Beijing Travel Guide

By Admin | Last Updated August 26, 2019

Beijing is a capital of an ancient empire. A city bursting with life and opportunity, where people celebrate their past, while embracing the future. For the curios and brave, Beijing presents a magnificent adventure, an opportunity to peel back the layers of history of one of the world’s great empires and a chance to see China’s leap from sleepy past to a high tech future in the last five centuries. Beijing is booming. It is chaotic but constantly evolving. The city presents 3000 years of history.

Spread over 16,808 square kilometers, Beijing is one of the most populated cities in the world. With 21,240,000 people, according to the 2017 census, Beijing is currently the world’s 6th most populated city, with Tokyo Japan leading this list.

Beijing is also one of the most visited cities in the world. 284 million tourists flocked to Beijing, generating revenue of more than 500 billion Yuan ($74.10 billion) – a whopping 20 percent of the city’s total GDP. China is one of the world’s most popular countries with tourists. Beijing with Shanghai and Hong Kong are the entry points for most people.

Top reasons for visiting Beijing – Impressive Ancient Heritage, rich culture, natural wonders, temples, magnificent markets, variety of cuisine, ethnic cultures and customs.

Beijing – 10 Quick Facts

  1. There are 7 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Beijing or close to the city – The Great Wall, The Forbidden City, The Summer Palace, The Temple of Heaven, The Ming Tombs, Peking Man Site at Zhoukoudian, and The Great Canal.
  2. Official flowers – There are 2. The China Rose and the Chrysanthemum.
  3. Capital of Six Notable Dynasties and Governments.
  4. Beijing was called Peking earlier. It had other names too in the past.
  5. Beijing is one of the oldest cities in the World.
  6. The National Museum of China is one of the largest in the world.
  7. The Beijing Zoo is the biggest zoo in China.
  8. Beijing Capital International Airport is the second-busiest airport in the world.
  9. Beijing will be first to host both summer and winter Olympics.
  10. Beijing is the #1 gateway city in China.

How to Reach Beijing

Airport:

Beijing Capital International Airport is the world’s second-busiest airport by passenger traffic. It handles 50 million passengers, just after the Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

There are two other airports in the city – 

  • Beijing Nanyuan Airport
  • Beijing Xijiao Airport

The city is building a bigger Beijing Daxing International Airport, which will be ready for operation by September 2019.

Flights arrive in Beijing from 100 airports all over China. Plus, there are incoming and outgoing flights to and from everywhere in the world. Because of the huge volume of air traffic, there can be delays cancellations.

Railway Services

The main station is located just southeast of the city centre in Dongchen District, within the old walled city. However, this has been superseded by the larger Beijing West and Beijing South Stations. Trains passes by the Dongbianmen corner tower. Clock towers and the architecture of the station building are traditional with socialist influence.

The underground train (also called the subway or underground dragon) in Beijing is clean, efficient, cheap, air-conditioned, easily navigated in English, and can be the fastest and most convenient form of transportation within the city. There is one fare – 2 RMB (Yuan) to ride anywhere in the city.

The Beijing Station serves the HSR (High-Speed Railway) to Northeast China. Bullet trains from Beijing South Railway Station and Beijing West Railway Station can take you to most of China's popular tourist areas. Covering an area of 25 hectares (50 football fields), Beijing Railway Station faces a 6,500 square meter (1 football field in area) square to the north.

  • There are 6 VIP halls
  • 1 cushioned-seat waiting hall
  • 4 ordinary waiting halls
  • 4 key passenger waiting halls

High-Speed Train

China has developed a new type of bullet train – The Fuxinghao. It is now the fastest train in the world. “Fuxinghao” made its first appearance on June 26th 2017. Currently, these fast high-speed trains are running on the line between Beijing and Shanghai and other major cities.

Beijing – Shanghai The world's fastest passenger train, a 350 km/h (217 mph) high-speed train taking as little as 4 hours 28 minutes.
Beijing – Xian There are 17 daily high-speed trains every day. All of them are G trains running within 4.5 hours to 6 hours. G4015 is the first high speed train departing from Beijing at 6:05 AM, while G25 is the last train arriving in late evening.
Beijing – Hong Kong A new high-speed train connecting Beijing and Hong Kong is now in service. The travel time has come down now from 12 hours to only 9 hours. Daily high-speed train service, passing China's major cities – Zhengzhou, Wuhan, Changsha, Guangzhou and Shenzhen.
Beijing – Kunming 3 pairs of high-speed trains since January 5th 2017. The travel time of these bullet G trains is between 11 and 12.5 hours. There are also overnight high-speed trains and non high-speed trains with longer travel time between 33.5 to 44.5 hours.

Long-Distance Bus

The service is frequent and cheap, but still, bus travel is not easy in China. The bus stations are located near the city center. Tickets too are available easily. Night sleeper buses are also available. But there can be problems in understanding the route and coping with the local people, who sometimes smoke in the bus despite written warnings. Safety of luggage and personal belonging can also be a challenger.

Travel in a bus if you are on a budget or cannot get a train ticket, but you have to be careful.

Getting Around Beijing

The underground train (also called the subway or underground dragon) in Beijing is clean, efficient, cheap, air-conditioned, easily navigated in English, and can be the fastest and most convenient form of transportation within the city. There is one fare – 2 RMB (Yuan) - to ride anywhere in the city.

