When I sat down to start planning my trip earlier this year I realised I knew absolutely nothing about China. I was going in blind. I mean, I knew about The Forbidden City and The Great Wall. You know, all the generic touristy places, but I had no idea where they were in reference to location. I feel like we ended up with quite a solid itinerary so I thought I’d share my secrets. Without further ado, here is my 4 days in Beijing itinerary. Enjoy. (Price conversions correct as of August 2017)

Beijing Itinerary

Flights

Found on Sckysanner, I flew from Glasgow International to Beijing Capital Airport with a 5 hour stop over in Amsterdam and a 1 hour 20 minute stop over in Paris, which cost £374.49. Leaving Glasgow at 1:25 pm, I arrived in Beijing 3:20pm the next day. (Pro tip that most of you already know: DON’T get a 1 hour 20 minute stop over if you have checked luggage, no good will ever come of it! )

Navigating Beijing Capital Airport is very easy. Every sign  also has English and, from what I could see, most of the airport staff could speak English. When my luggage didn’t show up, I had to file it missing and the staff were incredibly helpful. Once you get out of the baggage claim, just head to the sign that either says TAXI or SUBWAY. Simple. If you have read my post about my first day in China, you will know I was a bit frazzled with my missing luggage and my friend also missed her flight from Zunyi so I unexpectedly had to make my own way to our hotel. For a 50 minute Taxi ride, it cost CNY 72 (£8.29) which is amazing, though the subway will only cost you CNY 6 (69p)

Beijing

Our first night we stayed in a really crappy, overpriced hotel called The Classic Courtyard, which I would recommend you steer clear of, and we couchsurfed for the other 3 nights. I know Couchsurfing isn’t for everyone, and I definitely wasn’t into at first, but we stayed with this lovely girl, Vashti. I would link to her page, but she moved out in July so is unfortunately not able to host anymore.

Beijing Subway System is honestly one of the easiest public transport experiences of my life. It is a tad overwhelming at first to figure out where you are, where you need to get off etc. But once you’ve got that down it’s a piece of cake. One ticket costs CNY 6 (as of June 2017) and you can make as many transfers as you need to get to your destination.

Day 1

First up on my Beijing itinerary is Yonghe Temple and  a day of exploring. After breakfast, we made our way to The Yonghe Temple (commonly known as the Lama Temple). For this you will need to take Subway Line 2 to Yonghegong Station, from there it is near enough right next door. Entrance fee to Yonghe Temple is CNY 25 (£2.88). Yonghe Temple is a temple and monastery of the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism. It’s really beautiful inside, and once you are finished with the temple, you can explore the Hutongs that surround it. It was so cool to just walk around and see everyone just getting on with their daily lives.

From here, we headed out to find somewhere for lunch a chill. There is a cafe called The BookWorm. I would highly recommend checking this place out. It’s basically a bookshop, library, bar and cafe all rolled into one! You can get there by Taxi or Subway (as most places in Beijing). It turns out taxi drivers in Beijing will drop you off where they think is most convenient for them, so make sure you are firm about where you want dropped off. If you take Subway Line 10 to Tuanjiehu station, it’s not far from there.

We chilled here for a late lunch/dinner until we could make our way to Vashti’s place. She finished work at 6pm so couldn’t meet us until after 7pm. Nearby, however, there is quite a big shopping mall where you can browse the shops. By the time we got to her flat and settled in we decided to just call it a night as we were up bright and early for a Hike on The Great Wall!
Day 2

Next up on my Beijing itinerary is hiking The Great Wall of China. The tour company Beijing Hikers meet outside Liangmaqiao Station, Subway Line 10 at 8am and at The Starbucks at the Lido Place, Metropark Lido Hotel at 8:30am. You can choose either one. The drive out to The Great Wall should take about an hour, but it took us over two due to traffic and the particular hike we chose takes about 3-4 hours to complete. Add that on to your journey there and back and you will be out all day. The hike in total cost CNY 420 (£48)

hiking the great wall of china

The tour company also provided a meal for us at the end of the hike which was lovely. Double check that the hike you chose offers that though, as they have many different options. You should get back to the drop off points by around 5pm.

The Great Leap Brewpub is a cool place to go for a drink (and a bite to eat if you chose a hike that doesn’t provide the meal). There are three in Beijing, we went to GLB#12  , which is not far from The Bookworm. However, rather than getting off at Tuanjiehu Station, Dongshi Shiatio Station on Line 2 is much closer. The Great Leap Brewpub offers a very extensive selection of craft beers, as well as all the usual drink choices. The food is also really nice and reasonably priced. The place had a very friendly atmosphere.

