Airline offices Air France, Fifth Floor, Full Link Plaza, 18 Jianguomenwai Dajie (tel 65881388); Alitalia, Rm 141, Jianguo Hotel, 5 Jianguomenwai Dajie (tel 65918468); All Nippon Airways, Rm 1510, World Trade Centre, 1 Jianguomenwai Dajie (tel 65053311); Asiana Airlines, Rm 102, Lufthansa Centre (tel 64681118); Austrian Airlines, Great Wall Sheraton Hotel, 10 Donghua Bei Lu (tel 65917861); British Airways, Rm 210, SCITECH Tower, 22 Jianguomenwai Dajie (tel 65124070); CAAC, 15 Xi Chang'an Jie (tel 66013336 for domestic flights; tel 66016667 international); Canadian Airlines, 50 Liangmaqiao Lu, Chaoyang (tel 64637901); Dragonair, L107, World Trade Centre, 1 Jianguomenwai Dajie (tel 65182533); Ethiopian Airlines, Rm 506, World Trade Centre, 1 Jianguomenwai Dajie (tel 65050314); Finnair, Rm 204, SCITECH Tower, 22 Jianguomenwai Dajie (tel 65127180); Garuda Indonesia, Poly Plaza, 14 Dongzhimen Nan Dajie (tel 64157658); Iran Air, CITIC Building, 19 Jianguomenwai Dajie (tel 65124940); Israeli Airlines, Rm 2906, Jing Guang Centre (tel 65014512); Japan Airlines, Changfugong Office Building, 26A Jianguomenwai Dajie (tel 65130888); Korean Air, Rm C401 World Trade Centre, 1 Jianguomenwai Dajie (tel 65050088); LOT Polish Airlines, Rm 2002, City Hotel, 4 Gongti Dong Lu (tel 65050136); Lufthansa, Rm S101, Lufthansa Centre, Dong Sanhuan Bei Lu (tel 64654488); Malaysia Airlines, Lot 115A/B, Level 1, West Wing Office Block, World Trade Centre, 1 Jianguomenwai Dajie (tel 65052681); Mongolian Airlines, China Golden Bridge Plaza, 1A Jianguomenwai Dajie (tel 65002255); Pakistan Airlines, Rm 106A, World Trade Centre, 1 Jianguomenwai Dajie (tel 65051681); Qantas, Lufthansa Centre, 50 Liangmaqiao Lu (tel 64674794); Russian International Airlines, Jinglun Hotel, 3 Jianguomenwai Dajie (tel 65002412); SAS Scandinavian Airlines, 1403 Henderson Centre, 18 Jianguomennei Dajie (tel 65183738); Singapore Airlines, L109, World Trade Centre, 1 Jianguomenwai Dajie (tel 65052233); Swissair, Rm 201, SCITECH Tower, 22 Jianguomenwai Dajie (tel 65123555); Thai International, Lufthansa Centre, 50 Langmaqiao Lu (tel 64608899); United Airlines, Lufthansa Centre, 50 Liangmaqiao Lu (tel 64638551).
Banks and exchange The Commercial Bank (Mon-Fri 9am-noon & 1-4pm) in the CITIC Building at 19 Jianguomenwai Dajie, next to the Friendship Store, offers the most comprehensive service: Visa cards, travellers' cheques and cash can be used to obtain yuan or US dollars. The main branch of the Bank of China (Mon-Fri 9am-noon & 1.30-5pm) is at 8 Yabuo Lu, off Chaoyangmen Dajie, just north of the International Post Office, but it won't do anything the smaller branches can't. You'll find other branches in the SCITECH Plaza (Mon-Fri 9am-noon & 1-6.30pm), the World Trade Centre (Mon-Fri 9am-5pm, Sat 9am-noon), the Sun Dong'an Plaza (Mon-Fri 9.30am-12noon & 1.30-5pm), and the Lufthansa Centre (Mon-Fri 9-noon & 1-4pm). A foreign exchange office (daily 9am-6.30pm) inside the entrance to the Friendship Store is one of the few places you can change money at the weekend at the standard rate. Visa holders can use ATM machines with a "Plus" logo. If you have applied for a visa and only have a photocopy of your passport, some hotels and the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank in the Jianguo Hotel will reluctantly advance cash on travellers' cheques; most banks won't. If you want to wire money, or have it wired to you, go to the International Post Office or the China Courier Service Company at 7 Qianmen Dajie (tel 63184313).