They can move as fast as 70 km/hr, which seems like the speed of light when compared to the buses in town. The only complaint – they can sometimes get very crowded. You can use Google Maps to get a rough idea of what subway station is close to your destination (but remember, Google's satellite view and street view of Beijing differ a bit from each other).

The better option is to download a map of the Beijing Metro/Subway on your smart phone or take out a print and keep it with you while moving around. You will be able to reach any destination in Beijing without any problem, provided you mark your route in advance.
The station names are written both in Chinese and Pinyin. The automated voice will announce the name of the next station in English too. The LCD display also flashes the name of the next station in Pinyin and Chinese. There is no way you can miss your station in the Beijing subway.

If you have to take a bus, make sure to take a few precautions.

  1. They can be extremely crowded, so be sure to secure your personal belongings.
  2. Women should always keep a close eye on purses, and men should store wallets in front pockets instead of the rear (it’s much harder to steal a wallet from the front).
  3. Buses generally take their time, so you have to be patient.

With hundreds of routes, navigating from point A to point B is not always easy. Plan a detailed transfer route before beginning a voyage.

Taxi

Finding a taxi in Beijing is usually not a problem except at busy times when it becomes impossible. There are many available throughout the city, but make sure to bring a map and know the desired destination because few drivers speak English. Many drivers won’t be able to find a destination even when you give them the street address... written down... in Chinese.

  • Make sure that the driver turns on the meter.
  • Most hotels have taxi cards available with major tourist destinations written in English & Chinese.
  • You can also negotiate a price with the driver for the whole day – your hotel doorman can translate to reach an agreeable price.
  • The taxi will also have his taxi number displayed inside and a phone number of the company.
  • When getting into a taxi after a big shopping day, you may want to write these down in case you leave something in the taxi. These details are also printed on the meter receipt.
  • You can flag taxi's down or wait at one of the designated pick up zones.

Riding a bicycle is a great way to explore the city. But ride only if you are very comfortable and prepared for some dicey navigating. Visit Bike Hire for a list of companies renting bicycles in the area. It's cheap – no more than USD $10 per day. But you'll also be taking your life in to your own hands.

It is best to avoid rickshaw motorcycles or bicycles that offer quick trips around famous areas of the city or to your destination. Some of these operators work in gangs.

  • They offer to take you a short distance for a low price.
  • Once they have you and your partner in the backseat, they will stop and make one person get into another rickshaw due to 'weight' issues.
  • Now there are two drivers taking you into the back alleys.
  • There they make you get out of the rickshaws, sometimes claiming your destination is right around the corner.

They will demand 300 Yuan per person. They also stop about 100 meters from one another so that one doesn't know what the other is doing. A card may be shown displaying a 300 Yuan price, and claiming misunderstanding because of language troubles. The outcome is usually against you.

Just avoid these rickshaws, regardless of how respectable or friendly the driver appears.

Best 4 Neighborhoods For Tourists In Beijing

  1. Qianmen – Easiest access to the Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, and the Temple of Heaven.
  2. Gulou – Home to the ancient clocks of Beijing and also many bars, cafes, restaurants, and quaint little shops tucked away down the alleys.
  3. Wangfujing – Shopping and renowned food street near Tiananmen Square.
  4. Xidan / Xisi – A bustling shopping and commercial area. Xisi is quieter and dotted with old public buildings, temples, and winding hutong alleys.

Top 10 Things To See In Beijing

  1. The Imperial Palace and the Forbidden City – A UNESCO heritage site and most important attraction of Beijing.
  2. Tiananmen Square – One of the biggest city squares of the world. It has witnessed many historic and barbaric events.
  3. Beihai Park – The biggest and famous city park.
  4. The Great Wall – Always a must for Beijing first-time visitors.
  5. Temple of Heaven – This is the largest building for religious worship in China with a total area of 270 acres.
  6. The Summer Palace – Called Yiheyuan in China, it used to be the summer retreat for emperors.
  7. Ming Tombs – Chang Ling in China, this is the resting place for 13 of the 16 Ming emperors.
  8. Lama Temple – Also called Yonghegong, this is a Mongolian-Tibetan temple.
  9. Olympic Sites – The National Stadium of China. Also famous as the Bird’s Nest.
  10. Beijing Zoo – This is one of the oldest and biggest zoos in the world.

Best Time To Visit Beijing

Weather wise, September to November is the best time to visit Beijing. This is the autumn season when the weather is pleasant, and the city is at its best. These months between the scorching summers and the freezing winters are very comfortable. The temperature will keep decreasing as the year progresses. This is a good time to climb the Great Wall or for walking tours in Beijing.

  High (ºC) Low (ºC) High (ºF) Low (ºF) Rain (mm)
January 2 -9 34 15 2.54
February 4 -7 39 19 5.08
March 12 -1 52 30 10.16
April 20 8 67 45 25.4
May 27 13 79 55 27.94
June 30 18 86 64 71.12
July 31 22 87 70 175.26
August 30 10 85 68 182.88
September 26 14 78 57 48.26
October 19 8 66 45 17.78
November 10 0 50 31 5.08
December 3 -7 37 19 2.54