Day 3

The Summer Palace and Beijing Botanical Gardens are two must do’s for your Beijing itinerary. Catch subway Line 4 to Beigongmen. The Summer Palace is right outside the subway station, you can’t miss it. Try and get there really early as apparently after around 2pm they will stop letting people in. Entrance is CNY 30 (£3.46). The Summer Palace is definitely big enough that you could spend a whole day there, but I would recommend maybe 3-4 hours. Can’t have too much of a good thing.

Close by you have the Beijing Botanical Gardens, which you could hop a local bus for CNY 2 or just flag down a taxi. As The Summer Palace is one of the biggest tourist attractions, there will be plenty floating about. I previously wrote a post all about the Beijing Botanical Gardens that will tell you all you need to know. But for the purpose of this post, entrance is CNY 10 (£1.15) for an adult, Combo ticket for the Botanical Garden + Greenhouse + Wo fo Si Temple for CNY 50 (£5-6). Children under 3.9 ft (1.2m) go free.

Beijing Botanical Garden

Day 4

Finally, you can’t forget Tian’anmen Square and The Forbidden City. Getting there is pretty easy, just take subway Line 1 to either Tian’anmen East or Tian’anmen West. These will bring you out at either end of the square. Due to the high volume of tourists that flock to this area, you are not allowed to cross the road, so each corner of the junction has an underpass. The Forbidden City is pretty massive so you will probably need a full day to see it all. Entrance in April to October is CNY 60 and November to March CNY 40. The museum only allows so many visitors a day, some tickets are held for tour companies and some are  pre-booked so there may not be a lot left at the gate. This of course is depending on what time you arrive, but you may want to book your ticket ahead of time to secure your place.

Beijing itinerary

Head back through the underpass to Tian’anmen Square, which is particularly beautiful at sunset. It will be teaming with tourists, but you may catch the changing of the flag ceremony. We thought we got there just in time for it, but the guards were just changing shifts. To be honest, I don’t think you will need to spend much time here, just long enough to take in the sights and get a few pictures. There aren’t a lot of food options in this area, which was surprising considering how busy it is with tourists. So I’d advise heading back to your desired location for a bite to eat. On my last night, I just went back to Great Leaping Brewery, but you may want to try somewhere different.

Some Extra Tips:
  • Bring your own toilet paper. EVERYWHERE! (And don’t flush it)
  • Most taxi drivers don’t speak a lot of English, so have the Chinese address of your destination handy to show them.
  • Some Taxi’s are easy to identify as a metered city cab, but others are private. You can haggle with these guys to get a good price. I was caught out by someone who told me my hostel was miles and miles away. I was tired and had no internet to double check, but later that night I found out that the 50 minute long, CNY 200 taxi ride should have only taken 13 minutes.
  • Don’t drink the tap water. Bottled Water costs about CNY 3.
  • Get yourself a pollution mask. I only really experienced it on my last day, but it well and truly chokes you.
  • You need your passport with you to check into hotels/hostels. They won’t let you stay there otherwise.
  • Get a VPN. I used VPN Express and it work well enough.

So there you have it. My 4 day Beijing itinerary. I hope this comes in handy when you are planning your trip. Did I miss anything out? Let me know in the comments below 🙂

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Beijing is a massive city, so 4 days might not seem like enoug, but you will have plenty of time to see all the sights. Here's my 4 day Beijing itinerary. Beijing is a massive city, so 4 days might not seem like enoug, but you will have plenty of time to see all the sights. Here's my 4 day Beijing itinerary. Beijing is a massive city, so 4 days might not seem like enoug, but you will have plenty of time to see all the sights. Here's my 4 day Beijing itinerary.

Linking up with WanderfulWednesday and FarawayFiles

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34 thoughts on “Itinerary: How to Spend 4 Days in Beijing”

  1. This was such a helpful and practical guide. I love that you shared your practical travel experiences too, with the subway system and in dealing with taxi drivers. These are some of the aspects of your travel that can make or break your experience, so it pays to know beforehand.

  2. great travel tips at the end of this post and really helpful. sounds like it was a very well planned trip to be honest amidst the flight issues with luggage. great to know the public transport in on point, i always prefer to tour around a new lace with pubic transport if any!

  3. Beijing is amazing and was there twice earlier this year. 🙂 FOur days is probably the right amount of time if wanting a brief visit and enough to see the top sights and also a day trip to the nearby Great Wall. Love your advice here and I would go with it if I was a first timer.

  4. Beijing is so grand and full of spectacular sights. A day-trip to the Great Wall with a 3-4 hour hike sounds quite convenient and 4 days seems like a good enough time frame to experience these major sights.

  5. I haven’t explore Beijing yet! That said, China was my first ever international travel and I went there on work. All I had was half a day to explore. I’m yet to get to China as a tourist! Good to know about the guided tours incl of travel & meals to check out the Great Wall of China. Its a definite must-see in lifetime. Those extra-tips at the end are really very useful!