Bike rental The professional Bike rental company--Kingdom Bike rental Co.,Ltd, located in Oriental Plaza,Wangfujing avenue,dongcheng district.They deliver bikes to hotels and subway stations on the base of reservation (tel 85494541) Email:firstname.lastname@example.org,or on line http://www.bicyclekingdom.com/.
Car rental BCNC Car Rental, with seven offices in the city including one at the airport, is open 24hr (tel 8008109001).
Courier service DHL has a 24-hour office at 45 Xinyuan Jie (tel 64662211), in Chaoyang district.
Embassies Visa departments usually open for a few hours every weekday morning (phone for exact times and to see what you'll need to take). Remember that they'll take your passport off you for as long as a week sometimes, and it's very hard to change money without it, so stock up on cash before applying for any visas. You can get passport-size photos from an annexe just inside the front entrance of the Friendship Store. Some embassies require payment in US dollars; you can change travellers' cheques for these at the CITIC Building (see "Banks and exchange"). Most embassies are either around Sanlitun in the northeast or in Jianguomenwai compound, north of and parallel to Jianguomenwai Dajie: Afghanistan, 8 Dongzhimenwai Dajie (tel 65321582); Australia, 21 Dongzhimenwai Dajie, Sanlitun (tel 65322331); Azerbijan, 7-2-5-1 Tayuan Building (tel 65324614); Burma, 6 Dongzhimenwai Dajie, Sanlitun (tel 65321425); Canada, 19 Dongzhimenwai Dajie, Sanlitun (tel 65323536); France, 3 Dong San Jie, Sanlitun (tel 65321331); Germany, 5 Dongzhimenwai Dajie, Sanlitun (tel 65322161); India, 1 Ritan Dong Lu, Sanlitun (tel 65321856); Ireland, 3 Ritan Dong Lu, Sanlitun (tel 65322691); Japan, 7 Ritan Lu, Jianguomenwai (tel 65322361); Kazakhstan, 9 Dong Liu Lu, Sanlitun (tel 65326183); Kirgyzistan, 2-4-1 Tayuan Building (tel 65326458); Laos, 11 Dong Si Jie, Sanlitun (tel 65321224); Mongolia, 2 Xiushui Bei Jie, Jianguomenwai (tel 65321203); New Zealand, 1 Dong'er Jie, Sanlitun (tel 65322731); North Korea, Ritan Bei Lu, Jianguomenwai (tel 65321186); Pakistan, 1 Dongzhimenwai Dajie, Sanlitun (tel 65322660); Russian Federation, 4 Dongzhimen Bei Zhong Jie (south off Andingmen Dong Dajie; tel 65322051); South Korea, 3rd & 4th Floor, World Trade Centre (tel 65053171); Thailand, 40 Guanghua Lu, Jianguomenwai (tel 65321903); UK, 11 Guanghua Lu, Jianguomenwai (tel 65321961); Ukraine, 11 Dong Lu Jie, Sanlitun (tel 65324014); USA, 3 Xiushui Bei Jie, Jianguomenwai (tel 65323831); Uzbekistan, 7 Beixiao Jie, Sanlitun (tel 65326305); Vietnam, 32 Guanghua Lu, Jianguomenwai (tel 65321155).
Employment If you're looking for a job, try the International Human Resources Centre, at 50 Dajue Hutong, Chegongzhuan (tel 63099973), or the Service Centre for Personnel Exchange in the Workers' Cultural Palace, west off Nanchizi Dajie (tel 65123392), or, better still, turn up and ask at the place where you want a job. Remember that employment in China (even for foreigners) is pretty much dependant on guanxi (connections).
English corner Sundays in Zizhuyuan Park.
Football Football is a growing sport with China determined to qualify for the World Cup by the year 2002. Beijing's team, Guo An, play at the massive Workers' Stadium in the northeast of the city, off Gongren Tiyuchang Bei Lu (bus #110 along Dongdaqiao), about every two weeks, on Saturday or Sunday afternoon. There's a timetable outside the ticket office, which is just east of the north gate of the stadium. Tickets are cheap (￥15), and you buy them at the ground on the day.
