This place is what Disney seeks to achieve in their park rides. There is food, music, snacks, things to buy, things to watch. You can bargain over fake antiques, or buy annoying toys (e.g. shrilling chicken). This is one of the best things I have done in my 5 trips to China. This is the one place I would recommend to anyone. This is also known as the Muslim Quarter, if you ask the locals to visit.
Things to like, very few stairs, no admission charge, cooler temperatures at night, seemed safe to me.
Things you should do.
1. Buy some cheap gifts for the home folks such as the shrilling chicken (under $2), 24 kites on a string (under $2), various name player cards (can negotiate to under $2, asking price about $5), various t-shirts (under $10), scarves, and thousands of other nick-knacks.
2. Eat some food. I love the biang biang noodles (a wide flat noodle that is about 3 feet long, at about $4 per large bowl). My friends ate the Crumbled Flatbread in Mutton Stew (Yangrou Paomo). You see many things prepared onsite such as mung bean cake, various nuts, candies, and drinks. This place is also known as the Muslim quarter, so all of the food is halal.
3. Take a camera with video capabilities. You can watch them hammer the beans for the mung bean cakes, twist the noodles for biang biang, listen to the various street musicians, buy some of the many varieties of nuts.
A few caveats. The area is rumored to have pick pockets to place your money in an inner pocket. Be sure to bargain on the gifts. All of the vendors will bargain by showing numbers on a calculator. Prices will be in RMB. If you are American, the typical opening quote is 5-10 times the true price. You should be able to beat the prices your pay in America, so use that as your guide. If you are unwilling to pay more than $2 for a deck of cards in America, then do not pay more than $2/12 RMB in China. The place is shutting down by 10:30, so arrive early enough to spend some time there.
I went back three times, as each time I found new things to see.
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