tickets can be ordered by phone, but you must stand in line early in the day to buy tickets for popular performances. Tickets for performances at popular concert halls are often difficult to obtain, but some work units are willing to help foreign guests obtain tickets for special shows. Students are often given tickets for a variety of events by their foreign affairs officials who also arrange for group transportation to the event.
Many new forms of entertainment are now being introduced into China. Coffee shops and evening beer halls have become popular, along with the night food markets. Discotheques and karaoke bars are packed. Eating out is a favorite form of entertainment, and you will want to explore local restaurants. New, privately run restaurants are springing up all over China, and you should consult with both Western and Chinese friends about which are the best in your area. Every city also has a few old and famous restaurants that you will want to visit a few times during your stay. In Beijing, the Sichuan Restaurant, located in a ''four-cornered courtyard" complex that once belonged to the Qing general Yuan Shikai, is still a charming spot to eat hot and spicy Sichuan food, and the restaurant in Ritan Park, long famous for its dumplings and now refurbished with outdoor tables in warmer weather, is still popular for anyone visiting the Jianguomenwai area. Excellent Chinese food is found in some of the joint-venture hotels. The two Chinese restaurants in the Palace Hotel—one Sichuanese and the other Cantonese—are among the best in the city, as is the Jinglun's Tao Li Cantonese Restaurant. All joint-venture hotels also have Western food, and many have lunch or evening buffets, complete with salad bars. McDonald's, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and Pizza Hut also have restaurants in Beijing.
Other large cities have similarly good restaurants well worth exploring. Check your guidebook and talk to friends about which are best. The names of Beijing restaurants are given here only because most people pass through Beijing for a few days during their time in China.
Finally, almost every city has a few spots that are fascinating to explore but off the usual tourist routes. In Beijing, walks around the walls of the Forbidden City and a climb up Coal Hill, or walks through the tiny alleyways of Dashalan behind Qianmen, are always interesting. Taking a picnic lunch for a day to explore the unrestored Ming tombs will be a memorable experience. The huge Summer Palace complex has many areas where few tourists venture and which are best explored very late in the afternoon when most of the tourists have left.
The possibilities for travel in China today are so rich and varied that only general guidelines can be suggested, especially since guidebooks,