Hospitals and clinics Most big hotels have a resident medic. If you need a hospital, the following have foreigners' clinics where some English is spoken: Sino-Japanese Friendship Hospital on Heping Dajie (daily 8-11.30am & 1-4.30pm; tel 64221122); Friendship Hospital at 95 Yongan Lu, west of Tiantan Park (tel 63014411); Beijing Hospital at 15 Dahua Lu. For a service run by and for foreigners, try the International Medical Centre at S106 in the Lufthansa Centre, Dong Sanhuan Bei Lu (tel 64651561), or the Hong Kong International Clinic on the third floor of the Swissotel Hong Kong Macao Centre, Dongsishitiao Qiao (daily 9am-9pm; tel 65012288 ext 2346). For real emergencies, the AEA International offers a comprehensive and expensive service at 14 Liangmahe Lu, not far from the Lufthansa Centre (clinic tel 64629112, emergency calls tel 64629100).
Internet In addition to hotel business centres, where you don't have to be a guest to use their computers, there are also plenty of Internet cafés, which are usually cheaper and more relaxing places to be, and the big bookshops usually have small Internet sections. Recommended is the cosy Net café at the back of the second floor in the Sanlian Bookshop, on Wangfujing Dajie, near the China Art Gallery (daily 8am-8pm; ￥20 per hour). The main branch of Sparkice, on Level 2 of the World Trade Centre, Jianguomenwai Dajie (daily 10am-10pm; ￥30 per hour, ￥20 for students), also offers a pleasant environment. Their other branch, on Level 4 of the Parkson Building, Xichang'an Jie (daily 8am-7pm; ￥30 per hour, ￥20 for students), is just a row of computers in a hallway. If you're in Xidan, head for the Tushu Daxia Bookshop, which has a spacious, if loud, Internet section on the third floor (daily 8am-7pm; ￥30 per hour). There's a computer in a side hall at the International Post Office, but the connection is so slow it's useless. But if you really want to save money when you're online, head north to the university districts, where a computer in a cramped shop, usually full of students playing Red Alert, can cost as little as ￥6 per hour, and they're usually open through the night. Haidian also has plenty of Internet cafés; if you're out here for the night, you can round the evening off by sending drunken messages home. Beijing Login Tech is among the cheapest, charging ￥8 per hour and with branches at 38 Haidan Lu, 31 Xueyuan Lu (both in Haidian) and 75 Chengfulu Dajie (near the south gate of Qinghua University). A pleasant, cheap 24-hour shop (￥7-10 an hour) is opposite the north gate of UIBE University; go to the Cherry Blossom Hotel, walk north 400m and take the first right and it's 200m along here on the left. If you're living in the city and want to apply for installation, go to the Telegraph Office on Xi Chang'an Jie (see "Telecommunications").
Language courses You can do short courses in Chinese at Beijing Foreign Studies University on Erhuan Xi Lu, at the Bridge School in Jianguomenwai (tel 64940243), which offers evening classes, or the Cultural Mission at 7 Beixiao Jie in Sanlitun (tel 65323005), where most students are diplomats. A cheap and easy way to study basic Mandarin, though, is to find a Chinese student of English - try hanging around English corner - and get them to teach you. You'll have to negotiate a fee, but they don't charge very much, maybe ￥15 an hour. For six-month to year-long courses in Chinese, apply to Beijing International School at Anzhenxili, Chaoyang (tel 64433151), Beijing University in Haidian (tel 62751230), Beijing Foreign Studies University, at 2 Xi Erhuna Lu (tel 68468167), or Beijing Normal University, at 19 Xinjiekouwai (tel 62207986). Expect to pay around ￥10000 tuition fees for a year.
Left luggage There's a left-luggage office in the foreigners' waiting room at the back of Beijing Zhan, with lockers for ￥5 or ￥10 a day depending on size, though as these are often full, you are better off going to the main left-luggage office (daily 5am-midnight; ￥5 a day) at the east side of the station. The left luggage office at Xi Zhan is downstairs on the left as you enter and costs ￥10 a day.
