‘798’, is located in the Chaoyang District of Beijing, a short 20-minute drive from the airport. It houses a thriving artistic community — most famously, the 50-year-old now-defunct military factory buildings of particular architectural style. Majority of the galleries are free to enter-making it an excellent place to browse contemporary art and support local talent.
Public transport to this area is scarce — taxis are your best bet. It would cost you roughly 160RMB from Beijing City Center to 798. I first read about this place from a Lonely Planet guidebook — it was included in the top 10 must-gos in Beijing, and because of this recommendation I made the trip down one late morning.
The place is massive, and it could take two days or more if one desired to cover all the galleries and installations. If you only have one afternoon though, I’d recommend you visit the lovely Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (尤伦斯当代艺术中心). Some exhibits at the center have an entrance fee but are worth the price tag for the kind of artwork they showcase, and for the talent they are supporting.
This is easily one of my favourite places to visit during in Beijing — because of the large variety of artworks/installations on display, and because every time I visit, the exhibitions are different. If you have a soft spot for art or anything avant garde but haven’t been, save an afternoon for this, you won’t regret it.
It is also a great place to visit particularly during summer time because of all the seasonal installations, and the air-conditioned art galleries, cafes and gift shops provide the perfect escape from the sweltering heat outside!
If you’re in Beijing for a stop this summer, why not consider putting 798 on your itinerary? I promise you won’t regret it!