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)
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)
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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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