  6. Wow, this was an epic journey & a lot of useful information. I was wondering you didn’t mention anything specific to food. 🙂 Thank you for sharing those extra pointers, they may come handy. Cheers and happy Travelling !!

  7. The scenery around the Great Wall looks stunning; a hike along that would definitely be top of my list, were I to visit Beijing. Thanks for this handy guide (and all the tips at the end!) – I’ll keep it in mind if I venture out that way 🙂

  8. Ok, the reason why this post held my attention (for long) was that I wanted to understand the China perspective towards life and the world in general. We in India want to know more about this country from various sources and travellers, such as you. have an unbiased approach.
    Secondly, what are Hutongs?
    Thirdly, how did you cope with your meals?

  9. These seem like such useful tips. I haven’t been to Beijing yet but I am dying to go. It all seems pretty affordable too!

  10. Sounds like you got a lot in in four days! I was in Beijing twice when I was younger but really don’t remember much of it at all. I hope to go back someday soon!

  11. What a great itinerary! I can’t believe how cheap that first taxi to the hotel was! I’ve never couch surfed before, I think I’d want to have a friend with me in case it turned out to be a little dodgy, but it seems like a great way to meet locals and save a bit of cash. What I really want to know though, is did you get your luggage back?

  12. I love your practicality and also your honesty!

    I’ve worried about trying to navigate public transport in a place that’s main language isn’t English, so it’s good to know that Beijing’s subway system is easy to work out 🙂 Also, the great wall hike looks amazing! I myself am NOT a hiker haha, which is why I’m wondering if it’s an easy hike or if it’s very strenuous?

  13. You first photo is so nice! In China, I have only been to Shanghai. Would love to check out Beijing one day though. There are a lot of travel deals from Los Angeles. I have to commit and go. Will save your post for later. Seems like you had a great time there. #WanderfulWednesday

  14. Thank you for the very informative information. I really want to to see the Great Wall of China! It has been on my bucket list for a while. Love your extra tips, especially the toilet paper, this is all over Asia, I’m still carrying tissues now and I’m in the US at the moment! LOL

  15. I’ve been to Beijing on a school trip when I was 10, about 15 years ago and have been looking to go back to China! I didn’t know there were tour companies that did a tour at the Great Wall of China so thank you for that! We basically walked around for about 20 mins before we had to leave 🙁 Hope you enjoyed yourself!

  16. Great Beijing itinerary! It’s so helpful that your mapped out places that are nearby to one another. That will really help me from wasting time! Like you said, I feel like I know a lot of places in Beijing but I had no clue where they were actually located in the city.

  17. I just love Beijing. I did an internship there some years ago. It feels like you have never seen everything. I was out every weekend but still haven’t seen everything I wanted to. Your post brought me back so many lovely memories. I hope you enjoyed your time there as much as I did. Thanks for sharinv this!

  18. I completely understand the overwhelming feeling from when you first land or get off a train in a new place. That is how we felt when we went to Paris and needed to figure out taxis and the subway. Some really great information here about where to get off on subways and some great info on taxis. The sites of Beijing are something I am very excited for one day…

  19. Great guide! I went to Shanghai by myself a few years ago and experienced some of the things you’ve mentioned (like the toilet paper!). Really loved Shanghai though and would like to go back and experience Beijing too!

  20. Wow, you covered quite a lot in four days and hit most of the highlights! I absolutely love Beijing (lived there for a semester in college). I wish I’d known about the Bookworm Cafe — I had the hardest time finding good coffee there. Did you also get a chance to explore Hou Hai (the back lakes)? That was my other favorite neighborhood.

  21. This is a fantastic itinerary. I loved how you expressed the overwhelming feeling when you head off to a new place. And I totally love meeting the locals and discover a place with them. Thanks for sharing.

  22. This is such a useful post, Chiera. I like your tips – bringing toilet paper and pollution masks sounds really important. I’ve never felt the need for a mask anywhere I’ve visited so it’s interesting to read that there are some places where you really need them. I loved your post about the Great Wall of China – it’s definitely on my China wish list! Thanks for linking up with #FarawayFiles

  23. I think it’s good to be selective when visiting China, after all, it’s so big you could live all your life there and still not see it all ! Staying in a converted hutongs is a must I think and a great way of feeling ‘closer’ to the city’s culture and history.

  24. I haven’t been to Beijing, but my husband has. You had obviously much clearer weather than he had. The history here is mesmerizing and the sheer size of the city overwhelming. This is a great guide to dial in a bit on the magnitude of possibilities there. Great pics Chiera! Thanks for sharing with #FarawayFiles, Erin

  25. Those are great tips for Beijing! I used to live in the south, in Yunnan Province, but made it to Beijing for vacation a couple of times. Every time I visit, I feel like I need more time since there is just so much to explore!

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