Libraries The Beijing National Library, at 39 Baishiqiao Lu, just north of Zizhuyuan Park (Mon-Fri 8am-5pm; tel 68415566), is one of the largest in the world, with more than ten million volumes, including manuscripts from the Dunhuang Caves and a Qing-dynasty encyclopedia. The oldest texts are Shang dynasty inscriptions on bone. You'll need to join before they let you in. To take books out, you need to be resident in the city, but you can turn up and get a day pass that lets you browse around. An attached small cinema shows Western films in English at weekends; phone for details. The Library of the British Embassy, on the Fourth Floor of the Landmark Building at 8 Dong Sanhuan Bei Lu, has a wide selection of books and magazines and anyone can wander in and browse.
Martial arts You can study martial arts under an English-speaking instructor at the Beijing Language and Culture Institute, 15 Xueyuan Lu, Haidian (tel 62327531). If you speak Chinese, try the Ruyi School (tel 62571596), at 152 Yuanmingyuan Lu, Haidian.
Pharmacies There are large pharmacies at 136 Wangfujing and 42 Dongdan Bei Dajie, or you could try the famous Tongrentang Pharmacy on Dazhalan. For imported non-prescription medicines, try Watsons at the Holiday Inn Lido, Shoudujichang Lu.
Post offices The International Post Office is on Chaoyangmen Dajie (Mon-Sat 8am-7pm), just north of the intersection with Jianguomen Dajie. This is where post restante letters end up, dumped in a box; you have to rifle through them all and pay ￥2.3 for the privilege. They won't let you take out a letter unless you show your passport. Letters are kept only for one month, after which the post office is quick to send them back; turn up a few days late and officious staff will derive amusement from your distress. It's also possible to rent a PO Box here and there's a packing service for parcels and a wide variety of stamps on sale, but again staff are not very helpful. There are other post offices in the basement of the World Trade Centre, on Xi Chang'an Jie, just east of the Concert Hall, on Wangfujing Dajie near Dunkin' Donuts, and at the north end of Xidan Dajie. All are open Mon-Sat from 9am to 5pm. Express mail can be sent from a counter in the International Post Office or from the EMS office at 7 Qianmen Dajie (tel 65129948).
PSB The Foreigners' Police, at 2 Andingmen Dong Dajie (Mon-Fri 8-12noon & 1.30-4pm; tel 84015292), will give you a first visa extension for a fee of ￥160. It will take them a week to do it, so make sure you've got plenty of cash before you go as you can't change money without your passport. Apply for a second extension and you'll be told to leave the country: don't, just leave Beijng and apply elsewhere. The nearest place with a friendly PSB office, who will extend your visa on the spot, is Chengde. You can make it there and back in a day. If you have an emergency and require urgent assistance, dial tel 110 or 550100, and have a Chinese speaker handy to help you.
Radio Easy FM at 91.5FM has twelve hours of Western music, mostly pap, plus news on the hour. It's a good resource for finding out about cultural events in the capital.
Swimming pool Try the Olympic-size pool in the Asian Games Village, Anding Lu (daily 8am-9pm; ￥50), on the route of trolleybus #108 from Chongwenmennei Dajie, which also boasts some of the city's fiercest showers.
Telecommunications There are 24-hour telecommunication offices in the Telegraph Office at 11 Xi Chang'an Jie, about 300m from the intersection with Xidan Bei Dajie, and by the International Post Office, on Chaoyangmen Dajie. The orange coin and card phones on the street can be used for international calls. You can buy cards at most hotels, plazas and at the Telegraph Office. You can call the operator on tel 114 but have a Chinese speaker handy to help you.
Travel agents Biggest of Beijing's plentiful travel agents is CITS, next to the Gloria Plaza Hotel at 28 Jianguomenwai Dajie (daily 8.30-11.30am & 1.30-4.30pm; tel 65050231), which offers expensive tours, a tour guide and interpreter service, and advance ticket booking for trains, planes and ferries (from Tianjin), with a commission of around ￥30 added. Other CITS offices are at 103 Fuxingmennei Dajie (tel 66011122), in the Beijing Hotel, 33 Dongchang'an Jie (tel 65120507) and the New Century Hotel (tel 68491426), opposite the zoo. Good private alternatives to the state monolith, geared at corporate groups, include Sunshine Travel, at 2 Nan Dong Sanhuan Lu (tel 65868069), and the R&R Travel Company, in Room B04, 9 Ritan Dong Lu (inside Ritan Park) (tel 65868069). The Tourism Hotline (tel 65130828) is open 24hr for enquiries and complaints; all its staff are English-speaking.