As the Capital of People’s Republic of China , Beijing is the nations second largest city after Shanghai. Enriched in history, politics and cultural, Beijing has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. Ever-changing and transforming neighbourhoods makes Beijing a fascinating city of the world.
Beijing is a popular gateway for those wishing to see and climb The Great Wall of China, with plenty of group and private tours available from most hotels and guesthouses. The city itself is rich in culture, with temples and palaces worth a visit and many more things to see and do. One of the highlights of visiting anywhere in China is trying the delicious food – don’t be afraid to try the street and market food and make sure you find time for some Peking Duck. If you’re travelling to China by yourself, read this solo travel guide for tips and advise.
Hostel/Budget rates – ¥40 – ¥80 for dorm beds in hostels, with private rooms in budget hotels costing around ¥100.
Midrange Hotel rates – ¥200 – ¥600 for a private room in a nice hotel.
Luxury Hotel rates – ¥750+ with some beautiful courtyards available at midrange and luxury rates.
Transport – Beijing has an extensive subway system with rides costing ¥6 that can get you to most popular attractions whilst the buses get you around the city for ¥1.30 – ¥3.
Average cost of food – Beijing offers a diverse range of cheap and tasty food, with street food starting at around ¥5 for some noodles or meat on a stick, whilst a sit down restaurant can cost around ¥40 – ¥80. International restaurants will charge more in the range of ¥100+
Where to stay
Hostel/Budget – Hongdu Shijia Hotel (formerly known as Beijing Saga International Youth Hostel) is a great spot for backpackers and tourists alike. Based in a traditional Chinese hutong courtyard, dormitories start at ¥70 a night with private rooms starting at ¥240, with even better prices found on hostelworld.com. Leo Hostel is another popular choice, they offer a vast array of facilities. Dorm beds start at ¥57 and private rooms at ¥140.
Midrange – I would highly recommend Courtyard 7; a 300 year old courtyard with traditional style rooms but all the extra amenities. At ¥428 a night, the courtyard is a short walk from the metro and on a bustling but exciting alley that sells a range of food, souvenir and authentic Chinese trinkets. If you are looking for somewhere a bit more central then check out Hotel Kapok at ¥569, just 200 yards from the famous Forbidden City.
Top End – For those who want true luxury and their own kitchen thrown in, take a look at The Imperial Mansion, Beijing – Marriott Executive apartments. I will definitely be spending a night here on our next trip to Beijing, apartments start at ¥993. The Park Plaza Beijing Wangfujing is just a few steps from a subway station and offers luxury rooms from ¥800.
How to get there
Fly – Flights are available from most international airports across the world, as well as smaller domestic airports across China. Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK) offers 11 different airport shuttle bus routes as well as The Airport Express train which runs throughout the day. As a fairly cheap city, we took a taxi to our hotel costing us 80CNY – head straight for the official cab line and don’t take up any other offers on your way out of the airport.
Train – Speed trains have become a popular transportation method for tourists and residents of China to get around. Trains to and from Beijing serve practically every major city and town in China, leaving from either Beijing Station, Beijing West Station or Beijing South Station. It is possible to upgrade your ticket: soft sleeper offers comfortable air-conditioned rooms with 4 bunks though you may be sharing with others you don’t know. A few T-class trains offer two-bert compartments with their own toilet. Hard sleepers are composed of six bunks in an open-ended doorless apartment with slightly less room than soft sleepers but are considerably cheaper and a popular choice in China. There are a few weekly trains to international locations such as Mongolia, Russia, Vietnam and North Korea. Check out www.seat61.com for train journey advice across China.
Beijing is a large city so you may wish to research the best way to travel around Beijing for you. Cycling is an enjoyable way of getting round the city, with most roads including bike lanes. However, depending on the time of year, it can get warm in Beijing and with so much to do you may wish to save your energy for the sightseeing. We mainly used the Beijing Subway System which is modern, safe and convenient for the attractions of the city. Buses are another way to get around the city, with new swipe cards making it easier for non-chinese speakers to get around, however these are often busy and crowded. If you don’t fancy the metro then a taxi would perhaps be the next best option. When getting a taxi, it is useful to have your destination written down in Chinese as very few drivers speak much english. Avoid using the Rickshaws as foreign tourists are often heavily overcharged.