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Travel Guide Budget and Itinerary for Beijing

Beijing is the capital of China in many ways such as economic, political, cultural and historical. This makes it a premier tourist destination. Some would even go as far as saying that if you've been to China but never visited Beijing, you've never been to the country at all (IMO this is debatable as I've been to other regions). The city is most likely the first stop of many that visit.


Things to Do


Great Wall



Probably the most famous attraction in China. There are different parts of the wall you can visit, I went to Mutianyu.

Summer Palace



A good half or full day trip with plenty to see. The summer palace is a huge complex with many sections.

Tiananmen Square



One of the most famous attractions in the city. There are many museums in the area if you are interested to learn more about the country's and city's history.

How to go: The nearest metro stations are Tiananmen Station.

Temple of Heaven


Good for a half day trip, nice place to walk around in and soak in the culture and history.  Click here for more information: Temple of Heaven.

Forbidden City



One of the most popular destinations in the city. Full of history and ancient architectural design. You could easily spend more than 4 hours to explore it fully. Took us around 3 hours to get from one end to the next.

Entrance Fee: CNY60

How to go: The nearest metro stations are Tiananmen East Station and Qianmen Station.

Beihai Park



A nice park for leisurely strolls and to see some historic spots.

Entrance Fee: CNY10

How to go: The nearest metro station is Beihai North Station.

Wangfujing



Another place to shop, dine and relax in.

How to go: The nearest station is Wangfujing Station.

Nanluoguxiang



One of the most popular hutongs in the city, good place to dine and shop or simply walk around.

How to go: The nearest metro station is Nanluoguxiang Station.

Yonghe Temple



Ancient temple that displays the country's culture and history.

Entrance Fee: CNY25

How to go: The nearest metro station is Yonghegong Lama Temple.

Fragrant Hills Park



Good place to visit during autumn because of the colors. There are different trails for a leisurely day hike.

Entrance Fee: CNY10

How to go: The nearest metro station is Bagou Station. After arriving at Bagou Station, change lines to the Western Suburban Line and get off at Xiangshan Station.



Olympic Park




The Water Cube and the Bird's Nest were two of the most beautiful buildings used during the 2008 Olympics. Make sure to visit at night to see them lit up.

How to go: The nearest metro stations are Olympic Green or Olympic Sports Center.

These are just some of the places for your budget and itinerary for Beijing.

You can DIY a lot of the attractions in the city, but if you prefer going on a tour, here are my recommendations:

  • Mutianyu Great Wall Tour - The Mutianyu section doesn't get as many visitors compared to Badaling. This joiner tour comes with a guide that speaks English ad transfers. Soak in the beautiful landscapes and learn more about the wall's history.
  • Badaling Great Wall Tour with Ming Tombs - Badaling may be the most restored and famous section of the Great Wall, but it is still worth a visit. See how far the wall stretches and learn more about it. The tour also includes the UNESCO-listed Ming Tombs.
  • Historic Beijing Tour - Learn more about the city and visit Beijing's top attractions such as the Summer Palace and Lama Temple. The knowledgeable guide will provide insights about each stop on the itinerary.
  • Forbidden City, Summer Palace and Temple of Heaven Tour - Beijing is a historic city with many ancient sites. Explore three with this day trip. These UNESCO-listed sites will provide you a glimpse of the city's storied past and rich culture.

Suggested Itinerary Additions Outside of Beijing

If you have a few more days to spare, you can include these cities in your itinerary. These places aren't too far away from Beijing. You can take a slow train or a bullet train to reach these destinations.

Chengde




This city has UNESCO-listed temples and the imperial family's mountain resort. Learn more about the country's culture and history during your trip.

Read my full guide here: Guide to Chengde

Pingyao




Small but beautiful destination; its most famous attraction is the UNESCO-listed walled city. Travel back in time while walking around it. You'll get a glimpse of old China when you explore this area.

Read my full guide here: Guide to Pingyao

Xi'an


Popular destination in China because of the Terracotta Warriors. The city is also nice with many historic attractions. It is easy to navigate as well as most attractions are near the city center.

Read my full guide here: Guide to Xi'an

Wuhan


Wuhan is a few hours bullet train from Beijing. It also has a lot of interesting places to visit.

Read more here: Things to do in Wuhan

Around the City

Exploring Beijing is easy because of the city's extensive subway and bus networks. You can easily find some tourist attractions because they're either right next to a subway station or a couple of minutes away. There are English signs that guide tourists who don't understand Mandarin. Fare starts at CNY3 up to CNY6, and then an extra CNY2 for every extra 20km.

I would recommend the Beijing Metro App which you can download from the Google Play Store.

It looks like this:


It's the yellow icon in the photo. You can use it offline, which makes it quite handy.


It comes with a map of the stations.


You can type in the stations you are currently in and the one you want to reach.



It also displays an estimated time of arrival, distance and the stations you need to change to before reaching your stop.

How to Get to Beijing

There are regular direct flights from many cities  around the world to Beijing. Flights from Manila are also frequent. The city is also connected to other parts of China by rail and bus; you can check Trip.com for schedules and bookings.

Getting a Visa

I made a more detailed post about getting a tourist visa for China, click here to read it: Chinese Visa Guide. 

The country also has many beautiful natural attractions for nature lovers, you can read more about these places in this link: Beautiful Destinations in China.

Get In and Out of the Airport

Beijing Capital Airport is easy to get in and out of.

By Airport Express Train

The ticket costs CNY25, you can board the train from:

  • 2F of No.2 Parking Lot in T2 (Capital Airport)
  • 2F of No.3 Parking Lot in T3 (Capital Airport)
To get to downtown Beijing or the subway close to your accommodation alight at Sanyuanqiao Subway Station (you can exit here if this is the stop closest to your hotel) then switch to Line 10 to Dongzhimen. The latter is connected to subway Lines 2 and 13; you can then proceed to your stop or exit here. 
  • The first train that leaves T3 for downtown is 6:22AM and the last one's at 22:52PM
  • The first train that leaves T2 for downtown is 6:36AM and the last one's at 23:10PM

If you're going to the airport from downtown:

  • The first train departing Dongzhimen leaves at 6:00AM and the last one's at 22:30PM
  • The first train departing Sanyuanqiao leaves at 6:04AM and the last one's at 22:34PM

*The schedules may change

By Taxi

You can take a taxi directly to your destination; the fare is around CNY100 to CNY150

By Airport Shuttle

There are regular buses that travel to and from the airport. There are several stops, depending on where you want to go. The fare is around CNY20 to CNY30. Click here: Airport Shuttle Schedules and Stops.

Best Time to Visit

Beijing has four seasons and temperatures throughout the year vary. You can visit the capital at any time, but it will depend on your weather preference. Most of the rain comes in the months of June to August. The coldest month is January with daily temperatures below zero on average. The best time to visit would be from September to November (autumn season) with the coolness just right. Bring appropriate clothing for the season of you visit.




Where to Stay

I stayed in hostels during my visit and the other times I visited, they were Happy Dragon Saga Youth Hostel, Leo Hostel and Downtown Backpacker's (in Nanluoguxiang). You can do the same for your budget and itinerary for Beijing. Both were nice and had a traveler vibe to them. Happy Dragon has its own bar and restaurant which was a plus, but food was expensive (like in other hostels of the same ilk I've been to in China). There are plenty of options in Beijing, regardless of your budget.

Hostels in the City

Accommodation near the different sections of the Great Wall

Accommodations near Beijing Capital Airport

Expenses 

Here's a breakdown of the expenses I incurred during my trip. Beijing was part of a bigger trip that included Mongolia so there are items here that you may not need to spend on for your upcoming visit.

Everything's in Chinese Yuan unless otherwise stated for this budget and itinerary for Beijing.

134 - Beijing to Jiningnan overnight hard sleeper train
43.5 - Hard seat ticket from Jiningnan to Erlian
40 - Transportation
70 - 1 night Happy Dragon Saga Youth Hostel (dorm bed)
100 - 1 night Downtown Backpacker's (dorm bed)
220.2 - Foods
34 - Temple of Heaven entrance fee
40 - Summer Palace entrance fee
60 - Great Wall Mutianyu Section entrance fee and shuttle
268.5 - Overnight train ticket to Suzhou hard sleeper                   
1010.2 - Total

If you want to see more posts about China:



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